9/11/2009

A Non-defense of Rep. Wilson

Joe Wilson's "you lie" has set off a debate about incivility in our politics and whether the GOP is just a bunch of loons. My opinion is the crazier stuff coming out of GOP-land is crowding out credible free market views and tarnishes the conservative brand as unserious.

On Politico's Arena today the question "Does the GOP have a civility problem?" is posed. The answers are worth reading. Some of the answers drift into the yelling and disruptions shown during August's town halls. One contributor writes:
Fifty years ago, you wouldn't see middle class citizens screaming at U.S. Senators. Now all you have to do is call a town hall meeting. The underlying belief that government is there to do good most of the time has been gone for over 40 years, and so people who occupy once respected offices are treated with all the deference given to the register jockey at the 7/11.
The Arena's question is framed as incivility as a uniquely GOP problem, though many respondents, including Dems and liberals, recognize their own side's complicity. I don't know why "we" lack confidence in, and respect for, elected officials, but here's why I do:
  1. They insert themselves into issues that are none of their business.
  2. They engage in baseless character assassination.
  3. They change the rules ex post to preserve power
  4. The act like their s**t doesn't stink
  5. They concern themselves with irrelevance.
  6. Some are indescribably corrupt.
  7. They act like there's nothing wrong with using their power to protect their power.
  8. They bathe themselves in double standards.
I'd ask The Arena for a follow up: have elected officials discuss what they're doing that's sowing incivility and disrespect.

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