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    When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    challenge posed by Bruce Watson 165 days 10 hours 53 minutes ago

    Category: Politics
    Challenge Forum

    When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    American politics has been a rough, nasty business, almost since the beginning: in the election of 1800, one of Thomas Jefferson’s supporters referred to John Adams as “A hideous, hermaphroditical creature.”

    Arguably, things have been going downhill ever since.

    But while politicians have often attacked each other, either directly or through their allies, there has usually been a sort of gentleman's agreement, a notion that it was only business, and that private lives were sacrosanct. In the last few years, however, it seems like that dividing line has come under attack. In speeches and tweets, President Trump has called for the jailing of his enemies and political opponents, and encouraged violence at protesters at his speeches.

    Late last month, when details of ICE’s policing of the Mexican border came to light, many liberal protesters similarly began taking aim at the personal lives of members of Trump’s administration. Trump officials, including Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen were publicly berated: Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, VA, while Nielsen faced chanting protesters outside her home and a restaurant where she was eating.

    Many members of the liberal political establishment, including Nancy Pelosi, bemoaned this lack of civility, echoing Michelle Obama’s sentiment that “When they go low, we go high.” However, a growing number of Democrats, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters, have taken another tack, encouraging protesters to continue their direct attacks against members of the Trump administration in their private lives. In response, some Trump supporters have threatened her life.

    Your Challenge:

    What place do you think civility has in politics? Is it an unchanging and universal standard that everyone is obliged to follow, regardless of the behavior of their opponents? Or is it a contract between opponents, a promise to act decently as long as your opponent reciprocates? Should we go high when our opponents go low? Should we strike back when they are disrespectful? Is civility a moral strength or a political weakness?

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    There once was a time that I would have said there is a level of civil ness in politics. But for the past few years that has been impossible to see. To be honest it hasn’t looked like anyone in the political world, that we see, is being civil.

    I grew up with “do unto others as you wish done to you” this is something i still hold onto as something we need to do. It would seem the political world has forgotten that in their lives, as they constantly stab lower and lower with the help of the media.

    I know as humans there is a tendency to strike low when we get hurt and someone has done that to us, but we should continue to strike high. Instead of making your own momma jokes you should stay on topic of whatever the topic is. The insults between politicians, celebrities, media, and well everyone needs to stop. It is teaching the future, our children thwt it’s okay to b that way. It shows a divided States instead of a United States.

    I get it not many people are happy with who is in office, but that’s no reason to be catty about it daily. Let the elected officials do their job. At this point that’s all as can do. Unless we want to be known as a nation full of back stabbing complainers.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hey Bruce!

    What a n interesting topic. I would say that I am very ignorant when it comes to politics, so bear with me.

    In our government, the people have a lot of say compared to many other countries. We choose our officials and they are decisions we must stand by. I don't agree with Trump and the way he runs things, but he is still my president. I need to stand tall and support America, or it will become weak from the inside. Especially in a time with a lot of terrorism, America needs to be united.

    As far as civility goes, I think it is a moral strength. I think lashing out against an opponent because you are offended is a little childish. I don't know all the circumstances and I am sure there is a good reason for everything that is happening, but I just don't see it.

    In this instance, all I can think about is Martin Luther King Jr. compared to Malcolm X. Why did King have a much stronger impact then Malcolm X? It is because he took the moral high ground. I don't think it is a political weakness at all. If anything, it shows strength. It is not the easiest path to fallow, but it is the most effective in my opinion.

    I am not saying the racism back then and the situation now are the same, I just think that a lot of what is going on has some parallels with past events. I think we should take another good look at history and apply what we know to the current situation.

    Thanks for reading. Have a good day!


    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    This is a really tricky situation. For one, a lot of people are protesting against Trump's administration for a lot of different reasons, one of them being that children are still separate from their families. Some people have had quite enough of the Trump administration and their efforts to support their actions, and I've heard quite a few arguments that the separation of children from their parents at the border was in violation of human rights and really similar to what happened in the Holocaust and what happened in America in WWII with the Japanese internment camps. While it's one thing to have two lives, one that is professional and one that is private, sometimes you can't separate the two if you're in such a job as politics. Just because these people were eating at a restaurant and not in their office, that still didn't change the fact that bad things were being done with their support.

    I do think that change doesn't need to be created in this way, though. Sure, it's one thing to protest something, as it is a Constitutional right, but going to this extreme is getting a bit out of hand, and it isn't fair for people to be targeted with death threats. I once saw a video on Facebook about how former white supremacists commented on what had happened in Charlottesville. They said that in the eyes of a white supremacist, who views the world as the whites being oppressed, violent or aggressive opposition only makes the other side more of an enemy. I really think that things can change if the truth were implemented more. The truth about abortions and about immigrants is often swept under the rug, and add in the fact that people fear what they don't know, and you've got a recipe for something like this. With how things are going, and with the 2016 election being so disrespectful in some parts, it's a real shame how things are going, and it seems to be a political weakness to not strike back.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hey Bruce,
    To be fair, his opponent should have been jailed but that’s a different story :)

    Politics are absolutely nasty lately and I am not sure if it is how it always has been or if social media and the keyboard warrior era has heightened it.

