Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
11 October 2018
Today’s mean politics
You know what? I’m tired of today’s mean politics. What about you?
It does not take a single brain cell to ridicule a political opponent. Not a drop of creativity to demean the opposition party. Instead, we seem to embrace it.
Personal attacks rule the roost.
Trump is the champion of mean politics. Belittling his advisories. Elizabeth Warren becomes Pocahontas. Protesters are “paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs.”
But don’t think he owns the position of mean politics. The Democrats own their share too. From Hillary labeling Trump supporters as “deplorables “to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer saying, “the President is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies.”
The Pew Research Center stated in a report, “Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines—and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive—than at any point in the last two decades.
As anyone who has ever looked through comments on a political blog can attest, this polarization often translates into venomous language, with Republicans and Democrats slinging political insults at each other over the partisan divide.”
Today’s mean politics. Is there another way?
If you have kids or grandchildren, you would never tolerate this sort of behavior and language.
We need civility and conversation. Not insults.
Turns out there is another way. A more civilized way to make political points.
So, for the remainder of this blog I am dedicated to civility AND conflict. The ability to make your political point without playing mean politics.
Look at the political environment of the 1920-30s. The Great War just ended. The beginning of Second World War was rumbling. The country was slipping into the Great Depression. People were demoralized and worried.
The political parties were as divided as today. Even within the great families (take the Roosevelts for example; Teddy was a Republican and Franklin a Democrat) there were fissure-like divides.
“Let’s demand more of ourselves and our politics. I don’t want to lose dissenting opinions and debate. But I would love to think the person behind them was smart and thinking.”
Enter Will Rogers
He managed to make his political point by poking fun at opposing views. He protested what he saw as poor public policy and candidates. But he did it with fond humor. It was the chiding of positions. Not people.
Will was not Saturday Night Live. It was not his way to ridicule others. There was no greater political troll than to be singled out by Will. Mean Politics? Not even close.
Here are a handful of Will Roger’s quotes from the time. No mean politics and diatribes can be found. He made his point. It was creative, clever and funny.
“I’m not a member of any organized political party…. I’m a Democrat.”
“Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans.”
“There is only one redeeming thing about this whole election. It will be over at sundown, and let everybody pray that it’s not a tie, for we couldn’t go through with this thing again.”
Will never let mean politics get in the way of his voice
“And, when the votes are counted, let everybody, including the candidates, get into a good humor as quick as they got into a bad one.”
“So cheer up. Let’s all be friends again. One of the evils of democracy is you must put up with the man you elect whether you want him or not. That’s why we call it democracy.”
“If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics.”
“Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat nowadays.”
“Politics pretty quiet over the week-end. Democrats are attacking, and the Republicans are defending. All the Democrats have to do is promise ‘what they would do if they got in.’ But the Republicans have to promise ‘what they would do’ and then explain why they haven’t already ‘done it.’”
He said he was a Democrat
But don’t let that fool you. Will was an American from the hinterland of Oklahoma. He was half Cherokee and was as famous for his rope tricks as he was for political commentary. The mean politics of calling someone Pocahontas would rub him wrong. But I am certain he would not have answered with an insult.
“I do honestly believe the Republicans have reformed and want to do better. But whether they have done it in time to win the election is another thing. The old voter is getting so he wants to be saved before October every election year.”
“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.”
“I make a living off (politicians), so I can’t knock ’em. Every time we elect some fellow we think he’s terrible and then when we get another one in he’s worse. So, I am always in favor of keeping the one we’ve got and let the other go.”
“When you straddle a thing it takes a long time to explain it.”
“America has the best politicians money can buy.”
“Congress is so strange; a man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens, and then everybody disagrees.”
Let’s demand more of ourselves and our politics. I don’t want to lose dissenting opinions and debate. But I would love to think the person behind them was smart and thinking. Sorry Will, you would have never said that. I guess it was just me sharing mean politics again.
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