“Crass” Warfare – The Folly of an Appeal for Civil Discourse
Not terribly long after we were all urged to apply a more civil vocabulary to our political discourse, we are inundated with both political parties engaging in a discussion that is sure to be the predominant theme of political debate throughout this election cycle.
We can all recall the comments that raged after the sad events surrounding the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford in January of this year. In February we learned of the formation of the National Institute for Civil Discourse– “a national, nonpartisan center for debate, research, education and policy generation regarding civic engagement and civility in public discourse consistent with First Amendment principles.” ( http://nicd.arizona.edu/)
Time has a way of changing things.
What we now have by admission of all who serve us, at our election, in Washington is a financial problem that needs to be fixed. There certainly is plenty of blame to go around if we choose to look backward rather than forward. While history does provide us all with a documented resource that can be a valuable tool in debating the merits of a new program — ( e.g. that solution did not work in the past) — using the past as a blaming tool serves us no purpose.
Further, to use terminology that suggests that the American people are engaged in “class warfare” is crass. Whatever “class” we may assume ourselves to be a member of has nothing to do with how we may relate to our fellow citizens, and what we may wish for them in terms of their daily needs, food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and jobs. The vast majority of people I have met from all walks of life have never, even remotely, spoken in terms of class wars.
Yet, we have elected officials from all sides who choose to engage in political rhetoric that fails to represent the sentiment of the people at whose behest they serve. What seems overwhelmingly clear is that the American people are not angry at each other or another class. They are angry at elected officials. And for these elected officials to deflect the attention away from our disappointment in them by declaring that there is a “class warfare” brewing in this country is crass.
Webster’s and others guide us in this discussion, defining “crass” as :
- “having or indicating such grossness of mind as precludes delicacy and discrimination”
- or – “lacking sensitivity or due consideration”
- or –”grossly stupid, dull, or obtuse; tasteless, insensitive”
Take your pick.
Each may apply to the present discourse as you see it unfold. But do not buy into the rhetoric of this debate. Do not allow these people change the focus away from them and their inability to engage in civil discourse and achieve realistic compromise on matters of national policy and importance.
The real issue is whether they can walk the walk of civil discourse as a matter of practice and character rather than of expediency and opportunity.