While driving through Utah on a vacation last week, my husband and I were startled to see those two words, complete with the exclamation point, carefully woven with fluorescent ribbon into wire fences on over several highway bridges. Granted, Utah isn’t exactly an Obama state. But still, somebody was enough of a fan of rude political behavior to claim that public property to endorse the rudeness of that South Carolina congressman.
There’s a difference between political passion and outright rudeness. Politics in this valley definitely involves more oafish behavior these days than in the past.
No doubt our “boom town” status is a factor. People have always gotten riled up about political issues. But when the town was smaller, there was also some caution involved in political arguments. It is harder to call a politician a hateful name when you might have to do business at his store the next day. It is also hard to make venomous remarks about somebody whom you may disagree with, but whom you know for a fact is a big contributor to the community. It is much easier to point fingers and make inflammatory accusations about people you don’t really know.
Rumor mills have always been, and will always be, a constant in small town politics. But couple rumors with the anonymity of the Web, and the impact is much greater. People who don’t have to sign their names are pretty brazen with the statements they are willing to make in blogs or on special interest websites.
Political egos and a general lack of respect are also factors in the changing tone of politics. County commissioners and town board members squabble in public meetings. Sometimes the town officials are rude to one another. There have been a couple of instances of the mayor upbraiding town employees during public meetings, like a dad would scold a wayward kid. Some board members are a little too quick to make condescending or outright rude comments to fellow trustees. Apparently, they lose sight of the fact that everybody on that board was elected to office by the citizens they serve. They may have differing opinions, but they are equals in their political status. Where’s the respect for a fellow elected official?
No doubt that shouting congressman from South Carolina is a passionate politician. He’s also rude, like an indulged teenage boy showing an attitude to a teacher, or a parent. I doubt that he was inspired by racism. I think he displaying a complete lack of manners, and a lot of ego. If that congressman were a teenager, he would have been sent to the vice-principal’s office to think about an attitude change.
“ All I'm askin' (ooooh) … is for a little respect …” — Aretha Franklin