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Guest column | Michael Cox

Time to recover reasonableness in politics

Last week, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green was shot dead along with five other innocent people while waiting to meet their representative in the U. S. Congress. The grade-schooler was born on Sept. 11, 2001, a day of great tragedy for our country. The day of Christina's birth was also a day of unity for our country, as we were all instantly united as Americans. We were focused on helping the survivors, praying for the victims and bringing justice to those responsible.

What happened to that unity?

The assassination attempt on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is a continuation of events that illustrates what is wrong with our society. By all accounts this horrific attack was perpetrated by an unstable individual obsessed with his dislike for Rep. Giffords. Tragically, the events of Jan. 8 are transforming into a day representing great division for our country when we should be coming together as a nation.

We have become a culture that demands instant gratification and is intolerant of differing opinions. The self-proclaimed conservative right and liberal left are fixated on blaming each other for our collective faults. We are now witnessing special interests attempting to use these horrible events to advance their causes. They should be ashamed. In today's 24-hour media cycle we witness commentators using these circumstances as the latest example of why they possess the only logical solutions to the world's problems.

I believe these radio and television personalities are more concerned about profit than solving problems. The more division they create the more money they make. Why do we allow these self-ordained prophets to dictate our thoughts and actions? Are the talking heads responsible for the Tucson shootings? Of course not, but do they add to the fervor and argumentative nature of our society? I most certainly believe so.

You could debate that the foundation of this discord can be traced back to our founding fathers. For all their brilliance in forming our democracy, they made a strategic error. In 1796, James Adams and Thomas Jefferson participated in the creation of what today is know as the two-party system. Their differences caused years of strife between once close allies. They only settled their division after they were no longer distracted by the arguments of the day. Later in life they re-established their endearing admiration and died within hours of each other on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence that Jefferson penned and both had signed.

From these early days of our fragile union we have metastasized into an "us against them" and "I'm right, you're wrong" predisposition.

Our country used to focus on the advancement of our common good, economic survival and defeat of our enemies. Over the last four decades our culture has digressed. We have witnessed the discord surrounding the Vietnam War, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and attempted assassinations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Are we going to allow this malice toward one another to fester until we find ourselves in the middle of another modern day civil war? I pray not.

My hope is we review the lessons that the greatest generation taught us. That fame and recognition are not important. Doing what is right and necessary is important. When these brave men and women came back after World War II they built America into the superpower it is today. By tearing down one another through deeds or actions, each of us is taking part in an unconscious but deliberate destruction of our country.

We should heed the words of Thomas Jefferson, "Though the will of the majority in all cases is to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable."

If we can be reasonable with each other as Jefferson suggests then maybe we can avoid the next tragedy.

Michael Cox served as Pasco County commissioner from 2006-10.

Time to recover reasonableness in politics 01/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 3:31am]
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