A Return to Civil Discourse

There is a lot to worry about when it comes to the Trump regime. Thankfully, there are some checks and balances that seem to be keeping Trump from doing everything his “base” tells him he has to do, but the greatest check available in our system of government is Congress, and they are run by the Republican Party, who think winning elections is more important than the welfare of the country.

There are so many potential articles of impeachment available, but without a government that is willing to hold the executive branch accountable, nothing can happen.

Those who have followed this blog for a long time know that I largely reject the idea that we, as a country, are “divided,” certainly not to the extent advertised, anyway. What we are seeing is, in most cases, nothing more than watching things happen from inside our individual bubbles. From our bubble on the left, we get attacked by the wingnuts on the right, and from the right wing bubble, they are attacked by those on the far left, who chastise them for ignorance and their willingness to accept bullshit as fact. Both sides think of themselves as political animals; people who value “politics” above all else, and who strive to live and breathe what they call “politics.” Unfortunately, both sides who are divided have the same problem; they hold an obsession with their brand of “politics.” Because of that, they tend to lose perspective.

The problem is, when you lose perspective, you lose a sense of reality. What most “political junkies” believe is not real. In the real world, at least 80% of all people are NOT hung up on politics. In fact, the vast majority of Americans have neither the time nor the inclination to obsess over politics. The “progressive” side of the aisle is always on about how hard life is for the “99 percent.” The far left is always demanding a higher minimum wage because millions of families are not making a “living wage.” We know these people are barely scraping by and we know the current incarnation is always screwing them, so they can better afford huge tax cuts for people who are too rich to even care about taxes. And yet, we expect these people to share our obsession with what we call “politics.” Ask yourself this; if you were having to work three jobs and seven days a week, just to put some food on the table for your three kids, would you have the time you have now to obsessively watch “news” programs that reflect your opinion? The answer is, of course, no, you wouldn’t. And yet, the far left believes their obsession with “news,” which is better defined as “opinions that comport with my own,” makes them smarter. But really, is an obsession with MSNBC really better than an obsession with Fox?

The one casualty of the Trump regime that I worry most about is that we may never gain back our collective civilized souls. We are seeing a meanness that is a relatively new development in our discourse, and it really has to stop. Yes, I know; right wingers are generally stupid and uneducated, but so what? My father, grandfather and several uncles were uneducated; the only difference was, they were die-hard union workers back in the day. While it’s easy to dismiss “rednecks” and “hillbillies” and the like as if they don’t matter, even those idiots had as much of a hand in building this country as anyone.

And yes, most of what right wingers stand for is disgusting and parasitic and what they believe has to go. However, in many cases, we still have to deal with them at times. Face it; we all have that relative who is a wonderful person who just happens to think Trump is the cat’s meow. We have all had that friend we’ve known since high school or earlier, who is a good person in every other aspect of their lives, but their politics is incorrigible. I remember working with a large law firm back East, and one of the attorneys I had to work with quite often had a St. Reagan shrine in his office and was an officer with the Federalist Society in the area. Yet, I managed to work well with the guy and we had a good, solid professional working relationship. The idea that we can’t separate the man or women from their political beliefs is ridiculous. In fact, for me, it served as motivation to make sure I got as many Democratic votes out of that office as possible. After all, this attorney did only have one vote. At another firm, I worked closely with someone who worked very closely with the McCain presidential campaigns, in 2000 and 2008. You would think we would be like oil and water, but we got along fine; we just didn’t talk about politics. Or, if we did, we limited it to issues. What I found out was surprising, really; we actually had more things in common, even politically, than either of us would acknowledge.

In other words, it’s really easy to hate someone based on their politics, but easy isn’t always the best way to do things.

Think about it this way; if you’re having lunch in the park, and you see two people screaming at each other, do you find yourself sitting as close to that as possible? Or are you more likely to get as far away from them as is practical? So, the question is, are you trying to win or are you trying to promote your progressive message? If you think you’re promoting a progressive message by gain-saying right wingers, think again.

