President Harry S. Truman was known for his blunt talk. Much of that blunt talk was aimed at Republicans in Congress who were frequently at odds with the man from Missouri. Truman turned the GOP into an election issue, using strident language that earned him the nickname "Give 'em hell Harry." Truman declined the moniker famously saying "I never give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think its hell."
The same can be said today about the supposed lack of civility in our state and national discourse. The Left has worked itself into a lather lately claiming Republicans, TEA partiers, and their allies in the conservative media lack civility. They even crassly attempted to claim the recent shooting in Arizona resulted from right wing rhetoric. The fact is the tone is not uncivil, conservatives are simply telling the truth and liberal elite think its hell.
Have you noticed that the new push for civility began after Democrats took a drubbing in last November's election? Before that the code word was change; meaning the enactment of the President's socialist agenda. And no, it is not uncivil to label the President and his agenda as socialist because, in truth, that is what it is: soft, European-style socialism.
Now that Democrats have lost their monopoly on power in Washington, and are out of power in Harrisburg, they want to be civil and bi-partisan. Make no mistake about it this has nothing to do with being nice to each other. It has nothing to do with changing the tone of the debate. It has everything to do with the liberal progressives trying to find a way to blunt the "shellacking" they took at the polls last November.
Simply put, civility is a code word for getting conservative Republicans to give up by compromise what they won at the polls last November. Republicans, at both the state and national levels, should not allow themselves to be swayed by the civility craze. The Left is not seeking civility. It is seeking to protect its legislative gains of the past two years and to keep Republicans from restoring our free enterprise system.
There has been a lot of commentary over the recent flare up in the state House of Representatives between Majority Leader Mike Turzai and minority Democrats. It seems the Democrats are having difficulty adjusting to their diminished circumstances in that chamber. They called Turzai names like "Monarch Mike" while proclaiming "welcome to the gulag." Certainly that was uncivil behavior. But so what? If Democratic legislators want to act like children, let them. It's not like they are Hamilton and Burr having a pistol duel on State Street.
Lost in the media uproar over the testy exchange among legislators is the fact that Republicans are attempting to move a reform agenda that many Democrats oppose. Having taken majority control in the chamber Republicans have a right to set the rules and the agenda, just like the Democrats did when they were in charge. But, lacking the votes, Democrats provoked an uproar that provided fodder for the civility crowd. The tactic: get Republicans to back down in the name of civility.
Republicans should not let Democratic temper tantrums, or pious media calls for civility deter them from their course. The fact is voters sent Republicans to both Washington and Harrisburg to put our country and our commonwealth back on track. This was bound to create conflict with the hold-over Left on the Democratic side and to some degree the establishment Republicans who will fight to keep the status quo.
While we are all Americans, we have serious differences over how our nation should be governed. It is not uncivil to debate these differences. Interestingly, those who sat silently while former President George W. Bush was called everything from a Nazi to a war criminal now find it uncivil for a TEA partier to protest against nationalized health care.
Let us not fall prey to the latest fad in political correctness. It is not that we need to be mean, childish, or rude, but the American people have spoken and the GOP must now produce a change in direction. That simple truth may seem like an uncivil hell to some, but in actuality it is just the truth and they think it is hell.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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