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Why be civil to Trump and his supporters?

October 20, 2020

That’s what an anti-Trump person asked me. He wrote, “Donald Trump is doing all in his power to divide our society and destroy our democracy and our nation.” He drew analogies to Hitler, Mussolini, and our own General Lee and the Confederates. “We weren’t civil to those people.” He argued. “Nor should we have been!”

Liberals should be civil to President Trump and his supporters because it’s your best shot at de-escalating conflict. We are not at war yet and until we are, the best chance we have to prevent war is by talking with each other. If you are not civil to your adversary, they won’t come to the table to talk. Conflict will escalate.

Being AT war is a different matter. The objective becomes not to prevent, but to win. And at that point you’ve got nothing to lose if you abandon civility. Win any way you can.

You might already have crossed over and see yourself as at war with the other side. If that’s the case this advice is not for you. But if you’re not there yet, show some respect to people on the other side. They have feelings and fears and dreams just like you. And even if it’s hard for moral reasons, show respect for practical reasons. It’s your best chance to avoid war.

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