The politics of personal destruction

The tragic events in Tucson bring home the point that America’s political dialog needs to change now. As the ultimate sacrifices made due to the Politics of Personal Destruction demonstrated, we need to relearn how to debate and argue without the threatening rhetoric so commonly unleashed today.

While most Americans calmly evaluate wild assertions and don’t give credence to calls for “action” against “targeted” individuals (such as those who are illustrated with gun-sights on their districts, offices, homes, or persons), the reality is a small segment of the population is differently affected — misguidedly believing such calls are justifications for violence.

If we don’t begin to make changes now, we will scare off many of the best people we could have as public servants and leaders. Already intimidated by the nonstop litany of false accusations made in attack ads and rationally concerned about the lack of privacy holding office entails, highly qualified citizens otherwise willing to serve will be intimidated further by the possibility of loss of their lives as well as harm to their loved ones.

Democrats and Republicans alike have effectively deployed the Politics of Personal Destruction with its efficacy reaching new heights in 2010 due to (1) the disconnect between candidate campaigns (where personal responsibility still exists) and third party groups (who have no palpable accountability whatsoever) and (2) the consistent effectiveness of Negative Advertising. Third party organizations have free rein to say anything without direct repercussions and, as a result, have lowered the political realm even further than once imagined.

It is time for every American to take the actions necessary to restore civility to the process and to reject the approaches so effectively used today. By educating ourselves on the issues, by listening to different points of view, and by learning how to “disagree agreeably,” we can mitigate the effectiveness of contemporary wicked approaches.

The Media needs to play an even greater role than ever before in promoting this change. We will require leadership at all levels as a purposeful effort must be deployed to consistently, fairly, and objectively inform and engage the public — with the Media challenging us daily to do better. And as each of us makes the commitment to learn more, to become better-informed, and to work at becoming more tolerant of opinions different from our own — we can change and improve America.

One initiative just starting in Colorado is a new public affairs television program titled “Colorado Now!” Its purpose is to allow citizens to see their public officials firsthand and to show how, when diverse perspectives and people meet, there can be productive exchanges which are civil and mutually respectful. For more information, please go to .
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