Civility in Politics: All Bets are Off

 

I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at this well intentioned definition of civility:

Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored.

And civility begins with us.

Good grief. There was a time when I would embrace this definition of civility; now I can only shake my head in disappointment because it is so alien to our current politics.

While Democrats call for civility, they bang on the doors of the Supreme Court, accost legislators in front of their homes and in elevators, shoot at them at bi-partisan baseball practices, and brutally attack them at their homes. The delusion that the Democrats speak from is mind-boggling. Hillary Clinton made this statement:

Clinton told CNN’s Christine Amanpour that one cannot be civil with a political party that ‘wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.’

‘That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again,’ Clinton asserted. ‘But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.’

I’m not a psychologist, but this comment is not only delusional; I assert that it is a classic state of projection: everything that Clinton said was a spot on description of the Progressives; they want to destroy everything that this country stands for. And that she thinks that civility can be turned back on like a light switch if the Democrats were to win the election is ridiculous, even frightening.

So here’s my take on civility in politics: it will not be practiced by the Democrats–period. They not only do not understand the concept; they don’t care about honoring it. The word “civility” is a whip to beat up the Republicans about what they are not doing: the Republicans are not caving in to Democrat demands; they are not being bullied by intimidation tactics; and they are refusing to legitimize the expectations of the other side. The Democrats will also play the victims of the incivility they demonstrate: it’s Donald Trump’s fault; it’s Mitch McConnell’s fault; it’s Susan Collins’ fault. All of these people and many others justify the incivility of the Left. I think we have to assume that for the foreseeable future, especially if the Republicans come out ahead in the mid-terms, the Democrats will not only continue to be uncivil, but they may very well escalate into violence.

So what can the Republicans do? Forge ahead with their plans. Continue to hammer repeatedly on the Justice Department for the information legislators are entitled to receive. Run political ads that highlight the appalling behavior, not only of protestors, but of the Democrats, too. Start to act like Conservatives by continuing efforts to cut back regulations. Refuse to support legislation that expands entitlement programs and the power and size of the federal government. Discern when Democrats should be ignored and when they should be called out. Speak out in support of Trump’s programs, such as building the wall and the new NAFTA agreement. Put your petty grievances aside for the good of the country. Demonstrate to everyone that the unity of the Republican Party is not an illusion, but the new reality.

It’s time to notify the country, not just Trump supporters but independents and disgruntled Democrats, too, that the New Republican party is here to stay.

Civility may be a casualty of the Democrat party, but the country can continue to move forward successfully, without their blessing.

It’s our time.

Published in Politics
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 110 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at this well intentioned definition of civility:

    Here’s my definition:

    Civility is the ability to hold a meaningful discourse on a topic, when all you’d like to do is rip the other SOB’s head off for his position.

    Oh, and the two of you go out and have a beer afterwards . . .

    • #1
    • October 11, 2018 at 2:38 pm
    • 9 likes
  2. Coolidge

    Ever since the Clinton administration, democrats have been quick to wrongly accuse republicans of doing what they are doing. They are doing it still.

    • #2
    • October 11, 2018 at 2:39 pm
    • 9 likes
  3. Member

    Susan Quinn: I’m not a psychologist, but this comment is not only delusional; I assert that it is a classic state of projection: everything that Clinton said was a spot on description of the Progressives; they want to destroy everything that this country stands for. And that she thinks that civility can be turned back on like a light switch if the Democrats were to win the election is ridiculous, even frightening.

    Or maybe it’s not projection but an aspirational statement: the Democrats will regain their rightful place, and when the defeated Republicans admit that they have no power and that they know their place, the Democrats won’t have to attack Republicans who don’t step out of line.

    Wait a minute. That sounds like something I’ve seen before…

    • #3
    • October 11, 2018 at 3:34 pm
    • 8 likes
  4. Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Oh, and the two of you go out and have a beer afterwards . . .

    • #4
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:04 pm
    • 1 like
  5. Member

    Clinton told CNN’s Christine Amanpour that one cannot be civil with a political party that ‘wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.’

    Oh, you mean like blind justice and the supremacy of a written law whose meaning only changes when we change the words?

    Or free exercise of religion by running our hospitals and schools consistently with our theologies of sex, marriage, and life?

    Or the freedom to buy that product they used to call “health insurance”–the one that had fiscal viability built in because it only insured against possible future problems–the one the Democrats loved so much that they literally made it illegal so that everyone could have a totally different financial product?

    Curious–even in the days of Trump, I still disagree with Hillary: I’d rather be civil with the Dems.

