Cheap Seats 2020
The Uncivil War - 11/04
By Rich Trzupek
I write this column aware that when it comes out in print on Nov. 4 one of two things will be true: 1) we’ll know who won the presidential election, or 2) we won’t. In the first place, approximately 50 percent of the country will be pissed off at the other 50 percent. In the second place, everyone will be pissed.
We’ll get through it, just as we we’ll get through COVID craziness. We always do. Americans are nothing if not survivors. We whine and moan with the best of them, but when the chips are down, Americans come through.
I do not believe it is possible to stay mad forever, at least not without going mad. In the coming months people are going to talk a lot about “healing” and “coming together” and other such nonsense. We’re a nation of two minds with regard to just about every important issue of the day. That’s not going to change anytime soon.
If we’re going to continue to engage in the kind of civil war that we’ve been fighting for the past 20 years, we need to stop being uncivil about it.
We couldn’t know it at the time, but politics in America changed fundamentally with the presidential election of 2000. The losing side – Gore supporters – were spectacularly angry about the result and how it was decided. President George W. Bush spent the next eight years in office, except for a brief respite after 9/11, fending off viscous attacks from the left and the mainstream media, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the early, rough and tumble days after Washington retired from public life.
Americans have always made fun of their presidents, sure. But not like that. There was an animosity aimed at this essentially good man that made almost every attack aimed his way justifiable in the minds of the attackers. Bush took it. Never fought back and never let it throw him. He believed he had to maintain the dignity of the office, no matter how much fecal matter was flung at him.
President Obama endured much the same sort of insults, not from the MSM of course, which by this point hardly tried to disguise their party affiliation any longer. Nor did the anger have to do with the melanin concentration in his skin. Except for a few tired, unreformed rednecks living in the hills of West Virginia, nobody cared about melanin and, contrary to popular belief among some, I am convinced fewer care every day.
The root cause of attacks against Obama was the same as the root cause of attacks aimed at Bush; the policies that each championed. And that is of course fine. We should have policy discussions, but we don’t. We have name-calling sessions. Most reasonable people find the rants stupid and counter-productive. But, that’s where we are.
Donald Trump knew he would never, ever get a fair shake from the MSM. They and their party would go after him every bit as nastily as they went after a gentleman like Bush. So the Donald changed the game. He could be nasty too. There is no doubt that he has communicated in ways that are uncivil and un-presidential, but he didn’t create the angry divisions we deal with these days. He rather recognized they exist and took the only route I believe he had available to him: he fights back.
Whomever wins or has won when you read this, my prayer is that we can at least try to get back to discussions that are not about insulting people, but are about the details of the issue. Most of all I pray that we can regain the ability to recognize the fact that most people are, at their core, good people who want good things for all. We may not agree on the best road to take to Zion, but the vast majority of us sure want to get there with our fellow travelers.