Can’t we all just get along?

Have you heard of Rodney King? He was brutally beaten by the LA Police Department in 1991, and the acquittal of the police officers the next year led to six days of rioting in LA. Sixty-three people were killed and more than 2000 injured because of the riots. Rodney King appeared on TV during the riots and gave an oft-quoted, impassioned speech in which he said,

“I just want to say – you know – can we all get along? Can we, can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?… it’s just not right – it’s not right. And it’s not going to change anything. …And, just, uh, I love – I’m neutral, I love every – I love people of color. I’m not like they’re making me out to be. We’ve got to quit – we’ve got to quit; I mean after-all, I could understand the first – upset for the first two hours after the verdict, but to go on, to keep going on like this and to see the security guard shot on the ground – it’s just not right; it’s just not right, because those people will never go home to their families again. And uh, I mean please, we can, we can get along here. We all can get along – we just gotta, we gotta.”

King’s speech, which you can watch in part here, was very touching for me the first time I watched it. It is — dare I say it — almost Christ-like in its deep desire for people to love rather than hate.

I’ve been thinking about that phrase — “can we all get along” (which popular culture has often expressed as “can’t we all just get along?”) — a lot lately. This is the message that modern-day prophets express in almost every talk they give. This is the message that all Christians should impart, especially in these very tense times of national tumult over politics.

So, in that spirit, I would like to try in this post to help people on both sides understand the position of the other side a bit. Perhaps if we stop seeing one “side” (ie, Democrats/liberals/progressives/democratic socialists vs Republicans/right-leaning libertarians/conservatives) as evil, we can turn down the political temperature just a bit.

First, I would like to speak to Republicans/Trump supporters/conservatives, etc. I write this on the day that we found out that an alleged Trump supporter sent bombs to many leading Democrats and Trump critics. Yes, a lot of the reaction to this situation was over the top. But the bottom line is that (allegedly) a fervent Trump supporter was promoting domestic terrorism. Democrats/progressives, etc are correct to be worried about this situation. Let’s have some empathy for them.

This one guy (whose name is Cesar Altier Sayoc) is primarily responsible for his own actions. But it is simply an undeniable fact that Trump during the campaign and in some cases after the campaign encouraged violence. Many Trump supporters I know say that in context it was mostly a joke. I don’t buy it. When you actually watch the videos, it is clear to me that Trump is not joking.

When the media and the left say that Trump stirs up violence, they are not completely wrong. Yes, the media is incredibly biased, and, yes, once again, the media exaggerates the problem. But any fair person must admit that Trump has helped create *some* of the political tension that exists in America. I would like to repeat that Trump is not responsible for Sayoc going out and creating bombs. Sayoc is responsible for his own actions. But public figures do have a responsibility for the things they say, and it is simply a fact that Trump very often speaks in aggressive and divisive ways.

I have Trump supporter friends who believe the left is responsible for *all* of the harassment of public figures going on right now. To those people, I would ask you to watch this video of Republicans and Trump supporters harassing Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats in South Florida. (WARNING: the video has lots of bad language). So, again, to provide some balance, there are Republicans and Trump supporters harassing Democratic public officials out there, and some of it is very ugly.

Lastly, the alt right has done Trump absolutely no favors through their racist and hateful rhetoric. If you have never seen this video of white supremacist Richard Spencer shouting “Hail Trump” and speaking in ways that show sympathy to actual Nazis, I defy you to watch it and not be alarmed. No, Trump is not “literally Hitler,” and claiming such a thing is incredibly stupid. But how are Americans supposed to react to a room filled with white supremacists treating Trump as if he IS a Hitlerian figure? (And to be fair to Trump, he has condemned and disavowed white supremacists multiple times).

So, to sum up: I would ask Trump supporters/Republicans/conservatives to show some sympathy and kindness to people on the left, especially today. I would ask them to acknowledge that people on “their side” are not perfect (far from it). Please try to understand why people on the left are so upset about our current political situation.

Ok, now I am going to speak to any readers who are leftists/progressives/liberals/social democrats/Democrats. And the more I think about it, I think this message may also apply to anti-Trump Republicans. The primary message I would like to convey here is that Trump is the result of many unaddressed problems in politics and society. If you do not acknowledge that these problems exist, other, future presidents will be just like Trump. And I see no awareness on the part of Trump haters that any of these problems should be addressed.

The primary problem is this: there is a huge difference culturally and politically between “traditional middle American values” and “Coastal elite values.” Trump has had an uncanny ability to appeal to the people who hold up “traditional middle American values.” I live in rural Colorado, and I can tell you that many of my friends feel that Trump is speaking directly to them.

Here is how these people feel: 1)Coastal elites constantly disparage and mock middle Americans. 2)Coastal elites don’t care about industries that are important to middle America, including farming, manufacturing and energy production. These industries provide millions of jobs, but coastal elites seem to think that all Americans should be able to find jobs at Google or on Wall Street. 3)Coastal elites are not as likely to be church-going people and often mock people of faith. 4)Coastal elites promote Hollywood values in the entertainment and media industries that, frankly, many middle Americans believe are destroying the country. 5)Coastal elites promote crony capitalism and big government without concern for the many owners of small businesses who are often forced into bankruptcy by regulations and taxes.

