There has been much that has been written about the threats of complacency. Historically, democracy has never been easy to achieve or maintain. It requires participation and the benefits of informed participation have, to this point, triumphed over the fringe harm of uniformed participation.
Our democracy and western civilization relies on vigilance and action. So, the question is have you been both? Have you been either? Have you been neither? Be honest. Let’s realize our roles in contributing to the freedoms that we enjoy daily. Perhaps we aspire to be more active, but the thought of the state of rancid politics is such a turn-off that we shrink under the bedcovers to let others deal with the issues. Admittedly, there are times when it’s just so overwhelming and I just don’t want to deal with any of it. So, I take a break –for a few hours or a day, but then I re engage because it is important that we are not complacent – it’s extremely important. Too many people have fought to preserve this imperfect union and our way of life to let dangerous policies and speech threaten our democracy and identity.
We may not ever have to don combat fatigues, but resisting political corruption and autocracy can be as simple as posting relevant, proven facts to a social media page that pumps out outrageous declarations. Here’s a tip: Keep your cool and post your opposition to the issue or behavior, not the person. This is effective for two reasons. First, when you refer to the person, people tend to throw up their defensive walls and tune out information that might threaten their current belief structure, making your argument less impactful. Second (and perhaps most importantly), when you focus on the offending issue or behavior itself, the person presenting a non-substantiated claim or position will be forced to respond to the general merit of your claim or retort. Here’s an example. Which do think is a more solid argument that a Trump supporter might have difficulty with:
- A) Trump should not be considered for the Presidency because he bragged about sexual assault.
- B) A person who brags about sexual assault should never be considered for the Presidency of the United States.
In example “A,” we’ve all heard the response by Trump and his followers –“It’s just locker room talk.” No it isn’t, but now you’re in a debate with someone that will likely champion anything Trump says or does because, by mentioning his name, you triggered their defense mechanism. It’s like Pavlov’s bell. By the way, here’s one of my favorite, simple responses to an absurd, non-factual statement such as “it’s just locker room talk”: “No it isn’t… and your saying that doesn’t make it true.” Feel free to borrow that when you know that the facts, and not conjecture, are on your side. It’s like kryptonite to those who habitually spew more scalding poison than Old Faithful.
Here’s another helpful sign to anticipate: People stating a flawed position will tend to deflect from your response when your response is focused on the issue or behavior –don’t let them. Ultimately, the “B” response is better because it taps into the universal truth that a prolific leader should not brag about sexual assault. What credible person can argue with that? Repeat your issue or behavior-based response or question when they start to divert your attention elsewhere. This will refocus them to your pertinent question and they will feel compelled to answer. You may ask a follow-up question such as “Do you typically support those who brag about sexually assaulting women -teachers, doctors, managers, friends, family, anybody?
Pushing back against dangerous politics and ideology is a burden that befalls humanity’s shoulders. That some will duck to let the burden weigh heavier on the shoulders of others is unfortunate but expected with a small fraction of the population. But when the burden is ducked by anything more than a small fraction of the collective mass, then the burden will collapse and suffocate all –even those that ducked their democratic duty to at least voice an opposition to political insanity. This is the zoomed-out, macro view of what is actually happening now. In this view, we are as tiny as ants but the pattern is clear to see. Right now, we are too close to the action to see the big picture.
The emerging Z and Alpha generations will scrutinize our decisions and are already questioning how we let this happen. If history is any indicator, years from now, you will be asked what you did to prevent or stop this. What will your answer be?
Damian Hardeen is the producer of Forward Nation Radio, a progressive weekly political talk show starring David Leventhal. Find them at forwardnationradio.com
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