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Cage Fight Politics

Disagreement should not discourage respectful discourse

By Bob Henline
Posted // August 28,2009 -

The current health care debacle has gone on far too long. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, with the notable exception of Utah’s Jim Matheson, have been holding town hall meetings around the nation, ostensibly to “discuss” the issue. These meetings have turned into nothing short of a feeding frenzy of distortion, fear, manipulation, and outright lies.

What has happened with the health care debate highlights a fundamental problem in American society today: We just don’t care about anything but ourselves. People today are split into tidy little segments that can be easily categorized, classified, and manipulated against one another in order to block progress or wreak havoc. Town hall meetings are not held to actually discuss issues and hear ideas for change or improvement, they are merely opportunities for congressional leaders to fan the flames of discontent and for the unbridled (and often ignorant) masses to throw insults and threats at those who dare disagree with them.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when this happened, but it’s obvious that over the short span of the current administration this problem has magnified exponentially. There isn’t any meaningful discussion of policy or propriety, it is merely mud-slinging, fear-mongering and inflammatory rhetoric. It doesn’t matter what your view is on the health care reform debate, or on any other issue facing our society today. What matters is that if you decide (as everyone should) to participate in the process, you should do so in a civilized and rational manner.

It’s easy to place blame on the media for highlighting these antics or on the opposition party for stirring up the basest elements of society in an attempt to obstruct policy change, but at the end of the day these elements are responding to what works. We, as a society, allow these tactics to succeed. We, as a society, have failed to stand up and demand rational discussion and action. We fall prey to the four-second soundbite. We buy into the clever marketing slogans that don’t actually address issues and policy concerns. We vote accordingly. We are to blame.

The obstructionist elements of society have thrown around the word “revolution” as a means to end government interference in our daily lives. On this, they are absolutely correct. It is time for another American Revolution. Not a physical or violent revolution, not an overthrow of government; but an overthrow of mentality. It is time for Americans to fundamentally alter the way in which we approach our problems. This is a nation that has historically come together when faced with crisis. We are falling apart at the seams, split along artificial lines for no reason other than the ability to be easily manipulated. We, as a people, need to demand more from our leadership, demand more from our media, and most importantly, demand more from ourselves. We need to actively and positively participate in the process.

Let’s have real discussion about the issues facing us today. Let’s take the time to listen to one another and actually hear what is being said beyond the din of fear and ignorance. Let’s have a second revolution, a revolution of conscience and consciousness.

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