Election 2020

In Donald Trump's America, Civil Discourse Isn't Even an Option

There’s a saying I use fairly often — I didn’t even coin it, and I’m not sure who did, but I use it good-naturedly when somebody drops something or messes up in a humorous way. I often say, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” It’s a joke, of course, but I’m beginning to feel that way about the 2016 presidential campaign. And Donald Trump and his supporters bear the blame for making me feel this way.

The idea of a Trump campaign held a lot of promise for folks on the right — and then The Donald opened his mouth. As the Trump campaign has gone on and gathered more and more steam, Trump has become increasingly brazen about saying things that are beyond the pale. He has gone after women in the most misogynistic way. He has resorted to name calling over and over when he can’t respond substantively to an attack. He has alienated entire ethnic groups. He lost me when he said (while claiming to be a Christian) that he hasn’t done anything for which he needed to ask God’s forgiveness. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

His supporters have become increasingly insufferable as well. I can’t get on social media without seeing friends post the most unreasonable things about Trump. One of my long-time friends (who I always thought was pretty reasonable) shared a meme-style photo that read: “You’re Anti-Trump? Good for you! I bet you’re either a Muslim, illegal, or living off the gov’t. [sic].”

I would only consider a handful of my friends who are Trump backers as reasonable in supporting their chosen candidate, and therein lies the problem with the Trumpites. They have chosen to embrace the smug and unreasonable, and they’ve chosen to throw all pretense of civil discourse out the window.

Erick Erickson has placed himself at the forefront of the #NeverTrump movement. I listen to his show live or via podcast nearly every day, and his opposition to Trump has always come from a position of reason and principle, with the right amount of humor thrown in for good measure.

Of course, this hasn’t stopped Trump’s backers from attacking Erickson in the worst ways. Last week, Erick played a couple of voice mails that illustrated perfectly the tactics that Trumpbots use in going after those who disagree with them.

One woman called in all the way from Wyoming (even though Erickson’s show airs in Atlanta):

Erick Erickson, this is Blossom Grace. I am very disgusted at your anti-Trump campaign, and I would hope that you would just knock it off, and if you can’t be civil, just be nothing at all. And if you continue to blast Trump against the will of the people who are voting for him, we will boycott your station. We will share it virally – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – it’s going to continue, and we will not stop until you stop bashing Trump.

Another guy who called in while Erick was out with the flu was even worse. You can just hear him conjuring up all the smugness he could muster:

Uh yes, I hope Erick Erickson dies from whatever disease he has right now. It’s probably friggin’ AIDS, but whatever it is, I do hope he dies tonight. I would love to see him die.

He called in a second time:

Ah, you know, I hope some crazy out there kills the guy. I hope some crazy shoots his ass when he’s walking to his car tonight or whatever. I really hope Erick gets shot tonight. That would be funny as hell, man.

And then there’s the case of Amanda Carpenter. The former communications director for Ted Cruz has fended off some vile attacks from Trumpkins herself. Two weeks ago, Carpenter made the suggestion that the anti-Trump movement make a “blacklist” of public figures who have endorsed Trump; a day later, she received a couple of disgusting threats from a Trump supporter on Twitter, who happens to be a teacher!

Last week, Carpenter appeared on CNN, where she had to put up with a Trump-loving Boston Globe columnist, Adriana Cohen, who accused her of having an affair with Ted Cruz!

“If we’re going call Donald Trump’s character into question, I would like Ted Cruz to issue a statement whether or not the National Enquirer story is true, that he has had affairs with many women, including you were named, Amanda,” Cohen repeated. “Will you denounce this story or will you confirm it?”

[CNN anchor Kate] Bolduan stepped in to make it clear that CNN wasn’t supporting the Enquirer report. “It will come as no surprise to our viewers, CNN has no reporting on what you’re talking about coming from from The National Enquirer,” she deadpanned.

Carpenter kept her composure pretty well, considering the circumstances. “What’s out there is tabloid trash. If someone wants to comment on it, they can talk to my lawyer,” she responded.

“It’s categorically false,” she continued angrily. “You should be ashamed for spreading this smut. Donald Trump supporters should be held to account for it.”

Yes, this is what Trump supporters have sunk to: treating the National Enquirer as the gospel truth. I hope and pray it’s not too late for a course correction, because if Trump and his minions sink any lower, we’ll all wonder why America can’t have nice things. And I really believe our nation will suffer as a result.