Does current political discourse depress you?

Because I am a Texas public school teacher (still employed :D), I’ve had a surplus of spare time for the past few weeks due to summer vacation. I’ve taken care of various minor chores around the house, spent time with the wife and kid, etc. However, I have also spent a fair amount of time on Facebook, SDMB, Gawker, etc., reading and discussing politics.

I am concerned that this activity is making me depressed. I’ve even found that I have trouble getting going to take care of ordinary tasks, like calling DirecTV to come out and fix a problem, or finish up some paperwork with the city that has languished far too long (at their fault, not mine). It isn’t that I’ve lost the will to live or anything. I just have a hard time getting going, sometimes.

The correlation seems to be the conservative politics that is popular with many in my social circle (I do live in Texas, after all). My weakness seems to be when someone says or posts (a la Facebook) something that is patently absurd or untrue. For example, one friend posted that page 272 of “Obamacare” includes language that restricts cancer care for people over age 76 (this friend is 72). I looked at page 272. That particular page says no such thing (it’s not even on a related subject). I posted the entire page for my friend, reassuring him that, if he gets cancer, there is nothing in the PPACA that restricts his care. In fact, I searched the law for every instance of the word “cancer” and there is no language that restricts care by age. In fact, there are a few passages that broaden cancer care.

Of course, my helpful post did nothing to dissuade my friend from the idea that Obamacare is horrible and mandates that he be left to die. (My friend is healthy, educated, and has health insurance.) These sorts of conversations are draining me.

Do any of my SDMB friends have this problem? Does political discourse depress you? How do you handle postings or quotes that are factually incorrect? Do you ignore them, or do you try to fight the ignorance? I have no problem when people have different political opinions than I, but when a person posts something that is simply factually untrue, I have a hard time resisting. This leads to a lengthy discussion that goes nowhere.


Today, it’s the “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.” bullshit. Even after posting the entire speech, it’s still interpreted that Obama is bashing business owners. It doesn’t even make sense! If Obama were wanting to bash business owners, why would he say it that way?

It sickens me too. There are serious problems to address such as how to trim the deficit, address unemployment, and tackle the rising cost of healthcare. There are not left or right issues, though the sides may have different perspectives on what the right means are to solve the problem. But we need to have some facts in play that we can all agree on. Right now the facts have left the building.

The lies and the hate have always been there from time immemorial. What we see today is nothing different.

But as I get older and have dealt with my own anger issues, I become less interested in listening to others spew theirs. I have no desire to listen to third grade name calling and baseless slander, intentional mischaracterization and flat out lies. If someone I knew did that to someone else, I would disassociate myself from that person, making a note of their ill character. So when people go off the deep end frothing at the mouth and using base insults about public issues, insulting people who disagree, I cannot help but be put off and mark them as people I don’t care to know or engage.

Now, on the other hand, I recognize my own hypocrisy on this subject. There are people, such as Michele Bachmann as one example, about whom I cannot help but refer to in derogatory terms. But those are extreme cases, and extreme people, and I don’t usually offer angry insults to people who disagree.

Absolutely. I try to remain read-up on the latest goings-on, but I simply have a limit to how much of said political glurge that I can handle at one time before I decide to go to say for some relief. That our civilization still has to deal with this depraved crap in this the year 2012, in what will probably be the most decisive century of our species’ existence can be very daunting.

These are the times that try our souls…

The fundamentalism, the ultimism, the absolutism, the utter rejection of bipartisanship, the poisonous rejection of compromise… These are all symptoms of deep moral rejection of the civic process.

The good news is that the system is robust. We aren’t going to break down into tyranny. Not this time around, anyway. It may happen, but it won’t happen in the next four years.

I hate to say it, but the “corporations are people” meme is a misrepresentation as well. Romney’s point was that corporations are owned by people, and those people ultimately pay taxes when earnings are disbursed. There are valid arguments about how corporations let people avoid taxes, what the tax rates should be, etc., but he was not making the Citizens United argument.

