Saturday, January 08, 2011

Political assassinations

The assassination attempt on an Arizona Congresswoman was upsetting to me on several levels. There is naturally the compassion for her family and her friends, for all the innocent bystanders, like the 9 year old child, who simply got in the way of a madman's bullet.

When I have been somewhere, spent time there, when it's near my home, it hits home on a different level. I could be there. These things have happened in malls all across our country and most actually do have a political motive of some sort behind them in that the person wants to strike out at others for wrongs they feel are done against themselves.

Andrew Sullivan has had some interesting thoughts about this one as much as anybody can have them as it is unfolding and we don't know it all yet-- Live Blogging on the attempted murder of Representative Giffords.

In my lifetime political assassinations have happened too many times. It doesn't matter if the target it someone I admire or not. It's about an attempt by one person to limit political dialogue and to kill a leader thereby intimidating others from leading or at least from being out in the public where they are vulnerable to such dangers.

Representative Giffords was doing what we want our Congresspeople to do-- listening to the people. Those who were shot may or may not have even been attending her event. Anybody could have been walking into Safeway at that time. Don't things like this scare others from being near such events, scare the leaders from speaking and listening to their constituents because who can be protected from such a happening?

Some will use this to say we need to have better gun control. Unless it turns out this guy was obviously nuts ahead of time and still bought a gun legally, I don't see how it would help. He didn't care about the law when he shot so many people. He could have had that gun concealed, and nobody would have known it was even there.

I don't know that there's a way to stop it either. I worry though about leaders, prominent ones on both sides of the political spectrum because for a sick mind, it doesn't take far to go from being angry to being violent. It's why we need to watch our own rhetoric and NEVER say a leader, even when we don't agree with them, deserves to be shot or we wish them dead.

We settle things in this country at the polling place. We want our leaders to be able to talk to us, to not have to fear town halls or corner events like this one. With all the anger and venom being sent out these days (and from both sides), I worry that we will see more of this and less openness. You can't blame the leaders for seeing this and thinking long and hard before they go to such an event again.

Years ago I had a doctor appointment downtown in Portland. When I walked back out on the street, I happened to see quite a crowd on a street corner. They were listening to Bobby Kennedy speak when he was running for president. I didn't stick around for long, didn't vote for him in our Oregon primary, and not long after, leaving another political event, he was shot in the head.

When he was killed, that was the end of any chance for those who supported him to choose him for their leader. One person made that choice for everybody and that's what political assassination is about. It both ends a career of a leader for whom others might vote, and it makes such open events less frequent. Who does that help?

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

I've been following Sullivan's live blogging, too. This really hit home because my now former Congressman, John Boccieri (D-OH), his family, and staff received death threats about the tome of the health care bill vote. And yeah, Palin had him marked with crosshairs, too. I am appalled a deeply saddened by this.

I'm sure Palin will not take any responsibility for any of this but her violent rhetoric could well have contributed.