During his campaign rally Tuesday night in DeSoto County, President Trump did what no Republican Senator nor even the Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, dared to do: He mocked Christine Blasey Ford, whose testimony during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing has delayed, if not derailed the nomination.
While Ford was treated respectfully during her testimony — some, including Kavanaugh, acknowledged they believe she has been assaulted, but not by Kavanaugh — Trump poured ridicule on her during his rally.
By now, his conduct should surprise no one. Trump mocks anyone who criticizes or opposes him. What should be surprising — and most disturbing — was the applause and laughter of fellow Mississippians as Trump warmed to his mockery. It brought to mind one of the most poignant moments in Ford’s testimony. When asked what part of the sexual assault remained most vivid in her memory, she said: “The laughter. The laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense.”
Previously, many of Trump’s staunchest supporters have been able to dismiss his habitual crudeness and lies by saying, “I support his policies, not his conduct.”
But Tuesday night, the crowd at Trump’s rally clearly enjoyed what they heard and approved of it.
Is this who we are? Is this who we want to become?
At what point will we, as Americans, look beyond our increasing tribalism and scorched-earth partisanship to see the harm we are inflicting on each other and our nation?
As Columbus resident Raymond Overstreet noted in his Letter to the Editor published in The Dispatch hours before Trump took the podium in DeSoto County, we must abandon the strategy of destruction. We must regain our sense of decency, fair play and cooperation. We must build up through hope, not destroy through fear.
To achieve that, all of us need to commit to that ideal. No one can afford to stand on the sidelines. We all must strive for honest, fair and non-confrontational solutions to our problems. We must find a way to connect, to compromise, to work together.
Our increasing tribalism coupled with social media has amplified personal attacks and hateful opinions on both the left and right. Moderate, even-handed people are bubbling to the surface though, as evidenced by Mr. Overstreet’s letter. We need more participation by fair-minded people who understand we can disagree with each other while still being respectful and open to compromise.
There are many opportunities to practice this. You may write a Letter to the Editor or call your elected officials. You can vote and encourage friends and neighbors to register and vote. You can be a voice of conciliation in your local political party. You can bring that same voice to your social media. You can speak up amongst your friends when someone resorts to meanness instead of compassion.
Rotary Club International has what it calls it’s “Four-Way Test” that its members strive to uphold in their discourse: First, is it the truth? Second, is it fair to all concerned? Third, will it build goodwill and better friendships? Fourth, will it be beneficial to all concerned?
We can think of no better blueprint for changing our national conversation, but each of us has to make that commitment.
Let’s do our part in making sure what happened Tuesday night is the point at which all of us, no matter our politics, commit to playing our role.
We have the power to change things.
Do we have the will?
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.