I’m probably nowhere close to being the first person to realize this. The problem is, us independents are very definitely a minority, so things we notice like this don’t get bandied about on Facebook and other social media. We’re drowned out by the faithful, yammering as they do about their candidates.
And the majority of them actually do act like they’re in a cult.
Consider: you have the Trumpites (Trumpets?), who seem to be the majority on the Republican side of things at the moment. Of course, in political terms, it’s a long, long time till November, so anything can happen by the time the election comes around, but right now he seems to be the one riding the wave. I think it interesting—and a bit disturbing—that the Republican leadership differs with their members on this one, as they don’t like the man. Do they know more than the average Republican voter? Who knows? But one thing is for sure: it’s a disturbing trend—and reflective of a larger issue I see in our government in general—that they are determined not to listen to their constituents on this matter.
Then there are the Cruzerians, following a man many are questioning as they did Obama before him: as a Canadian born to an American mother, does he have the right to even be president? This has plagued Obama for his entire eight-year stint, and will likely follow him to his grave. I imagine the same will happen to Ted Cruz, should he win. Or, for that matter, should he lose the nomination or bid for the presidency. Talking heads will no doubt point to this as a major factor in his defeat—along with the fact he has the gall to actually be religious.
The Rubiomites seem to have a hard row to hoe, as Rubio has flip-flopped on some issues—especially illegal immigration—about as much as John Kerry flip-flopped on our Middle Eastern ventures. He seems to have earned his sobriquet of being a RINO (Republican In Name Only), at least if you ask a Trumpite or a Cruzerian.
On the opposite side, you have the Hillaryans, who apparently believe we need to follow up the first black president with the first woman president, which is fuzzy logic at best. But then, politics and logic rarely coincide. In fact, I was once derided on Facebook for uttering the blasphemous phrase Logic dictates. Apparently the commenter thought making decisions based on knee-jerk reactions (PATRIOT Act, anyone?) and emotions was a much better method than examining facts to make an informed choice. But I digress. Much like the Cruzerians, the Hillaryans have to face the fact their candidate is (yet again) under investigation for something. But hey, since when has a scandal meant anything in American politics?
And last but not least, there is the Church of Bernie, where any day now, he will usher in a utopia where there’s all kinds of free stuff and the lions will lie down with the lambs and all that. I wouldn’t say they’re any worse than the others—after all, I don’t support any of the current crop—but they do seem the least pragmatic, since it’s pretty easy to see nothing is free. But I’m not here to argue policy, and saying he’s the least pragmatic is like saying his shit stinks less: it really doesn’t matter, cuz it’s all crap.
I realize there are likely sensible people who have decided on one of the above candidates for what to them are sensible reasons. The problem is, they’re not the ones you see commenting and foaming at the mouth on social media. They stay more or less quiet—with a few exceptions—and make their voices heard at the polls. I don’t know if they’re in the minority or not, though I suspect they’re not. After all, there aren’t as many rabid dogs as there are good ones, so I imagine those who spout off about anything and everything and resort to name-calling to make their points are an embarrassment to the rest.
And the thing is, the mouth-foamers are the ones you can’t reason with. I have a man I now consider to be a good friend, Gordon Bonnet, with whom I agree on very little politically. But you know what? We can have intelligent discussions about it without insulting one another, and he’s made me rethink some things, as I hope I have him. I don’t want to bring him over to my way of thinking, and I don’t believe he does me, but we can talk about these things and do it with respect for one another. That’s a rare thing these days, at least on the discussion threads I see online.
As an independent, I tend to like to go onto these threads and be a troll, and it’s amazing to me how alike both sides actually are. Not in what they believe, but in the fervency of that belief. They absolutely refuse to entertain any viewpoint but their own—much like, say, Christians and Muslims, to use just two examples—and if you dare suggest anything different, they yell at you and call you names. And when you point out the fallacy of their argument by stating facts and figures—or simply point out that what they’re spouting is an opinion and they haven’t backed it up with fact—they go silent. I don’t know if they’re pouting or what.
And one last thing to consider: both parties are having something of an identity crisis (I suppose that’s the correct term) at the moment. On the Republican side, you have the schism between the party leadership and the voters, where many of the latter support Trump, mostly as a major sea change in the way the party does things (that in itself isn’t a bad thing), while the leaders themselves threaten to boycott him at their national convention.
On the Democrat side of things, the contentions between followers of Hillary and Bernie also seem to threaten to tear the party apart, with supporters on both sides saying if the other candidate wins the nomination, they’ll vote Republican. Or stay home.
The bottom line is, the hate and vitriol I see both sides spewing is very much reminiscent of religion. I saw a meme on Facebook positing that anyone who is against Obama is not only a racist, but also a victim of genetically inherited ignorance. This was put out by Occupy Democrats. I have no idea how radical they may be, but if this is one of their beliefs, I’d say fairly radical. My first thought on reading this was to wonder if they were going to start espousing their own form of eugenics at some point in the future. You know, instead of eliminating “inferior” races, just eliminate those with genetically inherited ignorance, or at least decide they can’t vote.