The American people often engage in robust debate. So do the citizens and (even the) parliamentarians of Britain and other Western countries. It’s considered a healthy aspect of most democracies, albeit an annoying one.
So when Democrats voted their disapproval of Representative Joe Wilson, they did a disservice to the American people. They also did a disservice to democracy, which was once a core principle of their party, but sadly is no more.
I’m all for civility. I’m even more for healthy, pointed, passionate dissent. Such dissent harms no one and has the potential to diffuse situations, as it allows each side to present their respective points of view with focused devotion.
Civility and indignation are two equally important aspects to the political health of a democratic republic. Civility allows us to discuss issues and righteous indignation allows us to express our passion in words. Rigorous dissent is healthy and needed. It’s what separates first class societies that engage in rigorous debate from countries that settle their disputes by way of mob violence.
Over the past eight years, I’ve heard Democrat activists and many of their Washington leaders yell an unending and ferocious tirade of curses and accusations at Republicans, at all Republicans. And as tasteless, wrongheaded and false as those tirades were, I would never dream of trying to stifle honest opposition. No Republican would.
What’s even more outrageous is that Congressman Wilson’s comment that President Barack Obama is a liar (which, based on both the Senate version at the time, as well as a proper reading of the House version, was a fair statement) pales in comparison to statements by Senator Dick Durbin, the number two ranking Democrat who compared our American troops to Nazis on the Senate floor. And “pales in comparison” is putting it extremely mildly.
I guess you can only yell outrageous obscenities from the floor of the US Senate. In the House, one must show decorum at all times. Well then, let me be the first to endorse Joe Wilson for US Senate. The difference is that he was standing up for the interests his constituents, not falsely maligning American heroes who risk their lives on behalf of the nation. Maybe that’s what congressional Democrats have a problem with.
Furthermore, in the 2006 State of the Union address, Democrats interrupted mid-sentence. The reaction was a smile from then President Bush followed by a one liner that turned the tables back on them. Not a single person in the chamber didn’t enjoy the exchange, and unlike Joe Wilson, they did not apologize.
Congressman Wilson’s statement also seems downright complimentary compared to that of former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, who went on national TV accusing our troops of harassing women and children. Of course, false accusations against American troops are nothing new for Senator Kerry. Just ask any Vietnam veteran.
President Obama may be many things. But he’s not more honorable than our American soldiers. He’s also not above reproof.
What congressional Democrats have shown by last night’s vote is how thin skinned all but 17 of them are, not to mention hypocritical.