Will the Arizona tragedy usher in era of civility?


Congress postponed its legislative agenda in the wake of the Arizona shootings, including the vote planned this week in the House to kill healthcare reform. Today, we’ll postpone our debate about repealing healthcare reform and talk about the shootings and the effect on political debate.

Two themes run through the collective responses to alleged gunman Jared Loughner’s shooting spree. One is the blame theme. It’s abundantly clear at this point that we don’t know what motivated the alleged shooter. But that hasn’t stopped speculation about it. Liberals blame the right, especially Sarah Palin, for fueling prejudice and hatred in the media. Palin’s now-infamous “crosshairs” map shows the 20 districts that Republicans took in 2008 but have House Democrats who voted for healthcare reform. Palin detractors speculate that the cross hairs on Giffords’ district may have incited the alleged shooter. Conservatives lashed back, blaming liberals for politicizing the tragedy. Palin denies that the images are “cross hairs.”

Another theme is civility—or at least the potential for it. Across the board, politicians are calling for toning down the vitriolic debates and the intense polarization of issues such as healthcare reform. For example, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said on CNN, “We ought to cool it, tone it down, treat each other with great respect, respect each other’s ideas, and even on difficult issues like immigration or taxes or the health care law, do our best not to inflame passions.”

Others, including those with a habit for harsh words, have repeated the civility theme. 

Will the Arizona shooting tragedy usher in an era of civility?

Or, do you think things soon will return to incivility?

Please, “Comment” below.


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