Village Square thumbs up to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe for this dead-on commentary on civility. (Thumbs down to Morning Joe for not including it on the video clips, thereby requiring me to create a transcript…)
JOE: [NYC Mayor Michael] Bloomberg is going to be helping candidates who aren’t bound by rigid ideology and that’s the message we’ve been trying to emphasize here… what we try to do is encourage politicians and thought leaders and all Americans to follow the advice of an old British war poster and create a very simple message: Keep calm and carry on. That was the message that FDR delivered to a battered nation in the depths of the great depression when he declared to all Americans “All we have to fear is fear itself.” It was the message that Bobby Kennedy delivered to a shocked and embittered nation on the night that Martin Luther King was assassinated. And I really do believe that’s the message that Americans need to hear again today.
Because today our nation is confronting a new war and it’s a war of words. We’ve forgotten how to talk to each other. We’ve got political extremists who are dominating the airwaves and dominating the nation debate. And you know what the White House calls the professional left along with what we call the far right now profit from political hate speech that makes our political system weaker. And yet, isn’t it strange that our Washington politicians seem to obsess over those angry voices… instead of seeking out voices of people like you, rational Americans who show respect to their neighbors, who raise their families, who go to work and who play by the rules. It’s time for you, you quiet Americans to respond. Not with angry words or hateful commentaries or setting your hair on fire – calling a Republican president a fascist or a Democratic president a fascist but rather to respond with reasonable voices and a rational debate. Now we’re going to continue like we’ve done for 3 years to encourage viewers and guests to resist the pull of those people on the far right and professional left who seek division. Let’s keep focusing on the task at hand, ensuring that America’s best days lie ahead.
MIKA: What we’ll continue to do here is call out those who preach hate and we’ll continue to celebrate civility and promote open debate where all voices, voices on all sides are welcome. And as Joe and I tried to show you everyday, you can disagree without being disagreeable.
“There are a lot of people who’ve said things I don’t agree with. But if I want to say what I believe, I’ve got to let you say what you believe, even if I violently disagree with it and even if I find it despicable.” NYC Michael Bloomberg on Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan, last week on The Daily Show
Find the beginnings of a We the Wiki page on this debate HERE. Log in and add your information to the post.
Michael Gerson, former speechwriter to George W. Bush, on Face the Nation yesterday, said that too many of our political controversies today are a result of “too many Americans looking for excuses to justify their rage.” He explained:
It works because we’re a big country. We’ve got over 300 million people – if you’re an internet site or a cable network and if you set out to find an excuse, some incident to emphasize you can find one in America and run it over and over again It could be a picture at a tea party rally of a single sign or a video that had to do with the new black panthers and it makes it look like it’s a crisis of race when in fact, these are incidents in America. It exaggerates…
“Most adult Americans spend their daily lives working in organizations where courtesy and civility are basic presumptions of how people should interact with each other. Moreover, discussion and negotiation underlie normal decision-making processes in the organizations and institutions of civil society and the economy. Americans contrast the environments in which they live their lives with a political order dominated by activists and elected officials who behave like squabbling children in a crowded sandbox. This is another reason why Americans dislike politics: They are put off by the people who specialize in politics.” —Morris Fiorina, Culture War?
“I’m not a fan of single fact analysis.”
— Col. Jack Jacobs on MSNBC’s Morning Joe
Some people fight fire with fire. Professionals use water. –Anonymous
From Seth Godin’s blog: People don’t coalesce into active and committed tribes around the status quo.
“The only vibrant tribes in our communities are the ones closer the edges, or those trying to make change. The center is large, but it’s not connected.
If you’re trying to build a tribe, a community or a movement, and you want it to be safe and beyond reproach at the same time, you will fail.
Heretical thoughts, delivered in a way that capture the attention of the minority–that’s the path that works.”
(Photo credit: David Spinks And thanks again to Lea who really needs to just start writing this blog since she finds all the good quotes.)
Having personally met the first person sent to prison for the crimes surrounding the Watergate break-in – the delightful, humble and wise Bud Krogh – I know that you can’t paint people with too broad a brush. So here are some words you might find meaningful whichever side of the aisle you find yourself on? Or maybe these are words you might find challenging, no matter what side of the aisle? Well, either way, here goes: Chuck Colson, of Watergate infamy and now a widely read Christian writer, on the rising populist anger as expressed in the tea party:
… The inevitable consequence of all of this should deeply trouble Christians, who, of any segment of our society, understand the necessity of a strong government. The Bible teaches that God ordains government, appoints leaders, and requires obedience so that we might live peaceable lives. Why is this? God recognizes that even a bad government is better than no government. No government leads to chaos and mob rule. When order breaks down, justice is inevitably undermined. As Augustine of Hippo argued, peace flows from order, and both are necessary preconditions to the preservation of liberty and some measure of human dignity and flourishing.
