A (possibly futile) plug for civil discourse

I would like to briefly comment on an issue that is causing me a good deal of personal anguish at the moment. Recently, I have seen a lot of posts on social media deriding “progressives” who are threatening to withhold their vote from Hillary Clinton as some sort of protest for what they see as corruption. Of course, the personal vendetta that some people seem to have against Hillary Clinton is misguided and pointless. I have taken up residence in an important swing state for the 2016 election (Michigan)—here it would be especially moronic for a reasonable person to vote for anyone except Hillary Clinton. However, what bothers me about the things I have been seeing on social media is that it is now fashionable to cruelly deride anyone who is uneasy with the constant rightward drift of the Democratic Party as an out-of-touch, privileged elitist who is so insulated from hardship that he or she would not even mind if Donald Trump were elected president to “prove a point.” I agree with this point to some extent, although I am not entirely sure that there’s not some “straw man” element to it.

However, on the other hand, I find it very unsatisfying that the Democratic Party has been relying on the good will of left-wing voters by simply staying a little to the left of the insane, reactionary, regressive, dehumanizing conglomeration that is the Republican Party. Of course all progressives would prefer Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court nominations to Trump’s, and her appointees to head federal agencies, the list goes on . . . That said, when I vote for Hillary Clinton in a few months, my vote will be accompanied by feelings of sadness that the Democrats don’t fully live up to my ideals when it comes to equal distribution of wealth, reducing corporate influence in all aspects of society, and taking aggressive action to rectify environmental problems. However, those feelings can’t be conveyed in the ballot box and my vote will count the same as a voter who is delivering an enthusiastic mandate for every policy that Hillary Clinton embodies. I would be sad if I were thought of as a privileged elitist for saying this, because my political ideology is motivated by empathy for all people, privileged or not. I wanted to take the opportunity to write this and encourage people to discuss things civilly, avoid exaggeration and misrepresentation of others’ views, and actively seek points of agreement. I’m fully aware that social media doesn’t well reflect the way people interact face to face, and many interactions on social media are like traps that compel people to say the worst thing that pops into their heads. However, I think the only possibility for any part of the progressive agenda to be enacted is for people with different ideologies to cooperate with one another. At least, people who generally agree on most policy points should be able to find some common ground.

If you have read to this point, hopefully you have an opinion on my statement, and I would love for you to share it with me.


One thought on “A (possibly futile) plug for civil discourse

  1. Well I live in a state that is rushing headlong back into the 19th century (NC) and I am going to vote for Hilary too. I share your feelings about it but when you get down to it politics is a practical business and it is not practical either to (1) abstain because the choices are bad or (2) to vote for the bad guys to make a point. I too am sad Hilary comes to the race so blemished and tainted by big money. Then I think about the US Supreme Court and the Republicans on it and that alone requires me to vote for her. … If it makes you feel better, Gloria Steinem, who I have tremendous respect for, really likes Hilary. If she is good enough for Gloria I will have to live with her.

    On your point about civil discourse I agree. It is just too easy to attack other people from your keyboard, with relative safety and anonymity. Sadly, in this TV world we live in (could Trump have a hope of winning without TV?) the most sensational and provocative stuff is what leads and that shapes how people talk and message. To quote that great social philosopher Nina Hagen, “TV ist eine Tode” (TV is a form of death).


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