Stop The Hate: NC’s Turbulent Political Climate

Voters Gone Wild!

October, 22, 2008 , by Tim

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The political climate in North Carolina is reaching dangerous levels with disturbing reports of overzealous and misguided citizens crossing the line between activism and criminal acts. While many voters view this election as historic and significant, the state is split with regard to which candidate they support. There should be no reason that we can not have a civil political discourse to solve the problems facing our state and our country. Unfortunately, North Carolina has not fared well in behaving civilly this election cycle.

There are many degrees of inappropriate behavior in politicking, but the root cause of said behavior is holding the opposing party in contempt. We as a nation cannot truly progress so long as there exists a critical mass of partisan peoples who feel the need to demonize one another. This is not to say partisan politics are inherently bad, but blind partisanship that is driven by malice and contempt is a sad state of affairs and potentially dangerous.

Every election cycle we hear reports of political yard signs being stolen or vandalized. This election cycle is no different. The solution for many is to make another donation to their campaign of choice and replace the sign, recognizing that this minor offense is juvenile and ineffective.

Recently, North Carolina has been getting some bad press for much more notable offenses, although some would say it is the press that is bad. Take for instance the journalist who was assaulted at the Palin rally at Elon University on October 17th. Perhaps stirred by the accusatory tone of the GOP ticket, one McCain/ Palin supporter took on the “gotcha” media himself. Here is an excerpt from the journalist, Joe Killian:

The man began to say something about how of course I was interviewing the Obama people when suddenly, from behind us, the sound of a pro-Obama rap song came blaring out of the windows of a dorm building. We all turned our heads to see Obama signs in the windows.

This was met with curses, screams and chants of “U.S.A” by McCain-Palin folks who crowded under the windows trying to drown it out and yell at the person playing the stereo.

It was a moment of levity in an otherwise very tense situation and so I let out a gentle chuckle and shook my head.

“Oh, you think that’s funny?!” the large bearded man said. His face was turning red. “Yeah, that’s real funny…” he said.

And then he kicked the back of my leg, buckling my right knee and sending me sprawling onto the ground.

At a McCain rally in Concord, NC this past Saturday, October 18th, Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) offered his own take on hateful politics with the following divisive statement, which Hayes denied until audio surfaced forcing him to admit his error.

“Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.”

This past Sunday, October 19th, Obama visited Fayetteville. While the supporters were in the rally listening to speeches, 30 vehicles had their tires slashed. Following the rally, Barack visited The Cape Fear BBQ and Chicken Restaurant to meet with voters. While obviously everyone in the restaurant was not an Obama supporter, most were civil, with the exception of 54 yr. old Diane Fanning who began yelling: “Socialist, socialist, socialist -– get out of here!” The report also details that Fanning refused to shake Obama’s hand, passing up a perfect opportunity to civilly confront the Senator, and referred to Colin Powell as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) over his Obama endorsement and sincere frustration with the low road taken by the McCain camp. Across town, county officials opened two early vote locations, usually closed on Sunday, to deal with the overflow from the rally, thereby infuriating the NC GOP. Voters that day had to deal with jeers from across the street, as can be seen in the video below.

The following day, Oct. 20th, a dead bear cub was discovered with Obama signs draped over it in Cullowhee, NC at Western Carolina University. The 75 lb.cub had been shot in the head.

Aside from the signs being stolen by supporters from both parties, all the examples cited above reflect very negatively on the GOP. Arguably, these incidents could be attributed to the tone of the McCain campaign itself, its frustration and negative portrayal of the Obama ticket trickling down to some enthusiastic supporters who become more angry than optimistic, more destructive than constructive. This is not to imply that Republicans are inherently mean-spirited, their values of small government and the pursuit of liberty are honorable. Likewise,this is not to imply Democrats are not capable of possessing a very similar anger and prejudice. Many Obama supporters publicly have fallen in line with their candidate’s high road philosophy, although it is evident some secretly harbor a malcontent toward Republicans. Anger begets hate, hate begets violence. Through civil discourse and empathy, we can ensure Raleigh never sees a display like the anarchists’ attack on the NC GOP headquarters in 2004, in which a hooded mob carrying torches threw a burning Bush-Kerry effigy through the office window. It is easy to disapprove such actions, but difficult to prevent the political climate that fosters such radical reactions.

As we head to the polls in this final stretch, please remember that voting is more than a privilege. Voting is a civil right that came with a great cost, a right that is still challenged today. Please do not trivialize that right with contempt for your fellow Americans. Agree to disagree. Find your common ground. Move forward and stop the hate.

