7 August 2009

Thanks, Steven Benen for mentioning this great quote in the Washington Monthly blog, or I wouldn’t have bumped into it.  It’s from a post of Michelle Cottle’s

"I have given up hope for a loyal opposition. I’d settle for a sane one."

Like Cottle, and Benen, I too am sick of not having a decent Loyal Opposition in the mix.  The range of political opinions holds check on each other, left middle and right.  Progressives drive the country forward, working to accommodate our ever-more-diverse, and hopefully less prejudiced society.  Conservatives, when they’re not being too extreme, tend to offer cautious, limited options.  Centrists tend to articulate the middle ground, helpfully.  If it works, the three hold each other in check, moving forward more carefully through the years, and, we hope, more successfully as a nation.

However.

When the edges – left or right – go off the deep end, articulating extreme opinions, or rage without reference to fact, the balance of public discourse is thrown off.  That’s what the recent spate of crazy shouting matches at Town Hall meetings feels like to me:  an opportunity for a public meeting, a community Q and A, where people can air their questions.  But when ten or twenty people start shouting at everyone who tries to speak up – people up on the dais, or their fellow citizens in the audience – there is no possibility of public discourse.  It’s not helpful.  It’s not useful.  It doesn’t move anything forward.

It only adds insult to injury when the accusations coming from the Shouters are based on falsehoods, be it Obama’s Kenyan birthplace, the Government’s going to kill old people, or the altogether toooo amazing “Get Government off My Medicare!”

*sigh*

Yup. A sane opposition.  I remember when…

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