3 May 2017: Adversity creates more public involvement

In a recent Denver Post column, former Denver Broncos star and Post columnist Reggie Rivers wrote about why, after being reached out to by the Post, he decided not to return on a regular basis.

The gist of Rivers’ rationale is his frustration and apparent exasperation about where we are, what we’ve become as a society. He points to losses of friends because of polar opposite views on Donald Trump, whom Rivers not only opposes politically but also disdains due to Trump’s values, attitudes, and admitted—bragged about—salacious behaviors like grabbing women, as Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker recently phrased it, “by their nethers.”

Rivers notes how Trump supporters divide into two camps: Those that disregard his buffoonery and instability because they’re dedicated to having a Republican, regardless of character, presidency and those that hold Trump’s same contemptible attitudes, whom Jesus nailed when he said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:20, KJV)

It’s quite clear about the moral fiber of Rivers’ former friends: Trump did not lead them astray; he merely validated that which they already held in their hearts—sexist, supremacist, classist, homophobic or other contemptible values and attitudes inimical to a free and open democratic society—thereby empowering them. Good riddance.

In days of yore, and perhaps I am pining for a fabled past as conservatives are wont to do, the emotional outcome of unresolved political exchanges often fell into the frustration range. Merriam-Webster defines frustrate as “to induce feelings of discouragement in.” So, while one might have been discouraged about political sparring partners’ positions and their intransigence, those weren’t enough to quit speaking to them or take hostile action. It just made politics, along with religion, a dinner party taboo.

Merriam-Webster defines exasperate as “to excite the anger of; to cause irritation or annoyance to.” Thus, exasperation extends beyond frustration by inducing anger, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Accordingly, it seems we have moved past frustration to exasperation with our political opponents to the point we quit speaking, come to loathe, or even take hostile action, all inimical, if not lethal, to a vibrant democracy.

Unexercised rights are like unexercised muscles: They atrophy. What’s the point in having legs if one never uses them? While neither frustrated nor exasperated by Rivers’ decision, I am disappointed and concerned with his rationale. More than having the right to speak out, we have the duty. It comes with the territory of living in a democracy. The first three words of the Constitution read, “We the People.” That’s you and me with no R, D, or other qualifier.

Despite the regressive trajectory we’re on, there is reason to be optimistic, evidence of a current of renewed citizenship, signs indicating a revival of democracy. Trump’s election has jarred erstwhile complacent citizens, spurring them to action. Witness the non-violent public demonstrations—right to assembly—beginning with the Women’s March in January. More recent, there were those for science, the climate, and honesty and transparency by demanding Trump come clean by releasing his income taxes, which, by the way, will never happen.

Of more immediate evidence is the uptick in the well-written letters in the Courant and the level of activism by Clear Creek citizens as witnessed by the numbers carpooling to the marches and coming together in local social-political gatherings, such as the Drinking Liberally at the Vintage Moose the first Wednesday of the month. Small-town Americans acting locally to impact nationally and globally. Gotta love it!

Active participation in the democratic process, though, is more than about fulfilling a duty; it helps complete the person. Active involvement in the affairs of one’s community helps move the individual beyond base survival needs to higher level aspects. Libertarian idealism—solitary man—is farcical. Humans are communal, co-dependent for survival and success.

So, let your face be seen and voice heard. Remind the rightwing putsch the heat is on—and not just about climate change—and you have them by their nethers. Like Donald, they’re very thin-skinned.

Something to chew on: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. – Arthur Schopenhauer

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