It used to be an unwritten rule that people could disagree without being disagreeable. Today it seems virtually impossible, at all levels of discourse, for many people to avoid being disagreeable. In fact, often times, they are not only disagreeable but despicable in their behavior and commentary.
To be fair both sides of the political spectrum seem to engage in this sport but it seems that those who comprise the “left” are participants in greater numbers and greater intensity. Simply watching all the cable news networks or reading the New York Times and Washington Post would seem to support such a claim.
What is there about President Trump specifically, and conservatives generally, that causes political opponents to lose all sense of proportion as well as just common courtesy? To have a viewpoint that is in opposition to either Trump or conservatives is not only fair but something that is an integral part of our system. The “loyal opposition” exists for the purpose of keeping the party in power in check. But today it seems it is much more.
There is a deep seated, visceral and burning hatred for Donald Trump and those who support him that seems to have gotten to the point of irrationality. Nothing that Trump has done or said is of any value in the minds of many of his critics. Anything good that has taken place in the past three years is solely the result of the prior administration and the actions of the Trump administration has been of no consequence. Many of the critics resort to only the most vulgar name calling as well as claiming that any action by Trump is spawned by his “hate” for a particular person or identity group. They see Trump as the living incarnation of evil who must be destroyed at all costs and include as well as any person who supports Trump. We have already seen how this plays out in the “ends justify the means””scenario as portrayed in the pseudo claim that Trump was a pawn of the Russian government.
This attitude is highly dangerous for our nation. It makes people who in the past could disagree but remain friends, become enemies. It creates fissures in families that will never fully heal. And the belief that we are all Americans is at risk of becoming a thing of the past.
It seems this divide is promoted and encouraged by the media as the stories they run have a slant that exacerbates the feelings on both sides of any issue. Of course in so doing the media sell papers or increase viewership which translates to more money and that is the ultimate goal even if, in the process, the public comity is forever destroyed.
I find it is becoming harder and harder to talk about any political issue with other persons. When they tell me Trump is a lying, degenerate sack of dung it makes reasonable discourse very difficult. Name calling is a very weak form of debate and yet we see it so frequently. And how is one to respond? By saying “No, he isn’t a lying degenerate sack of dung?” How does that advance the discussion?
Wouldn’t it be better, and far more productive, to pick any particular policy or action; state that you disagree with it and then give the rationale for your position? In that way, if I, or anyone else disagreed we could attempt to provide counter arguments and perhaps one, or both individuals, might agree that their position needs to be modified. A civilized discussion by reasonable people can often result in compromise and agreement. Ranting, raving and name calling seldom leads to any accommodation and more often results in creating hard feelings that can well ruin relationships.
—John L. Lengemann