Donald Trump the politician has consistently offended and outraged large portions of the US electorate as well as the world’s population. People either outright despise the US President or feel compelled to defend his most outrageous assertions. Trump has managed to use his own brand of politics to transition from a politician capitalizing on partisan division to a force of division. He has also managed to test the limits of tolerance and the democratic culture of the United States. On the Left, which encompasses tolerance-loving progressives, there is no tolerance for Donald Trump. That is how hated he is. On the Right, this has inspired fairly valid accusations of hypocrisy, even if some of these critics do not themselves hold Donald Trump in the highest of regards. Their consensus is that angry liberals are too immature to accept dissent, which raises important questions about their commitment to democracy. If critics of Trump-haters would engage in a bit of self-reflection, however, the layers of hypocrisy on all sides and the implications to the democratic character of Anerica and the world would inspire a crucial public debate.
Where Trump has inspired so much vitriol among his detractors that his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has become a site of violent clashes and vandalism, the mere mention of Barack Obama or, worse yet, Hillary Clinton sends the Right into a fit of rage. Debates on the policy preferences of these political figures quickly devolve into series of name calling and other personal attacks against these people and the supporters of the policies. The Right fumes about the Left’s unwillingness to accept their “free market” policies on life-alternating issues like healthcare, social security, and jobs, but they react to the Left’s dissenting views with the same disdain. The Right cannot even compassionately react to the desperation of illegal immigrants, civilian causalities of US-involved conflicts, e.g. the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and the impoverished. Instead of calmly rejecting calls to embrace policies that they disagree with, they unleash a barrage of personal attacks to vilify those already suffering.
Although countless examples can be drawn from across the political spectrum, the widespread lack of civility and unwillingness to tolerate dissent from one’s personal views is obvious. Personal attacks, which include insults as well as other attempts to degrade other people, are either examples of individuals lashing out in response to their own emotional conflicts or projecting their negative feelings onto others. Either way, they are the actions of people relying on immature psychological defense mechanisms to cope with their inability to resolve their own emotional reactions to particular situations. In other words, personal attacks demonstrate the immaturity of people who are reacting emotionally to situations. When People react to public debates based on their emotional states, unfortunately, intellectual engagement becomes impossible. Without civility and well-reasoned exchanges, public policy debates cannot be used to resolve differences over conflicting interests and views.
Frankly, democracy requires civil engagement and actual debate. Civil engagement and debate, in turn, require intellectual responses to unsavory facts and dissenting view points. If people are too busy being angry at each other, they cannot think nor debate. Instead of criticizing the merits of a policy or confronting the shortcomings of a solution, emotionally-fueled debaters simply agitate each other and those around them into a state of hysteria, even if they manage to unleash a barrage of facts, logic, and opinions. To put aside their emotions, people need to be mature enough to intellectually engage emotionally upsetting situations. Despite the fact that Americans are well-educated and living in an age of advanced technology, the lack of emotional restraint and maturity on public display demonstrates an inability of most people to respond to contentious political issues in a thoughtful and constructive way. It would seem the American People have reached a point where they are too immature for democracy.
Using the United States as example, it is easy to see how other countries, which do not have democratic governments and cultures as developed as that of the US, are also struggling with civil engagement and the democratization process that is fueling protests and revolution around the world. The United States shows the world that education and technology alone cannot help societies overcome the human weaknesses, e.g. emotional immaturity, that undermine democratic nations. Based on the nature of man and current events, it is easy to conclude the American People are simply too immature for democracy. Democracy, therefore, cannot work due to the emotional immaturity shared by the whole of the human race. Like people, however, cultures do not develop in one direction. They tend to progress and regress.
As a whole, the American People have become terribly immature when it comes to engaging those with dissenting views. On the individual level, there will always be a certain segment of the population that will peak emotionally in an immature state. There will also be those who find they cannot cope with the emotional impact of upsetting situations, thus they will be unable to progress beyond their emotional reactions until they learn how to deal with emotionally overwhelming situations. Today, there is a new kind of politics, which seeks to agitate people to provoke emotional responses instead of constructive intellectual engagement, shaping public debate. As intellectual leaders and the general population learn how to constructively respond to this new kind of politics, the American culture will eventually start to become mature enough to handle democracy.
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