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Any perception that I’ve fallen down on blog-writing lately is right on the money. Other work and writing demands have something to do with that, along with the need for a break over the holidays, but that’s not all.

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Courtesy worldartsme.com

The issues that most need addressing these days break my heart. Some things are so wrong they’re just obvious and one would think no commentary is needed, but many who have drunk the Kool-aid refuse to even consider better options. And, many of the most popular ideas are not just bad, they’re mean. The country is awash in malice, and I don’t want to be a part of it.

The current political campaign scene is positively charged with negative energy and hateful rhetoric. It’s not the first time candidates have talked ugly or outright lied about each other, of course, and it won’t be the last, though this campaign may set records for churlish behavior.

The scary part is that much of the rancor isn’t directed toward fellow candidates, but toward American citizens and would-be citizens who don’t look like the candidates or share their ideologies. And the scarier part is that millions of Americans think that’s a fine thing: the campaign has made it painfully clear that America has a mean streak. It’s a big, wide swath of enmity fueled by racist and sexist attitudes, a revisionist view of history, and a deep fear of those who are different.

A popular campaign strategy is to tap into populist anger and fan it with irresponsible rhetoric. There are reasons to be angry, especially over an economic system that favors the wealthy few while leaving minimum wage workers in poverty. The political pot-stirrers, however, are skilled at making people who are slightly better off feel angry at the folk who are so poor that they need government services — rather than resenting those who make or support the policies that hold them down, too.

Amazingly, those who are so adept at oppressing others brazenly portray themselves as victims. Nowhere is this more evident than with those who claim that persons seeking equal treatment are infringing on their religious freedom when their actual agenda is to establish a theocratic system that discriminates against those who don’t share their particular version of Christianity.

The worst aspects of the political grandstanding are not just intolerant, bigoted, and angry: they’re a dark stain on the variegated tapestry we call America.

We can do better.

Tony Cartledge

About Tony Cartledge

Tony W. Cartledge is contributing editor of Baptists Today, in addition to teaching Old Testament studies and various ministry courses at Campbell University Divinity School. He formerly served as editor of the Biblical Recorder, newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and as a pastor for 26 years. Tony is a graduate of the University of Georgia, Southeastern Seminary and Duke University, where he earned a Ph.D. He is the author of several books including the Smyth & Helwys commentary on First and Second Samuel and Telling Stories: Tall Tales and Deep Truths and several Bible study books for Nurturing Faith.