The Lack of Civility Begins at the Top, But Taps into Ignorance and Resentment from the Bottom

This article was originally written in Sept. 2012 following the Democratic National Convention.

The Republican Convention was an attempt to humanize Governor Mitt Romney.  The Democrats and their surrogates have spent the past three months portraying Romney as a heartless businessman who does not care about average people.  After all, his persona is generally stiff and he is not charismatic on the television screen.  On the contrary, this is Obama’s greatest asset.  Are we voting for a successful manager or a celebrity?   This conundrum results from our poor education in social studies and civics.  Few students understand that our Constitution is a document generated by citizens limiting the powers of the federal government.  This contract between the people and the government is unique in the history of mankind as Mark Levin has shown.  Our President has remarked that he wants to fundamentally change that relationship.

Mark Levine cited the declining viewership numbers for the Republican Convention as a curious problem.  He asked why half the audience tuned into the Convention this year versus 2008.  Clearly, the press coverage has helped drive up Romney’s negatives.  The lack of enthusiasm for Romney by many conservatives has added to this decline in interest, but can’t explain it thoroughly.  The general distaste for things political is more aptly due to the many disappointments that our leaders have given us.  It is no wonder that politicians that provide new services are rewarded by re-election.  The electorate lacks the background to challenge the cost or unintended consequences.  The press selectively gives the daily news and analysis knowing that the ignorance of the public is their greatest weapon in shaping national opinion.  Much of the coverage implied that the Republicans lied during their speeches. 

A perusal of most American history textbooks from high school curricula portray the industrialists of the early 1900’s as robber barons who enriched themselves at the expense of ordinary people.  Many college texts give capitalism a negative implication.  The great wealth that results from individual efforts is rarely the model that is encouraged.  One must attend a graduate business school to study any encouragement of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Yet, most MBA programs are geared toward larger corporations, rather than small businesses. The left plays into this narrative which is underlined by Marxist theories.

The President requested that our politics be elevated while appearing in Tucson, Arizona after the shootings that killed several and wounded Representative Gabby Giffords.  Yet each day brings a reduction in the level of discourse.  This decline reflects an animosity by the President’s supporters toward traditional families, a dislike of capitalism, a challenge to individual liberty in favor of statism, and a desire to enact programs despite our ability to manage the cost.  The administration deflects from the poor state of the economy, while the opposition consistently attacks the President.   The most disturbing character of our leadership is that our President condones the animus.  The President questioned the efforts of business leaders when he said they did not build it without government support.  Obama said that the private sector was doing well.  The President’s comments demonstrate a skewed understanding of economics and enterprise which results from the biases of academia.   Commentators missed the irony that President Clinton reached out to Republicans to enact legislation that benefited the nation, unlike President Obama.

We are given a daily dose of inflammatory rhetoric from the campaigns.  Most have seen the Super PAC ads showing a like Ryan look-a-like throwing an elderly lady off a cliff.  Recently the First Lady produced an ad implying the Romney’s election would result in more cancer deaths.  The Vice President gave a speech now repeated for several days in which he discussed Romney’s plan to remove “the chains from Wall Street.  But they are going to put ya’ll back in chains.”  This, said to a predominately black audience, has racial undertones.

Hyperbole and dishonesty appears to be an often used tactic.  The California Democratic Chair, John Burton, likened the Republicans to Goebbels from the Nazi era.  They demonize Romney and Ryan, using words such as “extreme”, “hateful”, and “evil” which is meant to make them unacceptable.  Clearly, the administration’s record must be presented as interest group (such as the UAW) successes, rather than for the nation as a whole.  At the Democratic National Convention film from the campaign between the deceased Senator Kennedy and Mitt Romney was used to attack Romney.  Where is the decency in this approach?  Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC Chair, recently stated that Israeli Ambassador Oren had accused the Republicans of being a threat to Israel which was untrue.  The fight over the platform language concerning the use of the term “God” and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel demonstrates the lack of candor which is now commonplace in politics.  The press and politicians often play on the ignorance of this minutia.

The Republicans have a glaring problem which can be seen from the podium.  They advocate success and relate their stories of upward mobility in the United States.  The vast majority of Americans has not tasted this success and has no understanding of how to accomplish it.  This is the rub:  the Democrats have used class warfare because it speaks to the resentment of the majority of people.  They view Mitt Romney’s success as a negative:  he is too rich to understand normal people and is aloof and detached.  After listening to the tales of Romney’s personal commitment to families during difficult times, could anyone continue to feel that he is the Ebenezer Scrooge of Dickens tales?  But the liberals will still call for his tax returns and claim he evaded taxes in the Cayman Islands.  Stephanie Cutter continues in her position after remarking that Romney committed a felony.  The President could end this tone instantly.

After the Republican Convention, it is clear that Romney has given women a place at the table.   Now liberals will question their policies:  Do they pay equal amounts for the same work?  Will they give women full contraceptive and reproductive rights without any additional costs?  Will the gender gap close after these conventions?  The Democrats will portray the opposition as anti-female.  Sandra Fluke’s speech at the DNC was inflammatory.  Yet the Democrats complain that the speeches at the RNC were a personal attack.  Perhaps the divide is too great to bridge.  However, the class warfare employed by Elizabeth Warren conflicts with Michelle Obama’s statement that her husband does not view people differently.  The conflict between the parties deepens as the public appetite for details decreases since we cannot hold them accountable.  Our ignorance and envy of success may undermine any public discourse.  It certainly limits any chance for compromise.

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