Listening to an echo
Something you probably didn’t have a chance to participate in provided a prime example this past week of why our political system has changed from the art of compromise to the ugliness of who can shout the loudest.
Our congressman, Tracey Mann, conducted a “listening tour” Thursday morning at Marion County Lake. It was an admirable idea. Unfortunately, all he heard was an echo chamber filled with ultra-conservative viewpoints that probably aren’t shared by the silent majority of county residents.
Late notice, attributed by his staff to Congress being called into session early, meant only a select few knew he was coming. The list was stacked with what politicians would call “core” voters — elected officials and known supporters of ultra-right-wing viewpoints.
Mann, to his credit, tried to play things down the middle and not pander excessively to extremist views, but audience members kept pushing him, asserting among other things that America is a republic not a democracy, that the entire State Department should be fired, and that a new constitutional convention is needed to reform our government.
Questioners passionately insisted that people shouldn’t be required to get COVID vaccinations or wear masks, even if they work in health care, and that COVID should simply be allowed to move through society unchecked, even if that meant some people died.
Speakers offered much passion for individual rights but no compassion for the rights of others, which we continue to believe are among the primary values of Marion County residents.
The problem is, if the only voices heard are those shouting from the extremes — whether those extremes are to the right or to the left — the shouting match that has replaced governing in our society will continue unabated.
For those whose views are more compassionate or moderate, it’s time to put into action what up until now has been merely a typing lesson: Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their parties.
Otherwise, their parties — disruptive as they can be — are going to become increasingly irrelevant to the silent majority of voters.
— ERIC MEYER