Values and the personalization of politics

America succeeds and prospers when her citizens get along with one another. And in a country where politics often ignites passion, getting along with one another means not digging too deeply into each other’s political views.

So, Americans consciously work at not letting how we vote affect our relationships. Its not always easy, but one thing that helps us keep the peace (and the republic) is a shared set of values that transcend politics.

We might have divergent views on taxation, education, healthcare, and foreign policy, but we unite around a core set of values rooted in our humanity – values like honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy. It’s these shared values that allows you to tolerate my politics, and me to tolerate yours.  

So, what’s changed in America? Why are we so quick to disregard that unspoken rule that keeps the personal and political separate?  

I suspect Trump supporters are saying to themselves, “I’m not acting any different than I’ve acted in the past, I’m simply voting for the republican candidate – why all this outrage?”  

And I agree with them, they’re not acting any differently than they have in the past.

What’s changed this time around is not you or me – it’s the president.

The president openly derides anyone who oppose him, he mocks and puts down people, he constantly pits Americans against one another, and he’s been a human wrecking ball to the long-held American values of “welcoming the stranger, dignity for all human beings, equality under the law, respect for dissent, and love of truth”.

Donald Trump is demonstrably mean, dishonest, and apathetic. He is the antithesis of the values that we assumed transcended politics and united us as Americans.

So, when I hear a colleague, a neighbor, or a Facebook friend vociferously support the President, I process that support as an indifference to the personal (not political) values that I hold strongly — honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy.

America’s never had to deal collectively with a leader like Trump. The personalization of politics we see in our country today comes from the jarring realization that honesty, decency, kindness, integrity, and empathy do not transcend politics for Trump supporters.  

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