By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
During a recent speech, former Vice President Joe Biden said he would have “beaten the hell” out of Donald Trump in high school.
Trump fired back, saying it would be Biden that would go down “fast and hard, crying all the way.”
We could all hope that this was something out of character, not becoming of American statesmen who represent both sides of the political spectrum.
Unfortunately, it is not only the norm in today’s political world, both sides expect their leaders to exercise this level of irresponsible tough talk.
They weren’t the only two. Barack Obama during his first campaign for the presidency said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
Today, some of our biggest problems are bullying, kids coming to school with guns, and a blatant disrespect for anyone with an opinion different from our own.
And where are our leaders who should be trying to show a higher sense of decorum? They are threatening each other with physical violence.
Right now, three men are on trial for allegedly plotting to take the law into their own hands by planning to detonate bombs around an apartment complex of Somalis right here in Kansas.
While the court will determine innocence or guilt, there is no question that discussions of vigilante justice were taking place, and instead of seeing civilized leadership from both the previous and current administrations, we hear physical threats aimed at one another.
Mass shootings took a spike since the Obama Administration. According to truthstreammedia.com, there were 12 mass shootings during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, 23 under Bill Clinton, 20 during George W. Bush’s tenure, and 162 mass shootings under Obama.
That level of violence continues to rise today under Trump.
With the introduction of social media, bullying is also on the rise.
While politicians no longer compromise, and Americans have resigned to the new normal or polarization, we also see that our leaders do not understand the role they play in trying to bring reason to a hostile situation, choosing to throw gasoline on an already blazing inferno rather than leading by example in bridging differences.
We are not helping, either. We are rewarding this bad behavior with votes, cheers and buying into a fallacy that one-party control and a unilateral vision is best as long as it is our view that sets all the rules for everyone else.
If one of our partisan leaders attempts to reach across the aisle, we quickly slap it back or remove them from office during the primary, opting instead for a candidate that will toe the party line.
We no longer expect our candidates to compromise, nor do we believe that maybe, just maybe, we arent’ right about everything.
If the founding fathers had this rigid mentality, we never would have been able to pass the Constitution.
The larger states didn’t like the structure of the Senate, where all states were equal, and the smaller states didn’t like the concept of the House of Representatives, where population determined representation.
They each had a reason to vote against the document even though they each had a reason to vote for it.
And during the debates, both sides showed their disdain for the other.
But true leadership came to the forefront in Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin defended the process of creating the document, and saying he couldn’t say that the Constitution was the best document they could have created, but he also wasn’t sure that they could have created anything better. He then challenged his colleagues by saying, “On the whole, sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the convention, who may still have objections to it, would with me on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”
What Franklin was asking each person to do was ask themselves if they weren’t perfect, ans if not, give a little, and we should be asking ourselves that today.
We can’t expect it from our leadership until we are willing to explore that question of ourselves.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” We cannot be two separate Americas, one conservative and one liberal. Our leaders are not elected to represent one side. And they shouldn’t be threatening each other with violence.
Until the can set the example of leading us all and join together for the common good, they all share the responsibility for the violence that has followed.