I’ve seen the CNN segment with Rick Wilson going around the
interwebs this morning and you’ve no doubt seen it too. I condemn it. It does
nothing to resolve our political differences and instead deepens the divide.
On the other hand, much of the weeping and gnashing of teeth
is disingenuous since verbal abuse has become a staple of Republican politics
for years. It’s a feature, not a bug. Republican outlets have posted many offensive
attacks on those who disagree with them. I’ve personally been called just about
every name under the sun because I have had the temerity to disagree with Republicans
on a variety of issues such as immigration, impeachment, and reflexively believing
the worst about the other side.
The president himself has called the other side “human
scum” and “enemies of the people” among many other things. Many
of the people rending their garments over Wilson and CNN will be the same ones
who were chortling over the video of Trump’s greatest insults that made the
rounds several weeks ago, people who tuned in to the 2016 debates to watch
Trump and his opponents trading barbs and then said that’s the sort of fighting
spirit that the GOP needs.
That isn’t an excuse for Wilson and CNN, but it is a fact. And
I’ll also acknowledge that Trump didn’t start the war of words between the two
parties. However, the president and his supporters have raised the politics of
insults to an art form.
The point is not that either side is right. As the old
saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.
From my experience as an admin on a political Facebook page
that I have administered throughout both the Obama and Trump Administrations, I
can tell you that partisans of both tribes are indistinguishable in their
reactions to criticism of their man. I’ve had to ban legions of both because
they could not seem to obey the simple rule that debates should be kept civil
and without name-calling.
The point is that both sides have abandoned the Golden Rule
that you should treat others the way that you want to be treated (not, as Barack
Obama famously misquoted it, the way they actually treat you). For Christians,
that is going to involve turning the other cheek when the other side doesn’t
immediately mimic your high-road behavior, but we are called to be different
from those who don’t claim to know Christ, not to sink to their level. And that
applies to Christians on both sides of the political divide as well.
On the other hand, if you insist on engaging in playground insults of the other tribe then you should be able to take it as well as dish it out. It’s hypocritical to unload on the other side and then cry foul when they fire back. To put it another way, you reap what you sow.
The better course (and one that I think a majority of voters
would appreciate) is for both sides to act like adults and focus on the issues rather
than personal attacks. Another old adage comes to mind that says you catch more
flies with honey than vinegar. Aside from wondering why anyone would want to
catch a fly, the maxim points out the obvious truth that you probably aren’t
going to badger an opponent into seeing things your way by calling him names.
You’re more likely to push him to vote for the other team.
Insulting the opposition is the easy way out and is often
the last resort of those who don’t have facts on their side. The next time you
feel the urge to call someone an idiot, take Samuel
Johnson’s advice and, rather than raising your voice, reinforce your