(David Mansdoerfer) – After Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Mike Doyle called the Tea Party ‘terrorists’, I began to wonder what happened to the rhetoric truce/tone down that was supposed to happen after the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Giffords.
Less than a year ago, the left accused the Tea Party of insinuating violence against Rep. Giffords. They even went so far as to accuse Sarah Palin’s political targeting maps as being a factor in the shooting.
Now, when the Vice President of the United States, and a Member of Congress, calls all those who believe in limited government and low taxes ‘terrorists’, one has to wondering if the media has a short-term memory or a double-standard.
For the Vice President of the United States to even insinuate that Tea Partiers and limited government Republicans are closely related to terrorists who blow themselves shows the utter contempt the White House has for those who have philosophical differences.
For instance, on one side you have Democrats/liberals who believe that government spending and programs are the most efficient way to deal with societies problems.
On the other, you have the Tea Party/Republicans who believe that the free market and personal liberty provide adequate tools for individuals to solve societies problems without the governments help.
Beyond these philosophical difference, however, one important thing to note is that each side passionately believes that it is their way or the highway. On top of this, both sides are equally guilty in resorting to vicious political rhetoric when they can’t back up their policy positions.
When the Right does it to the Left, it is all the media can talk about for the next week. Yet, when the Left does it to the Right, were lucky if the conservative leaning news stations and bloggers spend 15 minutes on it.
Now, we must remember that, to many, politics is a way to extend personal beliefs out into public discourse. This, accompanied by people’s lack of ability to get their point across, makes it extremely likely that people will resort to name calling.
Remember the old adage, ‘sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me’? Well, all too often in politics people let ‘words’ hurt them. For this, both sides need to be equally accountable for what they say.
In grad school, I spent two years reviewing and debating various public policy dilemmas with students who ranged across the political spectrum. At times, while I would get under their skin, and they would get under mine, it never resorted to personal attacks. Instead of digressing to name-calling, my classmates would try to one-up me and each other as we debated.
While grad school policy debates are vastly different/less important than the debates on the House/Senate floor, these debates taught me that winning through rhetoric (especially bad rhetoric) is pointless. Winning through policy and reason, however, is much more effective in making substantial change.
Politician’s should remember that the next time that they can’t back up their argument and resort to name-calling.
(Mr. Mansdoerfer is the Director of Federal Affairs for Citizen Outreach)