When I was growing up, my brothers and I were pretty close. Like most siblings, we fought like the dickens, but we banded together when one of us was being bullied. So, when one of my little brothers was getting beaten up on the playground one day, I did not think twice when I stepped in between him and a much bigger boy. I am not sure if it was the shock of the usually quiet redhead standing up to him or my small fist that caught him square on the jaw after he had delivered a kick to my brother’s stomach, but either way, he figured out pretty quickly what most bullies did: you don’t mess with my family.
While the playground may have changed from schooldays, I have found that the bullies really have not. There are still a lot of people out there that not only like to fight dirty, but, as 9/11 taught us, also deadly. We, as an American family, have to learn to stick together. Of course, that does not always mean that we have to agree. It is perfectly all right to have our squabbles and passionate disagreements, but we should never forget that the bullies are always watching. And as I learned in my youth, the quickest way to bring someone down is to divide the family.
This is such a simple premise, which is why it saddens me to see that so many have crossed the line and gone from disagreement to destruction, from passionate viewpoints to personal attacks, and from intellectual debate to ignorant accusations. We have members of our own American family that now see fit to become like the bullies, using fear and intimidation to get what they want from their fellow citizens, and that needs to stop. Intellectual differences are a much needed and wanted part of American politics; destruction of property and personal reputations is not.
America is better when there are different viewpoints competing for prominence – debate keeps us from getting intellectually lazy and also makes sure that good ideas don’t get lost under the haze of political arrogance. While I may disagree with much of the world view from the other side of the political aisle, I would never seek to intimidate them into silence or instigate personal attacks. Wisdom does not reside under the mantle of a single political party, and I don’t want America to miss out on what may be best for our future just because a good idea was put forward by a political opponent. If we continually see political arguments in terms of either winning or losing, the only ones that will truly end up losing here are the American people.
Unfortunately, the American people do not seem to be the priority for many in politics these days. Instead of focusing on what Americans want, the establishment elite in government have decided to become the local playground bully. While Tea Party members and ordinary Americans like myself are respectfully asking for smaller government, less taxes, and less regulation, we are met with bullying tactics in response. We have been called racists, terrorists, enemies and barbarians. We have been called stupid, ignorant, and sexual slurs. We have witnessed our public property and state houses damaged and disrespected, as well as private property destroyed and people assaulted. And, the real irony is, the very thing the establishment has accused American citizens of being is what they have proven themselves to actually be.
There is only one way to stop a bully. Stand up to him, and don’t back down. There are plenty of them outside our borders; we certainly don’t need more of them here at home. America is our family and either you are for her or you are against her. If you would rather intimidate your fellow Americans by destructive scare tactics instead of meeting on the field of debate, if you are too afraid to let the American people decide what they want, then take your bully bat and go home. You have no place with either political team here.
“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” Margaret Thatcher (b. 1925), former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990