In Tucson, many are dead and injured as a result of a deranged man with a deranged message.
Let’s put aside the left blaming the right and whether it is foreseeable that a lunatic would do this. That conversation will get us nowhere and misses the point.
I think it is more worthwhile to wonder why politics is a bloodsport these days in a way that we haven’t seen since in perhaps a century.
Let’s think instead about how our politician are so invested in being right that they vilify the oppositional view and the integrity of its proponents. In 2008, when Michele Bachmann said that then candidate Barack Obama and Michele Obama were “anti-American” because they hold views different from hers, that is a code that our country is being infiltrated by enemies. Think about it, she said that the likely 44th President was the Manchurian Candidate of the movies. And in the movies, a lone gunman (the good guy) kills the Manchurian Candidate.
Then Sarah Palin has a website that has a target on Rep. Giffords’ district (“in the cross-hairs”) for some reason or other. Or the famous, Palinism: “don’t back down, just reload” or something like that. Words have meaning, even if you try afterward to refudiate them.
This is war-speak. And in war, enemies are killed, and our soldiers come home to heroes’ welcomes (ideally). But war produces body-bags, brutality, starvation, desperation and carnage.
Is that the fevered pitch we want in our national discourse? So, let us speak gently and with respect when we debate. Even if we have to fake it.
Let’s set some ground rules:
- A socialist and tea-party member can love this country and protect the very institutions of government that make us strong.
- It isn’t about being right; it is about building a consensus and keeping this country great.
- Political defeat is hard to take but you can’t take your marbles and go home or start threatening people.
- The media does more to stoke the divisions than provide any useful information.
- If our nation tacks to the left or right, some people will not be pleased, but they must always remain the loyal opposition. (It is hard; I know. I had to endure the policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney and even some of President Obama’s policies I don’t like).
- Exemplifying and practicing the principles of this nation are essential for this country to move forward in one piece and in peace.