The Founding Fathers are figures that come up fairly frequently in today’s political discussions, as our leaders argue seemingly ever more divisive issues day after day. It is almost a signal of seriousness in a debate when it is declared the crafters of the Declaration of Independence would be outraged (outraged!) to hear what proposals are being brought to the floors of our statehouses.
What would probably be most appalling to the 18th century politicos is not so much the conversations of the day but the way they are being had. To wit, let us examine a few brief examples from the recent past here in our fair Capital District.
There is, of course, an assemblyman equating Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. Days later, a former gubernatorial candidate flipped the bird to a member of the press. And if we reach back to the great debate over Tier VI, more than a few choice words were flung in every direction.
These sorry occasions are child’s play compared to the daily unbridled rancor unleashed upon politicians on the national level by pundits and colleagues alike. It seems like just yesterday we were supposedly in a national debate about decorum after Rep. Joe Wilson interrupted President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress with a shout of “you lie!”
That nothing has changed says a lot about where that discussion went. In a drama-obsessed culture (what else could explain the success of reality television?), the incorrigible actions of politicos may be addressed with mass disapproval, but they are also granted a massive spotlight. One can hardly help but wonder if the disapproval is offset by the attention. After all, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin’s press conference on new gun laws would likely not have been afforded more than a blip of news coverage had he not made reference to certain 20th century fascists.