Normally, well who is to say what that means, my television is on C span for many hours a week. If not listening to Congress, I spend quite a chunk of time on-line reading about the latest political maneuvering and the “analysis” on the latest bill or the latest resolution. Or researching some “facts” mentioned somewhere. (I know,I know “get a life”).
When I listen to Congress, either house, there are many times I talk loudly to them. Sometimes I just do whatever else I am doing and say, “yeah, yadda yadda”. Lately while reading blog postings for various media outlets, I realize I am again thinking yeah, yadda yadda. The writings may differ in style from the speeches in Congress but what is written is similar. The comments actually get meaner. The extreme comments many times end up making no sense. Eventually the comments are the same “stuff” that I read many times before. “Clinton did it; Bush did it; liberals are socialists; conservatives are hardworking; the media did it; the CEO s did it; the poor did it. I have my views on all these statements but that isn't what I am questioning here.
What I wonder is do the right, left, center, and so-called independents all take lessons on what to say about what. (Actually some really do.) Is someone sitting somewhere just monitoring blogs and columns with the intent of causing a discussion to break down into angry temper tantrums? No matter which blogs I read there is such a similarity in reader comments and the patterns of comments. It usually starts with relative calm posts or comments then it begins to deteriorate.
Some comments try to use techniques that include quotations and statistics, some use the same old blame-on rants that I'm pretty sure they get from emails they receive from some political group or the other, while some try to respond in kind from their point of view. Eventually the rants win and the blog seems to just bog down in a boiling thick primordial soup. I admit it is tempting to just scream back in print at some particularly stupid rant. Just read about the first lady showing her shoulders or the President taking his coat off in the oval office.
For a short, very short, span of time after the last presidential election it was more quiet. The ranting started again since the congressional speeches, where supposedly the right “found its voice again”, got antagonistic. All the media jumped.
Both parties talk about unity turning states from one color or the other to a blended color, but they are actually encouraging behaviors that keep the electorate divided. Especially at this time when one party feels they have to “rebuild” and it is apparent they don't know how far to go for 2010 votes. Yet if you listen to their speeches you realize they are just appealing to the same groups they have before. Check out the news from CPAC. I know the other party is doing something similar after reading their appeals for money.
What happened to discourse? When did it happen? Has it always been this way and I wasn't aware of it?
I only know that it is so bad that when we do hear someone appeal to our better natures we don't trust them. Or do we just like a good fight? I got tired of watching one PBS show because it is, as I call it, the “yelling show”. The show follows the same old format 2 Conservatives, 2 Liberals, and a “moderator”. But most of the time the people on the panel are the extreme conservatives and extreme liberals. The moderator has actually changed the position from which he guides the conversation since the election. Now he rants from a different political bent.
Maybe loud rants are what we do want. Perhaps we are so afraid of the truth we don't want to hear it. Perhaps it is more fun to only hear the outrageous. When I enjoy a black and white comedy or mystery movie from the late 30's I watch them on many levels. Sometimes I just don't want to face present day reality at least for a while. Maybe that is what is going on with our political rants. We enjoy the argument more than facing reality. Reality is sometimes full of fearful monsters we cannot control by ranting at them.
I fear we are addicted to the arguments and the battles more than any real attempts at answers to our problems. Political radio, TV, and editorial rants are becoming more entertainment than help.
What a let-down when we don't have a crisis whether it is WAR, economic messes, or a religious battle of some kind. If things get too quiet we may have to face the reality of our own daily lives. Maybe we don't know what to do with it anymore. We can only shop so much whether at a charity thrift store, a large discount store, or at an exclusive shop.
Or maybe we truly are more engaged in what our government is doing than we have been in many years. That can be great but let us hope we can handle it in a civilized manner.