If you didn’t read it, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. I wrote a sarcastic article about the political ads we’ve seen from the Conservative Truth Alliance. In the weeks leading up to the primary elections, this group put out whole-page advertisements claiming that three liberals were running as Republicans.
Now, if you know the three candidates they were referring to, you know how ridiculous the accusations were.
Rather than being up front about my feelings, I thought I would be a little tongue-and-cheek and write a piece praising the work of the Conservative Truth Alliance. I also called for liberals to be trapped and sent to re-education camps.
With the benefit of hindsight, I know now that a little note at the end of the column explaining that it was intended to be satire would have made all the difference. But, in my defense, having to tell someone that what you just said is a joke kind of takes all the humor out of it.
Regardless, the Facebook comments started to pile up. Some people got the joke and gave encouraging remarks. Others understood the satire, but thought it was stupid on a fundamental level.
But in a testament to how hateful our political discourse has become, several people — several rational, intelligent people — believed I was dead serious. Because of that drastic misunderstanding, I broke my rule never to respond to Facebook comments about my Op-Ed articles and told them I was indeed kidding.
A few days after my column, the Republican presidential candidates starting campaigning in Alabama. With the stump speeches and campaign ads, came the opinion polls. One of them found that more than 75 percent of Republican voters in this state don’t believe Obama is a Christian. That same survey found 25 percent of GOP voters still believe interracial marriage should be illegal.
Like most national media coverage of Alabama, it made the rest of the world think that only toothless, uneducated Bible-thumpers live in this state.
I wish some of the national media had seen what I saw at the CHS building on election night.
I walked around that auditorium for several hours talking to candidates and local party leaders. And though many of them wouldn’t agree with me on a single political stance, they asked about my family and even said that I was a good writer despite my social views.
Alabamians may have a lot to learn from the rest of the world, but how many other places do you think a latte-sipping liberal could walk around an auditorium filled with die-hard conservatives and receive genuine smiles and handshakes.
That facade of civility might sound trivial to most people, but I believe it is the last link keeping this country from splitting into two cultures. I wont lie and say that I feel both sides are equally to blame for the disparity. But regardless, this country faces a litany of problems that affect both sides of the political spectrum. Our national debt is swelling like a tumor, our civil liberties are once again being slashed for the sake of safety and our political process is poisoned by unlimited campaign spending.
Someday soon we will have to let our many differences go and collaborate on a way to fix these massive problems. And when we do, that little bit of civility will be worth a lot.
What I was trying to say with my last column – besides how ridiculous the ads were – was that calling someone a liberal shouldn’t be an insult. Being a liberal and a Southerner shouldn’t be considered a contradiction. Despite a few Facebook comments to the contrary, left-leaning ideas do indeed have a place in this newspaper, and, as long as I work here, liberals will have a local voice on the opinion page. It won’t always be the most articulate voice, but it will be there.
And if liberals and conservatives keep listening to one another, we might weather this storm of animosity that seems to have hijacked the political landscape lately.
I’ve been reading an anthology of some of America’s best newspaper columns, and recently I came across one from the New York Times (yeah latte-sipping liberal I know). It covered Lyndon Johnson’s tour of the South to win support for the Civil Rights Act.
Johnson didn’t receive much help during that trip, but the reporter following him captured a great line: “Heed not those who would come waving the tattered and discredited banners of the past, who seek to stir old hostilities and kindle old hatreds, who preach battle between neighbors and bitterness between states. That is the way back toward the anguish from which we all came.”
Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle and a Walker County native. He can be reached at email@example.com