ETA: And Chimera, it has not always been like this. For years Americans tuned into one of three nightly news broadcasts and heard essentially the same facts regardless of which network they listened to. They were horrified when they saw police siccing dogs on peaceful civil rights protesters. These days Fox would have a segment on how protesters were damaging pickax handles.

It’s got to the point where I automatically skip over any news article about the campaign. It’s all spin.

Meh. If I spent as much time looking at kitteh pics as I do reading about politics I’d have blown myself away years ago.

I usually feel sad or depressed, until Der Trihs shows up and then I am happy again. I always love what he/she has to say. Don’t always agree, but it’s usually hard to argue with.

I don’t discuss politics with friends because it would be too disappointing to see them outed as morons. I don’t mind so much the internet moron.

However, the overall tone of politics has been getting me down. Frankly, it’s the Republicans, two quotes sum it up.

Mitch McConnell “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

In the middle of a recession, high unemployment, real estate crashed, and THIS is the most important thing you want to achieve?

John Kyl “I’m obviously not going to vote for a piece of legislation that I haven’t been able to help craft”

A piece of legislation is good or bad on its own merits, not because the other side let you insert riders. Thanks, though, we can now state truthfully that Republicans are happy to raise taxes on small business, as long as it let’s them deny Democrats a “victory”.

I try to stay out of political discussions, especially since I’m Canadian and don’t have a vote here. But what really bugs me is that is seems like there is always an election happening. You end up with the same problem as the 24-hour news networks: you’re always on and need to keep talking and talking and talking. The campaigning never ever ends, and it feels like it’s about sound bites and quotes and taking the other guy’s comments out of context and trying to be dramatic to get on the news more and get free attention. Just my perspective as an outsider, of course.

In the interest of fighting ignorance, I have to dispute this.

The American Civil Rights Movement was not over the moment such things appeared on TV. People didn’t universally see them and say “oh of course” and change overnight. This was a very divisive battle within American society and a lot of people shed their blood or died over it. There were a very large number of people then, and even a fair number now, who thought integration was unnecessary and unwise, and that the Federal government had no business getting involved.

Now, most of us here, and the operative word is ‘most’, likely agree that the whole thing was the right thing to do and it was a battle worth fighting. But that’s it. There are still people today, even politicians, who think that civil rights legislation should be overturned. That was in fact one of the points Joe Biden raised at the NAACP - “who’d have thought we’d be revisiting this fight today?”

It is sometimes dispiriting, yes.

I find Facebook challenging in particular. In fact, a post this morning made me reflect on Facebook’s role in my life. It seems to be a venue for all of my high school passing acqaintences, who I knew back then could not name the Founding Fathers, to share with me their analysis as to how objectionable the Founders would find Obama and current America. These are people who as adults (~43) talk about struggling with basic math, but know the Constitutionality or lack thereof of the individual mandate.

I used to ignore this stuff, but I began to think my silence might be interpreted as assent. If I post sarcasm, they are usually too stupid to recognize that I’m not actually agreeing with them, and will “like” my comments. Providing contrary information goes nowhere.

I like the SDMB, though. It gives me a venue to beat stupidity repeatedly about the head and neck.

You would think that the internet, and more access to better information would make us more (not less) accepting of other positions.

That it would make us more able to acknowledge a “point well made”, and that the “other side”. much as we hated to admit it, had a valid point.

But just the reverse seems to be true.

These days it seems to be more about “winning” than understanding, more about being “right” than accepting and learning from the other side.

And the two examples that spring to mind are the current debate over Obama’s “you didn’t do that” and Romney’s “I wouldn’t go after him”*

The thing that makes me sad, are the posters here who are obviously highly intelligent, well read, educmacated, and relatively well balanced that will still deliberately and with malice interpret a quote, a speech or whatever wrongly if it serves their argument.

If it carries on this way it doesn’t bode well for a future that will be increasingly polarised, and less able to function.

