It’s been awhile since I have written anything that could be fairly characterized as “political commentary”. Some folks who know me well tell me that I get too caught up in the political goings-on in our country. My wife went so far as to persuade me to swear off all political commentary on Facebook for a year. I confess to having fallen off the wagon once or twice since then, but I have largely kept my promise. This blog entry is my not-so-sneaky way of getting around the political commentary ban, this one time. Sorry, sweetheart.
To say that I am very concerned with the decline of civility in our country, particularly where political discourse is concerned, is a gigantic understatement. There was a time when we recognized that people of good conscience could disagree on issues of importance. We respected differing opinions, and civil discussion and debate often resulted in compromise that was good for everyone. Sadly, those days are long gone, replaced with ugly rhetoric, name-calling, and a stubborn refusal to give up an inch to the “other side”. The result: lots of anger, more name-calling, and stalemate.
Recent events that played out on the national stage are a perfect illustration. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, along with several members of her family, was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant without being served. The restaurant owner made no bones about the fact that her decision was based upon Ms. Sanders’ position in the current administration. Shortly after that incident, Congresswoman Maxine Waters gave a speech in which she encouraged people to publicly accost members of the Trump cabinet or staff. “Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” Waters later refused to back off of her comments, noting that people should “absolutely harass” Trump staffers.
Now, before you all jump to the conclusion that I am a Trump supporter, let me set you straight. I’m not. Not even close. I hate the fact that the leader of our great nation thinks it acceptable to belittle those who disagree with him, resorting to grade-school name calling like “slippery” this, “lyin’” that, or “crooked” the other thing. It’s embarrassing to see the President of the United States act like a grade school bully. Even worse is the fact that when our President acts that way, much of the nation follows. He sets the bar, and right now, I think the bar is very dangerously low. I mean low to the point that I fear serious incidents of widespread violence based solely upon political differences are not far off.
People who support the comments by Congresswoman Waters argue that President Trump frequently called for violence against opponents in his campaign rallies. That is a truth that cannot be ignored, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the nation has to sink to that level. For those who oppose the president, isn’t the fact that he supports such actions reason enough to completely reject them? For those who support him, are you not the same folks who called President Obama “the most divisive president in the history of our country”? Does anyone honestly believe that public harassment and name-calling will lead to an end of the ever-widening division between those of differing political ideologies?
One of the best political quotes of recent years came from First Lady Michelle Obama, when, speaking of the need to remain civil in our political disagreements, she said, “When they go low, we go high”. We should all take that comment to heart, because the course we are presently following can only lead to a very ugly and destructive end. Let’s all resolve to “go high”. Civility must live on. Without it, the very future of our great nation as we have known it for 200+ years is at risk.