Archive for Monday, October 13, 2003

Civil debate dead?

October 13, 2003


To the editor:

Civil debate in the United States has been marginalized. In its place has arisen a culture of cynics and pundits that smugly label and dismiss any idea that fails to fit neatly into their partisan world view. Those who disagree with the party line are not only wrong, but evil. In this culture, true listening is replaced by attempts on all sides to dominate discussion through sheer volume, as if credibility were measured in decibels. There is no longer room for honest disagreement or new ideas.

Reasonable persuasion has been abandoned as a tool of American politics. Political candidates no longer even make a show of appealing to all their constituents. They travel from staged performance to staged performance, extolling the alleged virtues of their dogma to a well groomed, handpicked audience of brain-dead partisans. Rather than honestly arguing the fundamental assumptions underlying a particular policy stand, they spend their resources searching for personal weaknesses and effective spin control. In the process, the public is denied the benefit of an honest debate about the correct role of government in our society. Instead, they are treated to a circus of sophistry, bursting at the seams with meaningless posturing, empty accusations and blatantly emotional appeals.

It's far past time that the purveyors of this insanity were held accountable and reason restored to the American political process. The only question is, do we, as a society, have the courage to do so?

Galen Thies,


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