We have just come off of the most acrimonious presidential election in modern memory. There are many distinctive aspects to the 2016 election: the first woman candidate for a major party, a shocking upset and a victory by a complete outsider to politics.
Even the level of divisiveness is unique. Americans have always had strong opinions about politics, but the level of hostility towards those with different viewpoints has reached the point of absurdity.
The drama and vitriol may be entertaining to some, but plenty of us are distressed by it and have mused about how to return to civility. During this holiday season, here's a bit of middle-aged wisdom in the form of a few modest suggestions:
1.) For starters, we need to stop playing the Zoltan-the-Magnificent mind-reading game. In other words, it's time we stop discussing public policy in terms of intentions and not results.
The issue isn't whether you want it; the issue is whether the policies you're advocating will achieve it. As inconvenient a fact as this may be, your political opponents also want to make life better for people. Stop deflecting discussions about policy failures by claiming that every objection to your preferred policy is based upon hatred; it isn't.
2.) Stop assuming you always hold the moral high ground. This is the most insidious aspect of contemporary political discourse. Once that becomes the prevailing narrative, your neighbors and fellow citizens become the enemy, and their viewpoints merit not consideration but contempt. The proof is everywhere in social and other media, which have been filled for weeks with left-leaners' pronouncements about the nearly 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump: racists, sexists, bigots, haters, evil, stupid, bad people.
3.) Stop calling people names.
4.) Stop the "collective blame" shtick, and return to individual responsibility.
5.) Stop rioting when things don't go your way. It's infantile, uncivilized and hurts innocent people whose businesses and property you've damaged or destroyed.
6.) Civility isn't limited to politics. To our entertainers: Stop trying to shock people. Put your clothes back on. No, the nipple doesn't need to be "freed," and neither do the rest of your private parts. Furthermore, if your "talent" consists of simulating sex on stage, it would appear you don't have much to begin with.
7.) Stop trying to "out" people whose views you don't like. Whether it's Memories Pizza or Sweet Cakes by Melissa, it's antithetical to civility. We've seen how this degenerates.
8.) Social media notwithstanding, reconsider your impulse to share your opinions about others with the world, especially when you choose to express it with expletives.
9.) Don't be vulgar; vulgarity is a type of pollution. Worried about your carbon footprint? Try thinking about your verbal footprint. Clean up your language.
10.) Assume the best about people. In most cases, we won't be disappointed.
So there you are. You might disagree with some or all of them. And that's fine — have at it. Just be civil about it.