"Are people are already too ashamed to admit voting for such a shit stain?"
That was a comment somebody made recently, and it viscerally upset me. And it has taken me a while to figure out why I reacted as I did to this, by present day Vine standards, almost innocuous comment. This President -- every President -- gets called specious, absurd, mean-spirited, uncharitable, and occasionally legitimately critical things all the time. This is nothing new to the Obama presidency - as those sympathetic to the previous administration will not hesitate to point out. Obama is not the first President to be turned - rhetorically, mind you - into an effigy for the burning.
As a partisan, and someone who will easily admit to be actually rooting for Obama, and the rest of us, to succeed, I've heard plenty of insults, and I'll admit to having returned in kind on occassion. But there is something specific, to my mind, about this particular insult. To call someone a "shit stain" is to suggest that they are the waste of the waste, the last vestige of disgustingly unwanted fecal smudge. It is dehumanizing, it suggests that a person does not even belong to the category of life and the living. He has no agency, no future, nothing but a trace of muck.
To say that about a man, about any man, is a mean, hard thing. To say it about the man who occupies the highest office in the land, that he is a stain of shit, demeans the Presidency and - since ours is a democratic country in which the choice of President belongs ultimately in the will of the people - it ends up demeaning all of us.
To get to the heart of the matter: I am not ashamed to have voted for Obama, nor should anyone be. The same applies under any Presidency.
Whatever happens, whether Obama succeeds or fails to bring about change in America, one fact will never be disputed: he was elected by us, by the American people. Despite the many differences that separate the left and the right these days, I think we can all agree that the way of life as we've known it faces an uncertain future. And history will be the judge of how we respond to the crises we face. Those of you who voted against Obama don't get a pass on the next four years, just as those of us who did not want to see George W. Bush elected and then, heartbreak of heartbreaks, re-elected, didn't get to sit out the last eight.
During the Bush years many of us lost control and said things, mean hard things about the President. It would not surprise me at all if President Bush was called a "shit stain" or a "syphallitic pig fucker" or even something worse. But it was wrong then, and it is wrong now, because that kind of hatred - and language - is fundamentally self-defeating. Like all hate-based language, it doesn't inspire any kind of meaningful activity. It just stirs the simmering pot. As a people we can no longer afford to just simmer in our own rich, steamy hatred sauce.
So to conclude, while I understand passion, and I applaud creativity, blatantly insulting language does nothing to further a spirited conversation. I humbly beg everyone, including myself: stop and think about what you are about to post, for just a moment, before you hit Post. Is there maybe a better, a cleverer or at the very least less distracting way of making my point?