The tone and the tenor of public debates have reached new lows in the last year and a lot of it has been laid at the feet of the new U.S. president.
But before you think this is another screed against Donald J. Trump, I think we all need to take a pause on how we’re handling public discourse these days.
You can disagree with the man but you should respect the office, and despite the fact it was a marginal win, it was a win nonetheless under the U.S.’s archaic electoral college system.
I know he’s the author of his own misfortune when it comes to the name calling and the schoolyard bullying behaviour he exhibited on the campaign trail, but after a whirlwind first few weeks in office it seems like he is finally starting to comport himself a little better in keeping with his position as de facto leader of the free world.
And although he has spurred a lot of opposition to his policies, and rightfully so, that doesn’t mean all the personal attacks are justified.
He’s been called a short-fingered vulgarian, baby fingers, the gold wrecking ball, Trump of Doom and Agent Orange.
Other attacks on his appearance include carrot top, a decomposing ear of corn and the golden fleece.
Sure, you can say he started it by the belittling of his opponents now and the name calling of his opponents in the primaries, as well as the slights he launched at Hillary Clinton.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Plus, he’s doing exactly what he said he would do. For all those who complain about politicians never keeping their promises, at least this one does.
You may disagree with those positions, but you shouldn’t be disagreeable in doing so and sideline the ad hominem attacks.
In fact, the trend of personally abusing people who disagree with you has seemed to move from the online world into our real world disputes.
More and more politicians say they are being personally attacked. Instead they should have their policies put to the test. A free society requires a free exchange of ideas, and as soon as you start labelling people you loose all of the common ground.
Even worse, this trend to being personally abusive is seeping back down to the schoolyards they once started on. Teachers I know warn it’s tough to teach anti-bullying measures with so many adults engaged in bullying.
So its fine to question the man’s politics and policies, but leave the personal attacks to those with nothing better to say.