Commentary: Let’s trade post-election name calling for listening and respect

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The bitterest, most expensive, most mud-fighting and seemingly never-ending campaign in memory is over; we can at least be thankful for that!

I think we need to remember that the Democratic machine really has done little for the “forgotten guy” in the “rust belts” of our country. There has been massive discontent, a lot of it justified if not well focused, the Democrats did little to assuage it, and often simply reinforced the impression that the Washington, D.C. was indifferent to the plight many Americans find themselves in.

I wrote the following in The Seattle Times the evening before the election: “No matter who wins, I hope we can remember that many Americans will be disappointed that their candidate didn’t win, and horrified that the other one won. Whoever wins, we need to treat our fellow Americans as Americans and our neighbors as neighbors with concerns and fears and needs as great as our own. Often, the disagreement is not so much what is needed but how to accomplish it: We all want security and safety, jobs, good educational opportunities for the young, health care. We may feel that the election has gone the wrong way, and others will be glad — but let us treat each other with respect and do our best to heal up some of the wounds that this dire, hate-filled election has caused. The only people who are going to keep America great are Americans – you and me.”

I utterly believe in the liberal, democratic philosophy. By that I do not mean so much a partisan version, though that is my leaning, but the old American idea of a liberal democracy, of a country with a reasonably level playing field and equality before the law. I know that my most conservative friends would agree with this. So if there is good to be gotten out of this election, it is the realization that as a nation, we need to do some deep thinking about whether our political actions actually do meet the needs we like to believe we are addressing. The election tapped into very real worries that resonated to an alienated working class as well as to those who feel that our government was doing nothing meaningful for them.

So much hatred and incivility and division were fanned — and that is what we must fight against, with all our strength, easy as it is to fall into. The name-calling has got to stop: I am not a “libtard” any more than you are a “Rethuglican.” If you shout at someone, or spit in his face, or if I call you names, we understandably stop listening, and that means we stop learning — and when that happens democracy goes out the window. We must all listen to what we are saying and, frankly, speak out as soon as the name-calling starts. Name-calling tears community to shreds, and without community — as a neighborhood, as a city, as a nation — we enter into a Dark Age.

If any good comes of this election, I hope it will be a retreat from the abyss of partisan name-calling, of simplistic blame-games, and back into valuing courtesy, listening, careful checking of facts rather than blind belief in rumor and soundbite. You are my neighbor, and I am yours. We both have equally valid experiences of life, and we all have much invested in our country. But neither of us has any exclusive claim to knowledge or wisdom. We need to stop, listen, learn and prepare to compromise in principled ways that recognize the each others’ human dignity.

— By Nathaniel Brown

4 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly, this election cycle contributed to the use of derogatory words and phrases commonplace. Insulting words that I have witnessed towards others as well as things being said to me directly. My hope is that civility will win out over time.

  2. Thank you for that article. It gives me heart that many sensible voices such as yours will be heard–and hopefully paid attention to by all.

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