Bud, get ready to duck, because this has to do with abortion, at least tangentially. In fact, I’ve got another couple of post ideas that do the same. You might want to sit these out, since it bugs you when the topic comes up.
Anyway, yesterday James Clyburn sent me this personal note, with my name on it and everything — so I’m taking it personally (a little, anyway):
45 years ago, the Supreme Court handed down one of their most powerful decisions in Roe v Wade, codifying a woman’s right to access a legal abortion in the United States.
You’d think that would have settled the matter — but extremists have been trying to strip women of this basic reproductive right ever since….
So basically, since I’m opposed to this absolute right that allows highly interested individuals to make decisions about whether other individuals live or die unilaterally, without due process, much less appeal, I’m an extremist. Instead of, you know, a believer in the rule of law who wants the unborn to have the same shot at survival that a murderer gets. (And yeah, I’m opposed to capital punishment, too. That’s part of what “pro-life” means.)
But never mind me, and never mind abortion. This is not about me. It’s not even about Jim Clyburn. It’s about the fact that this is the way people in both parties in Washington speak about people who disagree with them.
Lord knows the Republicans do it. And this is one of the ways that Democrats do it. They appeal to their hyperpartisan bases by using language that delegitimizes people who disagree.
I try not to do this (I may fail, but I try). You know why? Because I have lots of friends — earnest, thoughtful people — who disagree with me on this issue. For the most part, I avoid talking with them about this. But when we do discuss it, I try to be respectful.
And you know what? I’ll bet that in a one-on-one conversation with a constituent, Jim Clyburn would try to do the same.
But not in press releases and other political speech. You know why? Because these days, Democrats and Republicans only speak to their own sides. And those other people are personae non gratae, and not worthy of consideration…