John Halpin argues at The Liberal Patriot that hyperbolic rhetoric across the political spectrum is undermining our democracy. It's time for citizens of all persuasions to insist on civil, non-crazy discourse that doesn't leap to the most extreme interpretation of every political conflict.
"Given the direction of modern politics and media discourse, it is plausible that more Americans across the ideological divide could start interpreting things they don’t like—such as public health efforts, a favored candidate losing an election, the passing of a bill, or a Supreme Court ruling that goes against their beliefs—as a form of authoritarian repression and tyranny that warrants a violent response.
This is objectively nutty.
Yet despite the obvious deficiencies in this style of thinking, how many of the ideological forces running the Republican and Democratic parties today—or the major media operations and activist groups shaping public discourse—can we count on to tamp down and confront these anti-democratic sentiments? Unfortunately, genuine pro-democracy forces are few and far between. Too many political leaders and activists today purposefully fuel insane interpretations of normal politics that in a more benign manner produce senseless political divisions that undermine American interests, and at their worst, threaten democratic stability.
What’s to be done about this irrational shift in politics? We clearly need to shore up our laws and court rulings to defend the proper functioning of elections and the peaceful resolution of political disputes in the country.
But policy alone can’t fully fix the problem of rising threats to democratic stability.
Normal Americans need to take back control of democratic discourse and end the toxic drift in politics towards treating people or officials who think differently as enemies of the state. Patriots across the spectrum should refuse to engage in hyperbolic political fights or give money and online oxygen to the forces that promulgate these views. Call out the ideologues of any persuasion who threaten democracy by fomenting sectarian racial, religious, or partisan divisions. Stand up for solid American values like equal dignity and rights for all people and a unifying commitment to economic opportunity for everyone."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot. And subscribe!