Alas, the 2012 election season already looks unpleasant and contentious… and we have ten more months to go. So… here’s my policy, which I hope that others will adopt too.
I’m happy to be friendly with people who support and advocate candidates that I regard as unworthy of my vote. Politics is extremely difficult, even if you’ve got all the proper principles in place. So I expect that I’ll differ in my judgments from many people that I like and respect. That’s okay. I hope that we can discuss our differences in a friendly way, and perhaps learn something as a result.
However, if you accuse me of dishonesty, call me names, or otherwise behave in an uncivilized fashion simply because I disagree with you, then I will be perfectly happy to never have anything to do with you again. I will un-friend you on Facebook, I will un-follow you on Twitter, and I will ban you from these blog comments — without hesitation. That crosses a line for me, and I’m just not going to tolerate it.
Unfortunately, this kind of ridiculous behavior seems to be the particular modus operandi of some (but not all) Ron Paul supporters. Honestly, even if he were an excellent candidate, without the baggage of those disgustingly racist and homophobic newsletters, the uncivilized belligerence of so many of his supporters would make him unelectable. Such people would do him a huge favor if they’d make some attempt at civilized discourse, rather than launching into personal attacks.
So when you feel that rush of burning anger in an online political discussion with friends and allies, please step back from the keyboard for a few minutes to focus on the broader context. I’ll try to do the same — and if I don’t, please remind me (in a friendly way) to remain friendly. Just those few seconds could do all of us a world of good!