The Atlantic

More Devoted to Order Than to Justice

Political moderates who counsel against confrontation and warn of incivility would abandon the tools that have changed America for the better.
Source: J. Scott Applewhite / AP / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

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,

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