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Civility is Necessary for Unification

Last updated on August 21, 2020

(Photo Credit: Harold Mendoza/ Unsplash)

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

On September 2nd, former President Barack Obama wore a visage of grief and sobriety as he looked upon the casket covered in red, white, and blue. The casket held the body of the late John Mccain. After a moment, he looked away and proceeded to give a monumental eulogy.

He described his respect for John Mccain regardless of political disagreement. Incorporating humor and nostalgia, he reflected on Mccain’s life. In the end, he brought tremendous honor to his name as a true American hero.

“And in fact, it is demanded of all of us as citizens of this great republic. That’s perhaps how we honor him (John Mccain) best, by recognizing that there are some things bigger than party or ambition, or money, or fame, or power. That there’s some things there are worth risking everything for. Principles that are eternal. Truths that are abiding.”

Former President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at a memorial service for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. McCain died Aug. 25, from brain cancer at age 81. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In the 2008 election, John Mccain and Barack Obama clashed as nominees of their party. Even though they saw the country from different perspectives, they addressed each other with the utmost respect. Through this, the 2008 election marked a symbol of political civility.

However, just eight years after, the 2016 election sparked controversy and hate in America. Before Trump won the primary, he debated with prominent Republican figures such as Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. In one of the Republican Presidential debates, the moderator asked, “Who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?”

Donald Trump rose his hand. When asked why he claimed the only Republican nominee he would support is himself. This showed the lack of respect he had for the other candidates and his party. As the election escalated, Trump hurled insulting remarks at his Republican opponents.

For example, he insulted Cruz’s family and somehow linked Bush’s wife to illegal immigration. Both Republicans responded with rage and contempt for Trump.

When Trump won the Republican primary, he went against Hillary Clinton. To say that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the most hated presidential candidates in American history is an understatement.

For months, the country had to suffer the two candidates constantly attacking each other and their respective parties. Day after day, political ads were displayed to discredit the opposing side.

In the presidential debate, Trump called Hillary a “nasty woman.” Hillary responded by calling him sexist and racist. During the election, she called Trump’s supporters “The Basket of Deplorables” while Trump brought up the Bill Clinton sex scandal. Later, in Hillary’s bestseller book What Happened, she called Trump a creep and a sexual assaulter.

It did not stop there, Barack Obama attempted to paint Hillary as the best politician through youtube videos and social media posts. While media outlets themselves were warring over the best candidate. According to the Washington Post, 4000 people protested at an Anti-Trump movement. It eventually broke out into a riot where the Portland Police had to step in. Thousands were arrested and one person died. Even to this day, there are Anti-Trump movements.

Comparing and contrasting the 2008 and 2016 elections, one can see the political divide that is precedent in America. Within school and work, we identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and our political party affiliation. We are discriminated against for the certain political ideologies we have and praised if those ideologies coincide with the majority.

People are starting to lose a sense of pride in their country. Statistically speaking, according to Pew Research Center, 60% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans say the U.S. is one of the greatest countries in the world. Meaning the numbers are decreasing every year.

Furthermore, I noticed people are sitting down during the pledge of allegiance in classrooms. When our English teacher asked us to write down our fears on the whiteboard, someone wrote “Trump and white people.”

Trump’s Polarizing Demeanor

He lacks what most of his critics call a “Politician’s Filter.” Trump skips formalities and goes straight for the controversy. This is seen in his campaign, debates, and current presidency.

He disregards his own party and political rivals. Eight months after Mccain’s death, Trump criticized the late Senator. His criticism of the war hero was counterproductive, unnecessary, and false. Therefore, Trump needs to address far greater problems and not spend his time tweeting about the Democratic party.

However, the ugly truth about American politics is Trump does not hold the sole blame of the political atmosphere. Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders are berating each other and the Republican party.

Because of this, I see incivility everywhere. It’s in the biased CNN news coverage of the Mueller report. It’s in the skewed stories of Obama aiding terrorists from Fox News. It’s in the malicious attacks by Republican and Democratic senators alike. It’s within the debates I engage in at tournaments. It’s in the monumental and minuscule events of everyday life.

Here is the truth: civility is vital. The fundamental infrastructure of debate is civility. Without it, the debate becomes nothing more than a petty yelling match. In times when political discord is becoming the norm, we must be insightful and respect all perspectives. There must be a new profound respect for common ground.

When we are civil, we compromise. With the coming of compromise, comes bipartisanship. Only when bipartisanship is formed, we become united. In becoming united, we create a better nation. Not just for us, but for future generations to come.

John McCain giving a speech

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

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