Those who should know, and do, better

Published 6:42 pm Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It used to be that the only incivility we saw in politics happened right here at home in Beaufort County, during the occasional Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting.

This is no longer the case. On the national stage this week, we saw two blatant examples of the worst incivility politics, and politicians, have to offer. At the State of the Union address Tuesday night, the President of the United States of America snubbed the Speaker of the House by refusing to shake her outstretched hand. Not to be outdone, the Speaker waited until the end of the president’s speech to rip up her copy of it in front of him and the American people who cared to watch the address.

It makes no difference if you are Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated: if you were offended by one of those actions, then you need to be offended by both of those actions. They are tools of the same impulse, meant to insult and demean. Remember that saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right?” It should have applied here, as the Speaker could have kept the paper ripping dramatics off-stage and the person who holds the highest office in the land should have set a better example of civility.

We, as a nation politic, have sunk this low. What’s next? Screaming matches with profanities on the Senate or House floor? We might have already gotten there. Brawls breaking out when one politician hurls insults at another while debating some piece of legislation? We might not be that far away.

In 2018, an editorial was published in the Washington Daily News regarding the issue. Then it was aimed at the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. It still applies, but this time it’s directed all the way to the top, to those who should know, and do, better.

“When insults become the preferred method of communication, instead of listening, learning, mediating and problem solving in a civil and respectful manner, the person flinging the insults vacates his role as problem solver to become part of the problem himself. … Yes, politicians in office should use any tool in their arsenal to get things done. All but one, that is, because flinging insults and abuse in the course of governing is a wedge that only serves to hinder the process of governing. No politician is elected on the promise of hindering the process.”