Sunday, April 10, 2016


Two words about a news article I saw this wee:

civility [si-vil-i-tee] 

noun, plural civilities
1. courtesy; politeness
2. a polite action or expression:
   an exchange of civilities
3. Archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding

From Middle English (of Latin derivation) "civilite" meaning "courtesy"

schism [siz-uh m, skiz-] 

1. division or disunion, especially into mutually opposed parties
2. the parties so formed

From Middle English (of Greek derivation) "cisme" meaning "to split"
Ah! The the right-left schism - it seems that nothing is going to bring the two sides of the political "debate" together except perhaps their contempt for one-and-other. 

This week, a woman in Gainesville, Florida took her opportunity to practice her constitutionally guaranteed rights to free speech and called her governor an A--hole. Rick Scott, being the bigger man swung back in a big way. His campaign released an attack ad dismissing one of the woman's claims and attacking her personally.

Reading the fact checks of both sides of the exchange reveals that BOTH sides are partly in the wrong. Jennings has made claims that are only partially true: Scott did not "Cut Healthcare for women." According to the fact checks I have been able to locate on Jennings' claims, what the bill Scott signed into law does is to defund clinics that provide abortion services where there are County healthcare alternatives. So, while partially true and a problem for women, it is nowhere near as bad as say - Texas where the forced closure of clinics that do not have "Local Hospital Admitting Privileges" leaves a large portion of the state with hundreds of miles between the women and the services they need.

On the other side, Scott's claim that he has created "Millions" of jobs and that "everyone who wants one" has a good job have been ruled as sort-of true. 

The number of jobs in Florida are up, but the problem with the claim is that you cannot attribute that to the Governor or his policies. According to the Fact Checks, gubernatorial policies are likely to have some impact on jobs, but by far it is the the state of the economy on the whole that plays the larger role in the employment statistics. And as the economy is largely outside the control of the state government, Scott cannot take credit for what jobs have been created. The fact checks say nothing about the quality or pay grade of the jobs that have been created. 

But the real problem that I see is NOT the contact of the statements by Jennings and Scott, but the tenor thereof. Jennings was in the wrong by acting rudely and spewing vitriol; Scott was in the wrong by launching a personal attack (dressed-up as a campaign ad) on Jennings. 
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but they make a good excuse."
~ Thomas Szasz
What I cannot understand is Scott's outright attack on one of his constituents. Like-her-or-not, Jennings is a Floridian and has the right to voice her opinion (even if admittedly rudely) on the state of the state and the job her elected officials are doing. To put it bluntly, Governor Scott, Jennings is one of your roughly 20 million employers. Personally attacking your employer is never civil and rarely a good idea!
"If two wrongs don't make a right, try three." 
~ Laurence J. Peter
By the same token, Jennings was also in the wrong in that there are ways to voice one's views on the state of the state and yelling at your elected officials in public makes you look bad. You may be getting across your point, but you are also giving your opponent opportunity and license to ignore you. By all means, voice your opinion, but do it civilly - unless you do, you are part of the problem.
"You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
~ English Proverb
Both the Right and the Left have good points - and if I take any meaning at all from the political aphorisms of the current campaigns it is that we need to bring civility back into the political discourse. The increasingly shrill campaigns means that it will be increasingly difficult to work together. There is a reason that nothing is getting done in Washington D. C. these days: the partisan on both sides keep making increasingly declarative statements that they will never work with their political opponents. Working with "the other side of the aisle" is constantly becoming increasingly harder to do. It is just this increasingly vitriolic rhetoric that is turning "the aisle" into a yawning chasm across which cooperation is increasingly difficult. 

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will perform your civic duty to voice your opinion but do it in a way that maintains civil decorum. 

Don Bergquist - April 10, 2016 - Lakewood, Colordo   USA

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