There’s a quote by British wrestling promoter Jim Smallman which has stuck with me over the last couple years. The PROGRESS Wrestling co-owner always tells fans they can yell and scream whatever they want but the key rule at his show is, “don’t be a dick.” It might seem odd to equate wrestling with political debate, but there is something to be said about being affable when confronted by a jerk.
I can hear the naysayers now. “But Taylor…the political climate is too toxic. Too polarized. Everyone is angry!”
And they’d be right. People are angry. They’re attempting some sort of random thrash, much like the ‘anarchists’ in the famed Sex Pistols song, going after passersbys and bystanders with little thought of who gets hurt. “A pound. A pound. A pound of flesh,” they mutter like some alcoholic yearning for his or her next drink. Or maybe an enraged zombie looking for his or her next meal.
The politicians and so-called leaders of this nation are sure doing their best to foment this anger for their own purposes.
Look at the current rage war between California Congresswoman Maxine Waters and President Donald Trump. The Democrat Waters wants her supporters to be confrontational towards Trump cabinet members, while the Republican Trump – between tweets biting Harley-Davidson for being anti-tariff and complaining (again) about Robert Mueller’s probe (which seems to be moving slower than a banana slug stuck in molasses) – told Waters to “be careful what you wish for” and insulted her intelligence.
So much for the mantra of “when they go low, we go high,” to quote former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. William F. Buckley’s call to discourage “cynical demagoguery” also comes to mind.
Waters and Trump are looking to either go directly for the gonads or the carotid artery (perhaps both) in their jibes at one another, and their vassals seem perfectly fine with this notion of grabbing onto a body part – whether it be literally or figuratively is up for debate – and refusing to let go like some type of tiger or panther.
Or, to put it in simpler terms: mob action.
The same type of mob action then-candidate Donald Trump was accused of ginning up – and definitely appeared to – during certain rallies in 2016. Trump was castigated by all but his supporters for uttering “get ‘em out” while protesters were rather rudely ushered out of his rallies.
It’s now time for the opposition to spur their own rageaholics towards action.
One only needs to scour the doldrums of Twitter to see a variety of rabble-rousers trying to encourage individual and mob action against those currently residing in the White House or St. Elizabeths Hospital campus. A ‘summer of rage’ they proclaim while also defending their actions under the notion of ‘desperate times and desperate measures.’ Everyone else just sighs with a roll of the eyes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a fine political protest – I encourage them – but crossing property lines to get in the face of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao or pestering Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen outside her own home or a Mexican restaurant isn’t smart. The protesters are pretty lucky they also didn’t end up being cited for trespassing. One does need to remind the reactive demonstrators outside Red Hen, for telling White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave, that it’s better to hurl foul language instead of fowl feces because the latter will get you arrested.
It is quite nice to see leftist Twitter suddenly have no problem whatsoever with private businesses deciding whether or not to serve individuals (welcome to wonderful world of freedom of association!). It’s also disappointing – but not surprising – to see some on the right writhe in anger at Red Hen whilst also suggesting it’s a good idea to bait them into violating a federal law. After all, if one side faces adversity the other side has to cackle with glee or do their best imitation of an indignant toddler after a parent tells them they can’t have dessert without finishing their green beans.
Demonstrate as much as you like, yell and scream until your face and vocal chords turn a nice shade of rage purple and swell up larger than an egoist’s self-image, or march and wave signs until your limbs feel like falling off. Just don’t be a di-err-jerk. All that does is turn people off to whatever message you’re trying to sell. And, trust me, there are more people turned off by this current political exchange of artillery than you realize. Fear and anger are powerful weapons, but they only go so far.
Be better. Yes, it’s easy to be keyboard warriors and moan about how awful the other side by dehumanizing them into some sort of faceless menace like Eurasia or Eastasia in 1984. It’s harder to actually sit down and have a conversation with someone and learn whether or not you have any similarities. People are going to disagree – life would be a lot more boring if one lived in a bubble – but there’s nothing wrong with attempting to exchange ideas instead of fisticuffs.
As Jim Smallman says, “Don’t be a dick.” Life’s better that way.