Two years after we won our independence, John Adams was sent to England to meet with King George III. Ambassador Adams was representing the United States of America, for the first time, to the Court of St James. He began his meeting with the King by pledging to restore:
“confidence and affection, or in better words, the old good Nature and the old good humour between people who, tho separated by an ocean and under different governments have the same language, a similar religion, and kindred blood.”
If Adams and America could make nice with King George and England, perhaps there’s hope for the left and right to do so, right here.
When reviewing Adams’ words, and King George’s reception of him, keep in mind that only months before the meeting, Adams was guilty of high treason and in open rebellion to the Crown, and the King sent his armies to kill Adams’ friends and neighbors who rallied for independence.
It seems a bit self-serving to announce change needs to be made, but that others need to do the lion’s share of the changing, yet that is the claim and plea I make here. We don’t need a poll to tell us incivility, and downright hostility is in the air. Democrats and those on the left need to be more civil. While instruction may be shocking in a world where our Republican president is well known as a fantastic troll and vulgarian in chief, it is perhaps true nonetheless. If you are a Democrat or on the political left, please just consider that it’s possibly true.
The recently departed liberal chef and social commentator Anthony Bourdain had a great deal to say about this. His conversion likely came due to his extensive travels. When Bourdain would visit far off places like Tbilisi, Borneo, and Mozambique, he did so with a grace and understanding of the cultures of the places and peoples there.
No surprise – a sophisticate like him would no doubt understand applying his own values and preferences to these people would be as ridiculous as demonizing them from afar. But, here’s where Bourdain departs from, it seems, 99% of his famous fellow liberals – he gave the same respect, deference, and accommodation to his fellow Americans with whom he disagreed.
When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good. Nothing nauseates me more than preaching to the converted. The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition—this does not win hearts and minds. It doesn’t change anyone’s opinions. It only solidifies them and makes things worse for all of us. We should be breaking bread with each other, and finding common ground whenever possible. I fear that is not at all what we’ve done.
Giving the benefit of the doubt to a West Virginia coal miner who voted for Trump, just like he would to a Beqaah Valley farmer, not on acceptance of any policy, but motivations and morality. We need to calm the winds of domestic hate and strife if our constitutional republic is going to last for another few decades, much less another 242 years. Happy Birthday, America – I hope we can keep it going, together, for a good long while.