Opinion: A Call for Civility and Civil Politics

By: Brandon Mintz

As the 2018 midterm elections arrive, we have had our fill of promise-filled and fear-inducing advertisements everywhere. Much has been made of the culture and the negative environment of our political reality. The tragedy is that much of the talk does not create, nor does it attempt to, an environment that allow us to move forward from this condition.

Much of the talk, especially nationally, revolves around “getting enough of us, so that we don’t need any of them.” One would hope that we would hear the issues discussed and policies presented. Instead, we have a lot of, “I don’t have any plan, but have you seen how bad my opponent is.” I don’t, as a first order of business, want to know about the depth of depravity of your opponent. I want to know that you care across these artificial or actual boundaries that divide us.

But this is our fault. While we have a two-party system with no alternative readily in view, we do have a choice. Through primaries, we, as Democrats or Republicans, can choose level-headed people who realize that they have to, and are willing to, work in a two-party system to compromise to meet the demands of bipartisan policy creation.

Voices from both sides are needed to ensure that all interests are acknowledged and addressed. The sad truth is that to be a hard-liner in either party you are going to have to ignore the needs and/or rights of various groups of people. Republicans are seemingly moving to the right and Democrats to the left. We are separated by choice. The divide and the hatred grow because we don’t have a willingness to give up our own selfishness, self-interest, and self-righteousness. And yet, we are supposed to be excited, or fearful, about an election outcome.

Come Wednesday, my hope is that it will be quieter. You will be able to turn on the TV without being informed of the fishy connections of some politician or another, followed by another alleging the same in reverse. The yard and election site signs will come down and we’ll just see schools and churches and libraries, which all hold greater hope than the politicians whose names were strewn throughout the swales.

Your neighbors will be your neighbors. We’ll have each other. We’ll drive past each other, each trying to make our way. The characterizations of the left and the right won’t be quite as important.

For a short while, the politicians won’t need us and peace will be an option. In a short period, we’ll be herded back into groups. The fears of our groups will again be manipulated into hate, creating the basis and the stated need for extremism. We will have a choice still, but it will require us to understand people who are different. We’ll have to reach out to find that policies cannot be created solely for groups on the left or right. And it starts with respect of each other. It continues with moving beyond our individual groups and trusting again.

It’s not enough to decry untrustworthy people. We need to be trustworthy and willing to trust. Once I recognize that most politicians don’t really exist to help all people across the board, or to balance those needs as possible, I am cognizant of my responsibility, not to just go out and vote, but to refuse to support any “only us, not them” candidate. And if I can’t find an appropriate horse in the race, maybe I just shouldn’t bet on the race to get a sticker and a hashtag.

It’s more important that we care regardless of our political affiliation and viewpoints. It’s as simple as courtesy. As you head out on the roads, someone will signal to be let in for that left turn. What are the issues they are highlighting on their bumper, and do I support that candidate? As he moves over, he’ll wave to say thank you (hopefully) and it won’t matter.

Brandon Mintz lives in Coral Springs with his wife and three daughters. He works at an engineering firm in Fort Lauderdale and is a licensed professional engineer in Florida. Opinion pieces are welcome. Submit yours here