Civility Among Friends (Can’t we all just get along?)

This rant requires little to no research, it’s all anecdotal and comes from what I’ve experienced in recent months and from what I’ve been told.

We like to rail against the right-wing for being rude, obnoxious and uncivil to those of us who support a position that they don’t. Those who know my history know that I registered as a Republican in 1979 when I turned 18. Although I never voted a straight GOP ticket (opting to vote for those I thought were the most qualified) I did in fact vote for many Republicans over the years. Truth be told, they were the more moderate, intellectual and sincere Republicans who like me, were more interested in solving the country’s problems than maintaining some power for the party. In short, they placed city, county, state and nation before party. That feeling of mine has never changed.

Of course over the years, the Republican party has moved ever farther to the right to the point of insanity. More and more they started developing a litmus test about what “a true Republican” was. The liberal, moderate, and intellectual conservatives have more and more been marginalized, ridiculed and forced out of office. Many times they have been forced out of the party. There is truth to the saying “I didn’t leave the Republican party, it left me.”

So after 2010 when I saw the most extreme elements of the American Taliban (The Tea Party) not only take over the Republican Party, but took over the House of Representatives and many Governorships and State legislatures spouting racist and provably wrong rhetoric, I decided enough was enough and I left the Republican Party. However in my early days on Twitter I was still part of the GOP and stated so on my bio. This of course resulted in right-wing trolls gunning for me and gleefully exclaiming that I was a RINO (Republican In Name Only). As the McAvoy character in “The Newsroom” so brilliantly pointed out in one episode, those in the Tea Party (the American Taliban) are the true RINOs. However, not wanting them to consider themselves liars, I left the party.

Over time, even Andrew Breitbart himself went after me, bringing in all his Twitter buddies to harass and insult me saying that I “was no moderate” that in fact I was a bleeding heart liberal for the simple reason I didn’t see things the way they did. Well as many like to point out, Reagan, Goldwater, Nixon, and a whole host of other successful Republican Conservatives would today be called liberal. My views never changed, I have some admittedly liberal views on some issues, some conservative views on others, and I see nothing wrong with having liberal views because we all know honestly, when questioned enough on enough issues, everybody has what can be considered a liberal view on some facet of life somewhere.

So the right-wing insults, harass, and ridicules me. So guess what? I return the favor and do the same to them. Turnabout is fair play and I like to think I play pretty good. I still have a lot of GOP still in me and I know how they think and how they operate so it’s not problem to handle them, if I chose. Best thing to do as I posted a while back with Right Wing Trolls is to simply ignore and block. Communicating with them is what they want because then they get posted to your time-line and followers and get more exposure than they deserve. Odd thing is, it’s now a rare day I get assaulted on Twitter by a RWNJ anymore. Maybe they gave up? Who knows.

So we all enjoy being uncivil to those on the other side because they are uncivil by nature. So uncivil they have attacked and assaulted their own kind resulting in many leaving the party. Their Big Tent is more and more becoming a Pup Tent by their use of litmus tests for “true conservative Republicans” and in doing so have driven out blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Women, Homosexuals, the list goes on. Many of these people either switch to the Democratic Party, go Independent or remain Republican with the intent of voting against their party.

But now to why this rant. Those of us on this side of the aisle are not immune to the behavior of those on the right. I’m starting to see it more and more. Many on the extreme edges of the left’s ideology and establishing criteria for membership. There was the argument regarding the “Professional Left” that went way out of hand and resulted in depressing moderate and left-wing voter turn-out in 2010 that helped the American Taliban take over so many offices. And it continues.

Soon after I started this blog, I did a post regarding what is an American. I opined that I honestly believe that the only criteria of being American is being here. We are too diverse on so many levels. Well, a follower who had followed me from nearly the beginning took exception to that blog. Although we had both RT each other’s posts over the years, the mere fact that I mentioned that even those on the right who opine their views are Americans insulted him that he felt a need to insult me back. I tried to remain reasonable, above the fray as he became more and more angry with me. It ended up with him unfollowing and blocking me. This is what those on the other side do, and sadly we’re starting to do the same.

A good friend of mine on Twitter DM’d me over some issues involving those who have left-wing blogs recently that resulted in quite frankly childish behavior, unfollows, blocks and very hard feelings. I know each and every one of these people. Overall they are on the same page, they fight for the same goals, yet they are now not talking to each other and slam each other on posts.

Perhaps this is human nature, but it is also self-defeating for our cause to have and maintain a Big Tent. Strength comes from diversity and tolerance of that diversity. You don’t have to agree on each and every issue, but you can agree to be civil with each other, allow each other to express their views and shake hands and agree to disagree. That is what makes any society stronger and more welcoming to others.

2 thoughts on “Civility Among Friends (Can’t we all just get along?)

  1. Trina, I could have solely read that last paragraph and it would have accomplished the same with me as reading the entire essay. You are laying out a rationale for your call to civility among those who have opposing positions and express opposing opinions. And I empathize.

    However, I see plenty of aggressive, ridiculing, mocking, vulgar, and even threatening comments and tweets from the left, too. I believe that civility is a natural expression of a peaceful, spiritually content, happy, and loving state of being, and I know people who live on that level from across the political spectrum.

    Because we are engaged in and invested in a passionate discussion, it’s easy to cross the line from polite (well, at least civil) debate to snark, and from there to insult. A reflective individual may quickly self-adjust and reset. Others may dig in their heels and double down. Then the blocking and other immaturities set in.

    One of the phenomena that puzzles me is the “troll” label that gets assigned to anyone who wades into a feed with true sincerity and offers an opinion at odds with those who frequent it. This often ends up with the “intruder” getting blocked or otherwise chased away. I do think this happens more on the right, but that would only be anecdotal on my part.

    Thanks for a good read.

  2. This was a rant I posted when I was new to blogging and was trying to give advise to those who Tweet how to deal with “Trolls.”
    Trina is correct in who the “Trolls” are. For the most part, they are simply paid operatives trying to cause problems in left wing and centrist time-lines. They aren’t worth the attention they seek. I think we can all agree that as per the point of this particular rant, the issue is the in-fighting which can be just as destructive to our cause as allowing “Trolls” to insert themselves into the time-lines. We should ignore the Trolls, engage with those who disagree but maintain an open-mind and reasonable tone in their correspondence, and finally stop childish in-fighting among ourselves over trivial matters. It keeps the word from getting out effectively.

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