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Rude tactics could indicate a deeper problem

 


You probably can’t blame the heat; this is the coolest July in recent memory. So maybe some locals are taking their cues about civility, or lack of it, from national movements and leaders.

They shouldn’t, but it can be hard to avoid.

Reportedly, there was a lot of shouting going on in local public meetings last week. While it’s undoubtedly true that people are frustrated, they are not more so than citizens of the past. Our system of government, never easy, almost ensures some degree of frustration.

But when reasoned, heated debate gives way to simple shouting — not to be heard but to drown out the other side — that’s when the system stumbles and progress erodes.

Schoolyard bully tactics don’t win arguments, let alone change minds. They only engender resentment and ill will that returns to poison another day, another debate.

Such tactics can, however, be seen as a last resort of those desperate to be heard but sure they’re not, repeatedly. Anyone who has disagreed with a government decision, spoken against it, then been convinced their words had been useless, knows the urge to shout down the other side.

We’re seeing it now on our nation’s political stage as the most disaffected among us scream from opposite ends of the political spectrum in both major parties.

Local leaders need to take care when they see similar behavior in their own constituents. It might be more than just rudeness on a hot day; it could be that their neighbors sense, correctly or not, a predetermined course that they can’t affect, a done deal no matter what they say or what the facts are.

In a democracy, that kind of governance, whether from a domed capitol building or a small city hall, will cause hotter temperatures than the summer sun.

To keep cool, a lot of sincere listening to, and by, all sides can help a lot.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

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