There is one more important point: many Middle Americans who are Republicans or Trump supporters are very turned off by the environment on campuses and the political activity of groups like Antifa. They find Antifa just as alarming as the white supremacists saying “Hail Trump.” (And all people should be alarmed by Antifa — take a look at this video). It is also worth pointing out that Trump supporters were often attacked during the campaign simply for trying to go to one of the candidate’s rallies. Check out this video.

Meanwhile, the left has a LONG history of accusing any Republican of being a “Nazi.” I can remember when Reagan was called a Nazi in the 1980s, then the first Bush was called a Nazi, then Dole was called a Nazi, then the second Bush was called a Nazi and then John McCain and Mitt Romney were called Nazis. If you are on the left, can you perhaps see that constantly calling Republicans “Nazis” has created a bit of a “little boy who called wolf” type of environment — people will simply stop taking you seriously. And middle Americans cannot help but notice that leftists always say they want “moderate Republicans,” but when the Republican party actually nominates “moderate Republicans” (ie, every Republican presidential candidate since Reagan except for Trump), the left declares that they all are Nazis.

And I must point this out: Republican presidential candidates since Reagan have either been losers, ineffective or have done very little to promote conservatism. Trump has been — in contrast — a winner who has overcome the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty while promoting a lot of conservative policies (and a lot of other policies that are not conservative, but that is a discussion for another day).

It is simply a fact that left-wing protesters, many of whom don’t appear to have actual jobs, are creating a mob environment. It is alarming to me that my left-wing friends seem to have forgotten that it was just in June 2017 that an armed Bernie Sanders supporter tried to kill many Republicans at a softball game. Steve Scalise was almost murdered but has recovered. We have seen dozens of cases of left-wing mobs surrounding conservatives or Republicans in restaurants and in other public venues (just as a right-wing mob harassed Nancy Pelosi). Try to put yourselves in the shoes of the spouse of a politician. You cannot go out in public because you fear for your life. Please consider that this kind of behavior is simply unacceptable, but yet we see people like Democratic rep. Maxine Waters encouraging it, and Hillary Clinton saying Democrats can only be civil if they win elections.

So, let’s have some empathy for conservatives and Republicans and traditional people from middle America: half of the country treats them like garbage and calls them “deplorables;” they suffer under big government that puts them out of business; they worry about a culture that is increasingly vulgar; and then when Republicans are elected they are constantly harassed, and the harassment even extends to their family members. And if you don’t understand why Republicans and conservatives were so upset about how Brett Kavanaugh was treated, perhaps we can have a discussion about that in the comments.

Jesus’ words are very appropriate right now:

Matthew 5:43-48

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

In other words, “can’t we all just get along?”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

4 thoughts on “Can’t we all just get along?

  1. Great post. It shows the deficits in both parties.

    However,, the only way for everyone to get along is a Libertarian solution. If big federal government goes away, it matters less what goes on in Congress or the White House.

    Let liberal cities and states do their thing, moderate places do their thing, and the same for places that promote conservatism, libertarianism, or even anarchism or socialism. Good local policies will grow successfully, while bad ideas will eventually fail.

    In this large country, there’s room for all ideas, if done locally, with a Fed that only guarantees localities to do their own thing.

  2. Well, Geoff, you have just put your left foot in a big pile of…poo, and your right foot too. All kidding aside, I had a nice lunch with a woman friend from law school who often posts left-leaning and sometimes downright hard left “memes” on Facebook. I commented that there were thoughtful people on the other side of that issue who see the situation differently. She said we should get together to lunch and talk about it. Of course, she knew from our law school study group that I have experience addressing complex and heated issues dispassionately. We had a nice lunch and spoke of many things. She is now a mother of two young boys and during our conversation said she was disillusioned at the whole career woman thing and found that most days she wants nothing more than to be home with her boys. (I imagine if she were home everyday with them she might long for a break!). She admitted she doesn’t necessarily study a lot of the issues she posts about but just passes on things based upon her particular mood. She is frightened by some things she doesn’t even understand. And so often speaks from fear.
    My point here is that I agree with much of your post. And to say that we really can–if we turn off the talking heads on tv–talk with many if not most people we disagree with in a civil and even enjoyable manner by recognizing and legitimizing their fear even if we disagree with how to address those fears with social/government solutions.

  3. I would argue that the “liberterian” solution is what allowed Washington to ignore the mobbing of a certain religious group in western Missouri circa 1838.

    There is a reason that Hamilton and others felt the need to press for some federal government.

    I concur that the current expectation (on the part of some) that federal solutions fit every problem is incorrect. However I can’t agree that local solutions are always better than federal solutions.

  4. I was shocked when I became involved in local politics (Provo) several years ago and found that socialist style government had become popular. I suspect that the denial of my application for a building permit, which was denied on the basis that my carport was one inch too close to my neighbor’s property line, was motivated by my stance on zoning. Trump is an example of a leader who gives ‘the people’ what they want. Such a leadership style can lead to disaster. But as the Book of Mormon warns, the people who control who holds power get what they deserve. The coastal Elites, including the main stream media and those who control social media, want to give us what they think we need. I trust the general populace more than I trust the Elites in our current situation. Abortion, unlimited immigration, encouragement of amoral stances on many important issues, encouragement of intersectionalism and rank disdain for common sense seem to be hallmarks of the left.

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