Lately civilized debate does not get air time. Unfortunately, uttering facts – long, complicated facts – does not get air time. Respectfulness to people, tradition and customs does not get air time either.
While this editorial is not about the media’s role in who gets reported on and who does not, it has become the norm to give the loudest, most disrespectful person the main coverage, even if that person is completely ill-informed.
What these few words aim to do is try and bring a level of civility to the current political debate.
While politics has never been the most civilized discourse of debate, nor should we expect it to, policy issues are complicated and naturally breeds competing views, it serves as the vehicle to our way of life.
This summer’s town hall meetings and a recent outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson during President Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress emphasize the childlike manner in which the health care debate has pivoted. While these events should be covered, and dispelled where appropriate, they should not be used as the focal point of the debate.
A debate, that in large part, is purely speculative. There is not a concrete bill before either house of Congress, only working bills throughout different committees.
While different committees, who seperately garnish their own political motives, promote legislation, speculation about what could potentially be included in any of these bills contribute to the strife that has surfaced in the past few months.
A healthy understanding of exactly what a bill would entail before becoming legislation is crucial, and a vital check on the government that the people of this country should exercise when a major piece of legislation is being worked.
However a healthy understanding would be breed intelligent give-and-take for those who truly know the intricacies of the bill, not hearing specific phrases or misrepresentations of what an advocacy group wants and turning those into concrete judgment.
This is not a declaration of limiting free speech or curbing minority opinion because it is just that.
As a newspaper we quite disagree with those implications, rather it is a call for smarter, more civil debate from both our politicians and our citizens.
Scare tactics from one party, confusing rhetoric from the administration and ambiguity on both sides of what exactly this debate is about are all culprits for dialogue that is uninformed and misguided.
While incivility has risen in the past, the current topic being debated depends on the morality of this country’s people, right now.
Both parties agree that upwards of 40 million people living uninsured requires our undivided attention.
And so at that starting point, the morality of a country to look after it’s own, let there be an understanding of the dire need for civil discourse.
The theme of this issue should not be who can get the loudest and be the most disrespectful, it should be of understanding and responsibility.
Understanding to those who do not have insurance. Responsibility to those who do.
Without a deep understanding of both there can be no high-minded debate and thus, civility is not required.
Let’s do what we do best as a country, engage with each other for the betterment of the union.
Leaving stereotypes, false claims and division aside and promoting an image of togetherness for future issues.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “There can be no high civility without deep morality.”
With those words, examine how this national conversation has gone, and hopefully a more civil understanding will once again produce great results.