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POLITICS: Enough Already

POLITICS: Enough Already


Politics “is a process by which groups of people make decisions”… but for the purpose of this missive, I am referring to the process by which we Americans elect our representatives and expect them to govern.

I recognize politics as a necessary and necessarily dirty business. Unlike a monarchy or dictatorship, our representative form of governance not only allows citizen participation, it depends on it and cannot survive without it; but such a democratic ideal comes with a price: Virtually constant conflict.

Adversarial interaction is not a bad thing in and of itself; for example, it is the basis of our judicial system: Each side presents its case, rebuts the other side, and then a judge or panel makes a decision based upon the merits of the presentations. In this way facts are presented, both sides are heard, and the decider(s) can reach an informed opinion.


However, in politics, conflicts of interest are ripe. We’ve got the Government, which is the “goal” because the more influence/control you’ve attained, the more power you have. We have the individuals that put themselves forward as candidates for Government positions, and whose motives are always (and rightfully) subject to critical analysis: Are they doing this for the common good or are they in it for the power?

And then we have the citizenry which will collectively determine which candidates will be elected; and to a lesser degree, how they will govern. And since the citizenry is hundreds of millions of people, each with their own interests, ideologies, and goals, unlike the well-structured judicial model, it’s easy to see how things can get messy. Add to this our constitutional protections, which ensure that the people can petition the Government and speak freely… and the result is a cacophony of many voices. To bring order to this anticipated (planned?) chaos, the Founders developed a template by which we can be heard, i.e.: The VOTE.

Of course that doesn’t mean that “our side” needs to be victorious in order to criticize the Government… indeed this great Nation was founded upon such cynicism and it continues to be a cherished freedom.


But there are proper venues, and proper manners, in which to express such criticism. Protected First Amendment Freedoms of Speech and Peaceable Assembly do NOT include the “freedom” to deprive others of those rights. There is ample American historic (and judicial) precedent that eschews both anarchy and the “heckler’s veto”… these are not traditional American values.

Recently there has been a spate of disruptions at “town hall” meetings. These meetings are usually an opportunity for the citizens/voters to be informed by their elected representatives, to ask questions and engage in public discussion… even to “petition the government” as is their right; and I see these meetings as a function of our carefully designed representative governance. Such meetings predate the American Revolution itself, and I think should be considered sacrosanct by any American patriot.

That is why this intentional pattern of disruption must be condemned in the harshest possible terms. It’s not “just a meeting”… it’s an organized attack upon our Nation from within. There are parties that are trying to interrupt communications and the flow of information betwixt the voter/citizens and their elected representatives… and we simply cannot tolerate that.


It’s un-American.

Enough already.
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13 Comments On This Entry

Well written, sir! B) If I attend a meeting, and people are being excessively disruptive, I would certainly suggest they leave.
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swede1962, on Aug 8 2009, 02:14 PM, said:

Well written, sir! B) If I attend a meeting, and people are being excessively disruptive, I would certainly suggest they leave.

I want them arrested, charged, and prosecuted... but suggesting they leave is also good. B)
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Are you talking about an actual town hall meeting or the pep-rallies that these politicians are expecting when they show up? Are you referring to Tea Party members, Code Pink, or the average American Citizen who's demanding to be heard by the politician that is supposed to represent them? Because frankly, one of them has done far more property damage & physical harm than the other two. Would you also demand the same penalties be applied to those that have shouted down the founders of the Minuteman organization, those that have assaulted Ann Coulter, and those that have vandalized USMC recruitment centers?I think it's important to be clear here. You're right, excessively disruptive people shouldn't be allowed to take over these meetings. However, these politicians need to be reminded that they're there to inform, take questions, & address serious concerns from the audience. No matter how unsupportive those questions might be towards that politician's goals. Remember, politicians are just as capable of being un-American as those people you're lambasting here. It's a two-way street.
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I disagree. When politicians cease to listen to the people who put them in office, it's time to shout them down, shut them up, and send them out of town.
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You make a good case, but I hesitate to affirm or agree. I think a little disruption, a little ruffling of the feathers, is a healthy thing. I think calls for decorum can easily be leveraged to silence dissent through the trappings of procedure.

I wonder how you would judge this group of AARP members who refused to "keep their comments quiet" at a town hall meeting about health care reform. Should they be arrested and prosecuted? The whole lot of them?

