With only two issues of Deer In Headlines remaining, I felt that one of them should be dedicated to a discussion about civility and the destructive nature of hate. In short, we must try to get along better, regardless of political, religious, or socioeconomic differences.
Over the last few years, our country has become severely divided. There is a level of anger, hate, and mistrust out there now, the likes of which haven’t been seen since before the Civil War. Back then the division was primarily focused on slavery and states’ rights, but today Americans are arguing about a laundry list of issues from immigration to gun control.
Not that these topics haven’t caused discourse in the past, but now it’s fueled by an alarmingly, and continually advancing, level of anger and hatred. The radical right has become sickeningly intolerant to the point of disgust and the liberal left has grown increasingly less “liberal.” I mean you simply can’t say, “I’m liberal, and we love everyone, so long as they agree with everything we say.” Doesn’t work that way.
President Donald Trump took advantage of this divide and used it to gain traction in his run for the White House. Now, he waffles back and forth, blustering on Twitter about how great he is, while alienating even his own base at times with his ridiculous rants. Democrats turn their noses up at him and his cronies and their flagrant hypocrisy, all while crying in their soup about how he got this far in American government. Well, Dems, I’ll tell you who put him there, you did.
Political viewpoints have become so foggy that no one can tell who is for what anymore. The reason Trump won the presidential election isn’t because of his winning personality, or Russian hacking, or anything else. It was because the Democratic base was so splintered and stubborn over Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that they couldn’t just get behind one of them and move on.
That’s right Dems, as I have written before, you handed the White House to Donald on a silver platter. Remember that primaries and midterms happen this year and any failure to weaken Trump’s hold in Congress is totally in your hands. All you have to do is get out and vote!
All of that said, we must be able to return to a level of productive, constructive discourse. We should be able to disagree and have informed, intelligent debate on a topic instead of a bickering match. What’s the point of discussion with no purpose except to out-scream everyone else?
Much of the problem comes from the extremist mentalities once relegated to the fringe but which now seem to be in the majority. There is nothing wrong with liberals and conservatives cooperating for a common good. We can disagree yet still work toward the betterment of our society – but that doesn’t seem to be possible right now.
We are dealing with mass shootings made possible by the bizarre need of a tiny few to own military-grade machine guns, which should be something we can all agree is nuts. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, our country is overwhelmed by people obsessed with these weapons and backed by a massively powerful gun lobby from the NRA. Clearly, money is more important to these people than our kids.
Execution of warped immigration policies based on ignorance and hate that mistreat productive members of society rather than helping them with a path to proper citizenship is another issue. We should be rewarding people for feeling our country is a safe home for their families, not punishing them. It’s all ridiculous.
The long and short of it is that we must find a way to get along better. If we don’t learn to dial back the extremism and let cooler, more diplomatic heads rule, our country is in big trouble. So, for what it’s worth, I think we’re capable of doing better.
But all of that requires that each of us learns to be more compassionate, more tolerant, and more thoughtful. Since I won’t be around to poke you in the side after next week, remember to be good to each other!
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines will be signing off the week of April 30. More at gerydeer.com