The New Un-Civility

Most of us with any home training wince when we reflect on the kinds of things Donald Trump has said about women, immigrants, the FBI–about anybody who isn’t Donald Trump, or a current Trump sycophant. Part of the reason some people believe that he is unfit to serve as president lies in his inability to filter out vulgar or impolitic statements and tweets. 

So, by disrupting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearings yesterday, Democrats lost some of the moral high ground they had claimed when it comes to Trump’s lack of well-heeled rhetoric or behavior. Traditionally, nominees to the court bring family members to savor the upside of the nomination before the hearings turn into partisan grillings. Laudatory statements get read. Backs get slapped. The family members leave with proud smiles on their faces.

Yesterday, protestors who embrace progressive causes became so obstreperous that Kavanaugh’s wife and children left. Democrats on the judiciary committee repeatedly interrupted opening statements to ask that the hearing itself be delayed. I may be sympathetic to some of their causes–certainly not all of them!–but I object to their methods. Their behavior yesterday amounts to making rude, symbolic gestures–the equivalent of a “screw you” checkmate in chess, made only to delay an inevitable loss. They do not have the votes to delay the hearings or derail the nomination; those votes will fall on party lines. Furthermore, trying to shout down opponents is hardly the way to win converts. In fact, it’s simply more likely to make compromise (and effective governance) between the parties less tenable.

The seeds of this discontent were planted long ago. Look back at the Bork and Thomas confirmations if you wish–or, more recently, think about the way Republicans refused even to consider an Obama nominee at the end of his presidency. Regardless, the leaders of both parties must express more concern for governance than grandstanding. If Hamilton could bring Jefferson and Madison into the room where the sausage got made and the plans got laid, then today’s leaders ought to be able to do the same.

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7 Responses to The New Un-Civility

  1. Catherine Li says:

    The first impression I had on President Trump was video clips of his vulgar language towards females, and as time progressed, his racist comments on Asian people. As an Asian female, it was hard for me to find any respect for him at all. It was just hard for me to believe that someone who has offended large, prominent groups of society openly and unapologetically could possibly be elected. Even as a high school teenager, I had the ability to hold my tongue and have civil debates over politics and controversial topics. I will say there are some Trump/Republican policies I agree with to an extent, and there are some Democratic policies I don’t agree with, but I have the basic human etiquette to respect everyone’s opinions even if I don’t agree. I live by the Voltaire quote “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If you’re not willing to listen to what the other side has to say, democracy cannot work. I am ashamed that both sides could say such vulgar things, and I believe that we have a long way to go as a country.

  2. \_(OwO)_/ says:

    I am a Trump supporter, however, this is due to me believing that, during the 2016 election, he was the lesser of the two evils. Saying this I will also claim that Trump is not all good. Nobody is, much less any president in history. They all have flaws. His is that, although there is some truth to the things he says, he cannot dial it back for the position he is in. Yes some things should not be said publicly, however, everyone is entitled to their own opinion including Trump, my fellow students, and I. We each have our own thoughts and feelings toward each other. We may not agree with what he says, however, it’s his opinion, and we do live in a country of free speech. It’s comments such as those that I believe that we as a country, if we don’t agree with it, just let it go. You can’t change someone else’s mind, however, you can control your reaction. If a simple 280 character message antagonize’s you, then ignore it. The media blows these messages out of the water. To be frank I find the media more annoying than Trump. He did win the election and won the vote. He got the position he is in not from Tweets or his opinions. He got it because he was believed to be able to serve this country better than the other candidates. Sorry if this is not specifically related to the prompt but I felt the need to write this.

  3. H20 says:

    The word “President” emits a very professional, formal, understanding, and also superior aura. Of the four from many others, Trump holds superiority to the maximum extent of advantages he can take. As a president, he should stop acting and start thinking. Some people may believe Trump as much as they want, but people should understand that there’s more than just either black or white. You should know when the time to be serious is, and to not post a Twitter post during a hearing or something (hypothetically). To actually communicate to the other individual, you can’t just be rude, immoral, and unethical. In order to make this society better, you have to show respect and understanding to people around you, no matter if there are opposing opinions. No one would want to be civilized if all you do is disrespect. Jefferson and Madison was able to be in a room together probably because of their respect and understanding of manners and ethics.

  4. X says:

    This blog post is very similar to the “Honey and Vinegar” one in that it is about conflicts between two parties with bias and ignorance, leading to little progress. Even though the two sides, Democratic and Republican, have differing views on politics and people, they need to understand each other and where they come from. It is unjust to completely reject someone just because they are not part of your party. Compromises must be made instead of increasing the gap between the sides. It is possible to reach this, such as the Jefferson-Madison situation. If politicians would stop attacking each other and instead attempt to understand each other regardless of each other’s parties, a lot more could get done.

  5. Cameron Thomas says:

    It’s amazing how the media portrays things. If this were President Trump, it would be everywhere on social media, but it’s not. This further exemplifies the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party. Maybe it was a political strategy of some sort, or maybe they had a reasonable motive. Either way, it morally lacked professionalism. By the way, I am the polar opposite of a Trump supporter, but I also am not ignorant to the many faults of the Democratic Party. Whatever they were trying to accomplish should have been handled in a more effective way.

  6. Emily says:

    I don’t understand why people just can’t be civil. I get not sharing views, but I don’t understand why someone can’t listen to the other sides. The only way a society can grow is to talk and learn from each other, and yet we can’t even speak to one another respectfully. The only way the government, and this country, will get better is if we begin to listen to each other.

  7. Katie Steil says:

    I think this really ties back to the “civil discourse” from your first blog post. The only thing the blatant disrespect being shown here is furthering the divide between republicans and democrats. The problem with a partied system is that the parties probably won’t agree over an issue simply because the parties are different, not because the other party has a bad argument. This has put a lot of issues on hold, as the sides are demanding too much and they will not compromise. The actions shown at the hearing were uncalled for, and has no doubt fueled the fire between the democrats. and republicans.

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