The Prime Directive for all Americans

Despite how you feel about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, civility on both sides is still important (even if it’s hard), and is considered by experts on both sides to be necessary in order to get this country working again. But how do we get there? Brink Lindsey has a suggestion in his incredible two-part essay, “In Search of Civic Virtue.”

He labeled this civic virtue “The Prime Directive,” which for you non-Star Trek fans means that it’s really, really important. 

Are you sitting down? Okay, here it is: Treat all your fellow citizens, regardless of their political views, as your civic and political equals.

My first reaction to this was “Arrgh. Are you kidding me? No way!” (Imagine me rattling the bars of a cell, yelling in protest.)

But Lindsey makes his case well…

To condemn someone solely on the basis of their beliefs, while ignoring everything good about them, is disproportionate and narrow-minded. We cannot be good citizens by being unfair to each other…

…Disrespect for people with different political views should be condemned and stigmatized in the same way and for the same reasons that open avowals of religion and racial bigotry are condemned and stigmatized.

Reading this was a little like being slapped in the face. He’s saying that people who refuse to accept or tolerate others because of their race are racial bigots. That’s bad. People who refuse to accept or tolerate others because of their religion are religious bigots. Also bad. When we do the same thing to each other because of politics? Also bad.

Treat all your fellow citizens, regardless of their political views, as your civic and political equals.

I’m guessing this doesn’t apply just when we are face to face, but is something we should keep in mind all of the time.







2 thoughts on “The Prime Directive for all Americans”

  1. Wow, treat with respect is hard when they are shouting lies and propaganda at the top of their lungs. I can’t even watch Tucker Carlson and look at his followers without wondering where their brain is. I try, just to keep the family together, but it IS HARD

    • Yeah, some people at the extremes are beyond reasoning with. But there must be some people willing to try. In fact, there are now a number of organizations with the sole purpose of helping us talk with one another, such as Braver Angels. I should share that list one of these days. The key is not to try to persuade people to change their minds, but just to listen to each other.


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The Big Pivot

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After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.

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Catherine Friend is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.