    Most of the time. A cupful of leftist tears once in a while, drunk with a smile like that of @michaelknowles–I can get behind that.

    • #5
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:33 pm
    • 7 likes
  6. Member

    When the moving principle of your political ideology is force, as it is with progressives, long-term civility is impossible. And, since progressivism has no limiting mechanism their range of incivility is equally unlimited.

    The good news is that, as a political tactic, the belligerent act isn’t effective theater. It may really stoke up the 20% of the country that is just as rueful and hateful as the hyper-progressive left, but voters that might actually be picked off are swayed by a position of strength, not “the loudest victim wins.”

    • #6
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm
    • 5 likes
  7. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Clinton told CNN’s Christine Amanpour that one cannot be civil with a political party that ‘wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.’

    Oh, you mean like blind justice and the original meaning of the Constitution?

    Or free exercise of religion by running our hospitals and schools consistently with our theologies of sex, marriage, and life?

    Or the freedom to buy that product they used to call “health insurance”–the one that had fiscal viability built in because it only insured against possible future problems–the one the Democrats loved so much that they literally made it illegal so that everyone could have a totally different financial product?

    Curious–even in the days of Trump, I disagree with Hillary: I’d rather be civil with the Dems.

    Most of the time. A cupful of leftist tears once in a while, drunk with a smile like that of @michaelknowles–I can get behind that.

    I think he’s got it!! Yes, indeed, it’s like we’re living in different universes isn’t it, St. A? You’ve summed up our differences beautifully–thanks!

    • #7
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:38 pm
    • 3 likes
  8. Member

    Great post. Why are you on the main page with five likes as of 4:38 Pacific Time? I’m not complaining but I just want to know what the rules are. 

    • #8
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:39 pm
    • 2 likes
  9. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Clinton told CNN’s Christine Amanpour that one cannot be civil with a political party that ‘wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.’

    Oh, you mean like blind justice and the original meaning of the Constitution?

    Or free exercise of religion by running our hospitals and schools consistently with our theologies of sex, marriage, and life?

    Or the freedom to buy that product they used to call “health insurance”–the one that had fiscal viability built in because it only insured against possible future problems–the one the Democrats loved so much that they literally made it illegal so that everyone could have a totally different financial product?

    Curious–even in the days of Trump, I disagree with Hillary: I’d rather be civil with the Dems.

    Most of the time. A cupful of leftist tears once in a while, drunk with a smile like that of @michaelknowles–I can get behind that.

    I think he’s got it!! Yes, indeed, it’s like we’re living in different universes isn’t it, St. A? You’ve summed up our differences beautifully–thanks!

    Glad to help. But you were already there:

    . . . a classic state of projection: everything that Clinton said was a spot on description of the Progressives; they want to destroy everything that this country stands for.

    • #9
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:39 pm
    • 2 likes
  10. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):

    When the moving principle of your political ideology is force, as it is with progressives, long-term civility is impossible. And, since progressivism has no limiting mechanism their range of incivility is equally unlimited.

    The good news is that, as a political tactic, the belligerent act isn’t effective theater. It may really stoke up the 20% of the country that is just as rueful and hateful as the hyper-progressive left, but voters that might actually be picked off are swayed by a position of strength, not “the loudest victim wins.”

    So true, but force in words and deeds have been part and parcel of the progressive movement for a long time, @mbrandongodbey. Goodness, you can even study the Democrats during Reconstruction in the South–what a nightmare! I think you’re right about the political theater, too; everyone is getting weary of all the noise. Thanks!

    • #10
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:41 pm
    • 3 likes
  11. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Great post. Why are you on the main page with five likes as of 4:38 Pacific Time? I’m not complaining but I just want to know what the rules are.

    I’m a Contributor, so I can request being on the main page from the start; I get paid the big bucks for that ;-). I’m sometimes in a queue when I submit, so I sometimes am posted quickly, and sometimes it takes a couple of hours. At other times, I hang out with all the members and you guys sometimes vote me up.

    • #11
    • October 11, 2018 at 4:44 pm
    • 4 likes
  12. Member

    Evening Susan,

    Do you think Trump was not civil when he mentioned the holes in Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh at a campaign rally? Do you think Trump was not civil when he apologized to Kavanaugh at the swearing in ceremony?

    • #12
    • October 11, 2018 at 5:08 pm
    • 5 likes
  13. Member

    Great post Susan.

    Civility demands some sort of common understanding and common respect of what behaviors are deemed civil and what are not.

