A dozen years ago, I signed my oldest child up for rec soccer. I also volunteered to coach, and I was stunned to find out that the league required no training for referees, and that it required teams to have offensive players and defensive players. It wasn’t soccer. It was a strange form of kickball. I let the parks and rec people know how wrong they were, sent them examples of other rec leagues’ rules, and suggested we make changes to keep up with them.
In short, I was right.
But I was also insufferable. I managed to alienate an unfortunate number of people who might have been amenable to a better way of doing things if I had remembered that it is never enough to be right. If you can’t convince other people you’re right, you might as well be wrong.
I overheard a conversation in the hallway today in which a conservative student expressed frustration with being mocked for supporting Pres. Trump.
I’m sorry to hear that. It’s one thing to take a classmate to task in a policy debate. It’s another to berate her for being conservative.
Many of those who protest the President’s words and policies are well meaning. They can point to his lapses in judgment, his Supreme Court nominations, his dismantling of the EPA, his potentially treasonous dealings with Russians, his naive dealings with dictators, his inability to appreciate differences in time zones–the list of reasons to be frustrated with Trump is so long that Stephen Colbert will never need to fear unemployment. Those who support the President have just as easy a time ridiculing the left. Consider the idiocracy at Reed College, pampered students who demand trigger warnings, the demonstrable growth in the economy despite the left’s doomsday predictions.
I’m giving you straw men here, of course. My point is this: the left and the right currently talk at each other, rather than with each other. It may feel good to describe the President (or Bernie Sanders) as a mouth-breathing idiot. However, such language only divides groups farther. Effective communication, in most circumstances, should bring us together. (There are historical examples of absolutes being the best way to proceed. I argue they are the exceptions rather than the rule.)
Politics is defined as the art of compromise–which means that each side has to find something to give, and something to give up, when crafting a vision of the future. Those who enter into political discussions should consider what they’re willing to give up before they open their mouths. Otherwise there can be no progress.