Update: The examples cited in this article occurred in NC over the course of one week prior to publication. While these examples negatively reflect on McCain supporters, or more appropriately Obama opposers, it is not intended to imply that McCain opposers do not commit similar inappropriate acts. We see dispicable acts on both sides of the issues in national news, such as the ones I linked to in the conclusion. Please post more examples of uncivil politics here, but please, lets keep the focus on the political climate in NC .

Photo by: http://flickr.com/people/pimkie_fotos/








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  • PRGuy
    10/22 06:34 PM

    Thank you for this essay. As a parent, my concern in all of this is that people are passing along their political prejudices to their kids. It’s okay to tell your kids what your political views are and what you stand for, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to demonize your opponents and condone violence and fear-mongering.

  • 150
    10/22 07:39 PM

    It’s true.  Politics has become terribly aggressive and, in many cases, misguided.  Both sides contribute to this, with the negative ads, incomplete facts, and win-at-any-cost mentalities.  Unfortunately, it feeds the negativity of the supporters.  I get very frustrated listening to the misinformation coming from the candidate I don’t support, and listening to the drivel of those supporters I often find myself getting very angry.  Then I step back and realize my candidate is doing the same thing.  It’s a shame.  We all need to step back, relax, and analyze as objectively as possible.  Unfortunately, it’s an emotional subject, and with all the negativity, it’s just very difficult not to get caught up in the madness.

  • CJT
    10/22 08:13 PM

    We’re all ass backwards for needing political parties at all.

  • David
    10/22 09:06 PM

    I was naive for thinking the article would have pointed out abuses on both sides, but realize that it was merely an indictment of the McCain campaign.  I know in our neighborhood there have been signs and American flags vandalized, a rally in Manhattan for McCain was met with profanity and violence, and teachers all over the place are attempting to silence students for bringing contrary viewpoints.
    Lest we forget, in other countries there are many different and very diverse political parties and though one may think a party “extreme”, a plurality of the entire, mostly informed nation in the US belongs to one.  Just think how different the stances must be elsewhere.  Just think what bs the governments put out in nations that are not free. 
    Think about it.

  • John
    10/22 10:11 PM

    I am voting for Obama in the election but I must say this article was the most biased thing I have read all election season.  Are we now a people with no reasonable perspective, I mean why even write this?  It is doing exactly what the folks have done to whom you are frustrated with, you should retract the whole article…

  • RaleighRob
    10/23 11:38 AM

    Great article, Tim.

    For those who think it’s biased, keep in mind he’s giving examples of stuff that’s happened in NC and has garnered national attention.

    Perhaps one side is more guilty than the other, at least in NC.  Who knows.  I’ve read about all the instances mentioned in the article.  I have not heard of much from the other side as bad, here in NC.

  • Johnny
    10/23 12:19 PM

    politics in this country are typically polarizing, and far from democratic

  • 150
    10/23 12:23 PM

    You’re right, RaleighRob.  Tim even mentions that Democrats aren’t immune from the discussion:
    “Likewise, this is not to imply Democrats are not capable of possessing a very similar anger and prejudice. Many Obama supporters publicly have fallen in line with their candidate’s high road philosophy, although it is evident some secretly harbor a malcontent toward Republicans.”
    Yes, the cited examples are of actions by McCain supporters, and maybe the article would have held more weight if a similar action from Obama supporters was mentioned, but again, let’s step back and read the whole article and do some reading comprehension.  I don’t think it was an attack on McCain supporters, but on the ugliness in politics as a whole.

  • robin
    10/23 01:40 PM

    I agree with Tim that it is the tone of the national campaigns that has triggered these acts.  I think that Obama is not a typical Democrat, but an exceptional one, when it comes to his behavior in the campaign.  You can see from Obama and McCain’s behavior in the debates, in their speeches, and in their ads that Obama is more respectful to his opponent and better at deflecting, or trancsending, negative smears against him.  For example, Obama generally acknowledges and respects McCain’s service to our country, while the McCain campaign has tried to make Obama appear hateful toward the country that he obviously wants to serve.

    It’s one thing to attack another politician, but what many politicians don’t realize is how irresponsible these negative messages are.  Because the politician being attacked is not the victim as much as the supporters, voters, and citizens who bear the brunt of the hate.  One of the most irresponsible smears this year is the repeated implication that Muslims are un-American, or hateful, or terrorists.  It’s easy for Obama to simply remind us that he’s a Christian, but it’s much harder for American Muslim people to endure the prejudice that is being stirred.

