Southie Progressive Magazine

Our Common Values: Unity, Hope, Love, and Empathy

A Cold Civil War

Are we not all Americans? If you are a Trump voter, you are an American. If you voted for Hillary, you are an American. This past week, on CNN, I heard the term “Cold Civil War.” It sent shivers up-and-down my spine. The Cold Civil War is a term describing the volatile nature of contemporary American Politics; the irascibility that has infected our national dialogue. There has even been politically motivated violence in certain areas of the country, particularly Oregon. Indeed, there are folks waging a Cold Civil War in the United States, and I blame both sides, particularly the extreme wings of the right and the left.

Social Democrats, who have now created an ideological purity test that gives them the power to describe anyone, even more moderate Democrats, but Trump supporters in particular, as stupid. First of all, good luck to the Democratic Party in trying to win back the 2016 Trump voters who are victims of left wing arrogance and pretentiousness. Why alienate any voter, “oh-so pure” far left Democrats? I love political science, and any “political animal” worth his salt knows: 1) don’t enrage your opponent’s base, which “fires up” the Trump voter you have victimized, ensuring that that particular Trump supporter will be at the polls next November. You might have even influenced said Trump supporter to campaign on his behalf. 2) Civility is a necessary component of a healthy national dialogue. Hurling insults and using incendiary language leads to an unhealthy national dialogue, and creates motivated Trump supporters. So when left wingers act pretentious and arrogant, they have not earned the right to call themselves intelligent, and they definitely are political neophytes; if they were as intelligent, they would know the basic tenets I laid out above.

This is a “tough pill” for me to swallow, but if someone is a racist, than try these rhetorical techniques; tell them about a person that the racist is disparaging that you both know or that is well-known; then ask the racist if they think that this person fits the racial stereotype–or, say the person uttered a racial slur, ask him if he would mutter the racial slur to the person that you both know. Calling the person a racist philistine may satisfy you (hey, it’s even made me feel better before), but are we achieving anything or gaining any ground by insulting said racist? I highly doubt it. So use it as an opportunity to gain some ground and employ the rhetorical devices I suggested or be creative and use your own device. I understand that it is quite difficult to restrain ourselves from the vexation of dealing with the ignorance of racism; however, one may get further by a civil rebuttal.

The left has become quite hypocritical. We call the right wing racist, but we vilify inner city Irish American neighborhoods like South Boston that have similar issues to inner-city neighborhoods populated with people of color; we disparage The South; and now we even disparage lunch pale Democrats. I am from South Boston, and I often defended Southie at my alma mater, even though we have given this country a progressive Speaker of the House and progressive congressmen. It is okay to offend Irish Catholics, particularly Southie’s Irish Catholics, and this has caused South Boston’s children to suffer institutional prejudice; the Metco program only allows inner city people of color to go to better schools in the surrounding cities: Irish from South Boston need not apply–they are excluded from many of the city’s programs for inner city youth. These children often grow up with a poor education and a bleak economic future. The lack of economic opportunities leads to despair; despair leads to a life of crime or addiction and then a premature death. Many of my friends from Southie died from overdoses. The same principle applies as in the preceding paragraph: insulting folks is a great way to lose their vote. Somehow, we Democratic activists from Southie have somehow evened the playing field for the Democratic Party. Both Obama and Warren won in Southie by 51%. Now imagine if these Southie kids were treated equally? The Democratic Party would have a politically active neighborhood as a bastion of progressivism.

Staying on the topic of left wing hypocrisy, the left accuses the right of tribalism. Well, what about the conspicuous tribalism on the left? We won two elections with Obama: a candidate who called for unity amongst Republicans, Democrats and whites, Hispanics, Asian, and Blacks. He never used division as a tactic. He never labeled himself; he knew that labeling oneself is a great way to lose votes. He showed The Democratic Party that if we unite, we are unbeatable. He showed the Democratic Party how to govern effectively as a progressive: by being pragmatic. He pushed for progressive principles whenever he could. He passed the most progressive legislation since President Johnson. He passed the Affordable Health Care Act, something every Democrat since FDR tried and failed to promulgate. Yet social Democrats have the audacity to call him a corporate Democrat. They must forget that this is the President that created the Consumer Protection Bureau, which he picked now Senator Warren to run. They forget that he made the corporations that needed bail outs pay back every dime they were given. They forget that he was the first person to stand up to bullies like Benjamin Netanyahu by being the first president to withhold our veto power in the UN when the world agreed to censure Israel’s continuous encroachment into Palestinian land, which endangers Israel and The United States. So it is obvious that social Dems are okay with dividing the Party. They are okay with criticizing the most progressive Democrat since FDR. FDR was pragmatic, yet he is seen as a hero to social Dems, while criticizing Obama for his pragmatism. Ideologies make for awful presidents.

We have taken a page from Trump’s playbook, and instead of following the most important progressive principle–empathy–we instead turned our backs on each other and became tribalistic: “What can you do for unions?” What can you do for Black Lives Matter?” “What can you do for feminists?” “What can you do for me, me, me?” That has been atypical of the progressive movement for some time now. When Trump got in, we became selfish. Let’s be “men for others” as the Jesuits say and take care of one another, and I’m not just referring to progressives and Dems. Help out conservatives too. Why? Because empathy defines the progressive movement, not ideological purity tests. A true progressive approaches politics with empathy. We don’t behave selfishly by turning the Party into exclusive tribalistic groups.

Trump supporters: some of you are quick on the draw with an insult and can often attack people on a deeply personal level. That is not winning the debate. Insulting people and attacking people has motivated the Democratic base and cost Republicans the House of Reps. Well, let me be honest and say that Trump’s insults on Twitter played a more significant role in helping motivate the base, which led to a Democratic majority in The House. However, that doesn’t mean as a Trump supporter that you have to follow the same tactics.

With all due respect to my fellow Americans who support Trump, one does not need to agree with the President. It is okay to disagree with him. In the end, one comes across as more authentic, and earns the respect of Democrats and, even more importantly, undecided voters. That’s what will decide this election: which candidate can earn the votes of undecided voters.

In conclusion, I urge both Trump supporters and the left wing to be more kind to one another. We are all children of God, and we are all Americans. I urge both sides to end this “Cold Civil War.” I am willing to hear someone out when one talks to me with civility and respect. I might not agree with you, but, if you want me to listen, then do not insult me–if not my vote, you can at least earn my respect by portraying your intelligence with the civility of your argument. This applies to the left and the right. God Bless all of you: The Trump Supporter, the Democrat, and social Dems. All of you are my fellow countrymen.

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