Righteous indignation gets trotted out a lot in politics. It’s used as a tactic, a candidate or group of people making a huge deal out of some offensive ad or statement from another candidate or group of people. They’re right to be upset, but we’re so used to this politically-calculated form of indignation that we’ve become numb to it.
That’s a shame, because from time to time, things happen where righteous indignation is not just the politically savvy response, but the human one.
Let’s start with the left side of the spectrum, where a group called ‘Latino Victory Fund’ put out an ad that effectively calls all Virginia Republicans racist rednecks:
The implication is clear — Gillespie supporters are confederate flag waving racists who would be more than willing to run down a child on the street for having the wrong skin color. The ad is offensive, sensationalized, and ignorant to the character and conduct of millions of Virginians.
The Northam campaign, meanwhile, is defending the ad:
— Kevin Robillard (@PoliticoKevin) October 30, 2017
Alas, politics is an equal opportunity sport with offenders on both sides. I’d be remiss to not compare this offensive “all Republicans are bigots” argument to a statement made by the man Gillespie beat out for the Republican nomination, Corey Stewart.
Stewart, a blowhard who actually did knowingly court the bigoted and racist alt-right during the primary, dropped this piece of idiocy recently:
On Sunday night, Trump-style populist Corey Stewart blasted Democrats, saying every one of them fits into one of four basic categories: “Criminals, communists, crackheads and weirdos.”
As someone who is a conservative from a family chock full of Democrats, I immediately felt a bit of righteous anger at Stewart. I believe liberal policy solutions are misguided, harmful, even detrimental to our society and country. The people who believe these things, however, aren’t evil. They’re just wrong.
Layer in the fact that about 10% of people are married to someone of the opposite political party, and it’s easy to see how comments like Stewart’s will shrink the tent, not expand it.
The generalization and demonization needs to stop. Public figures ask for that treatment, and the smearing of candidates has become standard. What makes the anti-Gillespie ad and the Stewart statement so egregious is that they don’t target the candidates — they target anyone who believes differently from their desired viewpoint. All Republicans are bigots. All Democrats are criminals and crackheads.
That’s a dangerous road to go down.