On Reflecting Arizona

Since the tragic shooting in Arizona, I intentionally decided to avoid a sudden or quick post about the event, thus attempting to take the high road of watching, listening, and thinking. Here are some thoughts.

First and foremost though, thoughts and prayers to those most closely affected. I cannot image their pains, yet I hope they give time a chance to deliver the necessary healing.

A disturbed young male caused this tragedy. A person who needed help, and for whatever reason, never got it. Seeing his arraignment picture confirmed to me that his mental illness pulled the trigger.

My initial reaction was to point the finger at the current political discourse as the cause that brought about his act, but I’m not sure if the evidence supports that. It may in time, but not yet, and maybe not at all. Besides, I hesitate to accept a one-size-fits-all explanation.

Nonetheless, the current climate of political discourse is a worthy topic. We must remember that both sides fan the flames of distrust through exaggerations and lies.

In the midst of calls of a political action of truce, many pundits fill the air and print with calls for gun control, tempering the media, and political-based comments and questions to those interviewed – and it is easy to find examples from the red and the blue. Moreover, yes, given the dominance of many bombastics from the right, their examples are easiest to find – but that does not mean the left is innocent.

Some of us want discourse with civility. We want an honest debate of important issues. We want our lawmakers to prefer country-first decisions to party-first wants and desires. Ideological differences occur, and can be quite sharp – yet there are only insurmountable by those believing more in their party than their country.

There is one way to control the tone – and that is by elected officials leading the way. They must demonstrate by example – by the words they choose – by the ads they run – by the actions they take, which includes what they choose not to do.

One of those actions should be for them to call out those in their own party who unnecessarily fuel discourse – yes, within in their own party and NOT the other. If they are leaders, they must take care of their own house – fellow elected officials and their supporters.

It would be easy to fire a dart at Sarah Palin – after all, she is a nincompoop – and I’m not sure she’s willing to change her schtick. However, Governor Tim Pawlenty recently jabbed her for using the crosshairs. It’s a start, but since it’s well after-the-fact, I see it as a political move – but still a start.

Will anyone in the GOP dare to take a stand against Rush Limbaugh or any other of the talking heads from the right? Will any Democrat dare to direct comments at any of the MSNBC commentators? Will members of Congress dare to challenge the rhetoric from someone in their own party?

Let us not forget the mood thrust upon us on 11 September 2001 as it was an event that bonded a nation with political grace. Let us also not forget that it took only several months before party operatives decided to politicize national security, thus the severing its ties with political grace.

Talk of political civility will be remain just that – talk. Besides, money does the talking.