As we follow public and private discourse post-Roe, it is clear that people are being shamed into silence or only give their opinions when they know the audience shares their views.
We argue that being silent or only speaking up in our echo chambers is dangerous. Doing so creates "yes men" or "partisan instigators."
Allow us to unpack our theory and define these two dangerous types of social communicators.
The Yes man or woman is someone who nods or professes to agree with people when any slightly controversial political or policy issue arises. They assume it is better to nod and smile rather than be a dissenting voice and possibly stir up controversy. However, these "yes people" are making a faulty assumption. They assume that friction or arguments will ensue simply by raising objections to the opinions being shared.
Admittedly, we have experienced heated debates by raising objections to opinions we did not support. But those occasions are infrequent. More often, we end up knee-deep in rich dialogue with friends, family and occasionally perfect strangers.
The bottom line is that we refuse to nod and smile and leave the false impression that we support issues or condone behaviors that we do not support or condone.
We are not going to smile and nod our way through a serious or light-hearted conversation that celebrates abortion, homosexuality, redefining genders, calling mothers birthing people, overtaxing the middle class, redistributing the wealth of the uber-rich, socialism, big government, defunding the police, erosion of parental rights, spitting on the American flag, mixing mint and chocolate, the Cowboys as America's football team and the list goes on.
We don't have to be nod and pretend to agree on these issues because, for us, agreeing with each other's politics, economics and sexual orientation is not a requirement of friendship. Because of this, some of the people we love and respect most happen to be democrats, socialists and gay. They no more require that we nod and agree with them than we require that they nod and agree with us. That is a good thing.
The second kind of social communicator lives in an echo chamber and communicates in great extremes. Perhaps being black Republicans has given us a keen understanding of the importance of not living in echo chambers. Living in an echo chamber makes it easy to become a partisan instigator.
You have heard them. They speak in sweeping generalizations. "Republicans don't care about poor people." "Democrats hate America." If you are ever in the room with a partisan instigator, we implore you to challenge them. Challenge them with decorum and respect. But these types of wrong-minded statements fuel mistrust and division.
When we hear Republicans talking about how Democrats hate America, we think about the men and women in our family who have suited up and sacrificed to wear our nation's colors. To the number, every single one is a Democrat.
When we hear Democrats talking about how Republicans hate poor people, we think about Republican organizations and individuals who are, as we type this, living sacrificially so they can financially bless those in need.
If you don't know a partisan instigator, chances are, you are a partisan instigator. This is a test. When you talk politics, will you say the same thing in a room full of Democrats that you will say in a room full of Republicans?
At least once a month, we discover that we have been unfriended on social media because of our politics. Not because we spoke harshly or gave false information, but simply because we spoke. The danger in this behavior is that it makes people either afraid to speak out or only speak out in their echo chamber. We argue that neither scenario is not good for a vibrant democracy.