President Barack Obama

Town Hall Madness And Mean Spiritedness: The Death of Civility?

With Congress returning, the month of August Town Halls recedes into the past, and thank goodness for that, as it was NOT a great moment in American democracy.

The first thought would be: How can one say that, as we are hearing the “voice of the people” speaking to their representatives in the Congress?

I wish that was the case, but instead so often we have heard the lunatics, the extremists, the whackos, and those encouraged by the health insurance industry, and right wingers to disrupt, to scream and shout, to promote an image of madness and mean spiritedness, rather than have intelligent discussion. It is hard not to be embarrassed by the horrible display of outrageous behavior by men and women who either have no regard for others or just have an agenda to prevent any health care reform due to ulterior motives.

Two recent examples just add to the bad taste that the town halls left us in the past month.

One involved a large part of a town hall audience in New Jersey booing and jeering as a disabled, handicapped woman recounted her battle to pay her health care and the danger of losing her home, as a result. Watching a man comment that this woman had more rights than he did, and the overall lack of sympathy of the audience, made me weep symbolically for my country. Why have we witnessed such madness and mean spiritedness, and lost a sense of caring about those less fortunate among us?

The second town hall in Virginia, held by Senator Mark Warner, witnessed a citizen declare that President Obama was unpatriotic, to which Warner responded by defending the President, and saying that it was improper to label the leader of the nation with such a description. Warner said that would be wrong to say, as much about President Bush or any other President, as about Obama. The reaction of a large portion of the crowd was to boo and jeer Senator Warner, who still held his ground, and is to be praised for his courage.

We are living in a time when there is lack of civility growing all around us, and it presents us with a crisis that must be dealt with. Are we, in a time of economic crisis and insecurity, to turn Americans against other Americans, to lose respect for our government leadership, and to lose any concern about those among us who are less fortunate in whatever form? Are we to give in to the haters, the dividers, those who have no limits to exploit hard times, and promote a “jungle” atmosphere of “dog eat dog”?

Are we losing, as a nation, our dignity, our decency, and our human compassion? IF we are, we are in much deeper trouble than anyone yet realizes! 🙁