On the first day of November this past fall, with Election Day right around the corner, the group New Left Media published a short video called “Ohio Romney Rally – Interviews with Supporters.” I recommend that you watch this clip before reading on. It can be found quite easily on YouTube.
I can’t say I’ve ever been more disappointed in politics, America, Americans, and the media than I was after watching this video shortly before voting this fall. This is a disgusting eight minutes and thirty seconds of film, and it displays everything that American politics does not need right now. The reactions the video inspired in many of the highly educated people around me are perhaps even more unsettling.
The video, for those of you who have not seen it, features a well-spoken young journalist interviewing various Romney supporters after a Romney-Ryan rally in Defiance, Ohio. The journalist asks simple questions about the presidential candidates, their views, and other relevant issues, eliciting ludicrous responses from almost all of the people shown. One clip shows a middle-aged couple struggling to explain anything at all about the Romney plan or why they support it, and another shows an older woman with white hair proclaiming that she plans to vote for Romney because “he doesn’t believe in homosexuality” and that “God is going to make sure Romney wins.”
This article is not a vendetta on how stupid those responses are. They are stupid, but that misses the point. There will probably always be people like this – citizens who know very little about politics or what voting choices are really right for them. The point is to realize that there are people like this on both sides. New Left Media’s editing skills and ability to cherry-pick the most ignorant people they can find at a Republican election rally should not cloud your ability to remember that this would be just as easy to do at a Democratic election rally. Or, for that matter, a college campus.
What New Left Media did here is despicable. Clearly, the goal for the video was to help Obama get elected. It is a legitimate argument that politics are harsh and each side needs to pull out all the stops in order to get what they need, but this kind of exploitation is completely unacceptable. Bashing Republicans as a party because a few rural Ohioans can’t name a single Romney proposal for White House reform is ridiculous. How many liberal friends do you have that had a legitimate, policy-based reason for voting for Obama? Did you have a legitimate, policy-based reason?
Maybe (probably, I would hope) you did, given that you did vote Democrat, which I assume at least 75% of my Carleton readership did. If you analyzed the issues and came up with Obama as the best choice possible, great. Me too. But the message here is that voting Republican, voting for Romney, is a legitimate choice. It is toxic for us to associate conservatism with what we hear from a few ignorant “conservatives” hand-picked by a couple of twenty-something liberals. Doing so means dividing our country further, gridlocking us into oblivion until catastrophe along the lines of 2008 hits once more. Political divide – based on what I’ve seen and heard on this campus, political hatred – is what is wrong with America, and it truly pains me to see so much of it here, where critical thinking and courteous argument supposedly reign supreme.
As a group of intelligent, able young people, we need to rise up against this kind of rhetoric. Most of us, I think, would agree that the partisanship on Capitol Hill is appalling. Thinking that and then turning around and falling under the liberal spell of videos like this is completely counterproductive. Whatever change we want is only going to be given by ourselves, and the day we start actually compromising rather than talking about it on an endless loop is the day this country might begin to get somewhere.