Giffords tragedy calls for political cooperation
Writer Trevor York, '12.
In the midst of a peaceful assembly in Tucson, AZ, a gunman opened fire on a group of public officials, one of which was U.S Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, who was shot through the head. As a result of the incident, which occurred on Jan. 8, six people were killed and 13 or more were wounded.
Miraculously, Giffords survived the attack and now remains in the intensive care unit at the University of Arizona Medical Center. Doctors say she is showing good signs of recovery and is responding to basic questions.
The shooter has been identified as Jared Loughner, 22, whom neighbors say spent most of his time alone. When he did speak, he brought up his unconventional political opinions, believing in the elimination of government altogether.
Roots of the tragedy
Although this event is indeed shocking on the surface, the real problem may lie in something much deeper. People have become so engrossed in political beliefs and differences that we see elections as a competition between blue and red rather than a contest between two individuals.
In this scenario, Loughner was neither a conservative nor a liberal but an anarchist, believing in no government at all. This is most likely the result of parties bickering to the point that people have grown tired of mainstream politicians in general. As a result, people turn to other political stances such as anarchism.
During the 2010 midterm election season, the website of former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin displayed a map of the United States with crosshairs indicating Democratic politicians that Palin's political action committee sought to defeat -- a form of rhetoric that some may interpret as violent and aggressive.
"Our country must stop seeing everything in blue and red; we must end this deep hostility which is beginning to show in a clearer light." --Trevor York, '12
In the case of Palin's map and others, our country has taken drastic steps toward political polarization. We must learn to truly debate each other in the hope of reaching a compromise, instead of just overpowering the other party by attaining a majority.
When the country was originally created, our forefathers held to the belief that there should not be parties but only "One Party," a party devoted to constructive arguments and compromise. Instead, many of us have come to hold the belief that if people do not share our political views, then they must be "Un-American" and must not love America the way we do.
However, this is not the case. Far-left politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and far-right politicians such as Sarah Palin both have an intense passion for our country -- they just have different ideas for how it should be run.
The charge for all of us
Our political differences should not end with violent outbursts as was recently displayed, and innocent bystanders such as 9-year-old Christina Greene and U.S. District Judge John Roll should not be caught in the crosshairs. In fact, part of the beauty of our democracy is (or used to be) the freedom people have to present their opinions without fear of being persecuted.
Our country must stop seeing everything in blue and red; we must end this deep hostility which is beginning to show in a clearer light. If we start engaging in productive discussions, we will be able to make changes that benefit all Americans.