Politicuette: Political Etiquette

(Editorial from December 3, 2012 Waco Tribune-Herald, A6)

Let’s coin a word: “politicuette” (pronounced “politi-ket”), as in the overlap between politics and etiquette. The need arises because we live in a country in which slightly less than half of the country is dumbfounded that more than half of their neighbors elected whom they did for president. And where many who re-elected that president are astonished their neighbors voted as they did for senator or governor. We are too often reminded and too intermingled to pretend it is not so.

Etiquette has been defined as making others comfortable by the way we behave. Or rules for acting in a predictable and pleasant way that we would hope others would interact with us.  Politicuette is the same thing applied to our need to live peacefully with one another despite having very different views of what is best for the country.

A Supreme Court justice in a 1964 opinion said of the difficulty of defining pornography, “I know it when I see it.”  Politicuette, on the other hand, may be most easily defined by what it is not. I offer the following real-life examples based on what I have seen since the election.

Political politeness (it’s rude to mislabel it “political correctness”) is not:

* Flying a U.S. (or state) flag upside down, as if sending a distress signal.

* Writing in shoe polish on the back window of your car “Rest in Peace America” (or “Rest in Peace [fill in state name]”) above the date of the election.

* Urging that your state secede from the U.S. (or your city from your state).

* Promoting conspiracies that the candidate you dislike got elected for sinister reasons, rather than simply because more voters agreed with them than your candidate.

* Tweeting “Veterans should get an apology. Their efforts and sacrifices for their country — all for nothing.” (Yes, someone actually sent that to me.)

Our veterans died so we would have the freedom to vigorously debate these issues, host elections, then live with the results. Not so we could be what constitutional scholars describe in academic jargon as sore losers. Our national cemeteries are filled with liberals, conservatives and independents, all of whom gave their lives without first asking who would win future elections.

Realize that politicuette does not demand we be happy with losing. Appropriate responses to a candidate you consider a moron/crook/maniac who won a local, state or federal election include:

* Being depressed about the assumed future of the country/state/city and moping around until Jan. 1 of the year following the election.

* Quoting verses from the Bible or other religious book to your like-minded friends to suggest that this horrific tragedy must somehow be part of God’s greater plan.

* Turning off the news feed of your Facebook friends who are still gloating weeks later.

* Asking your like-minded friends about those not like-minded, “What were they thinking?”

* Leaving on a bumper sticker for your losing candidate until the next election cycle.

With these simple rules, we can lick our wounds and get on with the business of life. In the recent words of former first lady Barbara Bush: “People spoke. Move on, get on with it. I want to do other things and not to be ugly.”

No one likes a sore loser. So if you want to keep on losing, be one.

Many of my candidates lost, as did many others’ from the left, right and center. But I pledge to join you in dusting ourselves off, burying ill feelings and moving on. Then perhaps no one will have to be so rude as to tell us, “Hey, you, get over it already!”

David Schleicher is a business and employment-law attorney with offices in Waco, Houston and the Washington, D.C., area.

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