Time to put the caricatures back in the box

“The new president will also need to redeem his promise that he will be the president not only of those who voted for him but of all Americans. Contrary to what some Democrats seem to believe, there are tens of millions of Trump voters who are not cultists, conspiracy theorists or racists.” – The Los Angeles Times

We’re not the bumbling fools the opposition says we are.

The politics of late have killed many friendships because good, everyday people from multiple positions on the political spectrum accepted as gospel the worst slanders and caricatures extremists on both sides of the aisle disseminated about the opposition.

Whether those friendships died during a discussion about an issue that exploded into a giant disagreement that could not be healed or simply because one friend or the other could not stomach a supporter of the opposite party, the deaths weakened the country and made the survivors more susceptible to the next words of hatred and contempt from the Republican and Democrat parties, their officials, and their supporters.

We have a chance, I hope, to stop accepting the worst libels flung at or by the opposition.

As the Los Angeles Times said, all Trump voters and other Republicans are not idiots trying to re-establish the ways and means and attitudes of the 1840s into the American of the 2020s, nor are they all advocating the patrol of city streets by unregulated and militant militias of unwashed thugs.

Likewise, all Biden supporters are not “commies in the making” who want to allow the entire population of Mexico into the United States with the same healthcare, employment rights, and voting rights as citizens while trying to kowtow to so many groups they advocate the repression of freedom of speech whenever a discouraging word is said about anyone they support.

Everyone who is somewhat politically aware (or better) can make a list of the caricatures of their opponents they’ve engraved in stone. Some are true. Most aren’t. In the 1960s, some of the antiwar protesters thought that if the U.S. and the Vietcong sat down and sang “Kumbaya” together, the war would end. People who thought so were mocked by everyone. Today, those who want all political parties to step back from the extremists in their midst and work together will be mocked by everyone. Why? Working together sounds too much like childish naïveté.

That’s too bad. The country faces multiple issues that will take multiple ideas and approaches from multiple belief systems to solve. We’ve seen that the slander/caricature approach didn’t work. So let’s try something new: honestly working together. Working together will take work rather like estranged marriage partners trying to reconcile their differences.

But what’s the alternative? Another civil war? Climate change, immigration, and racial conflicts out of control? Loss of our Bill of Rights due to one expediency or another? None of these are acceptable outcomes.

We can do better because if we can’t we will keep doing worse.