Saturday, July 14, 2007

Show me, don’t tell me

There are certain things people say that immediately get my hackles up. For instance, when someone tells me to “trust them”, the same knee-jerk response comes spilling out of my mouth every time: “I never trust someone who has to tell me to trust them. Trust is earned”.

I suppose I’m being a bit rude, but no one gains my trust that easily. Call it bad manners or world-weary cynicism or a lesson learned from the school of hard knocks, but I’m making no apologies. And I feel so strongly about this that I made it one of the most important lessons I tried to teach my children as they were growing up: actions speak louder than words.

Well I’m sad to say my little “distrust” problem has gotten a lot worse these past 6 ½ years. I think I might have a severe case of reverse Dog-whistle politics:

Dog-whistle politics, also known as a code word, is a term used to describe a type of political campaigning or speechmaking using coded language, which appears to mean one thing to the general population but which has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience.

When I hear words or phrases like Family Values, Christian Values, Sanctity of Marriage, Morality, Virtues, blah, blah, blah, I actually recoil now. And I know for a fact that my reaction is not the desired reaction the person using those words is looking for. But use those words with me and all you get from me is the stink-eye and a whole lot of distrust with a healthy dose of disdain mixed in. In fact, say those words to me and you’ve lost me.

I guess that’s what 6 ½ years of using hate and homophobia masked as Christian Values to gain votes with the most hateful members of your base will do to the mother of a gay son.

But wait! Could a new TIME magazine poll be indicating that you don’t have to be the mother or father of a gay child to be as turned off by the mixing of faux sanctimony with politics as I am? Steve sure thinks so:

[T]he poll found that Americans have strong views about religion and politics in the era of George W. Bush. In May 2004, half (49%) of American voters said President Bush’s faith made him a strong leader while only 36% said it made him too closed-minded. Today, voters have reversed their opinion about the role of Bush’s faith: 50% now say it makes him too closed-minded and 34% say it makes him a strong leader. Similarly, while in 2004, only 27% said that Bush’s use of faith did more to divide the country rather than unite it, today, 43% feel that way.

And in fact Digby goes so far as to say she thinks that even though the author of this TIME magazine article:

…insists that the Democrats are going to have trouble winning unless they can appeal to religious voters when the poll she’s citing actually says that people are dramatically turning away from these explicitly religious appeals.

And you know what? This Seething Mom sure as hell hopes Digby is right. If people cannot see that when they vote for someone who pounds their fist in self-righteous piety and drones on about family values, sanctity of marriage, the evils of homosexuality, public lewdness, internet predators, ethics, morality, and all the other buzzwords so popular with the GOP these days, the only thing they are going to get is empty words and hypocrites like these: Vitter, Gingrich, Delay, Haggard, Allen, Foley, Cunningham … oh and the worst President ever --- George W. Bush.

My advice to Democratic presidential candidates, leave the God talk to the hypocrites, it isn’t working anymore. Show us your morals and ethics with your actions. And for heaven’s sake, stay the hell out of our private lives, unless of course you want us peepin into yours (but you might want to ask David Vitter how that's working out for him first).



Jarred said...

You know, I had never heard the term "dog whistle" in this context before. I'm quite happy to have learned something new.

What I think is truly sad is that many of these people don't even realize what they've done to these buzzwords. Let's be honest, do the Bush's and Robertson's of the world really care about "Family Values" when they use that word? Or are they simply meaning "no gays and no premarital-sex"? Because that seems to be all they talk about after uttering that buzzword. And I don't know about you, but I think there are many more important "family values." (In fact, I'd suggest a certain list in 1 Corinthians 13 as a good starting point.)

In truth, I think they make a mockery of both their politics and the faith they claim to serve. And tragically, I think they're sincerely blind to that fact.

Seething Mom said...

Well said Jarred. I truly believe there has been a lot of harm done to both religion and politics these past 6 1/2 years.

I know I will never again trust any politician who uses any of those buzzwords. When you have David Vitters and Newt Gingriches out there screeching about Family Values and Sanctity of Marriage while concurrently screwing around on their wives, it's hard not to be cynical and suspicious.