By Daniel Chejfec
Like everybody else, I recently witnessed the President of the United States deliver a speech on Universal Health Care to Congress and being booed by a member of Congress, who yelled "You're a liar". Let us stay with it for a second. What does it mean "You're a liar"? - It does not add substance nor content to the discussion, does not clarify the terms of disagreement nor does it provide a solution. So what is it? - Name calling. And why does that bother me so much?
I was born in Argentina, a country that at the end of World War I was an emerging power, and still retained quite a bit of economic weight by the end of World War II. Where is Argentina today?. I do not claim that a breakdown in the political discourse was the only reason of the decline of Argentina, but it certainly played a significant role. Peron, towards the end of his life, was standing in the balcony of the Casa Rosada (equivalent of the White House), looking at the people gathered bellow him in Plaza de Mayo, and insulted the left wing of his supporters by calling them "beardless" and "pendejos" (that's a rather insulting slang word for immature). The result was the beginning of two decades of confrontation violence and counter violence, from 1974 to 1993, which included terrorism, counter terrorism, military rule, mass murder, etc. This certainly didn't add to Argentine's wellbeing. The breakdown in civility, while it looks like an innocent byplay, is indeed an early symptom of social breakdown. Argentina didn't listen to it. We still can.
You see, I have this crazy notion that when you occupy a position of leadership (and being in Congress I believe qualifies as such), you have an extra responsibility to keep civility in your discussions to make sure that the facts are not eclipsed by the trivia; to make sure that the affairs of State are discussed with all the seriousness the wellbeing of the American people deserves.
Maybe you agreed with Bush and maybe not. Maybe you agree with Obama and maybe not. It doesn't matter. To preserve our system -
KEEP DEFENDING YOUR IDEAS AND QUESTIONING THE ONES YOU BELIEVE ARE BAD FOR THE COUNTRY; KEEP SPEAKING OUT AND PARTICIPATING; BUT FOR ALL OF OUR SAKES, FOCUS ON IDEAS AND TOSS NAME CALLING OUT THE WINDOW !