Turn Down the Rhetoric

We are not quite sure what caused the horrible incidents in Arizona but we can and will speculate.  Even if the investigation proves that this young man was simply a sufferer of mental illness this should still be a turning point in America’s politics.  The last few years marked a dramatic change in the American political discourse.  We do not seem to be able to have a civil discussion or air out our differences in a civil manner.   The tragic events in Arizona should be seen as an opportunity for both sides to say we need to turn down the rhetoric because we are not firing up the base, we are inciting violence and intolerance.

If we do find out that this young man was influenced by the comments of conservative politicians and pundits I will put most the blame on Sarah Palin.  Sure others like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh have made incendiary comments but Palin is different.  Although I hate to admit it, she is legitimately in the political realm as a previously elected official and one who will likely seek political office in the coming years.  The others are moved by high ratings and outrageous statements create high ratings.  Palin’s decision to make herself a “king maker” also keeps her on my evening political news every night.  As with any elected official, current or previous, they have a higher profile and a higher level of responsibility. I am sure that she would defend herself against these charges by saying that she was just exercising her first amendment rights.  I realize that Sarah Palin is no constitutional scholar, so I hope someone takes the time to explain to her there is a thin line between freedom of speech and inciting violence or hatred and she has time and again crossed it.  Again Palin may attempt to defend herself, only this time arguing that regardless of his motives there is no direct link between her actions and the actions of the suspect in the Arizona shootings.  While a prosecutor could not make a case against Palin due to inadequate causation, her actions contributed to a negative atmosphere in American politics.  The type of atmosphere present in America today gives way to violent behavior.  There are others who contributed to this as well but someone in Palin’s position holds a higher level of responsibility.

Following the shootings in Arizona which included the death of a Federal Judge and serious wounding of a United States Congresswoman, Sarah Palin quickly removed the controversial “crosshair’s map” from her website and tweets related to the map.   Palin led the way in the bitter mid-term elections crossing the country to support her handpicked candidates.  Some of the craziest Palin supported “tea party candidates” like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell thankfully did not make it to Washington, even still Palin’s mission was clear.  Remove any and every “liberal” who opposed her positions on topics such as gay marriage, second amendment rights, and health care reform.  This is where Palin’s crosshairs map comes in.  On her website, which I imagine is frequented often by diehard Palin fans, Palin posted a map of the United States which showed crosshairs similar to those on the scope of a gun.  The post encouraged Palin supporters to “reload” rather than “retreat”.  The “crosshairs” were strategically placed in the Congressional districts of Democrat candidates who Palin argued should be unseated.  Maybe a ballot box would have been a more appropriate symbol to include on the map because that is how America handles disagreements, at the ballot box.  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the target of today’s tragic events, was included on this map.  When the map was first posted, Congresswoman Giffords stated that people like Sarah Palin have to realize there are consequences for these types of actions.

My frustration with this map and other inflammatory comments Sarah Palin has made is that it is blatantly irresponsible! People are crazy! Sick warped minds will use anything to support their crazy political views.  Someone with so much power and influence should not be stoking the flames or feeding weak minds with fiery rhetoric.  It leads me to believe that Sarah Palin may be just as crazy.  Giffords comments regarding being a target of the map were made in March but we just saw the removal of the map today following the tragedy in Arizona.  Waiting for a tragedy to occur before removing the provocative map unnerves me. This type of irresponsible behavior makes me cringe at the thought of Palin in the White House.  I can only imagine the type of damage her mouth will do with that type of platform.  The bottom line is as a public figure you have a duty to consider all the consequences of your comments and postings.  Just consider how long it takes Obama to decide his choice of words during interviews.  He realizes this and it is time for Sarah Palin to accept responsibility and do the same.

In each party there are people who lack the mental capacity to handle the ins and outs of the political process.  Regardless of what Republicans and Democrats do or say there will also be those who will take it to another level but it is the duty of the politicians to insure they are not making comments that ignite people in negative ways.    A more recent example of this type of irresponsible behavior includes the House Republicans attempt to repeal the large Health Care bill passed during last session.  A basic civics lesson shows that this is likely will not be passed.  While the Republicans now hold the majority in the House of Representatives, they are still in the minority in the Senate.  Think back to your high school government class and remember it takes both houses to pass legislation.  The Republicans know this yet they still proceed as if these facts are irrelevant.  If by a long shot this legislation passes, the Democratic President still has the ability to veto this decision and of course he will.  Considering the initial repeal was nearly impossible to begin with, I highly doubt Republicans will have 2/3 of Congress in their corner to override the veto.  Even with these facts and numbers, the Republicans proceed with the repeal of Health Care reform, making it one of the top issues they want to address at the start of the session.  Forget about the jobs they complained about last year or the deficit they claim makes them lose sleep at night.  They want to spend their time undoing the work that the Democrats worked so hard to accomplish.  Republicans had the opportunity to work along side Democrats and make a Health Care Bill something they could live with but yet they said no.  Even now, with a Republican majority in the house, they are still saying no and not providing any new ideas just a big no to the old ones.  So why do the Republicans continue on this path?  They are pandering to their base, or to those they wish to keep in their fold, like the tea party members.

