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Guest commentary / Political discourse

Hateful rhetoric is crippling progress

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By Jeff Swanson
In this day and age of rampant divisiveness in this great nation, agreeing to disagree sure seems to be a thing of the past. Gone are the days when our elected leaders would stand together and solve problems in a civil manner.
Passion for politics is a great thing, and I enjoy the fact that I can have civilized conversations with people I know when we share completely different views concerning politics. What should not ever be accepted is hateful and violent rhetoric when debating policies and politics. Is does nothing positive for society as a whole and incites hatred and divisiveness.
Freedom of speech is always vigorously protected, which is important and always will be. I just don't see how putting a Hitler moustache on President Obama's face does anyone any good. I think people should have the ability to do that, but I just don't see any rationale that is a positive form of protest. Questioning our government and elected officials is something I am glad I can do, but when it crosses the line it ruins any message one is trying to convey.
Our nation got a taste of what hateful rhetoric can do with the shooting in Tucson in 2011. People can argue all they want about whether Jared Loughner's heinous acts were a result of the heated political debates that have occurred in the current era of intense disagreements. He attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate a member of Congress; to me that says it all. It had absolutely everything to do with politics.
In the wake of that horrible day, politicians from both major parties vowed to the American public that a new way of doing business was coming to Washington D.C. Well, that sure wasn't the case because that did not last very long at all. The consistent bickering was back shortly thereafter, and it was business as usual. That is a shame, regardless of whatever political affiliation you may have. Partisan politics are holding us back, and to the point where nothing gets done. Republicans and Democrats are equally to blame for this.
Unfortunately, I just do not see this changing in the near future. It makes me sad, but I have to be a realist. The upcoming presidential election is going to go down in history as one the most important and crucial ever. What happens will have repercussions that will last a long time. Learning how to have civilized debates and conversations is vital for our country. I remain confident that if both parties start working together, then our immense problems can be solved. I have to feel that way because sometimes hope and optimism is all you have left. We are all adults and we all need to start acting like it.
I have visions of the day when our politicians display unity for the common good of America and its citizens. That is the only way we can move past all these differences. Everyone will never be pleased all the time, but there is nothing wrong with that. That is human nature. Stressing the importance of agreeing to disagree needs to be constantly stated, and our elected leaders have done a really poor job of this. Fighting and refusing to work together stops any attempts at progress. The children in this nation are being shown that politics are broken and can never be fixed. If we all don't stand up together, than this will continue. It is our choice, and I just hope civility can prevail and reign supreme in the face of adversity and divisiveness.

Jeff Swanson is a resident of Everett.

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