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Phil Rizzo: These word riots do not serve the country well

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: August 25, 2009 6:28 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Whoever yells the loudest wins. In the early days of my voting career, life was very simple.

Everyone in my family voted Republican because my uncle Cosmo was a New York state senator in the late 1920s and he knew what was right.

His legacy affected me for a few years but then I saw the light and became a Democrat.

I have little memory of great emotional discomfort over politics.

I'm not sure if I voted for JFK or not. I probably voted for Nixon, but that was it. I voted for Lyndon Johnson and Democrats from then on.

Then something crept into the political mainstream which up to now had been moderate so far as I was concerned.

Barry Goldwater, a senator from Arizona, ran for president against Lyndon Johnson and was beaten very badly, but conservatism got its foot in the door.

Conservatism in its many forms has existed for several hundred years.

Conservatism had its adherents in the U.S. political realm for many years also.

The Goldwater strain was clearly anti-government. I remember Goldwater for his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What is going on today makes me think the good political days are gone.

A bunch of people yelling like banshees in the face of Senator Arlen Specter at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania is radical behavior from my perspective.

The reason why they were screaming is that Spector was going to provide some education on medical reform.
It's war. It'll take no prisoners.

Republican leader John Boehner encourages his followers' aggressive behavior.

There are limits to freedom. One limit is yelling fire in a crowded theater where there is no fire.

Those who are abusing freedom in this mess need to back off, take a deep breath and slow down.

It's a child like response to drown out the opposition and weighs on the side of anarchy.

Some of this emotion comes from a deep black hole of radical thought encouraged by insurance companies.

This behavior is not from the America I have loved these many years.

The TV and radio talk show personalities fueling this emotional response are full of themselves and will do anything including broadcasting plenty of lies and distortions to keep their ratings going up and up.

The right-wing hubbub about President Obama's birthplace is one and the conscious lie by Sarah Palin, that the purposed medical reform bill encourages euthanasia, is another.

My fellow Americans' anxiety and eagerness to be agitated feeds the success of these provocateurs.

Millions listen and are charmed.

Rush Limbaugh has an audience of possibly 20 million - not quite as big as Father Coughlin, an anti-government rabble-rouser demagogue of the FDR years who had 50 million listeners on the radio way before TV.

What feeds this phenomenon is fear.

Some find fear titillating.

It also feels good to lump a person's negative issues into one and blame them all on Uncle Sam or that monster Obama. Anybody but themselves.

They scream all their frustrations into what was a traditionally an almost sacred forum for expression, the great American institution called the town hall meeting.

The havoc caused is catching and before you know it a grotesque assemblage of voices to be compared to the disorder in the streets of some countries portrayed nightly on TV soon takes over the room.

Whoever yells the loudest wins is not democracy.

It's chaos and results in anarchy.

This is what we've come to and only those of us who believe in moderation in politics can save us from the rule of those who favor bedlam over sensible debate.

It is vital to make our opinions known, but in a balanced way where we honor the same freedom we personally exercise for those who may disagree with us.

Perhaps the best way is personal example.

We need to work to retrieve the good old days in politics and make them now.

Word riots do not serve the country well.

Phil Rizzo is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port!" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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