This isn’t localized to one political leaning. I’ve seen fairly liberal folks saying dumb, predictable and hurtful things. And I’ve seen fairly conservative folks doing very much the same.
So let me just remind everyone of basic principles. This blog exists to foster conversation and ideas, not as a place to settle scores, repeat political talking points or grind axes. If that’s what you want– for some inexplicable reason — you have 99% of the political blogosphere at your disposal.
Now before I continue my finger wag, let me acknowledge that in a metaphorical sense we’re all at the end of a long, long political debate. The election is just a little over a week away. Nerves are raw. The stakes are high. This may seem like the last, best chance to get in your last, best digs.
I want to encourage you to resist those temptations and harken to your better angels. (Yes, I’m casting myself here as a better angel…)
So…principle number one: Be original. You guys are never more empowered than when you are thinking original thoughts, framing arguments that you have created yourselves, with research and facts that you have uncovered and dots you have connected.
If you are repeating someone else’s catch-phrases or conspiracy theories — especially without doing a hell of a lot of fact-checking — it’s both unproductive and boring.
Principle number two: Listen. I know it sucks, but sometimes people you disagree with have better ideas than you do. Sometimes they’re just plain right. Or at least they say things that are worth taking on board. So before you fire back, read carefully, think, process. There’s no hurry, right?
Principle number three: Be friendly. Not just civil. Friendly. The other people commenting on this blog are doing the same things you’re doing: raising a family, earning a living, thinking, grappling with a confusing world. They disagree with you? So what? Be friendly.
And if anyone tells you not to be friendly toward other Americans who disagree with you — give them wide berth. Because that’s creepy.
Final principle: Be passionate and let others be passionate. None of the above means we all have to agree, or fold our tents. Heck, no. Democracy is compromise, but it’s also argument. So argue…but only in the way that you argue with people who you know are on the same side in the ultimate sense.
As I’ve said before, after the election we’ll be revisiting the future and the structure of the In Box. Not sure yet where that conversation will go. But for now, let’s wrap up this big election with the kind of discussion that would make us all proud.
This is maybe grandiose, but sometimes I like to imagine someone far outside the North Country stumbling across one of our conversations and thinking, Wow. Those people are really lighting it up. I wish our community was having that kind of discourse.