    I stopped following many news stations because of the constant political onesidedness but also the nastiness is people in the comments. It’s insane. We are all humans and we should all care about one another. It’s so bizarre that we need to label one another and that your political belief either makes you a superior or terrible person.

    Politics unfortunately won’t ever get better. There are too many people in it for the wrong reasons and too much dirty money tied up in it. The best we can pray for is Twitter crashing or a political ban on social media.


    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hello Bruce,

    I think this can be difficult to say what is right and wrong. Politics has always been a nasty game but ever since Trump was elected it has been really bad. It would be nice for Americans to be able to follow an agreement when someone goes low we go high. As far as right now I do not think this works all the time. With the president, we have now he does a lot of silly things. I definitely think that what leads to people going low is that they are angry. I think to a point people are really fed up with how the country is being run. When people feel disrespected I think we go to protest to show how mad and upset we are. I am not saying we have the right to go low but I do think showing it through protest is fine. Now there are people who can not control their emotions and give death threats to others which I do not think that is okay.

    I would agree with Morgan when she says politics will not get better. She is right because there are too many people who have different opinions about everything. Having different opinions is fine but solving the problem is where we fall as Americans.



    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hi Bruce,

    I agree with most of these comments. Politics has totally gotten out of hand. Isn't this country a country of free speech, or just only if you agree with me? Attacking a politician where they are eating, death threats, and attacking a politician's family is just wrong. Definitely the low road. It takes a lot of courage to take the high road, but the high road is not always successful in politics, unfortunately. Trump is a good example of that.

    My thought with any elected official whose policies I don't agree with...... the goal is to get them out of office, not to kill them (literally and figuratively). Keep private lives private (Hollywood has been harping about that for years in regards to their stars), keep the relatives out of it. Hands off the moms, wives or husbands, and especially the kids.

    Sometimes I think social media should be severely limited...... it started out as a good thing, then it is used for all kinds of not good things, ask any bullied middle school student. It is fueling the flames.

    Thanks for the forum,


    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    I believe that our elected officials are public servants and are obligated to listen to the concerns of their constituents. Often we are unable to individually contact a representative because they shelter themselves from the general public so I commend the citizens who have approached representatives in public to voice their disagreement with policies that are harmful and urge these elected officials to reassess their priorities.

    Do I think it's right to be hypercritical about the way someone looks, how they dress, or what sort of relationship they have with their spouse? No. But if people in power are making decisions and putting into effect laws that threaten our civil liberties I think we have a right, even an obligation, to make ourselves heard.

    Civility is for Thanksgiving dinner table discussions. Passion is for political discourse.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hey Hey!

    I do think it is a bit ironic for the Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Scott Pruitts to be complaining about civility while Sanders lies to our faces everyday from the White House briefing room podium and Pruitt has more scandals than can be reasonably contained inside a post. Politics being criticized as uncivil is by far the last thing I am concerned about when it comes to the officials we elect. If they behave in dishonest, corrupt and manipulative ways (aka Trump administration) then have at them. I do not care if anyone goes after the Clinton's either (no violence though in either case, but public mockings are fine by me). Their decisions affect peoples lives and when the people are ignored (the majority) so you can please your base voters (not the majority, just electorally convenient) then I think its unreasonable for a mother who is concerned and worried about the future of her child to address a putz like Pruitt with anything besides what he got. As for Sanders, she lies and volunteers to disrespect the briefing room, the press and the people everyday she stands at that podium. The people were just showing her the same I guess politics is a mess. But it always has been. Its kinda fun that way.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hi Bruce,

    I view civity, in politics and life, as a sign of moral strength and as a universal standard! I can't say I am surprised at the depths of lowness being displayed in politics today but, I find it disconcerting to say the least! I have no doubt it has always been there. I imagine that the constant twenty four/seven media coverage and social media play a big part in the discourse and the seemingly tit for tat discourse. I am all for a passionate "discussion" and back and forth of opinionated thoughts. I just think it should be done in a civil way! Save the heated discourse, anything belittling or crude if you must, for your private circle. I have a hard time listening to different views and possibly changing the way I think when the way it is presented is so uncivil!

    Here's the thing, we all have opinions and we are entitled to them. That's one truly great part of being an American! But the key word there is "opinion". There isn't one way ( Independent, Democrat, Republican) that is right! Forcing your view on some once or belittling them personally seldom changes the way an issue is viewed. I can like you personally and see value in your opinion even when we don't see eye to eye on political issues. Kicking me out of a restaurant, knocking off my hat, throwing a drink in my face or cussing me out and calling me names isn't going to help your cause. Telling me your story and helping me to understand your personal perspective might though!

    Thank you for the forum and for reading my thoughts and opinions.


