In honor of Pearl Harbor Rememberance day, I want to talk about how to have a polite political discussion. Politeness in general seems to be something of a lost art, especially on the internet, so I’d like to start with the definition of polite, to make sure we’re all on the same page.
1 a : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of advanced culture
b : marked by refined cultural interests and pursuits especially in arts and belles lettres
2 a : showing or characterized by correct social usage
b : marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy
c : marked by a lack of roughness or crudities <polite literature>
– from Miram-Webster
Specifically I’m going to be focusing on the second definition, subdefinition b. “marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy.”
Please go get your own photo of someone so dear to you that you would consider violent action if anyone were rude or hurtful to them. If you don’t have a photo, picture sitting with them right now. Try to imagine every detail about them. What they wore. Their favorite food and beverage. The way they smile and laugh.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Now, pull up the last Facebook post you shared about the opposition of your particular political position/candidate in the last election. Imagine someone said something to your special person like that. How would you feel if someone spoke to your special person that way?
If you’re pro-Trump, imagine someone called your Grandmother a diaper wearing baby?
If you’re an anti-Trump person, imagine someone called your dear Grandmother an stupid, racist right to her face?
Annoyed? Angry? Outraged?
Would you actually say something like that to your own beloved person, whom you love and care about? Would you want someone to say that to someone whom you love and care about?
I guess you have to ask yourself: what do you really want to do and how would you act and what would you do if you actually wanted to do that. Do you want to change someone’s mind? Has calling someone an idiot ever changed anyone’s mind in the history of humankind?
I’m willing to guess that’s a resounding no. Then do what you need to do to actually change minds?
Start with the most basic thing. Fuck political correctness: be polite.
Remember what your goal is and act in way that helps achieve your goal. Change what you’re doing. Act like you actually want to change the other person’s mind. Act like you want to actually change the world.
Stop attacking the person. Attack the reasoning, the argument, or the situation. Disprove outright lies and debunk faulty reasoning.
That said, please also remember that we have a certain patriotic duty to hold our elected officials accountable, especially the president. I think Teddy Roosevelt said it best:
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
“Roosevelt in the Kansas City Star”, 149
May 7, 1918
Just be polite when you do it.