By Kevin Igoe
In 1965, Jackie DeShannon sang “What the world needs now is love sweet love, not just for some but for everyone.” That is a good bit too idealistic for a guy like me who has spent much of his professional career conceiving and writing hard-hitting political messaging about the political misdeeds of the opponent of the moment. Telling the electorate about a candidate’s vote to increase taxes or restrict personal freedoms is a long way from the situation that Americans now face.
In all my years in politics, I have never seen anything that approaches the current level of vitriol and intolerance. People have been physically assaulted for proudly advertising their support for President Trump. Recognizable members of the Trump administration require extra security to have dinner at a Washington restaurant.
Personalizing ideological differences into aggressive action against people who feel differently is not solely the purview of the left. Some on the right threaten retaliatory violence for positions stated by presidential candidates.
We need to lower the temperature of our political debate. That starts with people who have access to the media. Presidential candidates who spew out sound bite answers for the approval of a studio audience inflame passions at the other end of the spectrum.
The endless parade of nearly anonymous talking heads on cable news should be more concerned with solid analysis and much less concerned with using their time on cable news to attract new clients. It also requires the media to display a sense of responsibility and yes … objectivity. There used to be something called journalistic ethics. If it still exists today I am having difficulty finding it. The anonymity of the internet breeds contempt for others.
There are some actions that responsible individuals can take. We simply need those responsible individuals to step up. Recently, one such individual did step up. And to my surprise, her name is Ellen DeGeneres.
Not long ago, DeGeneres was roundly criticized for attending a Dallas Cowboys football game and being seen on camera having a friendly back and forth with former President George W. Bush. Imagine that. Ellen DeGeneres, a longtime openly gay trailblazer of Hollywood liberals is hung out to dry on social media by her ideological soulmates who think there should be no cordial interaction with others whose political beliefs differ from your own.
Here is the secret. When DeGeneres closes her show each day saying “be kind to one another” … she means it.
We would be much better off if we all followed her advice. That includes leaders at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and on both sides of the aisle.
Kevin Igoe is the former deputy chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. He is a graduate of Canisius High School and Canisius College.