Volcanic Ash: Politics of shutting up must also involve listening
The only way America returns to achieving great things is if principled people across the divide shelve the antagonism and find a way to work together again. Maybe we all need to shut up once in awhile and just listen.
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A few years ago I wrote a joke about EMILY’s List, a political action committee that finances women running against men — even men with impeccable records of supporting women and their rights.
The punchline was: “When men behave like this it’s called male chauvinism; with women it’s called,
‘Shut up, I’m always right.’”
When I recently came across this long-forgotten item, I was struck by how much more vitriolic the political climate has become five years later and wondered if I would still go there today.
Then Hawaii U.S. Sen.
Mazie Hirono did go there in the Supreme Court nomination fight over Brett Kavanaugh, who is accused by a California professor of sexual assault when they were teenagers.
Hirono declared: “I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing, for a change.”
Facing blowback, she
doubled down: “For the men who are offended by this, you should ask yourself: Why are you offended by this? Why don’t you ask yourself: What about this
Seeing my old joke come to life in national headlines left me more taken aback than offended, but Hirono’s question is reasonable and I’ll take a stab at answering.
I respect her for speaking out and tend to agree Kavanaugh is a poor choice for the court. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations are sufficiently credible to warrant reopening his background investigation.
What bothers me is that the politically loaded generalities Hirono hurled are grossly ineffective at changing minds; accusing the entire male gender — many of whom are her allies — of
seldom doing the right thing inflames more than persuades, especially when she so readily lets women off the hook.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have so far stuck with their male GOP counterparts in holding the 51-49 party line behind Kavanaugh instead of insisting the president find a nominee not accused of sexual assault.
Where is Hirono’s public admonishment of them? Just because they’re women doesn’t make them more
responsible than the men for doing what Hirono considers “the right thing,” but surely they’re equally as
The crippling tribalism that has our nation on the road to ruin certainly didn’t start with Hirono; the other tribes are as cutthroat, if not more so.
But we need leadership that seeks ways out of the poisonous politics instead of dragging us deeper in.
Incendiary pronouncements that stoke tribal fury bring celebrity among the faithful, but how do they move our country forward?
The only way America
returns to achieving great things is if principled people across the divide shelve the antagonism and find a way to work together again.
Maybe we all need to shut up once in awhile and just listen.