As we move into what will doubtless be an extremely contentious pre-election season, there will be much to get upset about. Indeed, from Gingrich’s wacky moon base pitch to Romney’s rich-guy-isms to everything about Rick Santorum, there has already been much to dislike about the people standing between Obama and a second term in the White House.
It’s easy to loathe folks with opinions that diverge from our own, especially in election times. It’s even easier to forget that the people behind the divergent opinions and provocative soundbites are just that: people. Former Daily Show producer Michael Rubens makes this the point of a new editorial on Salon.com, about his days booking interview subjects for the show and discovering that, despite their often bizarre and distorted views, they were as often as not incredibly decent people. This may sound obvious, not to mention a bit simplistic, but there’s much truth to it.
“I lived in a little bubble surrounded by people who think more or less like me. And when I considered people with opposing viewpoints I would turn into a fabulist, concocting an entire narrative of who they were and what they were like — and what they were like was yucko. Because I was not really interacting with them. I just thought I was, because, hey, look, there they are on the TV, or there’s that guy’s post in the comments section. But that stuff doesn’t count. Meeting people counts. Talking counts.”
So, let’s all just take a deep breath and remember that people are just people, and politics are politics, and if we all try not to loathe each other quite so much, we might just be happier and more prosperous as a result. Sounds crazy, I know.