Embarrassed by America’s decline in civility

I’ve never been one to be overly concerned about others’ perceptions of me or of our country. I’ve always had the mindset that perceptions are based on limited knowledge and a willingness to accept what we want to believe rather than on reality.

However, after seeing what happened in our nation’s capital on Jan. 6, I am embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that fellow Americans are so deeply seated in their support of some political leaders that many appear more interested in the advancement of their candidate than in the long-term best interest of our nation and of the world.

Had what happened in Washington been perpetuated by outsiders, it would have been considered by every American to be an act of war; but this disturbance was our own making. It was a result of some elected officials refusing to accept the will of the people, unfounded accusations against our election processes and a relatively large portion of the electorate idolizing those they support. This lack of trust and unwavering support has brought us to a new low in civility—a low that could possibly take years to overcome and leave a permanent scar on the integrity of our elections processes.

Many Americans tend to idolize their preferred candidates and demonize those they do not support, no matter the evidence that may indicate otherwise. The deep-seated, blind support we now have has divided us at levels previously unimagined and for the first time since 1812 has brought violence into the halls of government. We should all be embarrassed. We all should also be angry that the actions of our own people destroyed public property and led to the deaths of five fellow Americans.

Elections in America have for decades shown the lengths those seeking power and their supporters will go to in their quest for victory. Messages are expertly crafted to make opponents appear to be vile, uncaring, and self-serving individuals who no sane person would willingly support. As a result of decades of negative campaigning by candidates from both major parties, a large percentage of the public began to believe the clips taken out of context and grossly distorted quotes.

We’ve been exposed to deception for so long that many fail to see the shortcomings of those they support. If we recognize and acknowledge the shortcomings of those we support, logically, we must also acknowledge that we are supporting individuals who may not be as noble as we would like to believe. This acknowledgment may be a painful pill for many to swallow. It is much easier to pile praise on our preferred candidates and dismiss any negative accusations as dirty politics and unfounded. It is also easy to find like-minded people who share our opinions and, in some way, validate those opinions.

Many people throughout the world were raised to admire and oddly enough, to trust, those in positions of influence. But when people of influence regularly exhibit bad behavior and an unwillingness to compromise, the public often will emulate their actions.

Politicians and their staffs have intentionally set a tone of doubt and mistrust as they attempt to destroy their opponents and do whatever it takes to maintain their positions. The business of politics has made lies, deception and distortion appear to be acceptable behavior.

We are now seeing the public begin to act as despicable as those chosen to lead. We truly have lost our civility.

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