See, the problem is you can't respond to outrageous behavior without of degree of appropriate outrage of your own. When politicians demonstrate a lack of respect for their constituents by mischaracterizing their activities, disregarding dissent, or presenting themselves as superiors instead of servants, the only appropriate response is calling them out on the spot. You can't stand idly by, waiting for your turn to raise your hand, hoping you'll get called on and get your two minutes. They count on having that kind of control. You have to remind them that they are not in control. They are the servant, not the served.

That's not to say chaos should rule. I understand your argument, and would agree with it under the assumption that the politician is demonstrably interested in fulfilling their appropriate role and serving the people humbly. Disruptions for disruption's sake are not excusable. But responding with just rage to outrageous behavior is the essence of dissent.
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MADGestic, on Aug 8 2009, 03:26 PM, said:

swede1962, on Aug 8 2009, 02:14 PM, said:

Well written, sir! :thumbsup: If I attend a meeting, and people are being excessively disruptive, I would certainly suggest they leave.

I want them arrested, charged, and prosecuted... but suggesting they leave is also good. :)

Which of these two gentlemen would you like to have arrested, charged & prosecuted?
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MADGestic, on Aug 8 2009, 09:26 AM, said:

swede1962, on Aug 8 2009, 02:14 PM, said:

Well written, sir! :thumbsup: If I attend a meeting, and people are being excessively disruptive, I would certainly suggest they leave.

I want them arrested, charged, and prosecuted... but suggesting they leave is also good. :)

For what? Going down fighting as their rights are yanked from them? How magnificently "open-minded" and "tolerant".

So, for you folks on the left, here is the agenda: Shut down talk radio via Fairness Doctrine, turn in dissenters to Obama's policies to the White House website, provide government funding to organizations such as ACORN who, in turn, work the streets to get as many people (real or imaginary) to vote for democrats (the more left the better), and now arrest protesters at town halls. Do you have any idea who you sound like?


Further, would you say the same about Code Pink? ACORN? Union thugs? Black Panthers? (clearly with this bunch, the administration doesn't) War Protesters? The million man march? The million mom march? NOW? NARAL? How about the dozens of instances at universities where conservative speakers have been shouted down and there was such a ruckus that the speech/presentation was cancelled?
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"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Thomas Jefferson
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One more:

"An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry. "

Thomas Jefferson
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Walter Scott Hudson, on Aug 9 2009, 04:54 AM, said:

You make a good case, but I hesitate to affirm or agree. I think a little disruption, a little ruffling of the feathers, is a healthy thing. I think calls for decorum can easily be leveraged to silence dissent through the trappings of procedure.

I wonder how you would judge this group of AARP members who refused to "keep their comments quiet" at a town hall meeting about health care reform. Should they be arrested and prosecuted? The whole lot of them?

See, the problem is you can't respond to outrageous behavior without of degree of appropriate outrage of your own. When politicians demonstrate a lack of respect for their constituents by mischaracterizing their activities, disregarding dissent, or presenting themselves as superiors instead of servants, the only appropriate response is calling them out on the spot. You can't stand idly by, waiting for your turn to raise your hand, hoping you'll get called on and get your two minutes. They count on having that kind of control. You have to remind them that they are not in control. They are the servant, not the served.

That's not to say chaos should rule. I understand your argument, and would agree with it under the assumption that the politician is demonstrably interested in fulfilling their appropriate role and serving the people humbly. Disruptions for disruption's sake are not excusable. But responding with just rage to outrageous behavior is the essence of dissent.

Thank you Walter, I appreciate your input. However I find your analogy of an isolated AARP meeting to be inapplicable to the essence of my missive. Unlike American citizenship, the AARP is a private organization with wholly voluntary membership, whereas citizen-voters are represented in the government by elected representatives even if they didn’t vote for them.

Disruption of private-organization meetings… (like shareholder meetings)… may disappoint non-disruptive member-attendees… but it cannot be said that such disruption(s) actually violated their constitutional rights.

True such deliberate disruption is just as counterproductive and immature… but when the speaker is a representative of the government and the meeting is essentially a function of that… plus the indisputable countrywide, deliberate, and organized aspects of this rash of disruptions… this AARP meeting is like a Boy Scout troop that got a little too excited. Yeah it’s deplorable but it just doesn’t compare.


