A Democrat now prominently calling for “civility and respect” in American political discourse may want to go back to October and heed his own advice.
In anop-ed published byThe New York Times yesterday, former Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), who served in the House of Representatives from 1985 through 2010, wrote about lawmakers’ security in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in Tucson, Arizona last weekend. In the piece, titled “Why Politicians Need to Stay Out in the Open,” Kanjorski wrote:
We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
But back in October, in the midst of a re-election fight that he would go on to lose, Kanjorskitold the editorial board ofThe Scranton Times-Tribune that Rick Scott, then the Republican nominee for Governor in Florida, should have been shot for his work as CEO of a health care company that paid a record $1.7 billion fine after being investigated for Medicare fraud.
Yes, princess, let’s all be kinder to one another. It’s such a dodge. That’s all this bullshit is. I’m sorry, I’ve been listening to the news much more than I usually do this week, so my tolerance for nonsense is dropping. I’ve had it. I’m just about done with listening to condescending jackasses telling me to shut up, telling me to be nicer, telling me to not commit the unpardonable sin of caring about politics and calling horseshit horeshit when it happens to land in a pile on my front porch.
(Even the focus on Sarah Palin is starting to tweak me, like, the problem isn’t that a former half-term governor, loser VP nominee and reality-tv star says stupid shit constantly. The problem is that we lionize her stupid shit exactly 50 percent of the time and the other 50 percent we have nonsensical conversations about whether it’s good for America. Either listen to her or don’t, but for the love of God, pick one, and quit doing the thing where you don’t want to be left behind on a story but you also don’t want to be seen at the lunch table with her. We can tell what you’re doing and it sucks.)
All these condescending third-rate pundits and semi-obscure politicians grabbing headlines by telling everybody else how terrible and awful they are. This isn’t an actual advocacy of us doing anything, of reducing in any way the anti-government actions and anti-American actions taking place which are expressed in the words of batshit crazy TV hosts. It’s just advocacy they be quieter about it, keep it under wraps and don’t offend anyone by actually voicing the gruesome underpinnings of the anti-Obama backlash. It’s just shaming everyone but the person doing the shaming. It’s just a way of making oneself important, of making a distinction between people who believe government is Satan and people who believe government is Satanand are rude about it.
It’s a way of pointing out that the speaker is justbetter than all you unwashed screwheads who say mean things. “I deplore the tone in this room” isn’t an actual, you know, contribution to the conversation. “Have you no sense of decency?” is a contribution to the conversation, and a good question to boot. “I deplore the tone in this room” is a call for everyone to look at the noble guy in the corner who, unlike the rest of us Who Should Be Ashamed, has Our Best Interests at heart. He alone is standing up for … using the right salad fork, or something. Nice words. Good grammar.
Greater civility and respect are not going to lead to anything other than the people who are calling for greater civility and respect getting invited onto the Sunday shows. Violence and disrespect don’t make their greatest impacts in the words of our nuttier reality show hosts. They make their greatest impacts in the actions of our leaders. And our leaders’ actions over the past 10 years, hell the past 40, have not exactly been a ringing endorsement and defense of the American system in the fact of an unbelievably uncivil assault. The real problem isn’t that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are assholes, it’s that they’re the only ones doing the talking while everybody else huddles in the corner muttering “both sides are at fault” and “I understand why people are angry about their taxes and all the socialism.”
We don’t need to be nicer to one another and never use gun metaphors. We need to be better to one another and KILL FEWER PEOPLE. We need to have greater civility and respect not just in our political discourse but in our politics and in our government. Otherwise all we’re doing is changing the words we use to talk about the hateful shit we do, and that isn’t going to change anything at all.