Assigned Reading: How Our Government Makes ‘Civil Debate’ Impossible
(FROM: The Shakedown Crews)
[I]t is the government’s fault, clear and simple, that “discussion” has degraded into furious screaming matches. Democratic dialogue can only occur in an environment in which all sides can feel that they are being mutually respected, and in which the leaders who are answering to their constituents understand that A) they work for the people, not the other way around, and B) the information they provide is true, to the best of their knowledge.
But when government leaders have stated, on camera, a position that later they say they never said, and then accuse the citizens of “manufacturing” dissent and spreading “disinformation”—which implies they are lying—the government has alienated itself from the people it pretends to govern. It also has undermined the necessary conditions for “civilized debate”.
The concerned, patriotic, everyday Americans speaking out at town hall meetings have an awful lot of responsibility resting on their shoulders. Perhaps no burden is heavier than that of balancing growing frustration with the desire to maintain some modicum of civil discourse. After all, those of us on the right side of the political spectrum are different animals than our counterparts on the left. First, we shower occasionally. Second, we try to prevail with reason first, and volume second. Considering what we saw from the political left during most of George W. Bush’s presidency, I simply cannot say enough about my fellow countrymen (and women) on the right in that they have resisted the urge for violence, and largely have kept themselves under control.
Last night, I caught a clip on one of the cable shows of a man screaming so loud that it even made me a little uncomfortable. I caught myself saying “whoa there, buddy” and thinking that his point and question would have been better conveyed and asked if he could have toned things down a little bit. And it probably could have. Seconds later, though, remembering how angry I was at this time last night after reading Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer’s USA Today op-ed piece, I admonished myself for even questioning what I saw, even for a moment.
I don’t ever want to see the outrage over the ever-expanding federal government descend into chaos and violence. I think it would do harm to the cause for freedom and liberty. But what needs to be understood is exactly what has been conveyed by the gentleman running The Shakedown Crews, a Web blog I only became familiar with in the past few minutes, and one that I look forward to perusing at length when I finally stop procrastinating and get a school project done.
The Democrats have indeed changed the rules midstream. It’s frustrating, and I blame nobody for feeling that volume might make someone a little more receptive to common sense (when dealing with most liberals, however, I find it a lost cause). I just hope that we can safely lose our cool without losing our heads. The more reasoned we look, the more we convey our knowledge, our principles and, yes, our passion, the more we will get through to those who aren’t yet involved, those who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking at, what the government has in store for them and their families. Violence will never prevail. Volume alone will rarely win. But combine volume and a cacophony of common sense with reasoned arguments, and we can’t lose.