  • David
    10/23 01:43 PM

    http://www.local6.com/politics/17784129/detail.html

    I could find something every day.  The poster sure is listening to what they want to hear, not everything that is out there.

  • NPD
    10/23 03:01 PM

    Politics in this country has become nothing but sport and blind dogma supplemented by a good heaping of American greed. I am voting for “none of the above”.

  • Vern
    10/23 07:13 PM

    I just think Tim has a sexy beard….hey, beard happens!

    Right?

  • Suz T
    10/23 08:02 PM

    My family is hard core NC (“we come over on the boats with Raleigh” my grandma once said) although we in DC now.  Much of DC is Obama crazy.  I was back “home” in NC this summer, and was struck by the lack of Obama signs.  After about a week in NC, I was tooling along in the mini-van with my children and my 93-year-old great-uncle.  Suddenly, my nine-year-old (a huge Obama fanatic) points out an Obama sign “Look!  Someone’s for Obama!”  My great-uncle very casually noted “Well, that house will be torched by nightfall.”  My blood ran cold in my veins.  Not because I thought the house would be torched, but because he made this horrible, racist joke so casually and as though this was the sort of occurrence that he knew personally.  Unsure how to respond—should I disrespect an elder in front of my children?—my nine-year-old came to the rescue, piping up from the back seat “What are you talking about?  He’s winning!  He’s going to be our next president.”  Out of the mouths of babes….

  • David
    10/23 11:33 PM

    http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/17789356/detail.html
    Heres a woman attacked and mutilated for being a McCain volunteer.
    Like I said, I can find abuses on the OTHER side without even searching specifically for them.  The poster, as others’ comments have attested to, would retain more credibility had the post been balanced. There are PLENTY of crazies out there with one or no political affiliation.

  • Sergeant'sMom
    10/24 01:49 AM

    IMHO,
    This video demonstrates the “anthem moment.”  I.e., the point at which somebody ought to start singing the National Anthem, which will be taken up & drown out the malicious opposition.
      Or, if they prefer, they can join in.
      The national Anthem has four verses, which it would behoove us all to learn, so this song can continue for some time.
      It is strategically important to start with The Star Spangled Banner, merely to avoid the other side using it to drown out whatever other anthem we would choosse. 
      After the Star Spangled Banner has been duly sung, we can move on to America the Beautiful, Battle Hymn of the Republic, We Shall Overcome, and Lift Every Voice & Sing.

      Not necessarily in that order.

  • Srh47
    10/24 01:49 PM

    Is this the 60’s?  I haven’t heard of this intensity since I was one of 5 African Americans who, with police escort, walked into an all-white elementary school during desegregation.  I truly can disagree without becoming disagreeable.  So I implore all Americans to remember, we are in this together and after the smoke clears we’ll need one another to rebuild this country that we love.

  • UNC27605
    10/25 12:12 AM

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/24/mccain.sticker/index.html

    David - your article shows the attack as fake, as does the above article.  Y’all are saying the poster needs to do more research and not be so biased, but it seems we could all enlighten ourselves more as well.  We each need to rise above the hate (on both sides) and encourage others to do so.  We’re an educated nation, let’s make sure we act like one, even in election years.

  • Clyde Smith
    10/25 05:36 PM

    The bipartisan approach to this issue and the gentle introduction to this post is ridiculous.

    I drive around Raleigh neighborhoods that have Obama and McCain signs.  The Obama disappear, the McCain signs are still there.

    I follow news of a variety of incidents around the nation and, overwhelmingly, the problems come from racist a-holes who cannot handle what’s happening.

    I and many others are trying not to respond in kind until after the election.  But you keep this nonsense up after and our gloves are coming off.

  • Aaron
    10/26 03:01 AM

    Whoever took this photo absolutely did not photoshop McCain’s face well enough.

  • ghd
    07/22 10:23 PM

    The bipartisan approach to this issue and the gentle introduction to this post is ridiculous.

    I drive around Raleigh neighborhoods that have Obama and McCain signs.  The Obama disappear, the McCain signs are still there.

    I follow news of a variety of incidents around the nation and, overwhelmingly, the problems come from racist a-holes who cannot handle what’s happening.ghd

    I and many others are trying not to respond in kind until after the election.  But you keep this nonsense up after and our gloves are coming off. buy cheap ghd

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    07/22 10:27 PM

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