Of course your point about political incivility is rhetorical.  Meanwhile, partisan impoliteness has become a rampant rudeness in our civil society — in our uncivil society!  And now it’s preventing Americans from engaging in responsible public lives.

People today are so politically polarized they’re incapable of polite political conversation.  Open discussion about America has almost become impossible!  Of course a political give-and-take should be energetic and enthusiastic.  But obnoxious and violent?  No.  Such loud “conversation” quickly turns into angry outbursts of partisan rage — and the wounded silence of indignant defeat getting ready for tomorrow’s revenge.  That’s not the stuff of an informed discussion in a fortunate republic!

But even worse than a fistfight of words is a lack of any energetic conversation.  Polarized partisans get together in their concept clubs and pet each other with agreeable words.  And then they agree how agreeable they all are!  As for their opponents?  Zone 4 biohazards!  Discussion over!

In neither case does any real discussion occur.  But you can’t have a responsible republic without informed debate amongst responsible citizens.  And if the citizens of a republic aren’t responsible — or even responsive! — do you really think your republic will be?

Ironically, the ultimate source of this intolerant uncivil society derives from a misunderstanding about politicians.  Most people either cynically or resignedly think politicians are incapable of consulting the truth when they make decisions.  In a way that’s true.  Politicians are concerned with facts only insofar as they satisfy the needs of their constituents.  That’s largely why politicians say contradictory things.  After all, they have contradictory constituents!  It’s a diverse country!  So of course politicians contradict themselves.

Another reason for politicians’ apparent disregard of the truth is their incessant efforts to bring people together around a shared outlook.  Politicians do this by making promises they know can’t be fulfilled.  Whereupon the politicians get their consensus, they get elected, and they get promise amnesia.  But more likely than not, these promises never were promises.  They were only political gambits served with a side order of persuasive rhetoric.  In other words, politicians are honestly contradictory.  And therefore, out of political necessity, they appear to be illogical.  But the logic of power isn’t some textbook syllogism.  When Hitler ranted, that was a practiced act he put on for his post-republican public who, impotent and angry, intolerantly voted for the power show.  Rock stars put on the same sort of show on stage.  And audiences love it.  But rock concerts aren’t countries.   And they end after a few hours rather than ending you.

Understanding the political facts of life which politicians face on a daily basis can help spare us, the citizenry, from the foolish frustrations that arise when we demand the truth from politicians!

Robert Jacques, the Republican Gun, political biohazard.

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