In a speech to a friendly crowd at a University of Michigan graduation, President Barack Obama warned against extremist rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum, saying that it could lead to violence.
The sponsors of the event at the University of Michigan football stadium exhausted their supply of 80,000 tickets.
The Associated Press quoted President Obama as follows.
When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us.”
Government, he said, is the roads we drive on and the speed limits that keep us safe. It’s the men and women in the military, the inspectors in our mines, the pioneering researchers in public universities.
On a more common sense note, President Obama suggested as follows.
If you’re a regular Glenn Beck listener, then check out the Huffington Post sometimes. If you read The New York Times editorial page the morning, then glance every now and then at The Wall Street Journal. “It may make your blood boil. Your mind may not be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship,”
It is hard to disagree with President Obama’s observations. What must be maintained, however is the distinction between opposing a party, its leaders and policies and opposing the constitution and system of government under which political parties operate. There is a world of difference between advocating changes in law and armed insurrection or terrorism. Most people take “Throw the bums out!” to be not a call to arms but a call to vote on election day.
An essential part of civility is maintaining an awareness that wanting to vote a leader, party or representative out of office does not make a person subversive. This distinction must be articulated and reiterated at every juncture. Our system of government was not only designed for placid intervals but for turbulent and impassioned disagreements as well.