An open letter to everyone who feels passionately about politics.

This is directed to every one of you that cared about this election. Look at the other side. The people that voted against your guy are not some monolithic enemy. Some of them are well-educated, hardworking, moral, compassionate, informed about the issues and passionate in their belief that the side they supported was the best choice for the well-being and prosperity of this country. Each political party is filled with such individuals.

There are a vocal minority of people in this country who profit from demonizing those that do not believe as they do, that do not support what they support or oppose what they oppose. For them it is not enough to engage in a rational and measured debate. Hyperbole, vitriol, fabrications and fear are the tools of these people, and they are effective tools in rallying the kinds of emotions that drive political donations, voter turnout, and media ratings.

They are not, however, the tools that can be used to build a sense of community, to build an effective policy, or to build a prosperous nation. These tools cannot build anything of lasting value, they can only serve, ultimately, to tear us all down. None of us are so noble or intelligent that we are immune from their effects, and all of us live in a world diminished by this rhetoric we have come to accept as an expected component of our national conversation.

It may well be that the engine of politics is so entrenched, the business of punditry so profitable that our acceptance in inevitable. How can you look at the last 12 months of politics, with billions of dollars spent and millions of man hours devoted to this current method of discourse and hope for a better way?

I guess you can’t hope for better unless you do something about it. You can’t expect politicians to abandon effective strategies just because they are abhorrent, you have to render those strategies ineffective. You can’t expect the media to perform admirably because of a sense of civic pride, you have to starve them of the attention that is their oxygen until they recognize that the business of our government is not a sporting event or soap opera to be sold to the highest advertiser.

And you can’t expect people to stop lying until you call them out on their lies, and when I say this I do not mean calling out those that are of a different belief system than your own. We already have plenty of that. The only way we are ever going to change the way we conduct our political business is if we look at our supporters, our allies, our philosophical brothers and sisters in the face and say, Stop.

Stop repeating a lie because it confirms what you expect to be true. Stop expressing hatred for an opponent because that hatred makes it easier to defeat him. Stop exaggerating the consequences of a policy you oppose because you fear the actual consequences won’t be dire enough to rally support to your way of thinking. Stop accepting evidence solely on the basis that it confirms your worldview, and rejecting it solely on the basis that it challenges your worldview.

Stop rejecting the ideas from across the aisle that have merit simply because of their origin, or the possibility that their success might shine a favorable light on those with whom you otherwise disagree. Because a successful policy is more important than a political victory, and the ideas that will help us prosper must be implemented regardless of where they came from or who receives the credit.

We will not succeed as a nation unless we stop fighting each other and start fighting the conditions that hold us back from our full potential, and to win that fight we are going to have to use the energy and innovation that both sides possess. No political persuasion has all the answers. Our issues with debt, entitlements, education, income disparity, national security, civil rights and public infrastructure will only be solved by a creative and cooperative joining of the best ideas from both sides of the aisle. And we cannot join together if we let those that profit from our turmoil tear us apart.

So fight those that would appeal to our basest instincts. Ignore those that would rally you around an ideology rather than an idea, because an idea can be questioned and improved while an ideology binds us in its service. Seek out common ground and respectfully acknowledge that such ground may not always be available, but a common desire for good unites us all. Refuse to support the demagogues and the pundits, and instead focus your energy on restraining yourself and your peers from falling into their trap of ‘us’ versus ‘them’.

And please, for the love of mercy, stop posting long winded political rants on Facebook. They are taking valuable real estate away from my cute kid. Amen

The Dodd Law Firm

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