Nothing like a shot of cheap politics

Published 7:35 am Thursday, October 25, 2012

After three heated debates between President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney I can safely say I’ve had my fill of national politics for this “round.”

I’m literally counting down the days to Nov. 6 until I can cast my ballot along with my fellow voters so a winner can be declared and we can put this miserable process away until 2016.

It’s like my grandfather always said, “You’re voting for the lesser of the two evils.”

In case you couldn’t tell I am a little cynical when it comes to politics.

To be honest just the idea of watching the debates made my skin crawl, but I wanted to see where each of them stood on the issues this country is facing. I wanted some smidgen of truth and facts.

Yet as I sat there watching Obama and Romney go at it I couldn’t help but be disappointed, after all my hopes were obscenely high.

Instead of hearing what I wanted to hear what I observed was the mirroring of the political polarization that has a grip on this country where neither party will work together for the betterment of their people.

If there ever was any courtesy or manners in politics, it’s all gone now as the world of political dialogue is only ruled by cheap shots.

Cheap shot, despicable, disgraceful are just a few printable adjectives I thought of when I saw a “tweet” by political commentator Ann Coulter while she was watching the final debate Monday night.

On Twitter she wrote, “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

In case you needed assurance Coulter was referring to Obama, and with all politics aside, it’s a low blow not to mention a vile way to describe any human being.

By no means am I a Coulter fan. In my opinion she’s one of these “commentators” that love living on the outer fringes of their affiliated parties and stirring the pot. She’s much like Bill Maher, who is on the opposite side of the political spectrum.

And let’s face it, they’re both paid to talk and shock.

The r-word has a heavy negative connotation when used in everyday banter. It’s often used derogatorily by the young, the uneducated and the just plain stupid to offend and insult.

No, it doesn’t shock me Coulter tweeted this, but rather it’s the self-disciplined and forgiving response she received from John Franklin Stephens, the Global Messenger for the Special Olympics Virginia.

Stephens, a 30-year-old with Down syndrome, recently wrote Coulter an open letter about her controversial remark.

In his letter he questions Coulter’s choice of word and reminds her that he is a person “who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.”

Stephens speaks about that public perception that is pushed on him and others who have intellectual disabilities.

“You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV,” he wrote. “Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.”

He concludes his letter by inviting Coulter to visit the Special Olympics some time and signed his letter from “a friend you haven’t made yet.”

Stephens’ letter holds a lesson we all could learn from, one of respect and class.
Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.