    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hello Bruce,

    Since the last election I have tried not to get bogged down in politics because honestly it is so depressing, and we certainly seem to be at a low. Therefore I do not know that much about events of the past year, but several thoughts:

    1) I agree that civility in politics has always been an ideal in America, but rarely a reality. The first half of the nineteenth century was full of blustering and sometimes violent politicians. I think of the infamous incident in where several congressmen assisted representative Preston Brooks in violently caning nearly to death senator Charles Sumner in the senate chamber.

    2) While I have no problem with civility as a contract between opponents, I think there should be a line drawn between politicians' political and private lives. To some extent, politicians work at a job, and while they should be held accountable by the people, public harassment is going too far.

    3) I am an exponent of taking the moral high ground, partly for pragmatic reasons. Maxine Waters statement, and peoples' harassment of Trump and his ilk allow them to be seen as martyrs, which can only aid their cause. Trump needs to be shown as illegitimate, fairly and squarely, in a way that does not seem persecuting.


    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    While most certainly there is an issue with people acting out against those with whom they disagree I do not think that it is a new issue in the least. The problem is now that every single person has the ability to spew whatever message they want into the open air for everyone to breath in, regardless of the facts, regardless of the content, regardless of the potential impacts. Our computer screens have separated us from our fellow man and have, as such, allowed us to slide quickly down into the mire of hatred and abuse that a protected position allows.

    I sometimes like to think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is a scene in that film where King Arthur and his Knights are at the foot of a castle wall and atop said wall is a number of French Soldiers who proceed to taunt the valiant king and his cohorts (by doing such things as throwing a cow and life ducks at them). The point here is that the French would have been far less willing to openly demean Arthur and his men if they were not standing behind think castle walls. Our modern political scene, with so many people throwing so much hatred around is much like that. I am in my castle, and there is nothing you can do to stop me from rocking the boat.

    Now, maybe this is a good thing, maybe this level of freedom of speech is something necessary, but it certainly seems to me that since we no longer have to actually stand up on a soapbox to make our selves heard we have become needier of the soap in that box to clean out our mouths.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?


    Here's a question for you: google a list of wars in the 20th century. Eliminate all of the civil wars. Examine the remainder. Here's your question, aside from civil wars, how many wars were caused by nationalism? I'll give you a hint. IT'S ALL OF THEM. Mr. Trumps nationalist agenda is a threat to my kids and grandchildren. I'm civil at work and in family gatherings. Mr. Trump's bullshit stopped being funny in July 2016. If you think razzing members of this administration is low, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hi Bruce,

    I definitely think we should go high when our opponents go low. When we do that it speaks volumes for who we are and what we stand for. If you go lower when your opponent goes low it shows the kind of person you are and that you are just as bad or worse than them.

    Just as in any job there needs to be a level of professionalism and people should not be attacked in there personal lives. I think that is unacceptable.

    Thank you for the interesting forum,


    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hi Bruce,

    I think it's sick the way politicians treat each other. I also think it's sick how people treat and talk about politicians and each other when they don't agree. One of the greatest rights that we have as Americans is the right to vote and choose who we want to represent our view points in office. Unfortunately, instead of treating this as a right, we have chosen to belittle each other and create conflict.

    News is one-sided, and we all create opinions based on what we think we know. The media will make you believe the story they want you to hear, not necessarily the story that is true, and definitely not the whole story.

    I think political banter is worse than ever. The best I can do is stay out of it, make informed decisions based on facts, exercise the right that I do have (to vote) and be kind to people, whatever side they're on. I agree with Morgan's statement above about the era of the "keyboard warrior."

    In general, I respect people more when they go high versus go lower. Unfortunately, that is not the society that we live in.

    Thank you,

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    The last part cut off but about Americans! I agree with mkwilliams and his comments about people resulting in belittling each other or a full out fight. There are better options than that. Society has changed due to those who hide behind the internet and information that is presented but not correct.

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hello Bruce,

    I think politicians have a responsibility to be somewhat civil to one another, though being critical of an opponent's policies isn't off the table. I feel, however, that this only applies to politicians and their campaigns, not to individual civilians.

    I do feel, however, that it should be more of a standard than a contract, which would align with the "go high when they go low" idea. I think "striking back" can happen in a civil way. If a politician contradicts themselves, creates harmful legislation, or lashes out at an opponent, there is a way to respond that is appropriate, it's a matter of a level of professionalism.

    Full on dodging striking back or responding in any way, I think, can be "weak" politically. Like I said, I don't see a reason why one can't respond to an opponent's wrongdoings or remarks without resorting to uncivil discourse.

    Thank you for the topic!

    - Anna

    Re: When They Go Low, Do We Go Lower?

    Hi Bruce,

    I believe that we should remain respectful. There have been instances where both candidates' messages were nothing but insults to each other, and it makes me not even want to vote at all. Not to mention that I still did not know what each candidate stood even for after listening through their insulting messages. I do feel, however, that politicans should still defend themselves when their opponents go low; not by attacking, but rather by disproving the opponent's accusatory claims. I hope that in doing so, the candidate keeps his or her audience's respect and gains moral strength while the attacker loses credibility.

    Of course, all of this is easier said than done. But, it is a good practice and would encourage voters to actually like a candidate.

    Thanks for the post!