Thursday, October 11, 2018
Lest we grow complacent in attributing the degrading of our political culture solely to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton steps forward to remind us that the race to the bottom is readily susceptible to a bipartisan effort. In a recent interview, she explained, "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again."
Her comments reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of civility's role in the pursuit of justice. As I explained earlier this week in an op-ed,
The means we employ in the political pursuit of our chosen values and priorities bear witness to how we view our fellow Americans.
As [Martin Luther King Jr.] reminded us during the tumult of the civil rights movement, “Hate is always tragic. It is as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. It distorts the personality and scars the soul.”
That prison cells, firebombs and police dogs could not shake King from his commitment to civility speaks volumes about its importance to his work — and to ours.
Here is the lesson for Americans today who seek to defend their cherished values and priorities in the public square: Civility is not ultimately about manners; it’s about affirming our shared dignity and acknowledging — albeit sometimes through gritted teeth — that politics calls us to relationship.
When we allow our disagreements to obscure the dignity of our political opponents, we’re forgetting why King thought such battles were worth fighting in the first place.
You can read the whole thing here.