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Civility and the Declaration of Independence   January 25th, 2011
We have serious disagreements, let's be honest about it       

 
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It took a congresswoman being shot for liberals to come up with a good way to push back against a conservative onslaught in the U.S. House. In the spirit of "don't ever let a crisis go to waste," liberals first tried to leverage the terrible attack against prominent conservatives, to try to shut them up or shut them down. That didn't work since the prominent conservatives were all too willing to push back and refused to shut up.

Politicians, though, are often far more sensitive about anything that makes them look mean. So liberals realized they were aiming too low.

Instead, the Tuscon attack has led to calls for "civility" in the political class. This new buzzword has extended the concept of "bipartisanship" which is, itself, code which means that conservatives compromise their principles and liberals win. It's political correctness which is nothing but peer pressure to engage in self-censorship, primarily self-censorship of conservatives in opposing the liberal agenda (because it's seemingly never politically incorrect when a liberal says a conservative wants to starve poor children or kill the elderly).

While Republicans are in the process of neutering themselves by hiding their large majority by agreeing to sit with Democrats tonight, they will politely listen as the President of the United States likely congratulates Congress for the monumental step of (drum roll please)... sitting with each other. The president may say, "Wow, you sat together. Anything is possible. Now that you can civilly sit next to each other, certainly you will all be able to deal with the federal deficit and all our other differences in a civil manner."

It's symbolism over substance, tone over accomplishment, and conservatives compromising while liberals win.

How different would the world be if many of today's politicians lived back in 1776, and if King George III had simply called for "civility" and "bipartisanship?" Maybe they would have wadded up their draft of the Declaration of Independence and sat shoulder to shoulder with British soldiers while listening to the king tell them all the ways they're wrong and he's right, and that in the spirit of civility and bipartisanship they should really just go along with the king.

Instead, great American leaders of the day were very civil in stating their grievances. Then they did what was necessary to fix the problems in a very uncivil way.

Civility isn't always a virtue, it isn't always called for, and it doesn't always lead to the necessary result. When it comes to civility, Patrick Swayze's words come to mind: "Be nice. Until it's time to not be nice."

So please, Republican elected officials, just implement the conservative policies we elected you to implement and stop playing politically correct games with Democrats. When some liberal ridiculously accuses you of wanting to starve poor children or kill the elderly (while almost simultaneously calling for civility), ignore their antics and make the grown-up decisions that are necessary to save our states and country from financial disaster. Explain your conservative reasoning but don't apologize for it, and stop dignifying absurd accusations with a response that puts you on the defensive. And definitely don't compromise your conservative principles because some Democrat is trying to make you look bad.

When you reach across the aisle, let it be for the purpose of yanking someone to our side of it. Once they're on our side of the aisle, feel free to join them for a beer and have a civil conversation about why it took them so long to get there.

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