Politicians have always sparred with their opponents, yet in the Trump era, have we reached a tipping point? Due to the politics of character assassination, we are losing the ability to discuss issues and policies. Should we not be Americans first, then Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, second?
President Ronald Reagan and former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill came from a different era in politics. Mr. Reagan, a staunch conservative Republican, and Mr. O’Neill, a life-long liberal Democrat, could not have been more different in their political views. Yet Mr. Reagan often started policy discussions with Mr. O’Neill by calling him his friend. When Mr. Reagan won his landslide victory in 1984, Mr. O’Neill said that “in my 50 years of public life I’ve never seen a man more popular than you are with the American people.” Most opposition politicians today would rather have their tongues cut out than give President Trump even a veiled compliment.
We have to admit that our current political atmosphere did not start with Mr. Trump. We saw character assassination happen with President Obama, yet under Mr. Trump it has grown to heights never before seen. When we start to pick and choose which president, duly elected by the people, we honor and respect, it is a slap in the face of our democratic ideals. Unless we are Americans first, we may no longer be one nation, indivisible with justice for all.