Columbia, MO – For years I have been under the impression that our two-party political system was based on a “Father – Mother” relationship. The Democrats, liberals and progressive movements represented the maternal side of the family, caring for her children, hold their hands when something went wrong, bandaging wounds, providing them shelter when things were down and, most important, to caring about the general welfare of the neighborhood.
The Republican and conservative side of the parental team is the father, the strong of muscle and heart, the “bread winner” (though no longer true), wanting his children to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, to venture into lands and sciences unknown, and to be self reliant, while giving only direction.
I suffer from a mental mudslide when I hear such cruel and violent voices from those who we have elected based on their parental and ethical outward appearance. Not that the media is helping the situation, mind you.
Our friend Sarah Palin has “targeted” 17 United States Democratic senate seats for her Tea Party, which claims not to be a political party, to take aim and calling for the big guns to “lock and load.” None of this language is new to the political or business worlds, so why the media is all of a sudden obsessed with the language is beyond me.
Yet death threats openly made against Democratic members of the House who voted for the Health Care Reform bill, the vandalism to offices and letters mailed with “white powder” has gone too far. Partisan politics is becoming amoral.
This alone should give everyone pause. Who is actually threatening the American democratic system? Is it really the leftwing of the system, or is it the rightwing, and I must add here the extreme rightwing, of the political house who seem to believe that the Constitution is their private document by proxy?
It is those who seek a true Jewish, Christian and Muslim change, neighbor helping neighbor, or is it some radical movement that, like the Red Queen, screams “Off with their heads!”
A better example cannot be imagined than Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s (R-Tex.) outrageous calling of “Baby killer” as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) stood to tell the House that he would support the health care bill. Or when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) yelled “liar” at President Obama during his 2010 State of the Union address.
It is not like the Dems have been any better. During President George W. Bush’s 2004 and 2005 State of the Union addresses, the Democratic side of the House booed and heckled the President.
Yet something is different this time and I am not the only one who thinks so. Politico’s Glenn Thrust recognized the problem in September of 2009 noting that health care was only a façade for a deeper “contempt of Obama that verges on personal.”
Argument and negotiation only works when both sides discuss their differences concern the issues, not personality. Once the line between issue and personal is crossed, the negotiation becomes all-out conflict.
Our political system works because opposing sides have been able to discuss disagreements without open hostility. However, with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, any bridge that had been established over the gorge separating the two political views seems to have been destroyed.
I do not think that American political morality is in danger of immediate extinction, but is endangered. I praise those who have openly called for the immediate halt to the willful and wanton destruction of property and threats against life. Those leaders who have recognized that the moral line is extremely fine and those within the ranks who have crossed that line purposefully need to be stopped now.
The late Reverend Jerry Farwell founded a Christian and conservative based political movement known as the “Moral Majority.” Senator Edward Kennedy was the de-facto leader of the liberal movement. Rev. Farwell and Sen. Kennedy rarely saw eye-to-eye on political issues. However, when Kennedy was invited to speak to Farwell’s Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University) Kennedy took the challenge and addressed more than 5,000 students and faculty, reminding them that without religious tolerance, the American people will never find truth.
That presentation can be easily modified to speak to the same issue I speak of here – political intolerance.
Farewell and Kennedy’s relationship was the true spirit of American politics – foes who negotiated not bullied, opponents who talked without threat. Like boxers, winner and loser shook hands after a good fight, not spit in the challenger’s eye. There has been too much spitting as of late.
Apologies can no longer help save the great American experiment. I am calling for the House and Senate Rules Committees to require strong sanctions, including the expulsion of members, for the behavior we have seen in the last decade. It is up to the American voters to call to the carpet those whose behavior would not be tolerated from five-year olds.
David Rosman is a award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com, the New York Journal of Books and InkandVoice.com.