By Dana Duggins
Vice President | AFGE Council 220 Social Security Administration
We do not need a call for civility; we need a change in the very culture of our country.
As I watch the news in horror as the details trickled in on Saturday, it was immediately clear to me that the vitriol of politics had come to a tragic head. I was not taken back to hear Tucson’s sheriff reach that conclusion. I was pleased, but surprised that he voiced it his concerns, in such a political climate. I applaud his tenacity and his passion.
I too am appalled at the incivility of our political culture. Politicians do not think twice of declaring war on each other or slandering each other’s names and reputations. Rep. Gifford’s congressional district is a prime example. The parties moved in before the election, throw their bombs, pollute the airways, and litter their propaganda under every doormat, windshield wiper and mailbox, hoping that their half-truths resonate with voters. When the elections over, they walk away from the burning ruins and don’t look back, often leaving a very angry, incensed, politically charged public. For those mentally unstable, who have no sense of gain or progress, they are left with despair and a sense that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Couple this with nonstop radio and televisions voices echoing their angst and unanswered condemnation, the momentum grows into hatred and the need for vindication and even necessary bloodshed for the very disturbed.
I can recall my mother’s advice that you should never talk about politics or religion at family or other group events. Sometimes that was the rule for whole households. Nevertheless, those days are gone. Today, few know how to hold their tongue and keep their opinions to themselves. Fewer remember the lost art form of how to agree to disagree. The greatest change in our culture that I have noticed is the lack of tolerance of the difference in political views and/or affiliation. I cannot count the number of arguments that I have encountered with just family members about my political affiliation. It has become commonplace to choose or reject friends or acquaintances solely on political affiliations. I have heard people say, that I was “one of them,” as to surmise that I was now “the enemy” or evil upon learning my political affiliation or hearing my opinions.
On Saturday, my husband and I tied to recall when this cultural change in our country began. My earliest recollection was during the early 1990’s. I began listening to that new person on the radio, Rush Limbaugh. I was a fan. I was amazed at his ability to bring people together. At that time, we were at war with Iraq. I still remember the catchy song that he played in between commercials. CNN provided the first ever moment-by-moment events of the war. America came together and it was we vs. them, the US vs. Iraq. However, after the war, that changed. It was no longer US vs. Iraq, it was still us versus them, but it was republican against democrat, it was good against evil. It was all that was good and decent vs. Bill Clinton! I heard every conceivable conspiracy theory that grew legs on that show. I began to notice that Mr. Limbaugh’s callers quit treating him like a talk show host, but more like God. And he liked it. The more he liked it, the more insulting it became, the more divided our country seemed to be. I had to quit listening. Nevertheless, the talk did not stop because this talk made Mr. Limbaugh a millionaire. Others wanted a piece of that and have tried to take a bite out of Mr. Limbaugh’s audience, and now have their own followers and many have become very rich around the business of nasty insults and personal attacks on American politicians. Then it grew from radio to television. Whole networks and programs dedicated to antagonistic aggression against Americans that espouse political views other than their own. We have all seen the multiple split screens and all the guests are shouting above each other for the entire segment. Good grief, there was a day that a network would have never considered such a program, nor would they promote Americans who can’t stand other Americans.
I understand today that Rush Limbaugh said that the Democrats are trying to politicize the outcome of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gifford. The push back from the radio and television personalities that deny their venomous rhetoric, which infused into their audiences, continues to have an effect on those who are emotionally and/mentally unstable is unbelievable. The whole world sees it but them?
Inciting of political violence is no less deadly than those that incite criminal behavior because of racial or religious differences. They may want continued riches, they may never-ending power and if allowed to continue in the same manner, America will continue to see bloodshed. I would agree these personalities might not have intended for such a thing to happen, but the vast majority of the unstable, who feel the need take deadly action, are in fact espousing the same theories and ideas and belief system promoted by them. Now that they are on notice, I would hope that they could be held responsible in the future.
We only believe what we want to believe.
I have just finished reading the article by Dana Duggins, Vice President of Council 220, I wanted to add my two cents, no change required. I hope we have the freedom as AFGE members to debate each other on our content. That we are not lemmings just following because it sounds good. There has to be factual reasoning and a bigger picture. No one radio host is responsible for the events in Arizona. If fault lies it lies with every single American. We must stop this you verses me attitude and have unity. A Nation divided cannot stand.
Here is what I am getting at. Not all members have the same political affiliation. We must respect this fact. It is sickening that what took place in Arizona was politicized before those families could grieve the loss of their loved ones. I am so sickened by the growing attitude in this nation of those who pit one side against another. I won’t be a part of it. They know who they are. Wicked people. As AFGE members we call ourselves Brothers and Sisters to solidify our relationship as members of the same family of union fellowship.
Every day I turn on the television and see filthy show after show. Every kind of violent sexual aberrant behavior portrayed. Wicked people calling good evil and evil good. Right wrong and wrong right. Every time someone of stature is injured or killed the the media frenzy starts. First the attack on our constitutional right to have and bear arms. Days of attacking our 2nd amendment rights because a sick individual with wicked intentions killed and harmed innocent Americans. The media went on and on about the Arizona Representative as the impetus for their finger pointing. I heard little about the others killed and wounded and how about all the other murders and violent acts that happen every day in America and around this World. I give my condolences here to every American who loses a loved one every day.
No, the media does not see your Mother and Father, Brother and Sister as equal. We are considered less then a congress person who by the way is an elected SERVANT.
The media cannot divide and conquer unless they have a political argument. Well they find one every day to attack and divide. When did we get to the point that we allowed our employees in Congress to divide us rather then unify us? Because Congress now thinks of themselves more highly then they ought.
So, who is dividing us, look to Congress and the media. Look to those who are making money off the suffering of you and your neighbors. Look who is getting richer and who is getting poorer. Are you starting to see the picture?
When was the last time you heard Congress or the media condemn Hollywood for the content they dump in our faces everyday? You heard the old argument, why that advertisement is not affecting your children. Then why advertise? Who of you reading this does not understand that the most violent content is not coming from talk show hosts but from Hollywood with the media and Congress never mentioning their wickedness.
In all due respect, everything Dana was articulating she was in fact participating in the very vitriol she was condemning. ALL of us are responsible for our Nation, our Neighbor and our Families.