Top of Our Lungs

posted 28 Jan 2004, 11AM | 3 Comments

I regularly listen to the KCRW World News stream, which includes BBC World Service broadcasts. And lately, as I listen to the recent coverage of Tony Blair's assertive statements to Parliament in the wake of Hutton's Report, I keep coming back to the same thought: I love the way MPs yell and grumble and voice their opinions during Parliament sessions.

During State of the Union addresses—and most Congressional footage I've ever seen—our representatives seem to have only four options for expressing their feedback: clapping, not clapping, standing and clapping... or emitting a quiet, subdued murmur. Beyond that, we see Ted Kennedy shaking his head, we see Hilary blankly clapping like she's just going through the motions. Later, the responses of Senators and Reps get filtered and spun through sporadic media coverage.

If our legislators would be more willing to vocalize their dissent and their support in the midst of the legislative process, in front of the media, then maybe their fearless outspokenness would trickle down through the ranks of the citizens they claim to represent. Though on the surface their restraint may seem more civilized, it in fact encourages (and stems from) a fear of real accountability. I'm all for compromise, but it's a shame that our politicians are so often afraid of speaking their mind out of fear that they'll offend some of their constituents. That kind of fear narrows debate, discourages innovative opinions and solutions, and anestitizes the public to a representative government that ends up seeming flat, distant, and at times irrelevant.

I say yell out loud and catch peoples' attention before we end up in a one party state. Fear is stupid.


There are 3 Comments

1

28 Jan 04 at 03:55PM Dave said:

Could not agree more. The only thing I don't get is a fear steeped in the consequence of accountability when there is no accountability anymore. The US invaded a sovereign nation against the wishes of the world (even most of the coalition of the willing were bribed or bullied into submission). This was based on a very dangerous new precedent - doctrine of pre-emption. It has now been demonstrated that there was no IMMINENT threat, let alone any WMD at all. The spin then pivoted to an explanation of liberation. This will always be an unnacceptable reason because the US props up so many compliant dictators that make Sadam look like a gentle pacifist (e.g. the guy who runs Tajikistan, a US ally, has boiled people to death). So many canards.

2

28 Jan 04 at 05:32PM pt said:

hear hear! in a multiparty democracy, one should think that the point was debate. god forbid some of your constituents get offended! meanwhile the rest of your constiuents are probably angry that you arent doing anything that they elected you to do. the more we, and politicians, stay silent, the more we are headed toward a state of chaos and dictatorship

3

30 Jan 04 at 01:40PM Adam said:

Three cheers for your entry! After all, our founding fathers were never quiet. Just go see the musical '1776' and see what I mean.

"For God's sake John, sit down!"

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