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Opinion: Politics must not be personal

By   /   September 3, 2009  /   Comments

Looking all around me, at politics of all levels, I’m struck with how personal everything has gotten. Now, I’m not talking about how President Obama’s health care reform will hit you personally, because that makes sense. What I’m talking about is how people take things like disagreement personally. I’m guilty of it too, and I’m going to apologize for it.

I labeled Mayor Willie Adams as “Slick Willie”. While I still have problems with Mayor Adams policies and the direction Albany is going, and I still have a problem with his idea we should just “move on” from Buie-gate, I don’t even know the man personally. It doesn’t matter. Mayor Adams, I’m sorry. Truly.

I’ve also written a lot about Commissioner Bob Langstaff. I’ve referred to his actions regarding Gucci Mane as a step toward tyranny and an attack on Free Speech. Unfortunately, that may have helped people make the jump toward calling him a tyrant and an enemy of free speech. For my part in that, I apologize to Commissioner Langstaff as well. I scoured my posts, looking for direct insults and didn’t see any. If I missed one, I apologize for that too.

My comments regarding tyranny were really an “if the concert is canceled” kind of thing. That’s off the table. And while I still believe the attempt to cancel the concert based on the rapper’s lyrics is an attack on free speech, Bob Langstaff isn’t an enemy of free speech. And he’s damn sure not the “nut job” some have apparently labeled him. People with good intent can inadvertently attack a right, and not even realize they’re near that line. I honestly believe that Bob Langstaff was motivated by the right things…and not some of what he’s been accused of.

You see, I’m not cutting anyone slack for policies I disagree with. But I’m only responsible for my actions and what my actions cause, and I’m sick of the divisive nature of politics. People are calling President Obama all kinds of things, because they dislike his policies. They call city commissioners names, because they dislike what they’re doing.

Why? What good does it do?

Someone has to stop it. I don’t know that little old me will be able to, but it’s a worthy goal and worth the effort.

What’s funny is how people say they hate negative campaigns. Mudslinging is almost universally said to be disgusted by the voting populace. And yet, we keep doing it. We want positive campaigns, and positive politics, and yet we can’t even be respectful in our disagreement. And yes, I’m as guilty as anyone.

Now, does this mean I’m changing my position on anything? No. It’s just not going to happen. But insults don’t accomplish a thing. Just the ones we’ve edited out about Bob Langstaff alone are more than enough, and apparently there have been others I have missed, and they’re not going to change Langstaff’s mind. And why should it?

If we want vigorous, productive debate, we have to realize that as soon as the insults start flying, all meaningful discussion is over. Bob Langstaff and I have had some of those meaningful discussions while disagreeing with one another. Did anyone’s mind get changed? Who knows. But at least he knew where I stood on the issue.

People lament their elected officials not listening to them, but insulting them doesn’t help. Should they listen? Oh yeah. Is being insulted an excuse not to? Not really. But again, what does it accomplish?

Come on folks. Attack policy, not people. That should be more than enough to keep us busy as it is.

tomknightonWritten by Tom Knighton.  Read his blog at SWGA Politics.com.  A lifelong political junkie, Tom started out his adult life as a journalism major at Darton College before leaving school to serve his nation as a U.S. Navy Corpsman.  Through the years, he has watched government from outside and inside.  A former Reagan supporter, then later a Democrat, Tom now finds himself quite comfortable as a card carrying Libertarian and all around smart-elec.

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  • Published: 1933 days ago on September 3, 2009
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  • Last Modified: September 1, 2009 @ 2:42 pm
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