The Republicans have managed to keep those with a little sense in power like Cantor and Boehner.  The leaders of this party know what they are doing. They are attempting to show conservatives they have taken a stance against Obama’s policies, even though the reality is they cannot fulfill these promises.  Republicans should be asking what happens when conservatives suffer another health care let down.  The potential to overturn Health Care will fire up the Republican base because it shows that the party listens to their base and is willing to challenge the democrats, but losing this battle will only infuriate them more.  Conservative leadership in the house knows it is an up hill battle that they likely cannot win yet they continue to proceed and release optimistic statements to the press. If I did not know any better I would think this repeal only had a handful of naysayers from reading their statements. This type of behavior is irresponsible to me.  The Republican party should say we have real work to do and focusing on the repeal will likely be in vain because we do not have the votes to accomplish this.  Rather than waste our time, let’s focus on more important things like JOBS.  This became even more clear to me, when following the Arizona incident the House Republicans pushed back the Health Care repeal vote because it was controversial and did not seem appropriate following such a tragic event.  It is important for the Republican party to be upfront and honest with their party.  Lies and pandering only encourage anger and potential violence.

There is definitely an undercurrent in the current political climate.  I cannot help but to think this has something to do with the election of the first African American President.  Many American’s believed that the election of Barack Obama marked a post-racial era in America.  I will admit I was optimistic but I had my doubts.  Even in my moments of doubt I never imagined that the backlash would be to this level.  Yes no conservative pundit or Congressmen has come out and said I do not like Obama or his policies because he is black. Be real, no one in 2011 would do that because it is politically incorrect and would be a career-ending move.  There is a closeted racial fear that lies just beneath the surface when dealing with Obama’s policies.  When you watch Tea Party rallies or the Glenn Beck rally you will witness fervor that is unprecedented because something more is at play.  The only notable difference between this administration and the previous ones is the race of its leader.  Although we are not in a post-racial era, the current political climate illustrates the unique racial climate that minorities particularly those of African American descent are dealing with.  The closeted racist does not run around with a white hood or burn crosses in front of homes.  Before we knew who the enemies of racial progression were, now their klan suit is hidden under a business suit.  How President Obama or any African American for that matter moves past this is unclear because it is hard to challenge an invisible enemy.  The racial undertones remain a challenge for Obama as he proceeds to push his agenda through Congress.  I honestly believe that some conservative commentators intentionally seek to stoke racial fears with their comments but I realize this is not the case for all.  For those who do not they need to be constantly mindful of this fear and act or speak accordingly.

It is time for our leaders to grow up.  Remember that although we fall on different sides of the aisle, we are still fighting for the same goal, making America a better place for American Citizens.   I sit back and watch heated debates on CNN or read about them on Huffington Post and cannot help but to compare the Republicans vs. Democrats to the Lakers and Celtics and it should not be this way.  Only one basketball team can walk away with the trophy but when one party passes successful legislation the entire country wins!  Both parties need to be up front and honest with their constituents and party members. Now is not the time to make statements with the goal to win the next election.  We do not have time for these silly games.  America is hurting, and we need our leaders to realize that and get back to work.  Also cut out the distractions. That includes Republican leaders such as Boehner or McConnell taking a stand and telling the likes of Palin, Limbaugh and even Beck to shut up!  They are not adding anything constructive to the political discourse.  These are our leaders and they need to do something very simple, LEAD! Lead America by turning down the hateful and unnecessary rhetoric.  The citizens are likely to follow. Above all we should remember that America has a beautiful political system envied and duplicated the world over.  We need to continue to ensure the integrity of our Democratic system.  Finally please keep the victims of the Arizona shooting in your hearts and prayers.  My prayer is that this horrific incident becomes a wake up call to America.

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