I am so tired of the inflammatory, relentlessly adversarial, tit-for-tat rhetoric – from both left and right – in politics today. Obviously, the system is set up to be adversarial in some respects, but most of us can remember the days when there was mutual respect on both sides and when principled compromise was actually a goal to be reached so that bipartisan consensus could be found and legislation actually passed for the good of the American people.
As a lifelong progressive Democrat, obviously I lay much of this at the feet of the Republican Party which reached its crest during the last eight years of the Obama administration. When the stated goal of the GOP leadership, from day one, was to see that Barack Obama was a failed president it is not hard to see how all of this has developed. However, I refuse to believe that acting exactly the same way as Democrats under a Trump administration is the way to go.
Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” may not have been a winning strategy in the short run. But it is a moral strategy and we are not always called to “win.” We are called, as the saying goes, not always to be “successful” but to be “faithful.” I am opposed to Democrats “boycotting” hearings for Trump nominees for Cabinet positions. Congress folks should show up, grill the hell out of the nominees, vote No if they need to and make it clear to their constituents and to the American people at large why they did so.
I believe Neil Gorsuch should be confirmed by the United States Senate, not because I agree with many of his positions on ‘the issues’ but because he is imminently qualified and because elections (even ones as contentious a problematic as this one) have consequences and Presidents deserve to be able appoint Justices of their persuasion if they are well qualified. Yes, Barack Obama should absolutely have been allowed to appoint Merrick Garland who the Republicans shamefully blocked from even getting a hearing. But two wrongs do not make a right and “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth eventually leaves everyone blind and toothless.”
Democrats should fight the good fight, according to the rules, after setting priorities and deciding which ditches they are prepared to die in. Christians and people of good will from all religious perspectives and none should be prepared to make our voices heard in the halls of Congress and in the streets (but not by blocking interstate highways or breaking windows and vandalizing property). We should stand in solidarity with those who may be hurt by reactionary and right-wing decisions be they immigrants, refugees, women, people of color or members of any other marginalized group.
And we should gear up now for the next election cycle and try to get “our” candidates elected up and down the ballots in 2018 and in 2020. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and, if we had campaigned smarter and harder in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, she would now be in the White House. Dear friends, never give up on “going high.” It is our calling.