Calls for decorum ring hollow
Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Aug 27, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A
(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://wigdersonlibrarypub.blogspot.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)
I’m somewhat amused by all of the sudden concern about the lack of decorum in politics. Suddenly, the political left and their followers in the mainstream media are shocked that people are showing up by the hundreds and the thousands to town hall meetings to protest the proposed changes in health care.
It’s perhaps easier to understand the frustration when a famous quip attributed to Sen. Everett M. Dirksen, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money,” needs to be updated to, “A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you can’t print enough money.”
We are now looking at trillion-dollar deficits for each of the next 10 years. Nobody believes that is sustainable, yet President Obama wants to spend nearly another trillion on health care.
When Americans express their concerns, they’re told to shut up and take it. At the first rally in Madison by taxpayers in October 2007 led by Americans for Prosperity, state union employees counterdemonstrated by attempting to drown out the speakers with their shouting and intimidated the participants as they headed to their vehicles.
When concerned taxpayers showed up during the spring and summer to “tea parties” to rally against the massive expansion of government spending, suddenly an insulting sexual reference went mainstream, from the liberal blogs to cable news pundits, to belittle the rallies.
Deciding that wasn’t sufficient, tea party rally participants were accused of being part of a paid conspiracy, “AstroTurf,” rather than being part of an authentic grass-roots movement. Depending on the liberal villain of the week, ordinary citizens were accused of being agents of Big Oil, Big Pharmaceutical and Big Insurance.
Yet when the liberal special interests show up in any small number to protest anything, those are the authentic grass roots.
When it was clear that the taxpayer protests were genuine, the focus shifted. Now they’re radicals, unpatriotic, and even Nazis, according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Even as the president was asking everyone to tone down the rhetoric, he accused his critics of lying while he spreads deliberate falsehoods of his own. As he encouraged “dialogue,” his administration’s Department of Homeland Security labeled his critics potential terrorists. And while we remember the president’s promise to improve the tone in Washington, his aides are promising to “hit back twice as hard.”
Nothing new, really. From the ’60s (for which the left has so much nostalgia) to today, the left in this country has had a policy of “taking it to the streets.” At times, it boiled over into bombings and targeted violent personal attacks.
From Chicago in 1968 to Seattle in 1999 there was some improvement. Instead of chanting “Off the pigs!” the slogan changed to, “No justice, no peace!” The threat of violence remained.
Then the Bush era, and for the last eight years one of the mantras on the left was, “If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention.” We saw their outrage manifest itself in violent demonstrations, attacks on military recruitment offices, disrupted congressional hearings, and planned riots at the national conventions.
Now I will concede that some of the people at these town hall meetings are a little rude. They’re paying attention now, and it’s their turn to be outraged. Some of them let their emotions overcome their judgment of good behavior. Most of them are not as articulate as a Harvardeducated lawyer with a teleprompter. Many of them have never been involved in a political movement before.
I strongly urge them to temper their words and to be more respectful at these town hall meetings. However, a few shouts at a few congressmen is not some sort of crisis in democracy, and the concerned taxpayers are certainly not deserving of being labeled “brownshirts.”
We now hear the calls for civility from those who thought the president’s association with Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers was no big deal, and they had no problems when Obama’s mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, screamed “God damn America” during his sermons.
Yes, I agree we should have more decorum at the town hall meetings, and more decorum in politics generally. My challenge to the political left is two words: You first.