The Press is calling it the Tragedy in Tucson, but what really took place in Tuscon Arizona with the machine gunning to death of a Federal Court Judge John Roll, five other innocents, 20 victims in total including the near-mortal wounding of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is that Civility got shot to death. The hurting irony is that Ms Giffords has been an epitome of moderation, civility and grace – not necessarily a combination to be found in abundance in the US Congress as partisanship and polarization of the past 20 years filters out the Good. In fact. what happened is that the stove of inflammatory political rhetoric whooshed into deadly flames taking two victims who have been models of civility – a moderate and ironically most civil Congresswoman plus a fair-minded Federal Judge.
And as a counterpoint, there are Conservative George Will and Tea Party Leader Dick Armey on ABCTV`s This Week program telling us Not to Worry. George Will – Get used to this; this is the status quo in America – every little while we have one of these killing episodes followed by fretting for a short period of time but nothing can really be done. Dick Armey – this was the isolated act of a deranged person, it is unseemly but it is part of our polarized times.Oh … and by implication the Tea Party could never have done or condoned this.
What is clear is that a physical massacre followed from the constant SAW V-like blood spattering of fact and egregious defamation of character which has been the `winning formula`in electioneering throughout the US. Yet everyone seems to have to say – `we knew the political temperature and partisan polarization was way up, but we never could imagine this explosion or that it would happen in this way`. It is as if the actual triggering, deviant political partisanship and ignition of political inflammation and demonization that has carried political rhetoric to incendiary extremes – all this extremism could not be actualized and have physical consequences. Yet this Fury has been seen so graphically a part of US politics for the past 20-30 years not just in the US MidTerm Elections but a long succession of extreme political maneuvering . Though they have been leading with below the belt punches for the last 20 years, the GOP, in its defense will trot out the idea, don`t brand us as the Bigots Supreme , the other side has been sampling the unsavories too.This a a clone of why the GOP`s utter capitulation to the Wall Street superrich is A-OK, the Dems have taken blood money too.
What has come front and center with this deed of death is that basic political debate and processes have become unhinged in America. Vitriol and falsehood win elections. It take 60 votes in the Senate to get a `majority`. One can win elections by fooling most of the people most of the time – the effort to get the populace up to speed on what are the true issues and options are easily sabotaged by clever populist deception ; so don`t bother trying it. It is okay for interest groups and organizations to have limited liability but unlimited campaign financing and lobbying rights. It is ok to use a national network , Fox News, which espouses `fair and balanced` reporting to foment dissent and disaffection while using not just dark shadings of the truth but utter false hoods. – all this to fan the flames of discontent with the Democrats. NYTimes columnist and Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman has been decrying the move of the US to a Banana Republic economically. Now it appears that Paul Krugman stopped well short – politically the US is moving onto Banana Republicanism.