And I find it difficult to call the nationwide shout-down “a little ruffling of the feathers”… it’s a deliberate attempt to interrupt the communication and flow of information betwixt voters and elected representatives; and it is unquestionably being catalyzed by political operatives. There is an ulterior motive here and I challenge anyone to compellingly deny that. (Lord knows the Republican party hasn't done so.)

As I’ve already said, there are plenty of appropriate and productive avenues of dissent… and unless you’re planning to overthrow the Government, this isn’t one of them. The right to dissent most certainly does not include depriving others of their constitutional freedom to petition the government (etc)… which I think is the essence and intent of this obvious pattern of disruption.

If you want to ruffle your representative’s feather then campaign, vote, and even run against them… but trying to BREAK the face-to-face contact of a “town meeting” is just dirty, vile, and distinctly un-American.



ADDED: Or maybe I'm wrong... is there a compellingly "conservative" justification for such antics?
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quixoticconundrum, on Aug 8 2009, 10:12 PM, said:

Are you talking about an actual town hall meeting or the pep-rallies that these politicians are expecting when they show up? Are you referring to Tea Party members, Code Pink, or the average American Citizen who's demanding to be heard by the politician that is supposed to represent them? Because frankly, one of them has done far more property damage & physical harm than the other two. Would you also demand the same penalties be applied to those that have shouted down the founders of the Minuteman organization, those that have assaulted Ann Coulter, and those that have vandalized USMC recruitment centers?

I think it's important to be clear here. You're right, excessively disruptive people shouldn't be allowed to take over these meetings. However, these politicians need to be reminded that they're there to inform, take questions, & address serious concerns from the audience. No matter how unsupportive those questions might be towards that politician's goals. Remember, politicians are just as capable of being un-American as those people you're lambasting here. It's a two-way street.

I’m not sure what kind of “pep rally” you are imagining/presenting as a straw man… but the fact that direct communications between voters and representatives of the government are being disrupted.

And are you suggesting that ideological pressure groups are somehow involved here? PLEASE… DO TELL.

We aren’t talking about “dissent”, “criticism”, or mere “questions”… this is organized and intentional disruption of the flow of information between elected representatives and citizens… and it should be condemned in the harshest possible terms.
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cobalt-blue, on Aug 9 2009, 12:35 AM, said:

I disagree. When politicians cease to listen to the people who put them in office, it's time to shout them down, shut them up, and send them out of town.

And you think this is way to do it? By stepping on your neighbors? I thought that was what the voting booth was for... to send such messages.
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Howsithangin, on Aug 9 2009, 09:10 AM, said:

MADGestic, on Aug 8 2009, 09:26 AM, said:

swede1962, on Aug 8 2009, 02:14 PM, said:

Well written, sir! :thumbsup: If I attend a meeting, and people are being excessively disruptive, I would certainly suggest they leave.

I want them arrested, charged, and prosecuted... but suggesting they leave is also good. :)

For what? Going down fighting as their rights are yanked from them? How magnificently "open-minded" and "tolerant".

So, for you folks on the left, here is the agenda: Shut down talk radio via Fairness Doctrine, turn in dissenters to Obama's policies to the White House website, provide government funding to organizations such as ACORN who, in turn, work the streets to get as many people (real or imaginary) to vote for democrats (the more left the better), and now arrest protesters at town halls. Do you have any idea who you sound like?
Further, would you say the same about Code Pink? ACORN? Union thugs? Black Panthers? (clearly with this bunch, the administration doesn't) War Protesters? The million man march? The million mom march? NOW? NARAL? How about the dozens of instances at universities where conservative speakers have been shouted down and there was such a ruckus that the speech/presentation was cancelled?


… and…

Howsithangin, on Aug 9 2009, 09:22 AM, said:

One more:

"An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry. "Thomas Jefferson


I’m terribly sorry… did you somehow think that all of that distraction actually excuses the reprehensible actions of the “Town Hall Meeting Terrorists”?

What do they want to throw into Boston Harbor this time? Surely not crates of tea… objecting to King George’s “trivial but tyrannical” 3-penny tax… ya think?

What “rights are yanked from them”?... that they have to step all over fellow citizens like this? Hmmm?
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