This is why great leaders of the faith throughout history have held government in such high esteem. Some, such as John Calvin, considered the magistrate the highest of vocations…
“The tea party movement may have a lot of traction in America today, but it makes no attempt to present a governing philosophy. It simply seeks an outlet – an understandable one – for the brooding frustrations of many Americans. But anti-government attitudes are not the substitute for good government.We should be instructing people enraged at the excesses of Washington and the growing ethical malaise in the Capitol to focus their rage at fixing government, not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
We Christians are to be the best citizens, praying for our leaders and holding them in high regard, even as we push for the reforms desperately needed to keep representative government flourishing. Only when we funnel frustrations into constructive reformation can we expect a government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
(Photo credit and – as is often the case when we find a good article – thanks to Lea, Queen of All Things Internet.)
“The U.S. has always been good at disruptive change. It’s always excelled at decentralized community-building. It’s always had that moral materialism that creates meaning-rich products. Surely a country with this much going for it is not going to wait around passively and let a rotten political culture drag it down.” — David Brooks, yesterday’s New York Times
(Thanks to Luke.)
“If the Republicans and the Democrats are competing to be the victim, who is competing to be the government?” David Frum yesterday on CNN’s Reliable Sources
Florida Trend Publisher Andy Corty writes about “the hug” with President Obama that has symbolized the nosedive Governor Crist has taken in the polls:
Think back to late January. President Barack Obama was scheduled to appear in Tampa to announce federal funding for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa and Orlando and eventually Miami. That was the real news, but the question getting wide publicity was this: Would Gov. Charlie Crist greet the president as he did in Fort Myers last February or would he avoid Obama as he did last October in Jacksonville?
Partisan politics unfortunately played a major role in these decisions. After the “man hug” of February
09, Crist was pummeled from the right wing of the Republican Party for consorting with the Democratic president. The pressure grew so intense that Crist, running for the U.S. Senate, pointedly stayed away in October, saying he wasn’t even aware the president was traveling to Florida.
Such a political game runs counter to the Crist I know. He is a man who is uncommonly polite. He has friends of many stripes. He has always accepted criticism without knocking the critic. And he has typically governed toward the center. While we may personally differ on some significant policy issues, I’ve never felt anything other than warm collegiality from him. Perhaps I’m a starry-eyed political neophyte, but there’s something really “American” about fair-minded discourse between people who don’t see eye-to-eye on policy topics.
By chance I was at the Governor’s Mansion for a reception the night before Obama was to appear in Tampa, so I asked Crist about his intentions. “Of course I’m going to be with the president,” Crist replied. “It
s about jobs for Floridians. With unemployment over 11% here, there’s nothing more important than jobs.”
That was the right decision, and I applaud the governor for greeting Obama. But I wish he had also said that as governor – and as the official representative of 18 million Floridians – he would always greet the president of the United States when he visited the great state of Florida. It’s a question of civility.
Michael Smerconish, Philadelphia Talk Radio show host, who just made what seems to have been a tormented decision to change his political affiliation from Republican to Independent, talked to Chris Matthews last night on Hardball:
“We live in a world of media fiction. Where talk radio and your business everything gets presented in black/white red state/blue state left/right terms. And I don’t think that’s the way the real world is. It’s not the way I carry about my life as exemplified by people I meet on a day to day basis. It only exists in the world in which you and I work. And I, frankly, have had enough of it. I frankly think that stirring the pot at the ends of the political spectrum as been terrible for the country and I want no more of it.”
“People in the middle need a voice. We’re underrepresented in the world of talk radio and on cable stations because the bookers they only look for those who they can introduce as a liberal or a conservative, a Republican or a Democrat. That’s not the bulk of America right now. What about the folks in the middle?”
Smerconish wrote about his decision to register as an Independent: “Collegiality is nonexistent today, and any outreach across an aisle is castigated as weakness by the talking heads who constantly stir a pot of discontent.”
“I would caution my Republican friends that he’s got three years left to go and in that three years Americans are going to want to see some progress and not just claims that this guy’s out of office and we’re going to do everything we can to destroy him or that somehow he is a socialist taking over the country. Read all »