where is the humility in our political discourse?

For the past month I have been trying to frame a question about the tone, purpose and goals of
the arguments advanced by the partisans of Bernie/Hillary in a way that avoids hyperbole and respects differences of perspective.  Mostly I have been unsuccessful, choosing instead to post well-reasoned articles that hold the potential of taking the discussion deeper. Based upon FB comments, however, this rarely happens given the ideological purity of some players. We all know that there are serious thinkers who cut the issues clearly, avoiding ugly rhetoric and priggish propaganda. Why, then, do most who choose to comment, argue, harangue and pontificate prefer bait and switch, name calling and outright fear-mongering and slander to vigorous, critical reflection?  Where is the humility in our political discourse?

Those of us who take politics seriously - professionally, ethically and/or spiritually - have all read the polls.  We know that Bernie has done well in raising funds, energizing a youthful cadre of caucus supporters and won the last six straight primaries. We also know that the remaining primary states present unique challenges for his message and that he has recently turned to public innuendo, untruth and exaggeration about Hilary. His "bought and sold" mantra is disingenuous and an ugly, right wing distraction.  In the other camp, Hilary has done well raising funds, too. She is the hands-on favorite candidate of people of color and older voters and has won more actual votes than Sanders. She also has a long history of people hating her for real and imagined ethical violations (mostly untrue) but, unlike Sanders, lacks a natural zeal for pressing the flesh and campaigning. 

Consequently, while Clinton holds 745 pledged delegates to Sanders 540 - and 1221 delegates pledged (including super delegates) to Sanders' 571 - there appears to be far less passion in her camp than his. Bernie has pushed Hilary to the Left on many domestic issues - and this has been a good thing - a natural consequence, I would argue, of the political process. Hilary has been able to speak boldly about the lack of international wisdom in Bernie's foreign policy. What remains to be seen is whether Sanders has the mojo to deliver beyond Wisconsin and whether Clinton can hold on to her ethnic/age/gender diversity coalition in both NY and California.

What I find troubling - and antithetical to the supposed high road ethics of the Sanders camp - is the smug, dismissive and insulting way many Bernie supporters respond to the issues of the Clinton campaign. I am going out on a limb here but it evokes for me the noxious arrogance of the Maoists back in the day.  They were brazen, rude and belligerent shouting "Running dog lackey of the bourgeoisie" rather than debate the critical issues of the Vietnam War or race hatred in a desegregating America. Call it my political PTSD, but without respect for the humanity and integrity of those who oppose your viewpoint, how can we find common ground? Without a commitment to listening and serious analysis, how can we build compromises that work in the real world? And without a willingness to go the extra mile and build trust, we only maintain the illusion of our ethical purity while continuing gridlock and despair.

As a nonviolent activist, I have rarely been so discouraged by the lack of civility and depth in our public discourse. That's why Debilyn and Joan's recent podcast, "How Do We Fix It?" spoke to my head and my heart. Check it out here: http://www.howdowefixit.me/podcasts/ 2016/3/23 /jsa81y7qmjtxp5wjj6scc78caat1ex\

My hope is that those who read this blog - and who take politics seriously - will give this pod cast a serious listen. It is the most uplifting, common sense antidote to the current morass I have heard in a long time. You can even call me out for my reaction. but do so in a way that deepens the conversation, ok?


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