Skip to main content

Are Political Debates Still Possible in the US?

Robert is a freelance writer/researcher in the Seattle, WA area. He covers current political, economic, and geopolitical news.

Divide and Conquer

Divide and Conquer

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Following the supposed silencing of Elizabeth Warren during a 2017 debate over the Jeff Sessions nomination for attorney general, former Republican presidential candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, warned the American public that we are on the brink of “becoming a society incapable of having debates.”

The current political climate in America is divisive and every day, Americans are shouting past each other. This ineffective style of communication has seeped into our halls of power in Washington DC. In other parliaments and governments around the world, politicians throw punches, toss chairs, and scream obscenities at each other. Rubio asked his Senate colleagues if that gives them “a lot of confidence about those countries.” While Rubio does not think we are to that point yet, we are not yet hurling objects at those across the aisle from us, though he does declare we are “flirting with it.”

As opposed to debating the merits of a proposal from a politician on the other side of the spectrum, our political leaders immediately jump on the new idea, saying that the reason you proposed it was because “you don't care about poor people, or you only care about rich people, you're this, that or the other,” said Rubio. If we continue down this current path, we will be unable to complete the most menial of tasks or solve the simplest of disputes regarding our federal government.

Elizabeth Warren Silenced

Senate Democrats soundly attacked their Republican counterparts for using a rarely-used procedural regulation, Rule 19, to shut down Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of a fellow senator, Jeff Sessions, during the debate over his nomination. Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire was appalled by the Republicans’ invoking of Rule 19.

Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts, had been reading a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King that protested Sessions’ failed appointment as a federal judge in Alabama. The letter from King said Sessions “has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge.” However, Rule 19 prevents senators from impugning one another, so in a vote along party lines, Mrs. Warren was silenced, a move Shaheen called “hypocritical.”

What is interesting to note is that Texas Senator Ted Cruz called the now majority leader Mitch McConnell a “liar” on the Senate floor in 2015, and no one invoked Rule 19 then. “Back when Ted Cruz called Mitch McConnell a liar on the floor of the Senate floor, nobody invoked Rule 19 to censor him, so this has been a very subjective process,” Shaheen pointed out. A sign of how partisan our nation’s capital is right now. A nation divided. Far from united.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was using the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King's’ words against Jeff Sessions. Iveda King, the niece of MLK, however, came out and said that Mrs. Warren was doing a bait and switch, using her deceased aunt’s words for political purposes.

"If we take a look at my Aunt Coretta Scott King’s letter, we know that she was a peace maker," King said Wednesday, February 8 on FOX Business. King apparently said that Sessions had worked to end school segregation and prosecution of members of the KKK. King accused Warren of using the King name to “play the race card.” The difference between King back then and Warren today? King was looking to unite us, Warren is looking to divide us in order to score points with her base, obscuring the truth in the process.

King went on to say that she believed that her aunt would look at Senator Sessions’ record today and say, “‘well he has worked to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan, he has worked to desegregate public schools,’ so it’s almost like a bait and switch, stir up their emotions, use the name King, and my name is Alveda King, play the race card.” If only our politicians had this kind of objective approach to our political discourse today. So much gets blown out of proportion and narratives are spun to drive a point home on a particular topic or to gain more support with your most extreme group, yet most loyal voters.

“It is not dividing my family at all, we are taking a look at many things Ms. Coretta Scott King said, Martin Luther King Jr said, my dad Reverend A.D. King, but my family, we are peacemakers, we bring people together Neil, we do not divide people,” King said. We need to unite the country, not further divide us. This much is obvious. Yet, our Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Congress continue to chuck bombs at each other, attempting to counter the other side as opposed to working together to get things done for the good of all Americans. Conflict sells.

The mainstream media is doing little to help bring the country together. The polarization is multiplied on television and radio shows that keep groups of people within their own spheres of ideology. We are approaching a dangerous time in America because we are talking past each other. We are unable to see the human being standing on the other side of the issue from us. Both in real life with our friends and family and on social media with our extended online community, the divisions are widening and there does not seem to be anything at hand that will slow that process anytime soon.


The Racial Divide: Are We Being Divided on Purpose?

Daisy Luther, a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her websites, The Organic Prepper and, wrote an illuminating piece revealing the three ways Americans are being deliberately divided.

“We’re headed down a path of division that has become so extreme that it’s hard to see a way back,” Luther began.

The division Luther references is “being egged on by the biased media on both sides.” In addition, it is “being multiplied by celebrities in Hollywood who are completely out of touch with everyday people.” This much is true and this partisan-like tone on our television sets has helped keep us farther apart from each other.

First, Luther writes that race is a dividing issue of national importance. In 2017. “The division between black people and white people hasn’t been so tense since the days of Martin Luther King. Hollywood, the education system, and the media have been egging on the fight for a while now.” We have definitely not allowed Dr. King’s dream to yet come true, when made clear he wanted his children “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” And yet, we continue to see each other as this race or that. This party or that. If I say something out of line with the accepted liberal narrative, then I get berated because I don't and won't ever understand some people's struggles because I'm white and I'm not poor.

Scroll to Continue

While in Toronto, Canada, a co-founder of the U.S.-based Black Lives Matter movement argued that white people are “recessive genetic defects” and purportedly mused about how the race could be “wiped out,” according to a post on her Facebook page. This inspirational voice, Yusra Khogali, has faced increased scrutiny over the past year after BLM Toronto gained political influence following their disruption of the Toronto Pride parade and confrontations with Canadian politicians. Madonna claimed she had dreamt of “blowing up the White House.” And the victory of Donald Trump last November led to a flood of calls for his assassination online, especially Twitter.

