“It’s common knowledge that politics in America are quite polarized. No longer do politicians pretend to want to solve social problems with social policy. Interactions between politicians are characterized by ad hominem attacks. Politicians seem to mimic the personalized nature of bullying,” says the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) in its 2014 instant poll. No truer are these words than with the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath.
Some oppose WBI’s comparisons, asserting that WBI should stick to workplace bullying and stay out of politics. But is politics really a different field of employment? When NFL player Jonathan Martin called his professional football team an “abusive work environment,” was the NFL exempt from responsibility for employee harm, even though the NFL itself defined its locker room as a workplace where discrimination laws apply?
When the WBI asked 307 bullied targets and witnesses if bullying by politicians of politicians or citizens is as harmful as workplace bullying, 87 percent of respondents said yes, always. In other words, “the community of bullied targets does not grant exemptions easily…. Bullying and abuse are the same regardless of venue,” says the WBI, even though some say that “politics is a special type of workplace, immune from social codes and restrictions that apply to everyone else.“