The other night I was speaking with a friend who is a very smart guy. He has been involved at a senior level in the last three Democratic presidential campaigns and he lives in Washington, DC. We were remarking on how so many things that have happened with the Trump presidency would have been disqualifying for any other President and, yet, the beat goes on. He is operating under the assumption that once this administration ends, we will go back to normalcy. Unfortunately, I disagree.
Now, my friend, a Harvard educated lawyer, suffers from one disadvantage: He has lived and worked in Washington for a long time. He doesn’t seem to get, as David Brooks pointed out in a recent article, “Getting Trump Out of My Brain,” that everything has changed and, if the Democrats or even other Republicans hope to lead this country in the future, the old assumptions of a moral framework and decent behavior have to be readdressed.
That doesn’t mean that traditional values are wrong or out the window, but they need to be discussed honestly and without the usual amount of hyperbole. Trump has so infected the dialogue, that if we are to regain the basis of civil discourse, we need to resist the urge to point out the wrong doings of the other side and start talking about ideas and how they will make our society whole again.
Of course, there will be the shouters on both sides but there always have been. This is the first time in our history that the President has given them credibility and the resulting response on the left does nothing to make things better. Indeed, the talk of a litmus test on the future candidates for President in the Democratic party on issues of single payer and abortion only feed the problem and actually make the case for an Independent candidacy from someone who is willing to both not be bound by a rigid ideology and behave in a civil manner. Wish I knew who that might be, but perhaps we can find him or her. I know that this is viewed as not possible; it’s almost as impossible as, say, Donald Trump being President.