Evil. The mere word conjures images of pure darkness, demonic figures and tormenting flames.
Or, if you have caught any coverage of the 2004 presidential election as of late, another image comes to mind, that of President Bush.
I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. If fact, I'm often tempted to apply the E word to any and all political parties.
Calling the president an idiot, despite his degree from an Ivy League college, is one thing, but vilifying him to the point of verbally drawing him with horns and a pitchfork is crossing the line.
Amongst all the bickering and one-liners of the political season madness, political rivals take shots at the president, calling him evil, and as an aside briefly mention in passing that, oh by the way, Saddam is not such a nice guy either.
I can't help but to think of the brilliant political satire displayed in a South Park episode on the eve of the war in Iraq. The cartoon, while crude and offensive most, if not all, of the time, typically ends with a social or political commentary that makes sense of the 30 minutes that preceded the brief message.
The episode showed war and anti-war protestors clashing, leaving both sides asking what our forefathers would have wanted on the brink of war. It took one of the main characters, an elementary school student, to explain that division among political and social groups is actually a good thing.
The two-party system allows the country to do what it wants, yet be able to put forth an image that a large segment of the country doesn't support those actions. It gives the best of both worlds, he explains.
Although the cartoon depicted the political unrest leading up to the war, the same could be said for the political scene today.
Many of those who voted to approve military action now contend that they didn't mean for the country to go to war. Employing a variety of arguments, shrewd political veterans meander back through their previous statements and votes and pop up with new interpretations and new insights into why they said what they said and voted as they did.
I'm not a political science major, but from the sidelines I gather this is typical of the political world.
Bush's intelligence is debatable. To say, though, that he sent tens upon tens of thousands of troops into harm's way for oil or to avenge his father or whatever, is beyond politics as usual.
To even suggest such a thing baffles me. But as the episode of South Park suggests, maybe the political division only serves to benefit the country by allowing it to save face with the rest of the world.
Greg Gelpi covers schools and government issues for the News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.