Hillary Clinton said this week “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.” A day later, Eric Holder said that when Republicans “go low, we kick them.” Before that, back in 2016, Donald Trump complained that there were no longer consequences to protesting because “nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?” Some weeks later, he also said “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously.”
They are all wrong and seriously so.
Democracy substitutes a competition of ideas and behavior for a competition in arms. Ballots, not bullets. The leaders with the best ideas and best behavior – however the voters define “best” at the time – wins the election.
That means people divided by an issue – or by a leader – need to find ways to win more people over to their side. It won’t do to stay within your comfort zone, you will have to get out there and work with people you don’t know and might not easily trust.
Spitting at the folks on the other side of the fence won’t win their hearts or minds. Showing respect will: ask them in all sincerity why they aren’t on your side of the fence and what it would take to get them there. Listen carefully. They may know something useful that you do not. Consider the fence too – maybe it needs adjusting.
If they have questions for you in return, remember this: you can be assertive without being aggressive – or passive.
Get out there and win some hearts and minds.
Want to learn more? Start here.