The opportunity exists, in the midst of a Trump-incited plunge toward base vulgarity, for a renaissance of decency and decorum. The opportunity exists for a return to standards of behavior that value humanity and compassion. Key to seizing that opportunity is a demand by the broader citizenry, beyond the partisan divides of Washington, that public discourse return to civil debate as opposed to arguments in which flinging contemptuous slurs are used to counter opponents’ views.

Once we make clear that our representatives—regardless of party or position or place in the hierarchy of local, state, or national governments—will be punished by removal for engaging in behavior unbecoming a civil human being, decency and decorum will return to both politics and the public arena. I feel sure of it. Just as Trump and his zealots lowered the standards of civil discourse (as did those of his opponents who behave in the same way) and damaged the social order, the popular insistence on civility’s return will help restore pride in propriety and truth.

I witness the degradation of common decency on the right and the left as I read and hear Democrats and Republicans and Independents denounce individuals instead of ideas. And I understand; so many of the ideas advanced by individuals across the political spectrum are so offensive that one cannot help but question the humanity of the people advancing them. But that must stop if we have any hope of recovering the compassion we, as a society, had not so very long ago. That compassion is what kept our society afloat during trying times; without it, obstacles and challenges will lead to our demise.

We need, desperately, to strive toward a renaissance of decency. Someone of national stature to lead the effort would help immensely, but followers will be required, too. At this hour on this day, the name of such a leader does not come to mind. The absence of a name is disheartening; perhaps a renaissance is too much to hope for.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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