Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's not taking the path I expected.

Two entries in the same week, I must be getting some inspiration to want to write more or I just might be completely frustrated and disgusted at some of the commentary after the Arizona tragedy this past weekend. My last entry was my initial feelings about the lack of civility in the political process and hoping that things would return to normal somewhat after a while. Instead, certain members of the conservative side feel they've been labeled unfairly, received death threats and even used unspeakable words to describe the inspiration of their dissent. I didn't think things could get any more insane, but then again, we've reached unimaginable depths here.

My biggest issue has never been with what was originally said by conservative pundits, even though I find most of the comments completely reprehensible. If you are going to have a system based upon free speech and allowing a general profession of free belief and faith, there's going to be plenty of things said and done that will upset even the most liberal or conservative of us. Our country thrives on the diversity and unique experiences we all bring to the table, even though that makes reaching some level of concensus difficult especially with the fringe elements of many groups becoming more vocal and visible. The system is what it is.

What my biggest concern has always been is that while people should be able to say what they want, they should also be smart enough to understand what has been said and any repercussions or results of those statements. If your group repeatedly uses the words target, reload, second amendment remedies, take matters into your own hands, and other buzzwords like this repeatedly to put out a message, could you imagine how those words are going to be interpreted? While I consider myself a fairly intelligent person and can follow most reasoned arguments, I know there are plenty of people that fall around me in the bell curve in terms of smarts, and you can't tell me that they will all understand the message the same way as intended.

When people get into the public eye, their comments take on a life of their own and get scrutinized, analyzed, digested, retweeted, emailed, and shot all over the world. In that process, the original intent of any message can suddenly take a wrong turn, even if that was never the intention. While I don't think any of the right is directly responsible for what happened in Arizona, I believe that you can link the rhetoric to the actions pretty easily. It's hard to avoid the press bandwagon when things get rolling along, and while I think it's easy to blame the media, they are also reporting the issues that draw the most attention and response. If a large segment of the population didn't care about certain news items, you'd never hear much about them because that is how news cycles work.

What I expect from the people that represent me in politics is really rather simple - be smart enough to understand the basis for how things run and represent the majority of constituents in their desires. While it might be an interesting idea to let an everyman be President, I expect the people running this country to be smarter than me because of the complexity of most issues facing them. They have to juggle multiple tasks, make tough decisions, and explain their votes to those that like the ideas and those that don't. It's not a job for the faint hearted for sure, and as such, I would expect them to also be able to look at their words and actions and realize that they operate under a higher standard for conduct whether they realize it or not.

You might believe in your heart a certain path, and hold to it against all opposition by using every trick and tool in the book to make your point. That's how the system works, but at the same point, you have to be willing to accept the results of your actions and realize how that might affect others. We live in a fast paced, 24-hour news nation where every bit of speech is picked apart to the minutest of details to try and acheive a 52 percent majority that we can call a mandate. Being a representative means more that clinging to a core set of beliefs and trotting them out there as your guide, because there might be a majority of folks that find the beliefts outdated, divisive, and not the best for the majority of us.

What certain members of the right have done after the tragedy is refused to be silenced, instead trying to find any reason why their speech isn't the cause of the problems. While they might be right that they weren't directly the cause, the environment created that allows them to flourish in has made the shooter's actions acceptable: yelling instead of intelligent discourse, putting option out as fact, bending information to fit a need, using questionable buzz words, and pushing blame to others for their actions. He thought he was doing the right thing to take care of a problem, and there's no amount of words they can say to get away from owning their part in this mess. And instead of trotting out more divisive and harrowing words to try and make a point, they should take a lesson and try to find a way to quell the quagmire because stoking this fire could just make things a whole lot worse.

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