America is nearing another election year. The race for 2012 seems to be getting hotter every passing day . I am a keen observer of US politics, it is a fascinating topic for me. America is a polarized nation when it comes to political views. Now that the elections are getting close, emotions are reaching a peak, and the nation seems more polarized than ever.
Currently the debates between the pool of possible candidates from the Republican party (GOP) who could contest against President Obama are on. These debates are an interesting watch in general, but this year there's a peculiar aspect of the debates that has made more people sit up and take notice.
Okay, I'm very interested in politics, so maybe I have a deeper fascination for these debates than the next person, but whether one likes politics or not, I think these debates make for an interesting watch and give a good idea about the candidates' stands on various important political issues.
This year however, the debates also have another very interesting, albeit unnecessary aspect.
In addition to giving an insight to the candidates' minds, the debates are also speaking volumes about the audience that is attending the debates. In the years that I've followed these debates (admittedly not that long) I've never seen a phenomenon so interesting .
What's happening is that the audience is speaking up, and booing, or cheering while a question is posed to the candidates, while booing or cheering in itself isn't unexpected or strange from an audience, what is weird is that such booing/cheering is happening at all the wrong places (or shall I say politically incorrect places? ) .
First, there was a gay soldier, who had a video question for a presidential candidate about the military's don't ask, don't tell policy in America. He was booed by the audience after the video question was over. Now I'm not even talking about homophobia here (which is a seperate discussion), but the response to the soldier's query begs the question in my mind that was he booed because he was gay or because he was a soldier who happened to be gay ?? There's no sure way to know the answer, so your guess is as good as mine here.
In another instance, some in the audience have cheered at the mention of the death penalty. When Texas governor Rick perry was questioned on his hardline stand about the death penalty, once could hear cheers from the audience, along the lines of a lynch mob ready for the next lynching. While I'm not an opponent of the death penalty, but the fact remains that when dealing with the topic of death, we must be mindful of maintaining the solemnity of the issue, and it's controversial nature. I only hope that the cheering done, was for Gov. Rick perry's record in TX and not about the actual death penalties carried out.
As disturbing as the above instances were, the one that takes the cake for me is the next one. One of the candidates (Rep. Ron Paul) was questioned in a debate, on his stand about the healthcare policy in the US, and his opinion on the healthcare plan proposed by President Obama , also known as Obamacare . He was also questioned on what in his opinion is a young poor person supposed to do if he happens to fall sick and has no healthcare options (i.e no health insurance) , and whether that person should just accept death since he has no insurance? To this question, before Rep Paul's response, came a reaction from the audience cheering the option of letting the poor person die, because he doesn't have the means to provide for his own health insurance.
Never mind what one's views are about US's healthcare situation, but just from a human standpoint, we should have compassion for another human's suffering, we can have our disagreements on how the issue should be tackled, however just the fact that even the suggestion of someone possibly dying due to lack of options of treatment, is not only met with apathy, but infact is cheered, is both outrageous and deeply disturbing.
We have long ways to go before the actual elections, and many more such debates, so it's only rational to expect the environment to get more politically charged, and opinions to get more polarized, but it remains to be seen what the future debate audiences hold in store for us.