The Democrats’ “Beantown” feast is producing some political flatulence of the likes of which is beginning to smell across America’s airwaves. The ugliness isn’t likely to change when the Republicans take their bite from the “Big Apple.” Political discourse has become a rare commodity among the electorate. In its place sits polarization, personal attacks, and blind partisanship. My candidate walks on water and yours swims in the sewers. This mindless mentality fosters the devolution of the democrat and republican parties into so many political gangsters.
Intellectual laziness leads to personal attacks against political opponents as a tactic which substitutes for substance. It erodes common courtesy because we must demonize our opponent so that any point he makes which seems sound can be dismissed out of hand. Television news programs like “Crossfire,” whose entertainment value for politicos is tremendous, are changing the face of political debate. On such programs, the opponents are judged less on the magnitude of their argument as they are on the vitriol with which they express it. The resulting environment allows—even encourages—the “gay-bashers” and “Bush-whackers” who demonize those with views different than their own to flourish. We are no longer debating. We are back-alley-brawling, and it’s “Katie, bar the door.”
The latest debasement has been the lack of self control demonstrated by our nation’s leaders and their arrogance in refusing to even admit an error. John Kerry let loose the “F-bomb,” and it wasn’t long before Vice-President Dick Cheney raised the bar with his contribution. Now, Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, has embarrassed herself and her husband by telling a reporter to “shove it.” Instead of admitting mistakes, these icons make excuses and their sheep defend them blindly. If a teacher had expressed such a sentiment to a parent, her principal would have reprimanded her severely. If a Sunday school teacher had used the retort, her pastor would have suspended her at the very least. If you spoke to your employer that way it would probably cost you your job. If your teen-ager cast those words in your direction there would be heck to pay! Yet here is a woman who would be First Lady of the United States of America, and she will not even say, “I’m sorry.” Her followers do not demand it of her. No doubt, not much has ever been demanded of her. The Vice-President of this great country can’t lower himself to look his constituency in the eyes and apologize for a moment of human weakness: As though such an admission would disallow one’s entire reason for being…one’s entire political stance. Until we stop making excuses for our leaders when they are irresponsible the political atmosphere will only grow more hostile.
Some state that such human moments as those littering our modern political debates are signs of a person’s honesty and self-confidence. I believe it is a sign of moral ineptitude. Former President Clinton—who’s “that woman” display of incivility turned out to be only the tip of an iceberg—said it best at the democrat’s convention: Strength and wisdom are not mutually exclusive. Neither is honesty and wisdom.
Our society is becoming a dangerous place to offer an opinion. The quality of leadership diminishes by the tactics we allow from our politicians, our media, and ourselves. Men of depth will not be a part of such a cesspool. What we need in America is a breath of fresh air…a return to civility. Savaging one’s political opponent is wrong. Would-be leaders of our society need to clean up their act or it just may be the American people who borrow Mrs. Kerry’s words and apply them to the entire political process.