FYI: Nothing turns me off your blog, twitter or facebook page faster than the gratuitous use of profanity or name calling!
Recently I unsubscribed from a blog I was following because the author called President Obama a “f__king asshole” and his liberal base a bunch of whiners. Honestly I think that everyone involved in the recent fight over US monetary policy, including the president have been less than perfect in recent weeks but that is no excuse to stoop to name calling!
Similarly a few months ago I got into a heated argument and ultimately lost a friend because I chose to defend a person that I felt he was unfairly attacking.
It’s not that I disagree, it’s not about that. My position on any one political issue is irrelevant here. But when you use name calling and foul language to get your point across, you’ve lost something far more important that the argument itself, you’ve lost your dignity and your credibility walks out the door right on its heels.
I started to think about writing this post long before I heard that Standard & Poors had downgraded the US Credit Rating. One of the reasons cited for the downgrade was the “three ring circus” atmosphere of the political system. Democratic politics is supposed to be about debating good ideas to find the best one. Not creating a polarized system of us versus them where people are branded as either bleeding heart liberals or cold and calculating conservatives. Nothing gets done in an environment like that.
In a weekly news roundup a British commentator for The Economist said that the members of the Republican Party in Congress have spent that last year shooting down every single proposal put forth by the Democrats and thus made the country “un-governable”. Heading into a presidential election next year the strategy for the Republicans will be to point to the chaos and say that Obama and the Democrats are incompetent.
But the question isn’t about competence. It’s about co-operation.
The American political system is based on checks and balances that prevent one branch of government from becoming too powerful and imposing its will on the country. But when the branches refuse to work together it’s as if the two parties are standing there with guns pointed at each other, neither one willing to give an inch for fear that the other will blow their head off. That’s not a political debate, that’s a civil war!
Funny thing about civil wars; no matter who wins, the country itself is always destroyed.
I cannot stress this enough. When you disagree with someone, don’t just automatically brand them as one of those people, write them off or call them names. Take a second to listen, try to understand their point, maybe do a bit of reflection and then respond. And always, I repeat always, remember they are people just like you, who have looked at the same evidence you have and come to a different conclusion. That doesn’t make them wrong any more than it makes you right.
When you start calling people names it only proves that you’re out of answers yourself. Maybe you just need to shut up and listen.