The fury that’s blazed since Donald Trump started running for president has lit up one of the big divides in politics: opponents vs. enemies.
Opponents vilify each other’s viewpoints, attack each other’s methods and practices, and fight publicly and secretly to ruin each other’s plans. But they can also acknowledge each other’s sincerity, respect each other’s abilities, agree on compromises, and even enjoy a drink or a party together.
Enemies find it disgusting to compromise with people on the other side, much less socialize with them. For enemies, playing politics in a gentlemanly or ladylike manner — as if issues like war, policing, health care, and environmental pollution, which literally kill people, matter only as much as a round of polo — is obscene. The other side isn’t just wrong but also evil, and our side must not merely defeat it but destroy it.
Ronald Reagan had opponents; Donald Trump has (and makes) enemies.
I prefer being an opponent, but that’s just me. I enjoy a good debate but shy away when matters get mean.
(Where credit is due: If memory serves, I’ve borrowed the opponents-vs.-enemies distinction from Marvin Olasky, a communist turned Christian conservative. My thanks to Mr. Olasky, whom I consider an opponent.)