Friday, April 29, 2011

Madness At Townhall Meetings Need to Stop

Nicole Sandler was recently arrested at Allen West's townhall meeting. Rep. Paul Ryan was escorted by by police out of a townhall meeting. Daily Loaf blogger Joe Bardi took Ryan to task for his lack of bravery in facing his constituents in the parking lot. After the the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, it was a good idea for the police to escort Ryan out of the building. That isn't to say that all people that go to townhall meetings are homocidal maniacs. However, since 2009, the level of civility at townhall meetings has sunk.

I am not trying to make false equivalencies between the Left and the Right. Republican politicians Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Carl Paladino and Allen West have advocated violence against political opponents. This level of rhetoric didn't help the national discourse. The tea party played on being verbally obnoxious at townhall meetings in 2009 and 2010. We now see Medicare supporters yelling at Republican members of Congress. My question is when did it become socially acceptable behavior to yell at townhall meetings?

I don't expect or want everyone to agree with each other and sing Kumbaya. What strikes me is America has not from the tragedy of the Giffords shooting. I wonder why members of Congress even bother to do townhall meetings, if they are going to have to face this kind of abuse.

The anger has more to do with the state of the economy and unemployment. If we were currently experiencing Clinton era levels of GDP and job growth, I doubt the townhalls would be this angry. Clinton had high approval ratings during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The entire body of Congress does not have Clinton's political skills and is doing nothing to produce new jobs. Congress polls low in economic good times. Proposing entitlement cuts during an economic downturn is a political disaster.

I don't like Allen West. The man behaves like a bully and is unfit for public service. I don't think Sandler should have been arrested. I would not have yelled questions at West like Sandler did. West doesn't have to answer Sandler's question. Especially when it is repeatedly yelled at him. Yes, West is ducking tough questions. We can't force him to answer a question.

I saw a tweet that a different West townhall almost became a riot. People can get hurt. I don't care what political party you are in. If you hurt another person at a townhall meeting or make an attempt on the life of an elected official you should be punished under the full extent of the law. You're elected leaders may suck. The people in your community may have bizarre political ideas. As soon as you use violence to further your political goals you forever lose the high ground.


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