A Crisis of Civility

Compromise is not a measure that is easily digestible, especially when you’re right. You’d probably question the general who cedes ground while holding an apparent advantage.

Perhaps that is why we feel compelled to indignantly buck against those who would challenge us, the heir apparent and chosen.

It’s election season if my ambiguous analogy wasn’t clear.

In the United States, the election transforms into a spectacle sporting event that eclipses football, basketball, the other football, and baseball combined.

A time of political climax; where politicians arm themselves with reductive ideology to sway public opinion and defeat their foes with pithy savage soundbites. A time when political tribes clash against one another for the soul of the country.

Or so it has become.

I’m not sure if you could trace the spiral of our democratic process to an original sin, although its inherent infrastructure is plausibly culpable.

As it currently stands, an American’s greatest threat is his or her own neighbor — taking into account our current two-party system in tandem with winner-take-all.

The result of such clear-cut division is bound to breed animosity when two political groups are constantly vying for complete control, maintaining said control, and undoing the perceived ‘harm’ of the other side while in control.

Unlike sports though, regardless of your affiliation, there will always be consequences for such mounting stakes. Left, right, indifferent, your voice moves the political scale.

When our incumbent president was elected into office, I wasn’t particularly surprised. The general dialogue at the time, however, was a Sophie’s Choice between two terrible options, which meant people had less than ideal decisions to make.

That coupled with the progressive cultural and social shift America was seeing meant that conservative voices were losing salient impact.

I previously believed that the incumbent president was seated due to a lackadaisical effort by progressives to sympathize and help bridge the difference. That much of the country felt it was being left by the wayside and only one political party was addressing that concern, regardless of its superficial merit.

Ultimately, it boiled down to several key issues:

  • A failure to acknowledge and address the dwindling value of coal, mining, manufacturing jobs — and how to move forward as they become automatized or outsourced.
  • Continued cultural shift away from the archetypical ‘family values’ of middle America.
  • The pangs of elite Washington politics and red tape.

I believed that many of the choices people made during that election year were a result of liberal oversight coupled with sweet promises from a man who claimed he could return both yesteryear jobs and values.

This is not to say that so many people are fallacious; it is to say, however, that it speaks to a particular moment in history when those are desperate enough to close their eyes and truly trust that a noted conman is able to make the country great again.

Although that may have been the case some decades earlier in 2016, I’m not sure how that holds water today.

The incumbent has unequivocally failed on several terrains. To agree that he somehow held a brief moment of victory before coronavirus is to intentionally stoke the flames of ignorance and partisanship. The current president represents nothing further than ideology of right good, left bad — which is defeated discourse.

Furthermore, the current democratic challenger is almost universally heralded as someone who is amiable and looking to negotiate and broker peace. He has become the emblematic symbol of decency and temperateness; he is an anomaly not only among his peers but his professional field entirely.

There is no longer an excuse when a candidate reveals himself with traditional values of affability and community. I fear though that those morals fall on deaf ears; America is not the same country it was some odd years ago.

Although any rationale for defending the incumbent has narrowed, the remaining voices beside him are unquestionably louder. After four long years, he has left a wake of destruction unmatched and few reasons for a second term. He has stirred division, separation, and bent norms to point of deformity. That matters not to those who defend him.

Regardless, the immense shadow of partisanship cloaks over everything. There is no right or wrong; only right or left. Any claims for legitimacy is thrown and unimpeachable facts quickly spiral into whose opinion “feels” more correct.

That shadow has poisoned the well for civil discourse and resulted in a mud fight of tribalism ideology as opposed to societal good will.

That harrowing defense of the incumbent has also worn at the incredibly thin patience of progressives not named Biden. Few are left willing to concede and the spirit of compromise has been eroded.

Now I wonder, what if no one wants to compromise? When you are so clearly convinced of your righteous genius — why in God’s name would you yield to someone who is not just wrong, but someone who politically acts in bad faith?

This is the crossroads that I believe the country is at. Where two groups of idelogogical polarized patrons stare at a chasmous gulf and choose not to build a bridge.

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