Things are getting louder every day. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kirstjen Nielsen, Pam Boddi, all white female Republicans, felt the sting of public ridicule last week. Many liberals are abandoning their “inside” voice and taking to very public protest, making it very personal for Trump’s staff and supporters. Even young White House staff are complaining that they can’t get dates in DC because of the toxicity radiating from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
But, the biggest problem is nobody today knows how to have good fight. Trump has changed the rules when it comes to political discourse. And it’s straining everyone’s relationships with their friends on the other side of the aisle. Reading Trump’s Twitter feed can be likened to mini catastrophes happening one after the other with no end in sight causing brain fatigue and eventual numbness. You can see it with our institutions like Congress as George Will pointed out in his recent op-ed. Trump is the Typhoid Mary of today’s destruction of civil discourse. And it is part of his “Big Lie” strategy to keep us disoriented and at each other’s throats.
When do we say, to quote Tom Petty, “I’m gonna stand my ground, And I won’t back down?”
We need to bring healthy confrontation to the table. This is a new fight. The Trump Administration has changed the rules, they lie openly, they demonize, they encourage violence. We are not in an age of grand statesmen who argue with reason on the floor of Congress in the morning and then dine together at night. This is a street fight lead by a cult of personality. We need to learn to stand our ground while being civil to people who don’t agree with us. What the owner of the Red Hen did was stand her ground and didn’t back down on her principles. She didn’t yell and scream, insult or act like a brat, she quietly and discreetly asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her establishment, knowing the backlash it would trigger. The Red Hen story is so red hot because the Trump Administration is not used to people pushing back and taking a stand.
When I ran for Virginia Delegate in 2017, most people were friendly on the other side, but I had many incidents where people refused to shake my hand, tore up my business card in front of my face, and said pretty horrible things directly to me. And that was just because I was running as a Democrat. Trump has actually made incivility the standard evidenced by his Twitter feed which he uses to incite his die-hard followers to troll, to attack, to demonize others.
We have to be just as strong and stand our ground but not stoop so low that we lose ourselves. Being strong but rational and keeping emotions in check as the owner of the Red Hen did. Our response must be a BRICK WALL of CIVILITY.