    That common understanding and respect for civil behavior has been under attack by the Progressive Left for about 100 years, with a great acceleration of that attack after the late 1960’s. As a result that common respect has been thoroughly destroyed in a large part of the population, and thoroughly warped in other segments. The mere idea of what civil behavior is has been warped into something very different – something that recognizes Progressive Left Wing attitudes and opinions as the only ones deserving of respect.

    The Left no longer recognizes any behavior by their sworn enemies – the rest of us- as civil in their minds. Therefore, they feel they are entitled to violently act out against anything said or implied by we the other that disturbs their puny little brains at any time without any remorse, shame or certainly punishment.

    • #13
    • October 11, 2018 at 5:14 pm
    • 4 likes
  14. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    Evening Susan,

    Do you think Trump was not civil when he mentioned the holes in Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh at a campaign rally? Do you think Trump was not civil when he apologized to Kavanaugh at the swearing in ceremony?

    No, I set a higher bar than I used to, for your first question. On his apology to Kavanaugh, I was glad he was essentially calling the Democrats out. That was holding them accountable.

    • #14
    • October 11, 2018 at 5:31 pm
    • 2 likes
  15. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Great post Susan.

    Civility demands some sort of common understanding and common respect of what behaviors are deemed civil and what are not.

    That common understanding and respect for civil behavior has been under attack by the Progressive Left for about 100 years, with a great acceleration of that attack after the late 1960’s. As a result that common respect has been thoroughly destroyed in a large part of the population, and thoroughly warped in other segments. The mere idea of what civil behavior is has been warped into something very different – something that recognizes Progressive Left Wing attitudes and opinions as the only ones deserving of respect.

    The Left no longer recognizes any behavior by their sworn enemies – the rest of us- as civil in their minds. Therefore, they feel they are entitled to violently act out against anything said or implied by we the other that disturbs their puny little brains at any time without any remorse, shame or certainly punishment.

    Wow. Well said, @unsk! For those reasons, we will likely never again reach agreement on civility. Tragic. 

    • #15
    • October 11, 2018 at 5:38 pm
    • Like
  16. Coolidge

    Susan Quinn: ‘That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again,’ Clinton asserted.

    I heard Hillary say that while listening to the radio on my way home this evening. Had I not been diligently holding onto the steering wheel, well, there would have been a number of trash cans rolling down the road with me and the car wedged in a neighbor’s hedge…

    Just for the record, her idea of civility is when everyone – and I mean everyone – is singing The Internationale” at attendance-required rallies.

     

    • #16
    • October 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm
    • 5 likes
  17. Member

    Evening Susan,

    You recall that Trump’s comments were labeled as appalling by many including all the swing Republicans and notably Collins. Also I do not recall any Republican apologizing to Thomas, do you, and doesn’t that tell you about how stinkingly pathetic Republicans have been in their desire to appeal “civil”. Buckley got mad at Vidal during a convention spot on ABC, he refused to ever speak about this episode for the rest of his life feeling that Vidal had somehow bested him by successfully provoking him. I think the opposite, there is no clever phrase Buckley delivered on Firing Line (yes I am that old) that I remember, but I remember that he would punch (Vidal’s) gd face and he would stay punched, and that if Buckley had given us a clever quip it would have been weak. We have bit our lip when Tip called Reagan “evil”, and when we have been called all the worst names one could be called. I would be more persuaded if someone could show me how our civility has held back the coarsening of our culture, or has cost the dems anything, generalities will not persuade me.

    • #17
    • October 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm
    • 3 likes
  18. Coolidge

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    Also I do not recall any Republican apologizing to Thomas, do you,

    Which Thomas? Surely not Saint Thomas the Doubting.

    • #18
    • October 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm
    • 2 likes
  19. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    barbara lydick (View Comment):
    I heard Hillary say that while listening to the radio on my way home this evening. Had I not been diligently holding onto the steering wheel, well, there would have been a number of trash cans rolling down the road with me and the car wedged in a neighbor’s hedge…

    Oh my gosh, glad you held on, @barbaralydick. I thought it was pretty bizarre, too. A part of me wants to believe that we can be civil once more, at some point, but I just can’t see it.

    • #19
    • October 11, 2018 at 6:27 pm
    • 2 likes
  20. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    You recall that Trump’s comments were labeled as appalling by many including all the swing Republicans and notably Collins.