This is the thing we all have to learn. I’m one of those who think politics is important. That said, the politics in this country was, until recently, very stable. There were never any amazing swings in one direction or another, and we could count on a measure of checks and balances, which kept us on an even keel. I mean, until 2016, the worst thing that happened was the election of George W. Bush, with the help of the Supreme Court. Just behind that one was the Watergate scandal, which led to impeachment of a president, who had the good sense to resign before dragging the country through a trial.

Now, those incidents seem almost quaint. We have a president in office who uses the callers to right wing talk radio to mine talking points and who will do anything he thinks they want him to. He mimics everything they say, including the idea that “liberals” are immoral and anti-American. In addition, his view of brown and black people reeks of white nationalism. I certainly can’t recall a time when a president said so many hateful things to American citizens, or did so many hateful things to make Americans’ lives miserable.

And again, Trump is getting his marching orders from the CALLERS to right wing talk radio. And when I say callers, I mean those freaks who get their jollies calling in to Rush Limbaugh to give their ‘mega-ditties” before going off on a rant about one version or another of “them people.” These are people who think the United States is a “white country” and all of these brown people who have come here and demanded equal rights are interlopers. They think all drug dealers should be put to death precisely because they imagine all drug dealers as black and living in near city “ghettos.” They think “blue lives matter” is more important than “Black Lives Matter” because they envision all drug dealers as black and all police officers who confront them as white. And again; they are giving the current resident of the White House his marching orders.

This is why the current regime (just as I can’t use the words “President” and “Trump” adjacent to each other, I can’t call this shitshow an “administration.” It’s too chaotic to administer anything) has been so horrible and so overtly anti-American. The people who inform it and guide the ship of state have no concept that the United States is not now, nor has it ever been, a “white” country. Well, officially speaking, anyway. We are supposed to embrace everyone who comes here. We are supposed to welcome the poor and downtrodden and give them a safe space to live their lives in freedom. And yet, right now, we seem to have replaced the “welcome mat” with a “no trespassing” sign.

I hate to be a downer, but getting rid of a bad president is not easy. Never has been, and probably never will be. Our job as citizens is to make sure really bad people don’t get elected in the first place. There are no do-overs built into our system, which is a good thing. If it was easy to get rid of presidents, there is no way either Clinton or Obama would have completed their first term, let alone led us for two. We, as citizens need to be responsible stewards of democracy and we should be nurturing it. Our primary remedy for fixing deficiencies in government include elections to replace the worst elements every other year, with presidents replaced every four years.

It’s time we did our jobs as American citizens and got rid of the worst elements of our government. Our grandparents knew the Republican Party was bad news when their policies led to the Great Depression, and the GOP became a minority party for a generation. Our grandparents were smarter than us, at least politically. My generation, the Baby Boomers, apparently forgot that lesson because we keep letting Republicans win, even though their policies are clearly nasty and cruel and the opposite of “progressive.”

You may think I wandered away with this article, but I didn’t. Everything here is related.

It’s time to bring civility back to public discourse. Of course, that can only start when we get rid of the current incarnation of the Republican Party. We need to oust them at all levels of government and make government work for us once again. Then, we need to ignore the dregs of political discourse, which includes the extreme far right AND the extreme far left. Those “progressives” who thought Hillary Clinton was “the enemy” belong on the fringe of society along with the far right, and it is we who have to place them there. That’s how things used to be; the idiot right and the bomb-throwing left always used to be on the fringes, and it’s time we placed them there again.

We used to engage in civil discourse because we didn’t listen to the extremists, in part because they have nothing to say that is worth hearing. It’s time to get back there again. The next election will begin that process. Anyone who cares about this country has to vote Democrat, at least for the next 4-5 election cycles. That is how we begin to return our country to sanity.

Also published on Medium.

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


A Return to Civil Discourse — 1 Comment

  1. Several points will make me think things trough a bit differently than i have been.
    Well written, Milt.