[A great nation is saved] by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans and empty quacks -William James
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Goode, when observing poor behavior on the part of one of her students, described that behavior with a simple phrase: “You are being crude, rude, and impolite.” It was part of her approach to civilizing us; she overtly called bad behavior what it was, and in doing so, attempted to shame poorly behaving young students into modifying their actions to be more considerate and thoughtful.
I wish today’s Republican Party had been exposed to Mrs. Goode in their youth. In choosing a clearly unqualified candidate for the presidency, in choosing to wallow in the deepest trough of political mud in my memory, in choosing to embrace the grossest of lies and the most laughable of conspiracies, in choosing to generate fear and hatred instead of exercising civilized and reasoned judgment, relishes in being crude, rude and impolite, embracing rather than being embarrassed by Mrs. Goode’s admonishment.
It is sadly no surprise that demagoguery is employed in a U.S. Presidential campaign, or that it is practiced by politicians of all persuasions, or embraced to some degree by their followers; political ideals are routinely sacrificed for self-serving political gain. Yet I have been genuinely surprised at the degree of dishonesty and the depths of hypocrisy and mean-spiritedness that have epitomized the Republican Party as they have befouled the arena of American discourse in recent years, particularly since the election of our first black President, Barack Obama. There seems to be no governor on their self-serving partisanship, such governor that balances individual or group desires with what is best for the whole country.
The largest dissonance for me is the unholy mix: of intemperate racial bias and hatred; of mean-spirited bullying and open approval of verbal and sexual assault; of reckless and unconstitutional suppression of the vote; of the appalling lack of empathy for those who need the most societal help; all in atonal opposition to long-held Republican positions regarding fealty to our Constitution and Christian standards of moral and ethical behavior.
America has grown in fits and often violent starts from a slave-tolerating oligarchy of male property owners to a more democratic and free society, and the early Republican Party played an important part in that progression. So for these past two generations, it has been alarming and disappointing to watch the modern Republican Party unashamedly dismiss and betray some of its and America’s best ideals, using twisted and self-serving interpretations of law and our ‘original’ Constitution while holding itself up as the moral savior of an immoral society.
Lost in the mudflats. PD-US.
The Moral Majority, loyal soldiers of today’s Republican Party, have made themselves into what they profess to reject, that self-same immoral society upon which they have heaped such scorn: they seem not to recognize or to care that their political behavior has become worse than crude, rude and impolite, where anything appears permissible in the naked pursuit of political dominance, including the backing of arguably the most morally reprehensible presidential candidate ever to represent a major political party.
I find it bewildering and even a touch disorienting to see people I know to be good-hearted and intelligent embrace such thinking against all that they profess to be most important to them.
We can do better than 5th grade bullying
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
These are not America’s finest moments. We have often done better than this in our past, and can do better in the future. But doing better requires the civil and adult discipline of compromise and consideration that makes for the best of public discourse, and the best of democratic government. This is nothing more and nothing less than an appeal to our better nature, which starts from our own individual behavior and aggregates into a caring and more cohesive nation.
America, it may be, is doing very well upon the whole, notwithstanding these antics of the parties and their leaders . . . It behooves you to convey yourself implicitly to no party, nor submit blindly to their dictators, but steadily hold yourself judge and master over all of them. -Walt Whitman