    Yes, I know. Old habits die hard. I could have done without his comment about Ford, but he’s Trump. Every time a Republican jumps all over him, it’s likely to be seen as pandering to the other side. I think Republicans, rather than condemn Trump for his coarseness, must simply say, I didn’t like it and leave it at that. Or that it wasn’t helpful. Those are honest but fairly benign. But he’s going to keep doing it, and we should leave it at that.

    • #20
    • October 11, 2018 at 6:32 pm
    • 1 like
  21. Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    …simply say, I didn’t like it and leave it at that. Or that in my opinion* it wasn’t helpful. FIFY

    *May want to insert a line here about but how you could be wrong and that The Don might be onto something, such as winning, etc.

    • #21
    • October 11, 2018 at 6:39 pm
    • 3 likes
  22. Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Great post. Why are you on the main page with five likes as of 4:38 Pacific Time? I’m not complaining but I just want to know what the rules are.

    Exceptional posts can be promoted to the main page immediately, per the desires of the editors.

    • #22
    • October 11, 2018 at 7:15 pm
    • 1 like
  23. Member

    Days, and days, and days of rage

    “Use the rage,” former Attorney General Eric Holder scream-tweeted. “Get people out to vote and be rid of these people.”

    Had President Trump urged his supporters to channel their rage into politics, the quote would have been good for a week of sanctimonious media lectures about his destruction of democratic norms. Not to mention his dangerous divisiveness, the risk of violence and the high price of tea in Outer Mongolia.

    But the media has neither the interest nor the inclination to even note Holder’s ‘rage’ tweet. It’s too busy preaching anger, fury and hatred to the same shrieking choir of maddened lefties screaming at the sky, having meltdowns on social media and clawing madly at the doors of the Supreme Court.

    “We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh,” E.J. Dionne Jr. fulminates in the Washington Post. But that’s nothing compared to the New York Times where the old gray lady is frenziedly distempered all the time.

    “Get Angry, and Get Involved,” an op-ed screeches. “Tears, Fury or Action: How Do You Express Anger?”, an op-ed from a few days before shrills. “Fury Is a Political Weapon And Women Need to Wield It,” a third howls. That’s a lot of anger from the megaphone of the privileged wealthy northeastern left.

    Not all rage is good, though:

    “Judge Kavanaugh is One Angry Man,” the New York Times spat. “Kavanaugh Borrows From Trump’s Playbook on White Male Anger,” it threw in.

    But there’s a fundamental difference between Kavanaugh’s anger and that of the media left.

    Brett Kavanaugh was angry because he had been falsely accused of rape by the media, with no actual evidence.

    Anybody who wants evidence needs to check xer white privilege

     

    • #23
    • October 11, 2018 at 8:48 pm
    • 3 likes
  24. Thatcher

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    Also I do not recall any Republican apologizing to Thomas, do you,

    Which Thomas? Surely not Saint Thomas the Doubting.

    Perhaps, Clarence the Maligned by Anita Hill Thomas, ST…

    • #24
    • October 11, 2018 at 9:35 pm
    • 4 likes
  25. Contributor

    There’s little to be gained by abandoning rhetorical civility. No one wants a presidential debate that has both candidates swearing and mocking each other’s appearance and intelligence. What we want is honesty and clarity. An end to pretense.

    The left’s rhetorical quiver is stocked with insults: racist sexist homophobic transphobic classist white old male, etc. Their arguments proceed from broad, unfounded assumptions about their opponents, intended to delegitimize the targets. The right doesn’t have any analogues to these, except for one, and it’s nuclear. It’s been redefined to automatically disqualify the person who uses it.

    Un-American.

    But it fits; it sticks. Progressive statism is Un-American, inasmuch as identity politics, aversion to Federalism, and contempt for the Constitution and its limits are un-American. To revive the term would require someone who could make a case for the greatness and uniqueness of the American experiment, and do so on a plane above the ankle-biting rhetoric of the other side. To argue the importance of principles over emotion. 

    This would have a better long-term effect the the sugar-rush of applauding a politician when he says “F you” in a debate. 

    • #25
    • October 11, 2018 at 10:01 pm
    • 10 likes
  26. Coolidge

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    To revive the term would require someone who could make a case for the greatness and uniqueness of the American experiment, and do so on a plane above the ankle-biting rhetoric of the other side. To argue the importance of principles over emotion. 

    Any American alive today who you think could be that someone?

    • #26
    • October 11, 2018 at 11:10 pm
    • 3 likes
  27. Member

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    To revive the term would require someone who could make a case for the greatness and uniqueness of the American experiment, and do so on a plane above the ankle-biting rhetoric of the other side. To argue the importance of principles over emotion.

