When did we get to be idiots?

I have to admit, I always assumed that the people on Jerry Springer’s show were either actors or the lost tribe of the Okee Fenokee Trailer Park. They weren’t real. They couldn’t be.  “Let’s show really stupid people on TV” was an interesting premise for a show – for one episode. “Let’s show people admitting they had sex with their cousin’s pig and then fighting over who owns the pig”.  It’s like pro wrestling with a back story.  Even if the people were real, they had to be 1/10 of 1% of the population – and nobody I knew.

At least that last part is still true (the “nobody I know” part). I am beginning to think the percentage part is way off.  I’ve never disrespected my elected officials. I haven’t liked their politics. I may have even enjoyed a joke on Leno or Letterman at Dan Quayle, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush’s expense. Screaming at them in the middle of a discussion, carrying a gun outside a meeting, painting swastikas – all of these things are happening at Health Care reform meetings held by our elected officials.  What in hell is going on here?  Furthermore, so far as I’ve seen, no one has been yelling because they don’t have healthcare.  Some people want the same care that politicians get, and that may be close enough.  But for the most part, the people that are screaming are saying, “my neighbor shouldn’t get health care, because that would be unfair to me. As I watched CNN and C-Span, I kept expecting to hear, “Give us Barabbas!”.

If the people who are doing this screaming had a conscience, they’d be ashamed of themselves. There is some discussion that this is an “organized plot by political operatives”. If it is, (and I’m not saying it is), then even more shame should be on them – getting some sort of benefit, maybe cash, for disrupting the democratic (small “d”) process, and saying fellow human beings aren’t worthy of basic needs.

I get that people are upset at their elected officials, but they elected them. I get that people have questions about the constitutionality of the bill.  Why didn’t they ask them when the Patriot Act was being signed?  What– torture is OK, but health care isn’t?  I get that people don’t trust their elected officials.  Ok. So make officials more accountable or fire the people we have until we get the ones we want.  I get that people have a fear of socialism. Is fascism any better? I have always wondered this about American history: Why is it that we “don’t want to become Russia” but nobody seems to worry about becoming Germany? Does anybody remember World War II?  Remember what the “bad guys” believed?

Let me clear here: It doesn’t matter if you’re on the left or right. I have, in the course of my life, seen idiots of both stripes. It doesn’t matter if you believe in health care reform or not. It certainly doesn’t matter if you agree with me on matters of opinion.  None of that matters. What matters is that we think when we’re having a discussion. What matters is that we let people speak when they’re trying to make their vote count. What matters is that we listen as often as we speak. What matters is that we tell the truth instead of being clever enough to “spin” things.  Everybody gets a vote. Everybody gets democracy – that’s what makes it democracy. What NOBODY should get is more than one vote or the silencing of somebody else’s.  That’s not democracy. That’s evil. When it’s all said and done, conflict and voicing our opinion is what makes democracy work. I really believe that.  Being irrational in thought or deed doesn’t though – or shouldn’t.  We shouldn’t listen to bullies or idiots. We shouldn’t act like them.  Idiotic bullies or bullying idiots – the idea of violent, disrespectful non-thought is not what makes us great – as a country, a form of government or as human beings.

Oddly, if anything, I believe more in my elected officials this week than I have in a while. They have put up with harassment, screaming, interruptions, hatred, and un-informed opinions from the depths of people’s lives, and they have still kept going. Whether it’s Mike Huckabee or the woman democratic senator in Ohio (I think that’s where she’s from) they continue to explain, rather than denounce. They continue to take the high road while many people take the low one.  They seem to still believe in democracy. Is it too much to ask that the members of their audience do the same?

One last thing: I know that I personally have the ability to be a wise-ass and encourage people to tell me when I go too far in these pages, so that I don’t become violent, disrespectful or avoiding thought in my blogs.   Thanks for listening.

Peace,

John

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