Letter: Discourse falls aside as name-calling and polarity reigns

Posted 11/30/22

September of 2016 was when Hilary Clinton famously said that half of Trump’s supporters was a basket of deplorables. True or not, it's certainly not a phrase likely to endear one to …

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Letter: Discourse falls aside as name-calling and polarity reigns

Posted

September of 2016 was when Hilary Clinton famously said that half of Trump’s supporters was a basket of deplorables. True or not, it's certainly not a phrase likely to endear one to opponents. But the very GOP leaders who so vilified Clinton then, now call Democrats and Joe Biden unspeakable names. They level charges that are more than absurd. The Democratic party is totally corrupt and Communist, to boot? The Biden family participates in human trafficking? Wow! “Deplorables” sounds almost quaint.

The recent mid-term elections taught three lessons for anyone who followed them even casually.  First, most Americans favor democracy over one-man rule. Second, they oppose a national ban on abortions. Third, they believe in making voting easier, not restricting the voting rights of any group of Americans. All this in the face of a deeply divided country. Will these lessons stick over the next two years?

Where the country may not be permanently divided is the hope and expectation that the government can play an important role in creating jobs, countering global warming, protecting our air and water, forging a just legal system, and inspiring us all to be active citizens and good neighbors. What prevents these hopes and expectations to drive policy? The answer is concentrated power.

Everyone knows (Mr. Musk may be an exception) that a huge concentration of power in a few persons or corporations poses terrible risks to workers and consumers. So, there are governmental brakes on such power. When and how forcefully to pump those brakes is often controversial. That is precisely why substantive debate and prudent compromise are essential in our democracy. These tools are unavailable, however, when political hate and special-interest lobbying totaling hundreds of millions annually occur together. 

And so here we are, irrespective of our deep aspirations: awash in dark money, adversaries cast as enemies, and all compromise seen as moral collapse. All we have left, then, are the predictable recriminations, nasty disparagements, and baseless investigations. What a sorry state of affairs in what so many claim is a country without parallel and a culture steeped in the ideal of the American Dream. We may, in time, reclaim a bright future. But now — right now — many groups and one major political party seem to have no shame, none, in their appetite for power.

Will Newman

Tiverton

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.