02.07.2011 0

Civility: A Two-Way Street

By David Bozeman –

With civility all the rage now, many of us who participate in daily discourse are imposing speech codes on ourselves. CNN will no longer say “crosshairs,” of course (I feel safer already), and news outlets across the country are monitoring the content at their online message boards.

One could argue that the Internet could stand a fumigation regimen, but the knee-jerk reaction to Tucson (and, let’s face it, the November elections) has been to shame the citizenry into tempering their dialogue. But does anyone shake their fingers at our elected officials who far too often express contempt for the very Americans they purport to serve?

Congressman Jim Moran (VA) recently summed up the 2010 elections to much the same pro-slavery, anti-black sentiments prevalent during the Civil War. Numerous other examples abound, with far too many to recount here, from candidate Barack Obama lamenting the suspicions of the “typical white person” to his famous “private” comment concerning fearful Americans clinging to their guns and religion.

There exists a significant degree of animus among the ruling class toward ordinary Americans, even among some on the right, but the preponderance festers on the left. Who would be more likely to enjoy a down-home barbeque with a factory worker, Sarah Palin or Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer? Who invests more faith in the industriousness of average Americans, Rush Limbaugh or the smarmy Bill Maher?

Indeed, leftist power holders and their champions in the media consider the passions of ordinary Americans a nuisance. Consider Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik after the Tucson tragedy, blaming the country’s heated rhetoric for the actions of one dangerous, disturbed individual. To liberals, their words and policies don’t merely match the public orthodoxy, they define it.

Power in general and liberalism in particular are always in fashion — thought-control chic — and to question their edicts is akin to wearing white socks with a tuxedo. Isn’t it liberals who typically inform the public that debate on certain subjects, such as the teaching of evolution, global warming and the inherent evil of corporate CEOs is now closed?

Like an exclusive society founded on admiration for their own benevolence and intellectual superiority, ruling class elitists know that if everyone can join their country club, then what have they got? Harry Reid once famously complained of the smell of visitors to the capital in the summer. The affinity they feign for average Americans only puffs up their own sense of self-importance, and they maintain their grip by shaming the ingrate masses into silence.

If, as a self-governing people, we decide to soften the tenor of public debate, then the burden falls on the servants of the people as well as on the nation at large. We don’t bow to autocrats in this country, nor do we take marching orders from the haughty neighbors up the road. Ideally, the nation’s wealth and power belong to the producers and not to smooth-talking snake-oil salesmen whose dominance in public life hinges on charisma over substance and tactic over principle. Only as long as everyday Americans assert their voice will we reclaim our heritage as a Constitutional republic governed by and for the people.

Someone once noted that a society is defined not by the aspirations and pretenses of its leaders but by the character of its everyday citizens. Their hopes and values define a great nation that candidate Obama vowed to “transform,” but we don’t need the pieties of arrogant rulers to prosper, only a heightened belief in ourselves as a free people and a resolve that our leaders will try to emulate us and not the other way around.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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