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Political incivility a national disgrace
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Forsyth County News
It has for years been acceptable in the halls of power in Washington to label as “war” any concerted effort directed toward a political issue - the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on terrorism.

Now a new war has been launched across the breadth of the country. Its nucleus, too, is in Washington.

It is a war on political civility. And it may very well destroy the Republic as we know it.

As a nation we have become so politically polarized that the basic rules of governance which made us great are threatened as a result.

Look no farther than the loss of respect for the office of president as evidence that the foundation underneath our governmental base is cracking.

Just last week, a member of the Congress interrupted a televised presidential address to call the man holding the nation’s highest political office a liar.

Earlier in the week, school systems across the nation, many of them fearing political fallout, refused to let students hear a presidential speech targeted specifically to them.

If those in positions of authority have no respect for the presidency, how then are those in lesser positions supposed to feel about the leader of the nation?

Make no mistake in believing this is only a Barack Obama issue. It is not. The same sort of irreverent treatment was often directed toward his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose opponents challenged his intelligence, questioned his morality and openly mocked his presidency.

Imagine Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan treated in the manner which has become acceptable in recent years. Even Nixon, who brought more dishonor to the presidency than any of his predecessors, was treated with more than is the case today.

It is impossible to pinpoint an exact time when the nation’s populace lost respect for its highest office, but one must believe the tabloid antics of Bill Clinton were largely responsible for demeaning the office.

In a political world that has become hopelessly partisan, Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for the damage being done to the nation from within its own government.

None of which is to say those elected to serve as president should be free of criticism from those who disagree with their political philosophies or decisions. The free exchange of ideas and political opinions is what has made our nation great.

But you can disagree politically without being disagreeable.

The lengths to which some have shown themselves willing to go in order to sow seeds of political divisiveness threaten to destroy our form of government. Where greatness was once forged on an anvil of intelligent political debate and compromise, we now find abject mediocrity spawned by verbal abuse and uncivil discourse.

It is no wonder that town hall meetings to discuss health care turn into shouting matches reminiscent of the Jerry Springer show.

When President Bush addressed the American people after the fall of the twin towers to announce that we would embark an a long and difficult mission to fight terrorism, the people of this nation rallied behind the presidency and showed the world a united front. Those who did so were critics of the president as well as his supporters, Republican and Democrat alike.

Faced with a similar national emergency, could we expect the same to happen today? And if not, are we truly still the most powerful nation in the world?