Thursday, October 17, 2013
As we approach this new year’s legislative session, many have asked what to expect. In one word: tough. Why the infighting? Why the backbiting? Why are we stuck in neutral? In my very humble opinion, many of the political troubles we face today are a result of the tolerance movement.
Today’s tolerance movement has capitalized on a very valuable commodity in politics: Intolerance. Modern day Pharisees stand ready to throw the first stone at the intolerant, rather than evaluating their own intolerance. Whether it is race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, discrimination is for the poor in character. That includes those who hurl insults at the discriminatory. Discrimination should not beget further discrimination. Very rarely do we see the protests of yesteryear where a quiet rebellion was made in front of a bus. Very rarely do we see the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. locking arms in prayer with his fellow oppressed. Today we see insults by the insulted, discrimination by the discriminated and ultimately, segregation by the segregated.
Some Democrats have been very shrewd and successful in their embrace of such intolerant tactics. Whenever a Republican stands up for fiscal responsibility, such as the Medicaid expansion debate, it’s portrayed as denying a poor person his or her subsidy; because isn’t it obvious, all Republicans hate poor people. Anytime a Republican fights for equal protection under the law, such as in the affirmative action discussion, it’s ostensibly for the reason of denying minorities placement; because isn’t it obvious, all Republicans hate minorities. And once again, anytime a Republican stands for a stronger national defense, it’s ostensibly for the reason of depreciating Muslim influence over the world; because isn’t it obvious, all Republicans hate anyone who’s not of Caucasian descent.
The tactics of intolerance are highly successful, and yet, extremely dangerous. They often win the day through marginalization and demonization of the one accused of the discrimination. When policies are driven by name calling (or fear of name calling) rather than honest debate, our country suffers. It would behoove both parties to understand that strong, intellectual debate produces good policy. Unfortunately, the proclivities of the media spawn glorified televised brawls where one politician strives to “out-ethnic” the next. We must demand our leaders be backboned individuals who can rise above the fray. In addition, we must demand that our media inspire critical thinking rather than simply critical mass.
This upcoming legislative session is going to be really tough. There will be debate over Medicaid dollars and how to allocate them. There will be debate over gun control and how to protect our citizenry. And there’s going to be debate about raising new funds, especially for the purpose of roads and bridges. Conservatives like myself are going to take the brunt of the bad media. We’re going to be criticized and marginalized. We’ll once again be called racists and sexists and bigots. But know this: the fight is worth it. America is worth it.
Representative Stephen Goldfinch lives in Murrells Inlet and represents portions of Georgetown and Charleston counties in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.
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