I am discouraged. Specifically, I am discouraged about the political situation in the United States. A wave of discouragement hit me last Wednesday morning when I heard the results of the senatorial election in Massachusetts.
I am discouraged partly because the health care bill, which I thought would surely be passed this month, is in jeopardy. It now seems likely that millions of people will continue to be without health care. This is sad. According to the February 2010 “Harper’s Index,” the estimated number of U.S. veterans under 65 who died in 2008 because they lacked health insurance is 2,266. That is five times the number of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.
I am discouraged because of the extreme polarity and partisanship in this country, largely due, I think, to the vitriolic voices of the extreme Right. I listen to those voices very little, but coming home from Rockhurst University last Thursday evening I listened to Mark Levin’s outrageous ranting about liberal Democrats wanting to deprive citizens of the freedom of speech. As I was making some rounds the next day, the radio came on again to KMBZ “Talk Radio” and I listened some to Rush Limbaugh.
I am discouraged not just about health care for the citizens of the country but about the very health of the country itself because of people like Limbaugh. He railed on and on about the President, ending with the words, “I hate him, and you should too!”
Regardless of how much one disagrees with some politicians or their political position, it is contemptible for someone on nationwide radio to not only declare their hatred for the President but to encourage others to join in that hatred. At the end-of-the-hour station break, the announcer proclaimed, as I assume he does daily, that Limbaugh is “the man who runs America.” That’s scary!
According to The Huffington Post (1/22/10), Limbaugh receives a yearly salary of $50,000,000, and he has 12,000,000 listeners daily. That is less than 6% of the people of the nation who are over 18 years of age, but still that is a lot of people. And he is just one of many radical rightwing ranters on the radio.
For those of us who believe in civility, what are we going to do, what can we do, when a Limbaugh with twelve million listeners says of the President, “I hate him, and you should too”?
Is there any encouraging word?