Thursday, August 13, 2009

Invitation to the Party

I know that I have neglected my blog for quite some time. I apologize to my avid readers. After my travels in Europe I returned to Minneapolis to canvass for non-profits.  I have advocated for healthcare reform, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and getting the toxin BPA out of hard plastics.  From my position in the grassroots level of current legislative battles I can see that there is a lot of anger among the American people.  Current reporting on town hall threats and vitriol have convinced me that we have lost a degree of civility in our current political discourse on healthcare reform. 

Yet, this loss of civility is not new.  The politics of America have always consisted of fringes or fanaticism galvanized by lies and propaganda. I have commented on this loss of civility before on previous blog posts and conversations. What is troubling perhaps is the plethora of outlets for the fringes and fanatics that exist in contemporary media. 24 hour news networks and other media outlets have given many of these angry.....angry people air time to express their views on 'socialized healthcare'.... 'death panels'.... or that Obama does not deserve their trust. Even the obviously more liberal network-MSNBC has been reporting on such noise makers and half truths constantly.  Does such reporting clear the air on these falsehoods or continue to evoke anger and fervor?  Of course if the citizenry were more skeptical of information in the media or less apathetic in general the answer to that question may not matter.  A more responsible citizenry would not listen to such charlatans and publicly scold such fanaticism and anger as purely obstructive.  This concept of a whole political culture rejecting hateful speech or obstructive discourse is what Justice  Louis Brandeis called 'more speech'- that the American people endowed with a freedom of expression are just as able to express an idea as they are to argue against with the full force of that freedom.  I feel that we should be responsible and debunk any lie about healthcare that we hear or come across. It is our duty as part of the a civil society both in the sense that we should be civil and that we are meant to be involved in the business of democracy. 

To blame fringes or fanaticism on partisanship is frankly too easy. There are other forces at work... propaganda... the media ... and so on. When I mention propaganda I mean the definition that I believe suits best which is 'shameless advocacy' -Nicholas J. O'Shaughnessy 

We must be active citizens and yes that includes being partisan... that includes being a member 
of a political party.  I am a member of the Democratic Party not just to promote a liberal, progressive 
agenda, but to also hold that party accountable. I supported the Liberal Democrats while in the UK for I 
believed in small, effective government fostering truly liberal societies and civil liberties.    

It is simple partisanship does not have to be fanatical. Partisanship is an outlet for political activity and 
involvement. Stand up for what you believe in. Our democracy empowers you to do so much. 
It empowers you to have a voice, a vote, and roles of leadership. I am a proud Democrat 
yet I am even more proud to be a vigilant citizen. 

1 comment:

james said...

Hi Jason,

I'm still keeping a close eye on your blogs ;)

I must say the scenes I saw on BBC news the other day depicting wild eyed, cretinous morons incapable of rationalizing their opinions reminded of a debate we once had in class.

As soon as emotion is brought into politics, the debate becomes clouded with vitriol that obscures the pursuit of good policy.

I am just glad we are 60 years ahead of you on this and that people will calm down long enough to participate in rational discussion.

Politics isnt the sole preserve of those who shout the loudest. It should involve those with no voice at all in equal measure. Peace