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Political protests and personal jabs: Just the tip of the iceberg

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(Matt Johnson/ Flickr)

(Matt Johnson/ Flickr)

Last week my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Because my dad is a history teacher and my mom is a very understanding woman, their “romantic” destination of choice was Virginia, where they spent their time touring the historic homes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

Interestingly enough, my parents’ trip back in time to the homes of some of the United States’ “Founding Fathers,” where they learned about the men who had nothing but optimism for the future of our country, was perfectly juxtaposed with the latest developments in our current political race. I couldn’t help but feel that our present-day political situation is not at all what these great men had in mind for the future of their “more perfect Union.”

Since presidential debates were first televised in 1960, showmanship and personality have been important qualities for presidential candidates, but it seems that in this current election, that is all that is important.

For the first time in the history of our nation, the actual issues concerning the public and the candidates’ strategies in order to solve those problems have not been of utmost importance in a political race. The issues themselves have fallen behind to be replaced by insults, personal jabs, and yes, even penis jokes.

The 11th GOP Debate on March 3 consisted of grown men, who, at the time, had a 1/6 chance of becoming the next president of the United States, calling each other names in the most outward and blatant example of bullying that this election season has seen (which is saying a lot if you have been following this election season), along with a formal debate deteriorating into two candidates arguing over the size of their manhood.

More recently, the attacks between candidates have become even more personal, if that was even possible, with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump taking stabs at each other’s wives.

But these instances, and many others that show the ways this election has resorted to childish fights between candidates, take the spotlight away from what is actually the biggest problem that has emerged from this political year. The most serious issue is not the immaturity or the pettiness that the candidates have demonstrated, but it is the hate speech and overall tone of this election season, which doesn’t seem like it will end once we elect a president, no matter who that may be.

In his final State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama stated that one of his few regrets from his presidency was “the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” and I would agree that not only has the divide between parties become worse during Obama’s two terms, but it has reached a brand new height in the past several months.

Political protests, specifically against Trump, have happened almost weekly, with new images constantly surfacing of protestors at Trump rallies being simply escorted out of the venue when they’re lucky, and being assaulted by Trump supporters when they’re not. However, although the violence and the protests are happening more frequently, it is the subtler acts of hatred that are actually more frightening.

One needs to look no further than popular Twitter feeds to find hate speech targeted at people with differing political beliefs. For example, I only had to search through Twitter for about 30 seconds before I found an account @GOPTeens with 83.5 thousand followers, where one of its most recent tweets was an interactive poll asking followers which hashtag the account should get trending, with the options being “#DUMBocrats,” “#DEMONcrats,” “#DemocRATS” and, the winner with 32 percent of the votes, “#LiberHOLES.”

This hatred between political parties has been brewing for decades and has only been exacerbated by people like Trump who preach hate, bullying and discrimination. But at this point, I do sincerely fear that the divide between the parties has reached a point of no return, and I can’t help but wonder what our nation’s founders would think if they could bear witness to this “historic” election.

I hope we as Americans can one day set aside our differences and have actual, intellectual debates about actual, pressing issues, but, at least in the case of this election season, I don’t think that is likely.

Tess Halpern is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

About the Writer
Tess Halpern, Opinion & Editorial Editor

Tess Halpern is the head editor of the Opinion and Editorial section at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. She is a senior English major with a double minor in political science and sociology, and this is her fourth year at the Collegian. She began writing for OpEd during her freshman year, and as a columnist she mostly enjoyed writing about national politics and telling personal stories.

7 Comments

7 Responses to “Political protests and personal jabs: Just the tip of the iceberg”

  1. Joe on March 30th, 2016 12:46 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that @GOPteens is a popular satire account.

  2. deep toot on March 30th, 2016 9:22 am

    jesus, GOPTeens is literally one of the funniest accounts on the internet, please never write an article again

  3. David Hunt 1990 on March 30th, 2016 9:22 am

    Actually, insults and innuendo were common throughout American history. While I certainly decry some of the stuff being bandied around these days, it’s actually tame compared to yesteryear.

  4. Kris on March 30th, 2016 10:19 am

    Joe, it is satire, and by referencing it in this piece, Tess demonstrates how willing she is to blame “the other side”. If only someone would address this by writing a piece about how divided we are….

  5. #LiberHOLES on March 30th, 2016 11:56 am

    If you’re looking for some other great sources you should check out The Onion, Wikipedia, and your Facebook wall.

  6. Satire on March 30th, 2016 3:11 pm

    Looking at that twitter poll, that isn’t satire. It’s just hiding behind the name of satire in the name of political invincibility to defend how much of a waste of time it is. It might not be serious, but it is actually indicative of the level of political discussion online.

  7. rache on April 3rd, 2016 5:25 pm

    ““#DUMBocrats,” “#DEMONcrats,” “#DemocRATS” and, the winner with percent of the votes, “#LiberHOLES.What about the extensive demonization of republicans, you didn’t include that.

    There are two issues in this election. One is the nation has become extremely divided and there is no moderation, extremes have always existed but the difference is now those extremes dictate the policy and this election is an indication of that. And on all sides part of what is so appalling is the lack of accountability and only blame is attributed for the behavior and actions of others; take for example the “pro” trump and “anti” trump protesters; well some blame Trump for his statements for their violent behaviors and ironically the “anti” trump protesters who were violent blame Trump. They are only responsible for their behaviors and actions.

    Two is human nature. It’s amazing people want to think they are magically better in the 21st century; as if in some unknown way human nature has changed, it hasn’t. The reason conflict, crime, violence, wars happen all the time and every century and has for all of time is because of human nature. Nothing causes incivility, nothing causes people to fight or be in conflict or to be dishonest or immoral or anything else, only the people themselves and as it is their nature, there is no solution to it and its funny fairly recently this is considered “negative”. There is a reason there are morals, laws and governments and punishments.

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