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Kalivianakis: Political culture festering with hate is unacceptable


I recently penned two letters regarding how “aggressive politics are infecting our small towns” and “the impact of PACs on government.” Both pieces suggested that the process hurts innocent constituents. 

Recently, a longtime realtor and Fountain Hills resident hurriedly and inadvertently placed an open house sign close to a campaign sign. The supporters of that candidate immediately pounced. They posted photos of the offending real estate sign on Facebook and people began viciously insulting the realtor, calling for a boycott and rallying readers to help put her out of business.

Did anyone ask her to move the sign? No, they just mistakenly assumed this was a politically-driven act and metaphorically found her guilty of election tampering – a capital offense during campaign season. 

The realtor had unwittingly stumbled into a minefield; not just a sign-friendly roadside stretch, but a campaign warzone where the goal is power. And people often suspend civility and manners for money or power. The realtor, like many innocent victims during U.S. elections everywhere, was collateral damage. Like protesters blocking a busy thoroughfare, political activists suspend social etiquette norms and punish everyday non-political people who hold no sway on the issue and are just trying to live their lives. The same extremists regard this as an acceptable sacrifice for a greater good…Getting their guy elected at all costs. 

After she posted a heartbreaking message with a prepared apology reminiscent of a hostage video (and promised to vote “correctly”), the online assault was called off. But the harm was done and another victim of political toxicity in small-town politics was left to wonder how her life was so abruptly turned upside down. 

Cultivating or accepting a political culture festering with hate and vitriol is unacceptable. Let's live our lives with compassion, kindness, humility and patience.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.