May 25th, 2010

The Short Bus

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Written by: Battleground Iowa

By Emily Geiger

I saw a comment on TIR a few days ago that struck a chord. I can’t remember who said it, so I can’t give proper credit, but it came up in the midst of all of the talk about Bob Vander Plaats’ tenure at Opportunities Unlimited, an organization that deals with people with mental handicaps.

Someone pointed out the irony of the fact that Vander Plaats worked for this organization and even won some award for advocating for individuals with these disabilities, yet now, his supporters and surrogates are regularly heard making fun of former Govenor Terry Branstad’s campaign vehicle, a small motor home that the many in the Vander Plaats crowd gleefully refer to as “the short bus.”

In case you weren’t aware, saying that someone rides a “short bus” is usually a derogatory term implying that a person has some sort of mental disability and perhaps would have been grouped with special education kids, who often ride a smaller bus to keep them segregated from the larger school population.

I don’t know if Bob Vander Plaats himself has heard this or has ever told his surrogates to knock this rhetoric off (or if they would even listen to him if he did), but this is pretty ironic. I also believe that this is indicative of the level on incivility going on in the current primary election here in Iowa.

Most candidates’ supporters are guilty of this to some extent, but I do think some are worse than others. I think that what people have forgotten is that disagreeing with someone’s ideas is not a personal attack. Saying that they belong on a short bus is a personal attack. See the difference?

Questioning the consistency of someone’s actions generally isn’t a personal attack (especially if backed up by factual examples of those actions). Saying that support of one particular candidate makes you a good Christian and support of another makes you a bad Christian, or not a Christian at all, is just ridiculous, especially when all of the GOP candidates want to overturn gay marriage as quickly as possible and are strongly pro-life.

The other thing that I find troubling is the fact that some people who claim to be Christians seem to be the most vocal purveyors of this sort of unproductive rhetoric. I think these people need to really stop and think about what happens when this election is over.

Are these people being salt that will attract unbelievers? What are the people still seeking faith going to think of Christians after seeing how these people have conducted themselves? Are they going to want what the “Christians” have when what they see that what “Christians” have is anger and hatred and a bunch of junior high names that they call others?

Probably not.

You can take a strong stand for a candidate, but you can do that without stooping to a level of rhetoric that would make a Democrat blush. And you can do it while being fair to all parties involved. You can do it without distorting records, you can do it without harassing your opponents’ families, and you can do it without spoof ads that talk about short buses.

Besides, shouldn’t people want their candidate to win fair and square in the marketplace of ideas, and not the back alley of distortion?

About the Author

Battleground Iowa
Emily Geiger writes from a conservative perspective on everything from politics to religion to pop culture. Like the original Emily of Revolutionary War era, this Emily is delivering important messages crucial to winning the raging war of the time, but today, this is a culture war rather than a traditional one. And, like the original Emily, sometimes it takes a woman to do (or say) that which lesser men lack the courage and tenacity to do.

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