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    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • May 17, 2016 in Columnists

    Keep it civil, Democrats — we’re actually on the same side

    I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.
    Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often, but erroneously, attributed to Voltaire)

    I have come to hate politics. Literally hate them. Nobody seems to keep a cool head and it all becomes personal.

    I haven’t actually decided who I’m for — I see advantages to both Bernie and Hillary. I will vote for whomever wins the nomination because I believe each, in his or her own unique way, will do a good job. I also think that a lot of what Bernie has said and stands for has affected Hillary in some very positive ways. I can’t honestly say I know if Hillary has affected Bernie in any way, but I think she should have. The firebrand and the pragmatist each have strengths the other could use — kind of like if you smooshed your last three loves who were almost perfect together and averaged them, you’d get the exactly what you needed, right?

    Like a new love, each group is passionate about their favored candidate. Perhaps fearful that, if their favorite were examined too closely, their flaws would deter needed voters, each group defends their beloved with an almost blind ferocity. I understand that, too. I was like that with Barack Obama. Now, basking in the afterglow of seven and a half excellent but still not perfect years, I have the leisure to admit where he has fallen down — even in the midst of his successes.

    I don’t think anybody feels quite safe enough yet to do it with their own candidate.

    However, if we are going to have the best opportunity to choose the person most suited to the job, both need to be examined closely, called on any bullshit they do or have done, be asked to be specific about just how they’re going to achieve what they’ve promised — and also what they would do in case it all goes to hell in a hand basket. It’s also important to ascertain if they understand the realities of the system with which they’ll be trying to work (like herding ants, as far as I can tell), if they understand that the Republicans still control Congress and that they’re likely to face a real uphill battle.

    We need to find out if they have the heart and empathy to nurture the US citizenry and as much of the rest of the world as we reasonably can while still having the steely, sharklike ability to be as ruthless as necessary. That, in my opinion, was the major flaw of the magnificent Jimmy Carter (the first president for whom I ever voted). He was an honestly good man who didn’t have the killer instinct that running this country — and working with the political opposition — occasionally requires.

    It’s important to remember that it isn’t slamming either candidate to expect transparency and honesty from anyone running for the presidency. It’s not being uncivil to reasonably question various aspects of either. So if anybody asks questions of your favorite, please don’t take offense (let alone come unglued). They’re doing their patriotic duty by asking the difficult questions. After all, isn’t it true patriotism to hold our leaders — and this country as a whole — to their higher ground? And how will we do it without asking questions that feel like skin against a cheese grater to answer?

    On an individual level, we are all free to have our convictions and to stand by them. We are also free — and in some ways, morally obligated — to make noise about the issues about which we’re impassioned. This very obligation means that people who ordinarily have great affection for each other can be at terrible odds and that’s something else that needs addressed. We need to find a way to work together and to stay civil, or as our Democratic primary becomes little more than a national brawl, the Republicans will find a way to help Trump, a miscreant on a scale we’ve haven’t seen in generations in this country (if ever), slither past all the barriers we should be putting up and gain power. And that, I cannot even begin to contemplate.


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