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This Election Season, Let's Choose Productive Public Discourse

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp on

It's time. Super Tuesday is over, and America is deep into an election season faced with two very familiar candidates. It's time to take stock of our collective values and decide how we plan to support those beliefs in our actions. I'm not just talking about how you plan to vote;I'm talking about how you plan to live every day as a member of this community.

Our children are watching.

Are we going to show them how we stand up for the issues that matter to us by understanding what's at stake speaking for our community's most vulnerable populations? Or are we going to reduce this election to sarcastic memes, cheap shots and name-calling that would land any middle schooler in detention?

You can choose to fight with knowledge in a way that fosters productive public discourse with purpose and in search of solutions, or you can fight with contempt that merely reduces any argument to partisan camp trenches where we mudsling and launch zingers that do nothing but fuel our self-righteousness.

Meanwhile, those who need us to speak up continue to suffer.

Your string of expletives will not reinstate SNAP benefits or summer lunch programs for the hungry children in your community.

Finger-wagging and name-calling will not house the disabled veterans who are living on the streets in our cities.

That meme mocking Donald Trump or Joe Biden will not cushion the blow of inflation.

 

Does all of this mean-spirited humor help us cope? Maybe, for a minute. But then what?

We have to make the decision to do better. Don't share social media posts that mock candidates for their appearance, their age, their stumbles or their manner of speaking. Instead, elevate the reasons their policies are ineffective and then elevate what you believe the solution should be.

Don't engage in the comments section when someone is hateful. Genuine questions warrant answers. Trolls do not. Deprive bullies of their oxygen, in person and online. You do not have to match anyone's unkindness. In fact, we need more humans in this world who will be the antidote.

Remember when we watched Donald Trump mock a disabled reporter, regularly reduce women to 1-10 rankings and disparage marginalized people? Many were horrified by this behavior. But then some of these same people turned right around and mocked Donald Trump. You can't have it both ways.

I get to choose who I want to be in this world and how I want to behave. If I react to meanness by giving it back to them, then I've just allowed someone to dictate who I get to be. I am kind because it's what I value, not because it's what I think you deserve as a reward for your behavior. Please, let's learn from the past. Let's be smarter and more intentional about our conversations in this election. We can do better, and we must do better.

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Check out Bonnie's weekly YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/bonniejeanfeldkamp. To find out more about Bonnie Jean Feldkamp and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

 

 

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