American politics is today a brutal boxing match of harassing confrontations. The disagreements renew two enduring questions: one philosophical, one historical. Is political harassment civil? And do the ugly political confrontations signal a sharp departure, or have they always existed in the United States of America?
Moderates in both major political parties have long argued no on both fronts. Their political brand is unity. They pursue the absence of tension. That has meant avoiding confrontations through building political bridges high above the audible river of children crying in detention facilities, in police cars and cells, in abandoned schools, in abuse-infested homes, in rat-infested apartments, in searches for incarcerated and deported parents, in funeral homes over closed caskets, in plantation shacks after their first whipping, and in slave auctions fearing their new harassers.
These political moderates classify as uncivil those, like Donald Trump, who would toss children into those crying spaces. They classify as uncivil those, like Maxine Waters, who run down into those crying spaces and call for the all-out harassment of the harassers. They look down on both the Trumps and the Waters’ from the heights of their self-styled civility. They look down on those crying children—and their comatose or raging defenders—and counsel patience, preaching a religious belief in the American political process.