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Divisive rhetoric

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
I decided to make a thread about divisive rhetoric after the comments in Unity's thread.

What exactly is divisive rhetoric? In 2008 we saw then Senator Barak Obama run on blaming everything wrong with this country on George Bush and the Republican party. Some of it was legitimate, some of it was not. We saw calls for "Hope" and "Change" and rallies against the then sitting president. We saw and heard him campaign not really against John McCain, but against 8 years of George Bush. We heard him call his policies failures blaming him for people's plights.

Since taking office we've seen and heard him making comments about "Republicans have to take a backseat" and still the claims of "Republicans failed leadership" and George Bush "driving the car into a ditch".

So I wonder, is this divisive rhetoric? Is this dividing the country? Does this do harm? And I REALLY wonder, if someone should attempt to assasinate the former president Bush or say a leading Republican, would there be blood on President Obama's hands? If there are people in dire straits, and he continually blames George Bush for their problems, and someone takes action, is he to blame? Or was he just being patriotic for dissenting against the sitting president?
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
In my opinion, just looking at the term without citing specific politicians, parties, etc., I'd call divisive rhetoric a use of more shallow, unsubstantial descriptions and tactics in politics. People using the same sort of speech that is more about creating division among citizens than it is about conveying information, viewpoints, or actually having a debate. Blaming things on a previous administration always happens, and is fine if you can cite your feelings as to why (ex: I blame the economic problems primarily on the Bush Administration for its policy on tax-cuts and on its lack of regulation in the financial sector).

Divisive rhetoric to me, is catch phrases and buzz-words (socialist, job-killing, fascist, gun-nut). It's the kind of speech that demonizes people of different points of view instead of trying to understand where they're coming from when stating your point of view. It's especially when attacking of character and the hinting of violence and veiled threats comes into play when debate and policy is what really is important.

In some sort of assassination attempt like you mentioned, CO, the blame is on the person that thought violence was acceptable. In that scenario, all that the current President was doing is talking about past political ideas with which he disagreed.
 

Jeanie

still nobody's bitch
V.I.P.
I do think this is divisive and I think we need to move forward instead of looking to place blame for where we are now. It's been going on for ages, though, and sadly I don't see it ending any time soon.

That said, there is a difference between simple divisive rhetoric and inflammatory speech that fuels peoples' anger and hatred, like in the picture that Cons posted in Unity's thread.
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
In some sort of assassination attempt like you mentioned, CO, the blame is on the person that thought violence was acceptable. In that scenario, all that the current President was doing is talking about past political ideas with which he disagreed.
Which is all Rush Limbaugh talks about, yet somehow as soon as something like this happens, MoveOn.org and Salon.com blame him for stirring people up. Which is the problem I have. I see them both as patriotic for dissenting, yet Limbaugh is labeled divisive while Obama is not.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
I hate to say it, but a lot of thread OPs in MD in general (from you in the example of this thread, and in other threads started by other people) are examples of being divisive. It's part of a problem in our country's dialogue right now. Instead of the thread starting with solely talking about people being divisive in politics, in came from a "Us vs. Them" point of view. By the 3rd post, it's already become about Rush Limbaugh and MoveOn.org.

Sorry CO, you know that I consider you a friend and I do think you're one of the most intelligent posters around this section.

To answer your question, though, President Obama using terms like "driving the car into the ditch" is divisive, but in my opinion it had meaning in the interpretation of economic policy and wasn't hateful or carrying violent connotations. It was saying that he disagreed with their policy, it wasn't attacking Republican legislators as people. While I still don't like the use of buzz words and phrases, it was one he used a couple of times only and I'm ok with that. It was election time and it's going to happen.
 

CaptainObvious

Embrace the Suck
V.I.P.
I hate to say it, but a lot of thread OPs in MD in general (from you in the example of this thread, and in other threads started by other people) are examples of being divisive. It's part of a problem in our country's dialogue right now. Instead of the thread starting with solely talking about people being divisive in politics, in came from a "Us vs. Them" point of view. By the 3rd post, it's already become about Rush Limbaugh and MoveOn.org.
Actually it's not about Rush Limbaugh and MoveOn.org, Unity, it's about who gets called divisive and who does not. I'm just tired of those on one side of the political spectrum being called divisive and the other side not.

I clearly stated I considered Obama patriotic for dissenting. I'm only using his example because certainly if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are divisive, then why isn't he?

Sorry CO, you know that I consider you a friend and I do think you're one of the most intelligent posters around this section.
And I feel the same way about you.

To answer your question, though, President Obama using terms like "driving the car into the ditch" is divisive, but in my opinion it had meaning in the interpretation of economic policy and wasn't hateful or carrying violent connotations. It was saying that he disagreed with their policy, it wasn't attacking Republican legislators as people. While I still don't like the use of buzz words and phrases, it was one he used a couple of times only and I'm ok with that. It was election time and it's going to happen.
But think about it this way. If someone has lost their job, their healthcare insurance, their house has been foreclosed on, etc..and our president keeps telling him "It's George Bush's fault you are in this situation" and he does something, is it Obama's fault?

I say no, it's not. But if it were the other way around, because it HAS happened, Rush would be blamed. That's the problem I have. I'm not being divisive, I'm just calling for some honesty and consistency.
 
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shelgarr

Registered Member
I am tiring of the mere word "rhetoric". I sincerely don't get it. On another website, no matter what opinion or participation I had, there was 1 or 2 posters that accused me of rhetoric EVERY SINGLE TIME. Good God...how can one express these days without being labelled?

I would say though that I could pick two; one on the left, one on the right that are guilty of "divisive rhetoric". Rev Wright and Rush Limbaugh. They have captive audiences and somehow have license to say anything they want. It incites anger and hate and hostility and antagonism and retaliation. Basically very ugly.

In a "I hate doctors" thread in another forum here, there was a comment by someone that it's "republicans" that are going to make things worse by being against the health care bill. That statement is "divisive rhetoric" because it doesn't reflect any truth at all.

Maybe that is the crux....rhetoric is inflammatory and isn't accurate.
 

SmilinSilhouette

Registered Member
Dictionary.com

So what is the problem? Rhetoric is just a term for speech or commentary. Divisive? :lol: it is only divisive if you don't agree. If you agree then it is uniting rhetoric. So much fuss about how people express themselves. If you don't like it THEN IGNORE IT!

Problem solved.
 

Merc

Problematic Shitlord
V.I.P.
Ignoring problems is the best way to exacerbate them.

In all honesty, I think the biggest problem with the topic at hand is nobody thinks they're guilty. CO mentioned Obama blaming Bush, well Bush blamed Clinton and it only continues the same way backwards (for a few presidents anyways, not all of them).
 

shelgarr

Registered Member
Or maybe if it's not rhetoric it could be called thought. You're right....no problem. Oh wait, thought can be divisive. Because my thoughts are better and no one wants to admit it. :))))
 
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