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  Thursday September 18th, 2014    

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More than a freedom (11/04/2012)
From: John Kennedy

Americans stand in broad agreement on one issue: Most political commercials are bitter, terse, and distasteful. Candidates aren’t concerned, except to march to the beat of their consultants, who assure them they work. They do.

And we allow the billions of dollars spent on them, and accept the watered-down messages they spin, and vote with our numbed opinions as our compasses.

Nobody knows what H.R. 3962 is. But everyone is an authority on “ObamaCare.” Late-night TV hosts take microphones to the streets and make comedy of our command of simple geography, history, current issues. Most of us, to be sure, are challenged by the knowledge base of a serious fifth grader.

Our political dialog has eroded to platitudes, simplified glosses, prepackaged shortcut conclusions. Mantra clichés. Talk show herding. We have relinquished true, informed discourse to the control of herders. We may have firm value-based beliefs on certain issues. But we’re too ready to put a “FACT” stamp on what others tell us, without proving things to ourselves. We’ve become too gullible to be trusted with the responsibility of intelligent self-government. That’s why bitter, distasteful political commercials work “on us” —because we don’t insist on the truth. We drink its substitute. We complain about the commercials, keep voting, and continue the masquerade of government by the people.

Certainly, things evolve. Words and meanings change. But I can’t dust off the sorrow and shame that come when looking at black-and-white photos of fallen soldiers of the Civil War, the World Wars, and conflicts that our history assures us were fights to defend our freedoms. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of soldiers made immeasurable sacrifices in the name of our freedoms. Are we the best stewards of freedom of speech? When will we demand of ourselves the lengthy research, reading, listening, and respectful exchange of ideas that our predecessors fought and died to protect? If I’d fought and died in an historic war, and showed up in the political landscape of 2012, I’d have to question if my sacrifice was worth it.

We need to do better than this. President Lincoln’s prayer was that the fallen had not “died in vain.” It should be our prayer, too, and our unswerving commitment. 

 

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