Domestic Affairs

Reverence in Rhetoric: Stitching up our National Fabric through a Return to Civility

The current democratic primary and its outcome will determine the way that we conduct politics for the next four years — at the least. In the face of a mounting impeachment inquiry and flagging reelection bid by President Donald Trump, there is a strong chance that the Democratic nominee will become the next president of the United States. Yet, regardless of the outcome of the next presidential election, the character of the nominee will play a role in setting the rules for the new mode of political behavior in our coming era. The Democratic nominee must be someone able to show the country a new way: to restore a simulacrum of the civility and unity that used to be present in our political process. 

In the past, our politicians practiced a relatively civil form of politics. Congresspeople would often be friends with members of the other party, even getting to know each other’s families and eat together outside of work. The political process, by and large, was not marred by undisguised hatred for the “other” on the other side of the aisle. Of course, this civility very often did not extend toward people of color or other marginalized groups, and we are very much for the better with recent attitudes in government in regard to these groups. However, this does not negate the assertion that our government, the apparatus itself, was healthier. While the direct cause of this departure is up to debate, I would aver that it has to do with the usefulness of political ex-communications to rile up their base that have led to hatred rather than a cooperative spirit. If we are to revive some of this civility and respect, we will need a leader who is of strong character but not too obstinate to cooperate with people of differing opinions. But, above all, we will need a leader who brings a congenial spirit to our politics again. 

Many would ask, “why should the Democrats take the “high road” when Republicans such as Trump and McConnell laugh at that very notion?” I would retort, “because it is the right thing to do, and that it will pay off in the long run for those who take the form of our rhetoric seriously.” I am not averse, however, to political strategy or “telling it like it is” to an extent, but to speak in a manner reverent toward our political process and governing for the people should be the primary goal of any politician interested in healing the bleeding wound that is our national divide. I ask this of the Democrats and not the Republicans because the Democrats have shown a capacity for change and progress whereas the Republican party has become the party of reactionaries and inability to change. Even if they lose, it is important that the Democrats nominate a candidate — more importantly, a leader — with the power to inspire and to revive the type of discourse that is so important to our identity as a country of free, yet reverential, speech.

All in all, the ball is in the Democrats’ court to set the course of our country. To voters in the upcoming Democratic primary: do you think the candidate that you are considering is capable of helming such a revolution of thought and rhetoric? The candidate should be one who will cause a pivot, not a continuation, in the direction of our national soul and not one “who best fits my policy agenda” but one who will bring us together when we are so far apart.

1 reply »

  1. You’ve correctly identified the problem, righteous certitude has got to go. However, I would caution you against your indictment of the Republican party, even if it is perhaps true to some extent. The connotations behind “the party of reactionaries and inability to change” certainly are not positive, and in fact seem contrary to your goal of reverent rhetoric. Such words will likely aggravate conservatives and make rational discourse less likely. Let us give them a chance to be civil.


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