Start Shouting

At a stoplight yesterday I pulled up behind a car with an “Ouck Fbama” bumper sticker, and I just about lost my shit.

There might have been an incident of road rage, if not for Sagar being in the car, and his willingness to call me on it.

And, it’s bothered me since–why was I so upset? Not since I gave up flipping off cops (some years ago) have I been so, so angry at a random stranger in another car.

And I wasn’t quite sure why at the time, but I realize that I was upset, not by the fact that the driver of the car disliked President Obama, but rather by the level of the blatant disrespect. Regardless of how one may feel about Obama’s policies, President Obama remains the President of the greatest country on earth. And, for that, he deserves a little fucking respect.

America IS the greatest country on earth (–and will REMAIN the greatest country on earth, so long as we keep the disrespectful douchebags at bay).

Now, it’s true that you could, perhaps, search the archives of this very blog and find some rather disrespectful things written about George Bush.

Would I have gone so far as to put a Buck Fush bumper sticker on my car? Perhaps–if not for the fact that I, uh, lived in Wyoming, and then Montana (and I’m not a particularly burly guy).

But, honest to god, somebody has to put an end to this political climate where politicians are accorded no more respect than a rival football team–who, in and of themselves, likely deserve far more respect than they are permitted by the fans of the home team.

Every American is entitled to his or her own opinion. And, I suppose, every American is entitled to be an intolerant, offensive, disrespectful douchebag. But I’d rather not live in THAT America. There’s an America I’d rather live in.

Productive, constructive political debate–the type that will move this country forward (if, in fact, the political process is capable of producing such progress) can only ever occur in an environment of mutual respect. Even if you respect your opponent, it is STILL a great task to understand your opponent position, and whether or not that position has merit.

To be fair, I suppose I must ask myself: If Sarah Palin were elected president of the United States (ha ha ha, ha ha, ha, insecure laugh), would I be willing to accord her the respect the office demands? (Fortunately, I feel that is a very fanciful proposition. Highly fantastical proposition indeed! Ah!)

Mmm. Perhaps my indignation is rooted in an abiding admiration for Barack Obama. Perhaps my indignation has nothing whatsoever to do with the lofty ideals of respect for this great nation’s highest office–but merely my dogged insistence that President Obama is a good-if-not-great president.

I would have a hard time finding the same well of righteous rage if, in 2013, Sarah Palin were president and I were in Boulder, CO and behind a vehicle proclaiming Puck Falin. But, perhaps, that’s only because I believe the election of Sarah Palin–as absurd at those four words, juxtaposed, are–would bring immense dishonor and disrespect to that estimable office.

I strive to be tolerant. But, because I value tolerance so highly, I find it difficult to be tolerant of those who are, themselves, intolerant. Is that ironic? I do not know.

Would I now tolerate the person I was five years ago, should we meet in the street? Likely not! Eight years ago? Surely not!

All this raises a certain degree of sincere self-doubt. To what extent is my commitment to tolerance sincere? And, to what extent it my commitment to tolerance merely intolerance to those who think differently, and dare to say so?

About Mark Egge

Two truths and a lie: Mark Egge is an outdoor enthusiast, opera singer, and a transportation data scientist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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