Bringing Civility to Our Political Discourse

by Dr. Raul A. Deju

Immigrant, Educator, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Author, Husband, Father, American

San Francisco, CA  February 2017     www.wegotmojodeju.com 

            2017 could go in the history books as the year with the most hatred and vitriol in recent American politics. As I look at America today, everyday life begins when the President tweets some relatively venomous words which are in turn responded by the Senate Minority leader or another leading Democrat with equal or more venomous language. Watching the language of our leaders from both parties, some of my friends seem to be unable to accept a President for whom they did not vote while others in parallel have developed great hate for the minority party. Families and friendships are being torn apart and as a Centrist I have friends in both camps who are finding it difficult to talk to each other. Both sides need to get a life and learn to talk and compromise. Without civil dialogue we will mire ourselves in a state of no progress.
            I am then reminded of my life. I came here from Cuba alone as an early teen without my parents or any immediate family. Yes, I am an immigrant and I was accepted in this country (not all immigrants are criminals- in fact America’s success depends a great deal on the success of many immigrants). I worked hard, studied hard and by my 24th year on this earth I had received a Ph. D., had a job, and had published my first book. I have spent my life working, growing businesses, writing 7 books and contributing to the fabric of our America. This country and its people became family to me and I started amassing what is now a very long list of very diverse friends. What I have loved in America for over half a century is our civility, the freedom we all enjoy and the framework available to Americans born here and those of us who emigrated here where if you work hard you can succeed. The Office of the President as an elected official regardless of its occupant has been a sense of pride to me through my entire life.
            Fast forward to today. We are awakened with tweets from the President many times in a less presidential tone than we are used to, although oftentimes we can agree with the substance of the tweets, their tone detracts from our support. Then, we are bombarded by equally or more demeaning comments from the Democratic opposition and delay tactics that only waste tax-paying dollars as they don’t change the outcome of any actions. As the battle of words heats up, the work that we as taxpayers need done by our leaders continues to float in the ether of Washington. What has happened to civility! The election is over. Let’s learn to get along. Let’s both sides learn compromise.
            In the course of my life as an American, I have accepted many Presidents for whom I had not voted for. In fact I worked as an Advisor to both a Republican and a Democratic administration with pleasure, pride and civility. I have always felt that the Office of the President is above many of its occupants and deserves my utmost support. In America, differently than in Cuba where I was born, we have checks and balances to protect us from abuses but it is our civic responsibility to work for the common good that separates us from many countries in the world.
            As a few weeks have passed since the beginning of this new Administration we all need to rally together and mark our disagreements by the principles of civility, respecting each other and avoiding nonsensical, defamatory comments of each other focusing on turning our land into a more fertile ground for the success of all instead of looking every day at a ring of the World Wrestling Federation.
            I offer a simple suggestion. Life is about compromise. Mutually satisfactory agreements and treaties are better in the long-run than one-sided deals. Maybe we can all commit to taking a week where both sides stop the demeaning language and the press commits to reporting the news as Walter Cronkite once did with as little bias or sensationalism as possible. If we try such a truce for a week and get back to the business of the nation I think we can begin to get over the rancorous state that has resulted from the recent Presidential election. Once we get over a week, maybe we can do it again and start a new chapter where we all work for a common good without noise. We don’t have to agree with each other on everything, we just need to deal with each other with class, civility, empathy and compromise.
            Let’s get our civility back and focus on being the shining beacon that the world always emulates. Let’s support our nation regardless of party affiliation. I am an optimist. After all, I am an American. Can we start now?