Saturday, February 5, 2011

Improved political civility begins at the grassroots level

Even casual observers understand that the political rhetoric in our country is often heated and full of cheap shots.

In the aftermath of the shootings in Arizona that injured a congresswoman, there have been calls to tone down the noise. Why was this done?

In the hours after the shooting, some thought that the howling that passes for debate these days may have played a role in the crime. Since then, these thoughts have been debunked somewhat when it became apparent that the alleged assassin has mental issues.

Because of this, I think the idea that political rhetoric played any role in this incident is wrong.

However, this should not cause us to pull back from the issue of the nasty political debates we hear. To his credit, President Obama has made impressive statements for both Democrats and Republicans to tone it down.

Has that happened? The results have been mixed so far. At the State of the Union speech last week, some members of both parties sat together as a show of unity.

On the negative side, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee evoked the Holocaust when describing Republican tactics during the recent Obamacare debates. Cohen, who is Jewish, showed insensitivity toward one of the worst crimes in human history just to make a political point. Disturbing.

A question we must ask ourselves is: Where does all this inflammatory debate come from? There has to be a source for all of this, right?

While it is easy to pile on and blame only our leaders for this, all Americans need to look in the mirror when assessing guilt. After all, is not our government a reflection of the people who put them in office?

We get the government we deserve. Whether we like it or not, we must admit that our society lacks civility a lot of the time.

Take it from somebody who worked in the customer service industry for several years, people can be ruthless and rude over minor issues. While I agree that customers have to stand up for themselves against big companies, there is a segment of our country that has a lust for confrontation.

While in that industry, I was called just about every name in the book and was consistently threatened. Does that sound that much different from what we hear in Washington?

Many people do not think twice about getting in the face of others. This frequently happens while driving.

Recently, I had another driver get mad at me for merging too slowly onto the interstate. It was during the middle of the afternoon rush hour in Nashville, and the guy behind me was practically having a seizure because he could not get on the road five seconds sooner.

Sorry fellow drivers, but hitting the interstate going 70 miles per hour during rush hour is not realistic. Grow up and develop some patience.

The lack of civility bleeds over to our entertainment as well. A lot of so-called 'reality' television depends on confrontation. Humiliation and embarrassment are key ingredients in this type of entertainment.

The bottom line is that we need to clean up our act if we really want improvement in how our politicians interact with each other.

Maybe I am a naïve dolt, but I believe the Golden Rule still has a place in our society. It is not always easy to treat others like we want to be treated. However, we must sometimes do things because they are difficult.

By definition, life is not always easy, but we are guilty of taking the easy way out too often when it comes to dealing with others.

Reader, it is up to you how you will handle this. But remember: your children are watching.


Ten Irish said...

Not too long ago, I was talking with some friends over lunch when the subject of the wiki-leaker came up and that led to the pentagon papers. In expressing my disgust at the way LBJ lied to the American people about his plans for sending troops to Vietnam (while running for president in 1964) I said "may he burn in hell." I've said it at least once before under similar circumstances and knew better that time as well. I repented both times, and I feel pretty bad about saying things like that. I don't think there will be a third time.

Anonymous said...