Politics and Facebook

It was a tumultuous week in politics - especially in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell, the incumbent Republican senator (for life) defeated his Democrat challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes. It was an bitter race, equipped with more attack ads and accusations than one could count. Nationally, Republicans took control of the Senate and McConnell became the Senate Majority Lead.

I was excited for the political ads to end on Wednesday and the campaign signs to come down. I was naive to believe life would immediately return to normal. As a friend summarized it: "I was so excited for political ads to end, that I forgot about all the post-election whining and criticism. Even more annoying."

Democracy is a form of government where all eligible citizens are able to participate equally; everyone gets one vote. It is a founding principle of our great nation. Similarly, freedom of speech is the first amendment in the Constitution. Unfortunately, social media became the place where some exercised freedom of speech (specifically, lashing out about those who voted for the other party) after the ballots were counted.

Some examples:

  • "As if I needed one more reason to hate (a word I don't often use) republicans and this stupid state I live in."
  • Posting maps that label all blue states as "America" and all red states as "Dumbfuckistan"
  • "I just threw up in my mouth. I can hardly wait to see how you [McConnell] and your majority f**k it all up."

Conversely, some used social media to express their disappointment in the election results through their appreciation for the candidates and the electoral process.

A prime example: "Alison [Grimes] deserves the respect of every Kentuckian and I am grateful she was willing to step forward and face the most challenging race in the country. Needless to say, whoever wins, I expect change and bold leadership from all public officials. Times are changing and there is less tolerance for political nonsense. Kentucky deserves the best and we shouldn't settle for anything less."

My point behind this post is not to discourage individuals from exercising their right to freedom of speech; my point is simply to note that there are far more constructive ways to express your disappointment than lashing out those with dissenting votes. Different opinions are a treasured aspect of democracy. Intentionally offending those whose political beliefs vary from yours is not a way to build goodwill - even if it only occurs on social media and not face-to-face.

... But for humor's sake, a completely ignorant post on Grimes' Facebook page: "Oh I forgot the Ebola places. Are living in shacks. Obamacare isn't free. You gotta pay for it monthly. Them people lucky eat daily. They can't afford obamacare. I guess it's why our vets are dying."