  • I think his actual quote was, whether you go after him or not is a matter for later, but you don’t tell another country you are willing to violate their borders**

** This is probably not the most egregarious example, but it is the one that springs to mind.

There are some truly despicable Facebook groups out there. I really don’t mind if you don’t support Obama’s policies, if you have reasonable alternatives or a different philosophy that’s all fine and dandy. Instead what I see are people “sharing” or “liking” posts like “Only four times since WW II has a president failed to show up at the D-Day Memorial on June 6: 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012!” This followed by comments like “He’s so unpatriotic”. Even posting a Snopes link debunking their bullshit bounces off them like water off a duck’s back.

The Health Care “debate” was the mother of all misinformation: “death panels”, “government takeover of X% of the economy”, “socialism”, etc. Facts simply don’t matter. The Republican alternative to Hillarycare from the 1990s is now direct from Chairman Mao.

The debate doesn’t depress me because there simply is no debate. What does depress me is that Republicans should only have the support of the 1%, instead you’ve got people struggling to make ends meet voting against their economic self interest because of the lies that get peddled to them non-stop by right wing radio and FuxNews.

I’m in Texas too, and have a similar experience with Facebook, especially with the high school/old neighborhood group and was thinking of deleting my account. I do like my current, actual IRL friends, though.

I really didn’t like those folks much in high school. I was nerdy and bookish, had to be home on Thursday night to watch Cosmos, read the newspaper, did the crossword, and watched the news… and took shit for it. I was always ‘the smart one’ to them, but I don’t feel that way myself.

Now all those folks are newly minted “Libertarians” because the want more “freedom”, and are all suddenly all Constitutional (Google) experts and they still don’t know shit from shinola. I really don’t mind that they have opinions, but the stuff they post is not an informed opinion. It’s stuff like ‘When Obama leaves the White House, make sure he takes all his trash with him!’

Of course, the are all Christians, too, and post a lot about Jesus.

I deleted 2 folks in the past week and was wondering if that was going to cause any problems, but thought ‘Heck, I didn’t like them then. So what?’

You can always just unsubscribe from them without unfriending them. You won’t see their annoying posts and they’ll be none the wiser.

Just for example, a Facebook “friend” posted recently that we ought to spare innocent animals and conduct all testing on convicted criminals. There was some back and forth endorsement of this idea, along with gratuitous suggestions for sterilization of people on welfare.

So, I popped in to say: “Why are we even bothering with incarceration? It should be one felony = one bullet! The founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they saw all the rights that US citizens have today.”

Now, I figured this should be clear enough as sarcasm, since even the most ignorant person should recognize that the founders spent a lot of time and consideration regarding the protection of the rights of individual citizens.

Instead, the people making the horrific comments like and endorse my post. I figure that someone, somewhere has to come in to help clarify. But nothing like that happens, so now I worry that other people are going to look at my comment and think I’ve gone crazy conservative.

So I up the ante, and say “Yeah! Whoever said that everyone should be afforded due process of law? Just show me where that was written?” Okay, “due process” written down? Clearly that should ring some bells! But no.

So after a while, I have to come in and say “Oh, wait. Turns out that the fifth and eighth amendments to the US Constitution provide for due process and protect against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Life improves substantially if you make the effort to just opt out. Don’t watch Fox, not even to laugh and mock, it gets in your head, leave it lie. You see them stick a mic in front of Dick Cheney, Sara Palin, Michelle Bachman or anyone who’s intellect or honesty you already find discredited, whether it’s CNN or BBC, change channels. Especially ignore the ridiculous misinterpretation of the day, with the manufactured back and forth, change the channel as fast as you can, that shit is like snake venom, don’t let it in! (It’s actually quite rewarding if you imagine a loud ‘click’, audible in their giant evil lair!)

I don’t disagree with any of the characterizations of the political discourse described in this thread. Sadly, it’s all too true. But I don’t see anyone noting that you currently have, in the White House, a man who behaves with dignity and gravitas, doing your country proud. But I see no one acknowledging his strength to resist the low road, and to continue leading by example. Everyone says it’s what they want, to move in that direction, but then they all just continue to wallow in the muck that is Fox News etc. It’s a little confusing, is all.