Columnists

Russ Mitchell: On Civility And Society

Russ at @RussMitchellCFB

At the risk of angering many of my friends, I will not remain silent and allow my country to slip further along this path.  For those that value my insight, I beg but a moment of your time and respect.

In this final minute of election madness –  a lunacy that is often inflamed for ratings and revenue, I lament how civility is vanishing from our national landscape.  The erosion of basic courtesy, discourse, and respect for the human endeavor we all share … often found manipulated by the blind pursuit of political idealism.

In a healthy society of equals, there is no place for positions that lack compromise.  Compromise is NOT a bad word, despite what many zealots in America today would have you believe.

Compromise is the cornerstone of a family unit.  It is the basis of an effective corporation, organization or even team – you can’t run the ball on every play, despite how much your head coach might want it.  Far more notably, compromise is the very genesis of our form of democracy … the very Republic that we claim to cherish, support and defend.

Compromise.

I listen to my neighbors extol the virtues of freedom – then in the same breath, commend political machinations that serve no true purpose other than to deprive fellow citizens the basic tenant of the very freedom they praise: the right to vote.  All in a race to win at any cost … defiling the spirit of both freedom and compromise.

Political Correctness has run amok, and is equally dangerous to the fabric of a healthy society and political system.  But no more so than using an anti-PC wave to disguise ugliness, hate and simple rudeness.  And further burden the spirit of both civility and compromise.

Indeed, there are many things wrong with our nation today, not the least of which is our collection of butlers beholden more to special interests, money and corporations than the people they supposedly serve.

However, I have been fortunate enough to travel the world over several times … and while I have seen many nations, and witnessed many things, that are, and are done, far more efficiently and fairly than they are here in the UNITED States, in total, and despite our weaknesses, ours remains the greatest nation on earth for all its substance and promise.  Perhaps one of the more unique experiments in history, and thus something to be treasured.

This fact exists because of the spirit and practice of our Republic.  Because of our willingness to compromise, which at its very core beats a heart of civility.

Certainly, as a nation we have benefited by many things…  An embarrassing abundance of natural resources.  The security afforded us by two expansive oceans.  A gene pool of hardy risk takers.  And our form of governance.

But there is no guarantee of longevity in any of these, particularly the latter.  No more than there is a guarantee in the absolute, unchallenged and unquestioning certainty of the Corporation, a structure which in America is about 100 years old … a veritable new born against the weight of time.

The Athenian experiment with democracy lasted but a few hundred years.  Its brevity mirrors our greatest weakness as a nation: our lack of history, depth, and by extension, a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of our Republic.  As well as a better grasp of the fragility of nations, and of governance.

It is for this reason alone that despite any social, racial or political silos that might serve to cubbyhole us into believing we are required to vote down a predetermined path, I will never again vote for a candidate whose primary message is one of division.

Notwithstanding the urgency to eradicate the unbridled influence of money from our political system, our great nation has survived many butlers, and given time, can well survive another.  Particularly against the backdrop of our checks and balances.

The leaders of our nation must possess the good grace and desire to build consensus across all people.  They cannot champion a philosophy of naked aggression and threats without short- and long-term damage, both foreign and domestic.  There is no place among the leadership of our Republic for bullying behavior, as that legitimizes a tenor that is the antithesis of the spirit of compromise and democracy.  And thus, our national foundation.

This lack of civility is an escalating condition from which we MUST recover, regardless what side of the political aisle we sit, if our great nation is to continue.

After this election, I will continue to do my part to reduce the overwhelmingly negative impact of unchecked money on the business of our government, as well as promote term limits as a first, if incomplete, step.  But most importantly, I will champion the need for civility and compromise in politics.

Without civility and compromise, our Republic is doomed.