One of the causes of the current destructive level of political divisiveness in America is that many if not most staunch supporters of both major parties firmly believe that their side is morally superior to the other.
In fact, I can easily imagine that some reading this column have already thought or said aloud, “Well, that’s true, it is!”
In my book “How to Talk Politics without Arguing,” I make the point that one political party is not inherently morally superior. The key word is “inherently,” because surely there are instances — even stretches of years — when a claim to moral superiority can be made. But not inherently or foundationally.
The book is an evenhanded examination of American politics and gives advice on how to discuss issues civilly, politely and without making it personal. It is meant to be read by students from the fifth grade up, so I do not disclose my political leanings. Just as I don’t when writing a news story or a historical account.
This, however, is an opinion piece, and like everyone else, I have political preferences. I believe that in general, overall, most of the time, Republicans have better ideas than Democrats. I also believe that the parties have become so polarized that, unfortunately, we can no longer afford — at least not on the national level — to vote for non-Republican candidates, because we need all hands on deck.
Like most people reading this column, I very much want to see Republicans regain both houses of Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.
But I know the way to do that is not to exist in a vacuum filled with cartoonish, oversimplified notions and conspiracy theories that all Democrats are a bunch of America-hating demonic socialists intent on destroying our nation’s foundations and moral fiber, and that the only way to stop them is to fill the presidency, every seat in Congress and other offices throughout the country with “America First” Trumpian purists — in other words, no RINOs.
Also, we shouldn’t throw up our arms in despair and say there’s no use in voting because Democrats are going to steal the election anyway, because that’s exactly what the other side is hoping we do. That way, they win easily thanks to our low turnout.
We should also avoid the arrogance of certainty. The book’s subtitle is “I think I’m right, but I could be wrong.” It doesn’t encourage us to abandon our beliefs, but rather to remain open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we are mistaken in the conclusions we have drawn.
If we don’t like certain candidates we label RINOs, then let’s vote them out in the primaries, and if we fail to do so, let’s remember that they are not the same as their Democratic opponents. I don’t like the way Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney bad-mouth Donald Trump, and I know they do so for political gain. I think they are mealy-mouthed hypocrites. However, they’re still better than Elizabeth Warren and Ilhan Omar.
In many cases, purity is the enemy of victory. In boxing, some fighters think it’s degrading to win on points and insist on going for the knockout, losing in the process by clumsily lunging at their opponents the entire fight. Similarly, voters who fancy a Congress filled with 100 Ted Cruzes and a House packed with 435 Steve Scalises will wind up with another Democrat-controlled Congress, and yes, that’s worse than RINOs.
As for the morality issue, don’t forget about Beltway Fever, that irresistible compulsion to achieve and maintain political power that is more addictive than the most powerful drug.
It’s harder for candidates to gain votes when they’re candid, and so, unfortunately, they don’t always take the high road. “My opponent loves America and has good ideas, but I think my ideas are better” is not as winning a message as “This is the most important election of our lifetimes, and if you vote for my opponent, he’ll destroy America!”
Media outlets do the same thing. They have become comfort food feeding troughs, riling up each side so that it hates the other. “Who cares about responsible journalism?” they figure. “Ratings are ratings.”
Is it possible that some people in government really are rooting for America to lose? Sure it is. But Joe Biden, for instance, doesn’t love America any less than Trump does, it’s just that — as I see it — he’s not as good at governing.
Viewing the other side as well-meaning but incompetent, instead of evil and conspiratorial, will go a long way toward attracting that very large swath of swing voters who’ve had enough of the left tearing down statues of George Washington, denouncing binary pronouns, enabling transnational trespass through our southern border, and calling to defund if not dismantle the police.
They’re ready to come over to our side, but they won’t if we tell them that the Democrats are working with George Soros to destroy America and take over the world.
And for those who can’t resist saying the latter, how about this compromise: Put those thoughts on hold, let’s win in 2022 and 2024, and then you can go back to voicing them aloud.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.