    Any American alive today who you think could be that someone?

    Niki Haley, Ben Sasse, James Lankford among others could make that case very well . The question is whether the voters would embrace it .

    • #27
    • October 12, 2018 at 12:15 am
    • 5 likes
  28. Member

    I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at this well intentioned post. I’m sorry, Susan, but that how I react to it. 

    First of all, thank you for the link. I look forward to reading the whole piece.

    But you needn’t have changed, at your first thought years ago, which was to embrace the piece. It will always be valid. Everything you say about the Democrats are true. Those members of the Judiciary Committee are scumbags. Pure and simple. The only ones I had any hope for were Coons and Amy Klobuchar. But Coons disappointed me a long time ago. And Amy has gone along with whole disgusting charade.

    But what has that to do with us? It should offer us even more opportunity to be civilized. We should call the other side out, for sure. Don’t take their guff. But don’t refuse to work with those who show the least bit of decency. Maybe we can still work with Amy on things. Mancion is a bit cowardly, but we still should work with him, if he has good ideas.

    As far as petty grievances are concerned, I am not sure what you mean. But I have an idea it has to do with Trump. I believe this is mistaken. He is still not the man for the Presidency. Sure, we shouldn’t constantly belittle him nowadays, when the fish to fry are the defeat of the Democrats. I have held back in my criticisms of him, out of the more pressing business of defeating the Democrats. But I still hold him in the lowest possible regard.

    We should never give up on what the piece holds. Self-respect is what we need now.

    • #28
    • October 12, 2018 at 2:38 am
    • Like
  29. Contributor

    Susan Quinn:

    So what can the Republicans do? Forge ahead with their plans. Continue to hammer repeatedly on the Justice Department for the information legislators are entitled to receive. Run political ads that highlight the appalling behavior, not only of protestors, but of the Democrats, too. Start to act like Conservatives by continuing efforts to cut back regulations. Refuse to support legislation that expands entitlement programs and the power and size of the federal government. Discern when Democrats should be ignored and when they should be called out. Speak out in support of Trump’s programs, such as building the wall and the new NAFTA agreement. Put your petty grievances aside for the good of the country. Demonstrate to everyone that the unity of the Republican Party is not an illusion, but the new reality.

    How about “Don’t pretend that all prominent Democrats are monolithically awful”?

    I didn’t believe Michelle Obama when she first said that and I’d not wager a lot on her current sincerity. But unlike Holder and Clinton (both of whom can go to Hell), she’s at least calling people in her own side to be better than they already are.

    I wish more Democrats were doing that — and that even more were heeding the advice — but it’s a start.

     

    • #29
    • October 12, 2018 at 5:02 am
    • 4 likes
  30. Member

    HONORABLE, adj. [1.] Afflicted with an impediment in one’s reach. In legislative bodies it is customary to mention all members as honorable; as, “the honorable gentleman is a scurvy cur.” [2.] Holding or having held a certain office in the public service — a title of courtesy, as “the Honorable Snatchgobble Bilque, Member of Congress.”

    LEGISLATOR, n. A person who goes to the capital of his country to increase his own; one who makes laws and money.

    PLEBISCITE, n. A popular vote to ascertain the will of the sovereign.

    POLITE, adj. Skilled in the art and practice of dissimulation.

    POLITICIAN, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.

    POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

    REASONABLE, adj. Accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion.

    REPRESENTATIVE, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.

    REPUBLIC, n. A nation in which, the thing governing and the thing governed being the same, there is only a permitted authority to enforce an optional obedience. In a republic the foundation of public order is the ever lessening habit of submission inherited from ancestors who, being truly governed, submitted because they had to. There are as many kinds of republics as there are gradations between the despotism whence they came and the anarchy whither they lead.

    REVOLUTION, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment. Specifically, in American history, the substitution of the rule of an Administration for that of a Ministry, whereby the welfare and happiness of the people were advanced a full half-inch. Revolutions are usually accompanied by a considerable effusion of blood, but are accounted worth it — this appraisement being made by beneficiaries whose blood had not the mischance to be shed. The French revolution is of incalculable value to the Socialist of to-day; when he pulls the string actuating its bones its gestures are inexpressibly terrifying to gory tyrants suspected of fomenting law and order.

    SELF-ESTEEM, n. An erroneous appraisement.

    SENATE, n. A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

    Ambrose Bierce

    • #30
    • October 12, 2018 at 5:17 am
    • 3 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4