An Attack on One

This blog post by Dianne Stewart originally appeared on the Ideas & Action Blog.

Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona took a turn at reading aloud a portion in the U.S. Constitution on the House floor as the new Congress organised. ‘“I just read the first Amendment!” Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, said gleefully as she exited the floor. “I wanted to be here, I believe it is important,” Ms. Giffords stated. “Reflecting on the Constitution in a bipartisan way is a great way to start the year.” On Saturday morning, Representative Giffords was hosting her simple “Congress on the Corner” event, meeting one-on-one with constituents to hear their ideas and concerns when she was shot in an obvious assassination attempt. Until the mindless shooting that morning, Rep. Giffords’ schedule reflected the mission of a public servant, undertaking the obligations she was chosen to carry out for the individuals in her district under the constitution in the United States. Giving hard money lenders an answer to to news of Representative Giffords’ injury, new Republican Speaker John Boehner commented that “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.” In fact, we are all guilty of attacking those who serve. Elected officials at every degree of American life are frequently assailed, and not just by unstable people or people with terroristic tendencies. Current history reveals a troubling tolerance of extreme disrespect for those in public service. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouts, “You lie!,” during a Presidential address to Congress. Protestors spit at members of Congress and harangue them utilizing racial and other inflammatory slurs. Major news outlets offer a ready public forum for those who level the most provocative and personal insults against public servants. The microdermabrasion machines rhetoric of violence and of war permeates political discourse, reducing our elected officials towards the role of gladiators, who battle their opponents in contrived face-offs on political speak shows. On a much more mundane level, all of us reflexively assume a cynical stance toward elected officials and government in general, not recognizing the extent to which this attitude offers a fertile ground for aggressively hostile political conflict. Public servants aren’t the only victims of this personalization of political conflict, we all are-individually and as a nation. From verbal abuse to violent attacks, these acts diminish respect for elected officials. They undermine the capability of our decision-making video camera stabilizer procedure to function and stymie the effectiveness of our public systems and structures. They erode our faith within the stability and integrity of our country. Additionally they deprive us-as voters and citizens-of the proper to have the needs and values of our community pretty represented in the decision-making procedure. In this sense, an attack on those that serve is an attack on all of us. The effects of such attacks and also the trends they reveal are far-reaching and profoundly troubling. Even so, there is possible in this moment of tragedy. Maybe it’ll force us to recognize and invigorate a much more constructive view in the public sector and those who serve us all via it. Beneath the superficial coarseness of our present political culture, Americans retain a deep sense of the mission and purpose of government and also the values that underlie metal detector our political system. The ideal of representative democracy, wherein “we the people” elect mayors, governors, senators and city councils to represent the typical interests of our communities and our country is nonetheless alive, if obscured. The idea of “citizenship,” implying our responsibility to one another-not merely our nationality or our rights under the constitution-is nonetheless present, if occasionally forgotten. The recognition that there are essential goals and requirements that we are able to only fulfill together remains intact but is in need of resuscitation. The hope today is that these events shock us into recognizing that Congress as well as tankless water heaters other public institutions not only serve us, but ARE us. The vitriol and invective directed at public servants isn’t only mean-spirited and harmful, it undermines the fundamental relationship that is embedded in the extremely idea of a government “of, by and for” the people. It’s time to draw a line, denouncing gratuitous attacks on our public systems and structures and also the individuals who serve us through them.

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