This America can't find middle ground

Tammie Toler

When did we lose our civility? Where did our ability to co-exist peacefully go? 

Left-leaning friends and readers, please restrain from answering immediately with the obvious “Nov. 2, 2016.”

Not always a fan of our current or past presidents but a believer in the media who told us all that Hillary Clinton was the clear choice to win the 2016 election, I was as surprised as many of you when Mr. Trump became President Trump that night. Though he clearly disagrees, I believe his popularity would improve if he left his phone alone and kept his tweeting fingers still until at least most Americans had their first cups of coffee before Twitter alerts began buzzing.

But, my name is not Kellyanne, and my title is not Counselor to the President. So, this week during a long, silent drive, I pondered how our nation has become so deeply divided. I know we won’t all agree on everything, but it saddens me to see that friends and family members can’t even have discussions without getting angry these days.

I pass a friend’s bumper sticker each week on a work assignment reminding me, “Not your uterus, not your business,” so I make a mental note not to accidentally speak an opinion to the owner of that vehicle, who also possesses a Trump troll doll on her desk.

Granted, the troll’s hairstyle is humorously reminiscent of the president’s unruly un-do, and it makes me chuckle when I spot it. But, in today’s political climate, you never know when a slip of the tongue might make that person, who is a friend today, an enemy tomorrow.

Another online friend put out a call this week for others to suggest candidates for the West Virginia Supreme Court. She indicated she’d like to meet them, and although the state’s high court is now nonpartisan, this friend demanded that she only wanted to know about Democratic candidates, because in her estimation that nonpartisan stuff was BS. (This was edited for family friendliness. The Facebook post was literally spelled out. You know what the acronym stands for.)

This particular friend was taking a figurative stab at the recent proceedings that put Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court Bench. I wrote all I have to say on that topic a couple of weeks ago. Someone suffered a terrible injustice, in that case, either way. Most of us will never know for certain who, no matter exactly how sure we think we are.

As the week wore on, protests popped up everywhere, from outside the Supreme Court to entertainment venues — as artists Kanye West announced plans to visit the White House and bubble gum pop star Taylor Swift revealed her favorite on the mid-term ballot. Supporters and foes cheered and jeered as First Lady Melania Trump embarked on her first solo trip to Africa.

Antifa protestors stalled traffic in Portland, Ore., and Sen. Ted Cruz and his family allegedly got chased out of their D.C. restaurant.

Later, a Twitter argument may have hit an all-time low. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who survived a near-fatal shot while practicing for a congressional softball game, posted a message calling for calmness and civility. A tweeter using the handle of Martin Cizmar replied “Boo boo baby.”

When another viewer, tweeting as Razor, called Cizmar out and said everyone should respect survivors, Cizmar responded that Scalise was not a “survivor,” but an “accomplice” to his own near-death because of previous votes on gun control.

President Obama’s former attorney general Eric Holder continued the low blows, telling his would-be campaign audience that he didn’t agree with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s philosophy, “When they go low, we go high.” Instead, he preferred, “When they go low, we hit ‘em.” He didn’t explain exactly how his supporters should “hit” opponents, but the potential voters seemed to have enough ideas of their own.

 Sen. Cory Gardner shared that his wife received a graphic photo message of a beheading shortly after he voted to confirm Kavanaugh last weekend.

Language in messages documented directly to the new Supreme Court justice’s wife could not be printed on this page. I’m appalled at the violence and obscenity that were sent to his wife and potentially to his children, who were not accused of any crime, by people who were not connected to any of his alleged misconduct. 

Reasonable people once knew where the line between political discourse and personal responsibility stood, the area where what was right and what was wrong hung in the balance, in that sweet spot where conservative and liberal could co-exist peacefully for the greater good of a community, a country, and all humanity. But, sometime since we all became a strange mix of deplorables and pantsuit nation inhabitants, we’ve seemingly lost our way.

Here’s hoping we find those places and a lot of reasonable people emerge again soon. Our nation needs us.

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net