Lower the Temperature

First, a Trump-loving Florida Man sends pipebombs (functional or not) to variety of Democratic politicians and media figures. Yesterday, a Trump-hating anti-Semite murdered 11 people in a synagogue during a bris.

While I’m sure that there will be all sorts of recommendations for how to prevent future tragedies, I’m going to repeat an observation and a prescription I’ve made here more than once. The observation is that in a country of 330 million people there are always going to be a certain number of crazy people and it doesn’t take much to set them off.

The prescription is lower the temperature and it’s addressed to people writing on social media, people writing for major news outlets, politicians, and, particularly, President Trump. Lower the temperature. Express disagreement without rancor, your concerns without heat. Whipping up the crowd may be an effective way of motivating your supporters but it also has consequences you may not foresee.

Representative democracy depends on moderation and reasoned discourse. Enraged followers doth not a democracy make but a mobocracy and mobs have dynamics all their own.

Years ago I heard a wisecrack that in California a political party was two people and a television set. Now that’s all over the country and it’s one person posting on Facebook. Tone it down just as a matter of self-defense.

11 comments… add one
  • walt moffett

    unfortunately, elections are right around the corner, media companies are struggling for ad dollars, chattering heads need readers, bearings are getting scorched and spun. Not optimistic for peace on earth good will to men etc.

  • Not optimistic for peace on earth good will to men etc.

    I think the objective is something short of “peace on earth, etc.”. I’d be satisfied with not calling for your supporters to harass (or worse) you opponents.

  • steve

    I think this has to start with the leadership and at the top. If Trump can’t cool it then nothing anyone else does will make any difference.

    Not sure about the synagogue shooter, but sounds like he was a member of the alt-right, the same folks who killed someone in Charlottesville. The amount of hatred by that group towards jews has been very much under-reported I think. The stuff they sent to prominent Jews on the right who took positions they didn’t like was pretty toxic and was also aimed at family. At some level I don’t find this shooting all that surprising.

    Steve

  • If Trump can’t cool it then nothing anyone else does will make any difference.

    I agree that Trump needs to “cool it”. I don’t agree with the implication that if Trump continues with his harsh rhetoric then others have a need or even an obligation to do so as well. Two wrongs still don’t make a right. If you want to change the behavior of others, you start with your own. Model the behavior you wish to see in others. Demand that even those with whom you agree do so as well.

  • Ben Wolf

    Trump’s followers are inherent authoritarians. They’ll do what he does.

  • steve

    I am not implying that others have a need or obligation, I am saying that if he does not stop his followers won’t stop. If they don’t stop, the opposition won’t stop. In short, leadership matters. You are ignoring human nature.

    Steve

  • Guarneri

    Seems to me you have all fallen into the same trap, attributing or rationalizing the actions of one individual or group to the actions or rhetoric of another. Any competent mental health professional would call bullshit on that in a heartbeat.

    This is the faulty thinking pattern of many. My buddy pissed me off, so I screwed his wife. My boss or wife yells at me, so I drink or take drugs. The athlete in-crowd at school bullied me, so I shot up the place. The Jew banker wronged me, so Jews are bad and I shot them. And, of course, such and such politician said this or that, so I went and harassed or killed people. There are myriad excuses. There is only one commonality: my neurotic thinking pattern is not to blame, you made me do this. Bernie Sanders didn’t cause that nut job to shoot the Republican softball players. Trump didn’t cause Sayok to send pipe bombs. They did it because they are, charitably, disturbed people.

    As far as public discourse, if I was you guys I’d simply make the argument that civility is the better way (which I think is where Dave was heading) and skip the attribution to authoritarians or alt-rights, and the thinly veiled implication that your disfavored politician is one and the same, or the cause.

    Trump should tamp down the “lock her up” stuff from his crowds. Personally, I think he should tamp down his press rhetoric. Not because its not true, far too many are as biased or dishonest as it comes and do a national disservice. But because the point has been made and it serves no purpose any longer. We’d be better off. But I ask, who is going to tamp down Schumer, Pelosi, Maxine, De Niro, Antifa, the pundits appearing on CNN and MSNBC, the NYT and their assassination fantasies etc etc. And now Obama. Who is going to do that? Do you really expect a change?

  • steve

    Drew- Didn’t say that Trump was the cause. What I said is that he is our elected leader. If he doesn’t change his behavior, then nothing much tis going to change. You talk like you have some inkling of leadership, but then I dont really know what you do. If you are just a smart finance guy who does the money stuff, but doesn’t really lead an organization, then maybe you dont really understand the importance of leadership, but even if you dont hold a leadership position yourself, from what you have said I would think you understand the importance of leadership in the companies you turn around. The leaders its the tone and makes things happen. If your leaders comes to work late everyday, hungover, then leaves after 2 hours, yes, everyone else in the corporation knows that is not good behavior and they shouldn’t do the same, but they will take liberties. They won’t work as hard as they should.

    Then you have to remember that Trump won by insulting people, advocating for violence and lauding it. By demonizing his opposition. Everyone copies the guy who won.

    Steve

  • Guarneri

    Steve

    I sit on the boards of all our companies. I have commented here a number of times about how the employees watch our every move when we are on site. So you can quit the thinly guised attempt to disqualify, a favorite tactic of yours.

    You miss the point entirely. Organized political opposition is different from crazed whackjob non-political behavior from personal accountability.

    As I said, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump are not responsible for mentally ill people with anti-Semitic or even anti-Republican sentiments. They don’t have the power to control deranged people and their horrific acts. More perfect rhetoric might be preferred, but its not causal.

    Organized political activism is a different animal. When Maxine Watters says resist and harass the opposition in public places, Obama says get in their faces, or Holder says kick them, they are directly inciting the politically actives to violence. If you are unable to understand the difference I can’t help you. You are in good company, though. Our media can’t tell either. And we know their motives.

  • steve

    And you are unable to see the effects of your leader telling your people that Democrats are stupid, evil and hate the country. You refuse to acknowledge that his cheering on violence on your side has the effect of building anger and hate. You take the oh so convenient claim that people on my team committing violence must be mentally ill. (And it is absolutely pathetic that you think he meant to literally kick anyone. And Obama gave specific examples of what he meant by “getting in the face”. At least be honest.)

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/obama-fires-democrats-argue-face-article-1.323400

    Steve

  • Andy

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