Defusing Anti-Government Rhetoric
Topic: Ask Kate
Visitors to this website are encouraged to send us their thoughts, ideas and questions through our feedback form. This morning, we received a message that is typical of much of the rhetoric coming out of the "Tea Party" camp.
What gives you people the idea you have the right to control the American People by passing laws that go against the Constitution. We the people control our own lives and the Federal Goverment dosen't have the power to control what we eat or what car we drive or where we live. Get off you high minded self or we the people will vote everyone you support out of elected office and restore our rights. We Tea Party Patriot's will take back our country by peaceful means. I love my country.
Sometimes these messages are a little mysterious -- I have no idea what laws this gentleman was talking about, nor what rights he feels have been stripped away. Still, we respond to everyone who writes in, so I took a few minutes and wrote this message:
Thank you for contacting us. I'm not sure what specifically about the
work of the Commonweal Institute you object to, but your message does
seem to hinge on the assumption that government is a bad thing. We also
love this country, and part of the reason that we love it is because of
its democratic form of government, which means that We, the People
*are* in fact in charge of this country. There is no difference between
"the Federal Government" and "the American People" -- the people have
*chosen* this government, and will continue to do so. We believe,
therefore, that people are smart, and that they choose the government
they want to have, and that government can and should play a positive
role in our society, along with the private sector and the institutions
of civil society.
I am glad to hear that you are committed to peaceful means of activism, as there has been a frightening amount of violent rhetoric in recent months. I for one welcome your participation in the democratic process, and though I am not sure what rights you feel need restoring or what laws might be unconstitutional, I wish you luck in your efforts to make this country and this world a better place.
It's not a perfect response, I'm sure, but I was trying to reduce the perceived distance between us by emphasizing our shared love of country and investment in its future, while at the same time questioning the writer's reflexive anti-government stance.
What do you think? How would you have responded?