Just about everywhere in society today we now hear something about being “tolerant” or making sure that everyone is “equal.” The ideas of tolerance and equality are not in theory bad ideas; as a matter of fact they are basic morals that should be followed. If you or I walk down the street and pass a total stranger we should not think they have fewer rights than we do, and when we’re having a discussion with wide varieties of opinions we should know enough to listen to and accept other opinions. We do not have to agree, but simple respect is not too much to ask for.
Although these are not new ideas, in the realm of politics these are ideas we hear more often from liberals. This is not to say conservatives don’t believe in these ideas, we just tend to practice them more than we preach them. Let me be clear, no human being is perfect, and no side is perfect, both liberals and conservatives are guilty of treating others unequal and being intolerant, but recently I’ve seen it more amongst liberals than conservatives, allow me to demonstrate.
On March 5, 2015, a Freshman Senator from Arkansas named Tom Cotton wrote and sent a letter to the government of Iran detailing his opposition to a potential agreement between Iran and the United States regarding Iran’s nuclear programs. Senator Cotton was not alone, as 46 other Senators signed this letter in support. Just a few days before, these Senators had heard Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak to Congress about the Iran deal, where he explained why he felt it threatened his nation, his people and the rest of the world. Neither the Prime Minister’s speech, nor the Senator’s letter laid out any new or controversial idea. They simply stated facts.
In this letter, which was less than a page, Senator Cotton stated that the deal between Iran and the United States that was currently being negotiated would not stand as the current Senate would not ratify it. He also stated if the President chooses to ignore the Senate; the next President would likely negate the deal anyway in 2017. For this, Senator Cotton and the others who signed the letter are now being called “traitors” and told they should be prosecuted under the Logan Act. The Logan Act states citizens “without authority of the United States” shall not influence conduct with foreign governments.
First of all I would like to point out the flaws in the “traitor” and Logan Act arguments. The line quoted about of the Logan Act discusses authority of the United States. Well, the United States Senate does have authority to engage in foreign relations, inadvertently, through three measures. The first is that Senators are elected by the people to represent the United States of America, the second is through committees such as foreign affairs and the subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade. The third is the most clear cut, as it comes from the Constitution itself. Article II, Section II, Clause II of the Constitution states the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…” Under International Law, the agreement President Obama would be making with Iran would be considered a treaty, it therefore would need to be ratified by the Senate according to the Constitution. These three points make the “traitor” argument, invalid.
Let’s look at another point of the “traitor” argument though. The United States Constitution allows for freedom of speech and freedom of expression for all, and that still applies to Senators whether we agree with them or not. Senator Cotton did not threaten anyone in the letter; he was simply expressing his views and the views of many others. Since when did that become treason? As far as I know, it has NOT become treason, and letters are still covered under freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Besides the traitor argument being thrown around, those who are defending Senator Cotton and the 46 others are being attacked by the left as well. In the past few days, I have seen myself and others like me called names such as “right wing nutjob, right wing troll, ignorant, traitor, douche, retard, and stupid.” I have been told to “return to my civics class” and that I am “being paid to spite the President.” Our crimes? Saying “Thank you Senator Cotton for standing up for our country!” I wasn’t aware that was such a radical thing to say. This is not equality. This is not tolerance.
This is a problem that I have only seen consistently grow over the past few years. Is some of it to be expected? Unfortunately, yes, but it is uncalled for, unnecessary and ridiculous. No one should be insulted for their viewpoints, whether they are liberal or conservative. Our nation was founded on the idea of being able to speak freely and debate the issues. Being able to provide a different viewpoint is what helps move our society forward. The intolerance that is being shown by people who take to insults during debates moves our society backwards, not forwards. Senator Cotton is not a traitor, I am not a right wing troll, and no, President Obama is not a Muslim terrorist bent on destroying the United States.
The point of my above statement is this, instead of spending time trying to insult each other for having opposing views, why don’t we take the time to listen to what others are saying, whether we agree or not. Many Americans would agree a problem with politics today is the nastiness and negativity. Only civil discourse will allow us to progress as a society and triumph over evil, not insults and teardowns.
My proposal is this, let’s start listening to each other and having civil debate instead of tearing each other down. Maybe then will we be able to have more people participate and pay attention, and then get somewhere with our debates.