Sarah Palin blows another chance at real leadership

Blessed with a platform and an opportunity to help change a toxic tone of discourse, Sarah Palin does no such thing.

Recently, I’ve become disturbed with those who aren’t willing to “fess up” to the fact that their words reference — and even encourage — militancy and violence against our elected government.  The other day, in an excellent article banned from Huffington Post, Cenk Ugur referred to the small percentage of the population which can be incited to actual violence as “hate-seeking missles.”  The video that accompanies the post, documenting a recent history of violent speech, is also well worth your time.

I believe our culture has changed dramatically and regrettably since the campaign of Senator John McCain and then-Governor Palin.  As Kimberly Krauter points out in this post, Ms. Palin’s rhetoric during that campaign was beyond the pale.  Numerous articles and videos — which can be found in any Bing search — documented cries such as “terrorist,” and “kill him” in McCain/Palin rally audiences.

So today, I watched Ms. Palin’s entire professionally-produced video of “condolences,” and I was sickened by it.  The propagandistic narrative made it clear that she wasn’t backing down from this highly charged language of hatred and violence, nor was she going to hold her followers or anyone in her party accountable for their lingo.  Contrast this with Keith Olbermann recently admitting blame for something he said once on the air, and taking a pledge to abandon the use of inflammatory phrasing that could incite violence.

One of the first goals of the Tea Party was to defeat the reform of America’s broken healthcare system.  A strategy was distributed in writing at that time, intended to harass public servants at town halls (documented here).  At its core, it embraces tactics of being disruptive early and often.

The other day, I happened across a piece by a Tea Partier who actually referred to “the soft TREASON of civility.”  (I will not link to such a piece.)  Civility is treason?  What is happening to the discourse in my country? “Take them out?”  “Reload!”  “Second Amendment Remedies!”  This has gone far enough.

Politicians like Ms. Palin and radical radio/TV personalities like Glenn Beck are encouraging this type of content and vile tone.  We have leaders on the right who won’t even use the word “compromise,” and consider those across the aisle their “enemies.”  Will this devolution of a peaceful political process lead to a world fit for our children and grandchildren?

After more than two years of ridiculous vitriol, Americans have a right to request a calmer, more reasoned political discussion.  Ms. Palin could have acknowledged that and pledged to use her platform to bring about positive change.  She could have pledged to encourage political discourse containing no reference to militancy and violence.  But she did not, and I doubt she and her colleagues on the radical right ever will.

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