Raising Standards on Today’s Rhetoric

I’m just as disappointed in myself as I am with the rest of the nation when it comes to the current level of rhetoric in politics. I’ve excitingly watched more Republican debates than Democratic (normally I try to keep them level) merely because of sheer entertainment. Watching Trump brings me back to the first season of the Apprentice — I watched every episode.

Maybe it’s an evolution that started with Jerry Springer, evolved to Real World, Survivor, Apprentice, Paris Hilton, and now RHOA/Kardashians. Who knows how it happened. But whatever happened, just like all boats rise with the tide, they also lower.

The tide has lowered so much, a gushing river that once separated two shores, one shore with somewhat elevated politic substance and another of reality TV garbage, now leaves a meandering creek confusing any boater which side is which.

I dug deep into history’s most contentious time to find a fraction of immaturity and vitriol spewed between rivals.

Surprisingly, I found the opposite.

On January 23, 1861 Robert E. Lee wrote a Letter to His Son. In an intimate exchange between family members that could have produced name calling to its harshest extent didn’t occur. Even in the most starkest of moments when enemy lines were drawing quickly, the prosperity of the Union always remained as the paramount priority to the soon-to-be leader of the Confederacy.

An excerpt of Lee’s letter contains the following:

The South, in my opinion, has been aggrieved by the acts of the North, as you say. I feel the aggression and am willing to take every proper step for redress. It is the principle I contend for, not individual or private benefit. As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and institutions, and would defend any state if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing sacrifice everything but honor for it’s preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom and forbearance in its formation, and surround it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can be only dissolved by revolution or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, and not a government by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison and the other patriots of the Revolution… Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. 

Even at the gravest time in our history, leaders advocated brotherly love and kindness. They took pride in the nation and respected the innovation of our founders.

Many complain about the embarrassing state of affairs. Fixing it starts with first raising the standard of today’s rhetoric.