Flinn on shooting: Despite our deep differences, we’re all still part of the American family

Mindy Flinn

Wednesday’s shooting attack in Washington is a terrifying reminder of the dangers of extremism in all forms. I am praying for the injured and their families. I am grateful for the brave Capitol Police officers who stopped the attack—and to those others who provided life-saving first aid to the injured.

For a brief yet encouraging moment yesterday, both sides came together:

Speaker Ryan
“…there is one image in particular that this House should keep. And that is a photo I saw of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning after hearing the news.”

Leader Pelosi
“On days like today, there are no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans united in our hopes and prayers for the wounded.”

But we know that, too often, this bipartisan civility is absent from our politics. An annual survey on civility in America recently found:

  • 79% of Americans say the presidential election was uncivil
  • 56% expect civility in America will get worse
  • 75% who expect civility to worsen blame politicians
  • 75% of Americans believe that incivility leads to less political engagement
  • 59% report that they quit paying attention to a political conversation because it became uncivil

It seems almost all of us have noticed a problem, but finding solutions will be much more challenging.

We each have a responsibility to be civil in everyday political conversations. This includes conversations online, where too often we feel emboldened by anonymity or the physical distance from others. Most of us are guilty of saying uncivil things on social networks that we would never say in person. Our political dialogue is simply too overheated.

But most of the responsibility here lies with politicians, political campaigns, and the media. While discussing the important issues of the day includes identifying and discussing disagreements — we must learn to properly characterize the scope and breadth of our differences.

Political debate is essential in pluralistic societies like ours. There are real differences in opinion — and many approaches to solve every major problem. We should debate these differences and consider multiple solutions. But we must remember to engage in these debates without demonizing others.

In light of yesterday’s events, it’s important that we all take a moment of reflection to consider our role in the political discourse. Remember that despite our often deep differences, we’re all still a part of the American family.

Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn founded Stand Up Republic to help Americans stand up in defense of the fundamental principles that have made this country the true home of liberty and a source of hope for many around the world.