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Canadian snowbird sees widening political, social divide in U.S.

Re: Arizona shooting

Snowbird sees a growing divide

Twenty years ago, when I first came as a seasonal snowbird to Florida, I was unaware of the differences between left and right, Democrats and Republicans. I could not tell if my neighbors were members of one or the other party or whether they were Christian or Jewish, Buddhist or atheist. Today, it is a different scenario.

The 55-plus community in which I live six months of the year is a microcosm of the national scene. Things have become very personal, attacking character rather than issues. People are politically polarized — all black and white, with few gray areas. Homeowners association meetings are more than painful. There is an undercurrent of fear of neighbors. Some own and carry guns. Tempers flare for no rational reason and control freaks cause havoc amidst friends.

It has become quite scary. For years, I never locked my doors. Now, I check on all doors regularly. I would not be shocked by a tragedy like the one in Arizona here.

I expect to be asked if I am a Democratic snowbird or a Republic one, even if I have Canadian citizenship.

Don't get me wrong. I love Florida for its weather, its beaches, its wildlife and the friendships I have made.

However, today it is like waiting for a terrible disaster to take place. I pray the United States is not on the brink of self-destruction due to the polarity of political persuasion, intolerance for the ideas of the other person, a judgmental attitude towards systems that are not as "evolved" as the one we know.

For me, gun control is a must. Guns are purchased to be used and in harsh economic times they will be used by unstable or frustrated individuals.

The two-party political system does not help, but the solution does not lie in another T-type party that is polarized and lacks tolerance.

We can only start with our youth, within the schools, enhancing critical thinking skills that are based on logic and reasoning. Within families too, parents can do so much to foster tolerance for others.

What a task! Still, it is not too late. At least, I hope not.

Once I regretted not having emigrated from Ireland to the United States rather than Canada, but now I am not so sure. Had I become an American, I might be where Gabrielle Giffords is today. The land I have come to love is in pain, hurting and needs to start healing right now. The more I watch TV, the more distraught I feel.

Rita Brownen, Clearwater

Stay aloof from divisive politics

There is enough blame to go around. We have had two years of being bombarded with verbal abuse and hatemongers. Then came the results of a well-bought election. Still, there is no change.

The minority leader of the U.S. Senate has stated many times his primary objective is to oppose the president: "Make him a one-term president." The majority leader in the U.S. House has stated he doesn't believe the Congressional Budget Office figures on health care, leaving us to believe that there is a major conspiracy in the government.

Dismantling the past two years was not the primary objective. If I remember right, "repair and replace" was the objective. There must be some good that happened somewhere in government in the last two years. I suggest you build on that. Or, continue the rhetoric and we end up with another Arizona.

We have one particular "news" channel that pays its broadcasters very well. Yet the majority of what they are broadcasting as news is personal opinion based on what they claim our Founding Fathers intended. When anyone says, "Believe me, I speak the truth" and incites bigotry and hatred with half-truths, change the channel! Education and common sense mean I don't open the door any more to invite my abusers in.

Thank you for the forum to express my opinion.

Jean L. Corcoran, Tarpon Springs

Cable TV vitriol fuels the crazies

This was an event waiting to happen. All the warning signs were there. The vitriol on talk radio and the illogical reasoning we continuously watch on cable TV were feeding the crazies. It may be coming from both sides of the political spectrum, but predominately it is coming from the right.

There seems to be a lot of profit in constantly stirring up the pot. I do not have to mention any names, but I think most of us know who they are. It is dividing the nation into two camps and defies reasoning.

Some of our politicians have a lot of explaining to do.

Jack Levine, Palm Harbor

Politicians need to cool rhetoric

We had to worry a little when bulls-eyes started to show up on congressional maps, when people were routinely taking firearms of all types to political events and when important candidates for national office like Sharron Angle of Nevada started talking about using Second Amendment remedies.

These were all efforts to intimidate candidates and office holders in ways that are not part of our Constitution and that have no place in our political discussion.

Everyone needs to take a step back and decide if anger is the emotion and threats of violence are the methods we want to be a part of our political debate. I hope it is not.

Kyle Quattlebaum, Clearwater

Don't blame right for the tragedy

The shooting in Arizona is a tragedy for everyone of goodwill, but I see that some cannot let this episode pass without putting a political spin on it for their own selfish purposes. It is actually being said that this shooting was the result of right-wing rhetoric from politicians, the tea party and TV-radio show hosts. What a crock!

If you want to talk about incendiary speech, let's look at the things being said by folks like Van Jones, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. It is people such as these who have called for violent uprising and revolution. They look at the riots in England and Greece as models for Americans unhappy with their lot in life to "turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible." Those are the words from the left, not the right!

And it doesn't matter that this nut job with a gun is a self-espousing lover of the writings of Hitler and Stalin.

People have died because of the actions of a lunatic. I would hope that this event would not be used for political opportunism. That would indeed be stooping to a new low.

Lance K. Piscitelli, Clearwater

Canadian snowbird sees widening political, social divide in U.S. 01/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 6:54pm]
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