By Don Schmitz
From the Right
I remember when Lance called me and said “Don, I’ve observed you in many debates, and you don’t burn people down; you disagree respectfully. Our country has lost the essential ability to politically debate topics and compromise, and we need to do something about it.”
So it began, a classic liberal, and a libertarian conservative, fostering discussion and civil discourse on the topics of the day. Based upon the letters, texts and phone calls, our approach is warmly received. Sure, there are some haters and angry insults, but they are the minority. Telling is that so many who contact me do so quietly and privately, because they are intimidated and afraid.
Since when did Americans tiptoe around worried about social, workplace, or even physical retribution? Since boycotts, lawsuits, public shunning, protests, vandalism, and even murder became prevalent tools of political extremists. This has happened periodically throughout American history, and it has always taken the courage of our people to stand up to the bullying and intimidation.
More insidious today is the level of intimidation and control, illustrated last week by the new master list of proposed speech guidelines at Stanford University, which would make any normal person as an American feel blacklisted. BTW, you can’t say “master list,” “normal,” “American,” or “blacklisted” as someone might be triggered (can’t say “trigger warning” either). America is becoming a nation of snowflakes and victims, so of course, a huge percentage of us are feeling oppressed and wounded. This mantra is constantly beat into the psyche of our people. Exacerbating this hypersensitivity is the inevitable backlash, whereupon mainstream folks either cower, or angry with the intimidation, lash out with truly insulting words or behavior. The cycle continues, feeding on itself, and its trajectory is downward.
Lance and I both remember fondly the historically intense debates between Democrats and Republicans over policies, but they were debates amongst colleagues, exemplified by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil during the 1980s going out and having a beer together as friends after a month of hard-hitting debate over the budget. It was big news in the 1990s when political adviser Dick Morris revealed that President Bill Clinton screamed at him that presidential candidate republican Bob Dole was “evil” because he disagreed on welfare spending. That wouldn’t be news today, as politicians on the left and right openly and regularly berate political opponents and call them amoral. In fact, many politicians are considered soft by their constituents and can’t win their primary unless they vigorously attack. They are giving us exactly what we are demanding in this new no-holds-barred world. Hypersensitivity coupled with abrasively toxic rhetoric is an explosively unstable social and political climate, one which results in ruined personal relationships, divided communities, burning police stations, and courthouses, and a riot in our capital.
I can disagree on social and political issues and still respect someone and be good friends. The caveat to this, of course, is when people or organizations try to take away my personal rights or harm this country I love. That is the difference between traditional liberal Democrats, who love and cherish this country and respect their fellow citizens, and the leftists who have seized so much power, hate this country, and will not hesitate to try and destroy those who disagree with their agenda. Living here in Southern California many, if not most of my friends are Democrats. They are moral, hardworking, intelligent, spiritual, caring people who deeply love America. In private they express to me their dismay over the radical leftists who assert we are an inherently evil country, but they are intimidated by them.
Similarly, but to a lesser degree, Republicans also struggle with the internal pressure to take a hard line, by those within their party who would lump all Democrats and liberals into that socialist hate-America crowd. Sadly, we are losing this fight for the middle. A USA TODAY poll in 2019 found 65 percent of Americans said it was “very important to reduce divisiveness,” whereupon a poll this year found that number had dropped to 48 percent.
I’m not wired to bow to pressure from anyone or organization and remain firm in my convictions about our exceptional country and democratic republic. My God-given rights are inalienable, and I will vigorously defend them for myself and posterity, but we must differentiate between the true enemies, foreign and domestic, and our fellow countrymen that simply have a different opinion on how we maintain and nurture this beautiful country. Let a little love back into your heart, recognize the good people all around you, and remember that the lunatic fringe seeks to divide us. Stand up, speak out, and resist them. Liberal Lance is my partner on making this stand, and I’m proud to call him my friend.