Instead of a living a colorblind life, we have created a culture in the United States that still pits races against each other. Politicians use certain groups for political gain, then set them aside until they need to use them to win their next election. This kind of grouping and separation should not continue and must be curtailed.

Hate Speech, Free Speech, and Political Boycotts

It seems love does not trump hate since Donald Trump was elected. The response to his victory and all of this resulting anti-white hatred has led to the rise of certain groups, such as the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), which claims to be “fighting for white working families.” At a planned rally last June in Sacramento, California, this group’s peaceful gathering, in front of the State Capitol, was met with violence as counter-demonstrators clashed with the TWP, which resulted in 10 victims in the hospital with “critical trauma stab wounds.”

Another point of division Luther points to are the boycotts and social pressure due to political beliefs of companies and people associated with them and their products, etc.

  • For example: “A bunch of people were boycotting Nordstrom until they dumped Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. Then, when they dumped the line, a bunch of people boycotted them for dumping it.” That makes sense.
  • Another strange instance was when people announced their boycott of Starbucks following the coffee chain’s announcement that they would hire 10,000 refugees.
  • And also, some people are boycotting the Batman Lego movie just because the new Secretary of the Treasury is a producer. In case you’re looking for one, “there’s a whole list of companies you should boycott if you don’t like Trump, and I assume that if you do like Trump, you should use this list as a shopping guide.”

We cannot continue down this path of picking companies and restaurants to spend your hard-earned money at based on one’s political leanings. Luther reiterated, “So basically, you can’t buy anything from anyone without google-searching every member of the board of directors, checking out the Twitter account of the CEO, and cross-checking the political leanings of any person who might make a profit off of your dime.” That sounds exhausting. And unhealthy. We can’t have politics be literally everywhere. That’s just too much.

Luther is also concerned about the violent protests from those on the radical Left, claiming, ironically, to be anti-fascist groups. The shutting down of free speech you don’t agree with with violent means is something we should be very leary of. For example, Luther writes:

“at the University of California Berkeley, protests of such violence erupted before Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking engagement that the event had to be canceled. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the way Milo communicates – I don’t think blatant meanness is necessary or helpful. However, I can’t deny that he has some good points, and I definitely support his right to say the things he says. If the First Amendment doesn’t apply to unpopular speech, then it is completely useless.”

There was over $100,000 worth of damage done to the Berkeley campus and downtown Berkeley. Two Republican students were physically attacked. A woman wearing a Trump hat was pepper sprayed in the face. The Black Bloc anarchists posing as protesters broke windows, set fires, and threw rocks at police. “Even worse,” Luther points out, the “police stood down and let them run amok.”

Other recent horrific examples of free speech meeting fascist tactics from the formerly liberal Left, included when students at the University of Florida, formed a Leftist Fight Club to teach them how to physically fight with Trump supporters, the “alt-right,” and Republicans. Another group, called the Antifa, committed violent acts at an event for Right Wing speaker Gavin McInnes at NYU and actively promotes violent resistance. “Does anyone else see the irony in people who claim to be anti-fascist shutting down free speech if the opinion differs from theirs?” Luther asked. It’s clear to people like me. But I am concerned because I am not sure how many like me are out there. These violent tactics must stop now and free speech must be defended at all costs.

But where is all this leading? Luther thinks that “When discourse becomes impossible, the checks and balances that keep our country from going too far in one direction cannot work.” Similar to when Sen. Rubio said that we are becoming a society incapable of having debates with each other. Perhaps that is the voice we need to bring the country closer together in this somewhat chaotic time.

“When dissent is met with violence, it begets more violence. I can assure you that if my family was under attack because of an unpopular opinion, I’d meet that force with an equal or greater force. Wouldn’t you?” When I see Trump supporters and people showing up to see Milo speak getting beat down for their beliefs, it makes me sick, but it also makes me angry and want to take up arms against these so-called anti-fascists. And that's not good. Conservatism is becoming the new counterculture on the West Coast.

Survey conducted Aug. 27 - Oct. 4, 2015

Survey conducted Aug. 27 - Oct. 4, 2015

Divided We Fall

Is America’s division deliberate? It’s seeming that way. Division and drama are great for ratings. But in the pursuit of being first, many news organizations have thrown truth out the window in an attempt to appeal to their primary demographic and political support group. Hopefully we can learn to have some civil discourse in the near future. Some in power are making that a hard proposition. But it is still possible.

Sadly, Luther sees that no one seems “to be allowed to think critically” these days. Sticking to one’s party makes one irrational and lash out at the “other side.” We need to take a deep breath and look at things objectively. Especially our leaders with the most power.

Luther writes, “You should see the clamor on social media when I refuse to be either all-in for Trump or completely anti-Trump. Why can’t anyone see that there is good and bad in every administration? Wouldn’t being in close touch with reality be the better way to bring about the peaceful and balanced world we idealize?” One would think that. One would hope for a closer touch with reality, wouldn't we?

Let’s work to have better conversations with our political opposites. Let’s learn to listen to them and understand where they’re coming from. Let’s learn to criticize what we see as out of line and endorse what we view as in the best interest for America. Let’s keep things in perspective and remain balanced in our search for the truth.

Let’s remain a society capable of having a debate.

Related Articles