Friday, January 14, 2011

Will Americans heed Obama?

Americans have a new chance to reform their blemished behavior by heeding President Obama's call for a rebirth of civility in their language. The summons is for a return to basic human decency.

Notwithstanding the salty, abusive political manners in the nation's early days among politicians, America's political give-and-take today has reached an appalling low of coarseness, insults, threats and savagery, amplified through the echo chambers of network social sites where anonymity encourages personal attacks.

Taste and decorum have been driven out of the marketplace of debate. Intelligent speech is ridiculed as "elitist," to be replaced by name-calling and disrespect.

Meaningful work of government largely has been crippled, even shut down, by ugly partisan divisions that thrive on impasse rather than progress.

President Obama's summons to a more wholesome national tone during his speech in Tucson before upwards of 25,000 people inside and outside the University of Arizona McHale Center was embraced passionately. After all, the thousands had gathered to honor Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others cut down by gunfire while assembling to discuss public issues.

Colorado Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall has gone another step in proposing a demonstration of civility. He's called on members of Congress to sit together as a group of mixed partisans during Obama's State of the Union speech later this month, not sectioned off by party blocks.

Painful decisions awaiting the president and Congress cannot be made by yelling like barroom brawlers.

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