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Opinion

America needs to sit in time out for a while


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Oct. 12, 2020 - 4:38 PM

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America needs to sit in time out for a while

Marc Hyden is the director of State Government Affairs at the R Street Institute, and he is a long-time Georgia resident. You can follow him on Twitter at @marc_hyden.

“This is going to hurt me a lot more than it will hurt you,” parents often utter before reprimanding misbehaving children—although, most youths usually disagree over who bears the brunt of the discomfort. Nevertheless, the truth is that corrective action is sometimes necessary to improve conduct and teach lasting valuable lessons.

That's where we are at with modern America. Following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death and President Donald Trump’s hospitalization, many of us have unwillingly witnessed vicious tirades that lack any shred of human decency. In fact, America has been so bad that it probably needs to sit in the corner and think about what it has done.

Confirmed to the US Supreme Court in 1993, Justice Ginsburg has been a larger than life figure and a trailblazer in many ways, but some of her rulings haven’t been without controversy. This has made Ginsburg a lightning rod of sorts. After her passing in mid-September, that didn’t change. Sheila Zilinsky—a self-proclaimed “Firebrand Evangelist”(whatever that means)—pounced on Ginsburg’s death and called her a “mass murdering hag” even though I am quite sure that Ginsburg has never personally murdered anyone or ordered any killings. Others joined in and continued attacking Ginsburg—or at least celebrating her death—and one even appeared to dabble in anti-Semitism.

These were disgusting displays that have unfortunately become par for the course in a country obsessed with politics, but unfortunately, neither political faction has a monopoly on such misconduct. President Trump, who is also a polarizing individual, recently contracted COVID-19 and checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Upon hearing the news, former President Obama and Hilary Clinton employee Zara Rahim tweeted, “I hope he dies”—referring to President Trump. Others found it funny to share images of a red hat, but instead of reading “Make America Great Again,” it says, “Do not resuscitate.” Once again, this is sickening

The truth is that it is OK to have strong feelings about Ginsburg, Trump or any other political figure. I certainly do, but to celebrate the deaths or wish for the deaths of people because you disagree with their policy positions is supremely unhealthy. This places politics above humanity and makes people forget that these individuals are actually humans. They have families and friends, and like all people, they have an intrinsic value. Yes, you can loath their political views, but rather than reveling in their misfortunes, you could celebrate their worthy achievements and learn from their errors or try to reverse them.

Sadly, we live in a politically charged environment in which partisanship reigns supreme, and with the emergence of the electronic age and social media, more are willing and able to share their unedited thoughts in a stream of consciousness that it is very telling of America’s devolving character. The simple fact is that the unhealthy obsession with politics and hyper-partisanship is a growing cancer in America’s soul, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Justice Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia were Supreme Court colleagues for decades, and they had very different political backgrounds and judicial philosophies. Yet somehow, they were able to foster a respectful, loving friendship until Justice Scalia’s death in 2016. Not surprisingly, many basked in Scalia’s passing, which was also repugnant. Nevertheless, if two dissenting titans of the law could form such a relationship, then at the very least, more Americans could be a little less ugly to one another.

It may not seem easy to do this at first, but unlike when your parents punished you, it will not hurt. There’s nothing wrong with despising public officials’ policies or even personalities, and yes, policymakers ought to strive to deserve more respect and be exemplars of integrity. However, we can still honor their offices, and we need to more frequently look beyond politics and exhibit the most human of traits—compassion and sympathy. People are multidimensional and shouldn’t be solely defined by politics. In the end, taking the high road and showing decency can go a long way. In fact, people should want to be remembered for having good character rather than for the political party they’re affiliated with.

Marc Hyden is the director of State Government Affairs at the R Street Institute, and he is a long-time Georgia resident. You can follow him on Twitter at @marc_hyden.