Is civil political discourse something we can only look back on fondly? It’s hard to remember that there actually was a time when the word “bipartisanship” meant something in the nation’s capitol. I’ve wondered for some time whether it’s possible to cultivate that more classy, genteel and, yes, grown-up, way of discussing an issue with someone who doesn’t see things through the same lens.
That’s something I struggle with as a pundit and a mom, and it’s what women wanted to talk about at my panel on political (with a small ‘p’) blogging at the Type-A Mom conference a couple of weeks ago. It’s not that they didn’t want to discuss getting a little more wonky in their own online spaces, but several were concerned that even dipping their toe in the political waters would bring out more trolls than they could handle.
Because that’s what has happened to our country — we can’t talk about anything anymore without digging in our heels and turning off our ears.
One thing was clear from the great conversation we all had — women across the political spectrum are tired, really tired, of the discourse of hate that today takes the place of actual conversation. And we pretty much agreed that people would be more inclined to get involved in politics, whether you’re talking about elections or causes like clean water:
… or education or the environment or a myriad of other topics, if we could bring the shouting and the noise down a few decibels and actually take the time to honestly listen to each other. Like real people.
(Yeah, we were all crazy like that. And it was a morning session, so no one was “under the influence!”)
Some women I’ve admired from afar and met for the first time at the conference — Morningside Mom, Down to Earth Mama and Ilina from Dirt & Noise — agreed with me. As Corina said at her place, with much more fervor than I can summon at the moment:
The political discourse in this country is palpable. Hell, the monster has a life of it’s own and is showing its gnashing, foamy teeth. There is mudslinging, accusations, and threats being hurled about, shutting down all hope for a real conversation, let alone a clear answer [on any issue].
Trying to make a bipartisan space for political discussion, especially among women, has been a dream of mine for a while, but I have hesitated because I wasn’t sure whether anyone was ready for that. These women are encouraging me to take the steps to make that happen. But in the meantime, Corina (who created the great button up top!) shared our conversation with a friend of hers, Jane Devin, who came up with today’s fantastic idea — calling for One Day, No Hate (for Twitter, that’s #1day0hate).
That day is today, October 6.
So how about taking this day as a moratorium on the hate speech that has come to take the place of actual political debate. As Jane put it at her place:
There’s nothing weak or politically apathetic about wanting a nation less divided. There are probably more of us near the middle of the political spectrum than not, or at least desirous of finding some middle ground. Most of us are feeling the effects of a down economy and sharing the same worries and hopes. I doubt there are many people out there, regardless of party affiliation, who don’t want things to get better. We may have different views about how to go about improving our world — we may not even agree on what “better” entails — but at the heart of every political matter being discussed aren’t just ideas or beliefs, but people. Not just Democrats, not just Republicans, or Libertarians, or Green Party members, but all of us.
If our kids can get along on the playground — and if we discipline them and lecture them when they don’t — isn’t it time for us grown-ups to step up to the plate? I’m not holding my breath when it comes to Glenn Beck and his ilk, but they’re the outliers.
It’s not scary — all we have to do is listen.