We had an animated discussion in CoPhi-6 yesterday about these strange days, in our public discourse, and their echo of the 1950s. Some of us agreed, people didn’t listen respectfully to one another then and they’re not listening now. It’s easier, and a lot more entertaining, to just attack and villify anyone whose views or practices differ from ours, to allege their disloyalty and threat to the nation, and congratulate ourselves for not being them.
Maybe it’s too soon to draw that parallel. No votes have yet been cast, and even so the victors in Iowa and New Hampshire frequently stall out well before spring and summer. We may still wake from the unpleasantness of Trump & Co., if we can remember that while politics can be the most entertaining show on the dial its purpose is much more serious. The people we privilege with the responsibility of leadership must exemplify the highest qualities of respectful dialogue, not the lowest form of pandering to fear and xenophobia.
I’m encouraged by what I heard in class to think that enough of us know that, and might yet shake off the apathy and distraction of entertainment politics long enough to register our disapproval of people and politicians who don’t listen. They’re as marginal and silly and unreal, albeit entertaining, as the flat-earthers.
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