Ever since the night of November 8, 2016, my more liberal friends have been shouting that President Trump must be stopped by almost any means necessary. They have repeatedly laid the entire dysfunction of our federal government at the feet of the Republican Party.
No matter which way the argument was presented, Democrats were not only on the side of the angels but were basically an army of the archangels made up of Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Chamuel, Raphael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel ready to do battle with the children of Satan, namely members of the Republican Party.
Perhaps this is a tad hyperbolic, but only a tad.
Many of my conversations with Democrats that went down this argumentative road ended with the flippancy of a, “You broke it, you bought it,” attitude, demanding that in a penitent act of self-flagellation, Republicans should vote for whomever the Democrats nominate for President regardless of that candidate’s political stances. The only thing that mattered, literally the only thing, was that the Democrat, whoever it was and whatever they believed, would be the lone person who could stop Trump, and stopping Trump was the singular issue that any of us should care about.
It was more important than ideology, guiding philosophy, issues, or any other reason that a voter may cast their ballot one way or the other. Again and again, I was told that we should vote against the President as though the very future of the republic depended on it, because it did. Again, only a skosh hyperbolic.
After all of these, “The Only Good Vote Is an Anti-Trump Vote,” lectures, I find it ironic that #NeverBernie, #NeverBloomberg, #StillVotingYang, #NeverWarren, and a host of other Democratic my-guy-or-no-one hashtags have been trending on Twitter. At the Blue Commonwealth Gala in Richmond this weekend, a protester plastered a sign to the podium at which Michael Bloomberg was speaking, and there was a group of left-leaning protesters rallying outside the event. This doesn’t look like a one-issue dynamic.
I’ve been around politics long enough to know that nominating contests are messy and that they breed dissent faster than a jackrabbit during mating season. However, at a time when Republican support for the President is becoming more rock-solid, the Democratic Party is splintering into a variety of camps that threaten the success of whoever they nominate. They all want to stop Trump, but only if they can do it on their own terms. These Democratic loyalists couldn’t be expected to go against what they believe, even if it would serve the greater good as they saw it.
In the view of many on the Left, it seems that while the values of Republican Voters are fungible, the values of Democratic voters are sacrosanct. Judging by the intraparty sniping on social media, it would be unthinkable for a Democrat to accept anyone but the candidate that most clearly aligns with their values because their values are good. Republicans should be happy to give up their misguided beliefs because, obviously, their values are bad.
The binary of “this is good” versus “this is bad” only works if both sides are going to be defined as two-dimensional caricatures. While it is easy to do this to the “other side,” when it comes to our own side, we can see the complexity in the issues and know that there are beliefs that are nearly impossible on which to compromise. These are beliefs that were not propagated in a vacuum, and as such, we know their root causes and personal significance.
Unfortunately, much of our political discourse in this country has been reduced to a back-and-forth that has about as much depth as a puddle in the Mohave Desert. We give credence to our beliefs while dismissing without consideration beliefs with which we disagree.
In this type of debate, Republicans become evil and Democrats become stupid. The Right is reduced to a group of gun nuts who think God made the world only for straight white people, while the Left is seen as a bunch of sniveling snowflakes that want to raise our taxes to give more free abortions to illegal aliens. Each side elevates themselves to sainthood by eviscerating the other side as the love child of Vlad the Impaler and Bloody Mary.
We would all do well to take a moment to consider how those who think differently than us came to those conclusions. This exercise shouldn’t be undertaken because we think our minds need to be changed, but because everyone’s minds could use with a little expanding. In the end, it is better to say, “I disagree with you, but I can see how you arrived at that conclusion,” rather than, “I am right, and you are evil.”