The Future Of The Meet And Greet In Light Of The Arizona Shootings

When I was in the newspaper world, about once a quarter former Rep. Mark Maddox and Sen. Roy Herron would have regular meet and greets around their districts. At coffee shops, Co-ops, resturants and the like, the rep and the senator would make themselves available to constituents to answer questions. Sometimes, if there was a particularly contentious issue going on, they would have more folks there than the times that nothing was really going on. We would put the announcements of where they would be in the News Notes section of the paper. The same thing happened before when I was working in radio, we would make a public service announcement about getting to know your elected officials. Rep. John Tanner did this as well.

It’s what elected folks do.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was doing this in Arizona. It’s a rather universal understanding that while being a public servant one must give access to interested parties. Galaxie Carol has a post of the victims who died this morning, who they were and why they were standing in a Safeway parking lot taking a part of the political process.

They were interested parties watching and observing the political process.

I tend to agree with Stephen Yeargin. Jared Loughner was one man with one gun. I’m hearing the political gnashing of the teeth regarding the shooting. I have no sympathy for Sarah Palin’s PAC in the least and I do believe that this discussion on civility in politics is necessary, but I believe that Loughner is also mentally ill. I honestly would love to see us having more of a conversation about mental health in this country.

Stephen writes:

I have to believe that none of the organizers and leadership of the Tea Party movement, SarahPAC or House and Senate conservatives ever wished physical harm or intimidation against Rep. Giffords or anyone else. These are ideological arguments, not calls for bloodshed. If this individual was not listening to more mainstream talking points, he would have likely found his motive through some other means (anarchist writings, faux biblical justification, etc.)

As I said, I have no sympathy for Sarah Palin because she does like to throw gasoline on a fire with cutesy rhetoric.  Relock and reload is a political soundbite that gets her the adoration from many and the scorn of others. At this point, we don’t know what Loughner’s motive was, but we do know one thing.

He executed people in broad daylight.

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes the words of Gabby Giffords from earlier this year. It’s eerie in the light of Saturday’s tragic events.

Asked if leaders of the Republican Party should speak out more forcefully against violence, she replied that this task fell as well to Democrats and “community leaders.”

“Look, we can’t stand for this.” There were problems with certain ways of “firing people up,” she said, and then offered an example close to home.

“We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list,” she said, “but the thing is that the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they’ve got to realize there’s consequences to that action.”

The consequences are that we are having a very serious discussion on hate-filled political rhetoric and it surrounds Palin and the tea party.  And we need to be having it. We need to be paying attention because the left does it too. Let’s remember, good people are burying their murdered family members this week. The sacrifices made are raw and frightening. Gabby Giffords is still in critical care after a gunshot to the head.We have no idea what ongoing hell she will endure if she survives this.

I can’t help but thing about all those meet and greets I covered throughout the years. Loughner’s actions will most definitely impact access to political leaders. And that is another long-term consequence of a mad man’s actions as well because it puts up a barrier for access.

Not everyone has Palin’s money for a security detail following their every move.

5 comments for “The Future Of The Meet And Greet In Light Of The Arizona Shootings

  1. Amanda
    January 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Palin may not have directly intended physical harm on anyone but her choice of wording (“elimination”, “reload”) are aggressive, unnecessary words that are intended to provoke. Unfortunately, those who are mentally ill may not be able to discern between poor word choice and the literal meaning.

  2. January 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Well said Amanda. My boss uses the term concrete thinkers (she is a therapist) where people seriously do things literally. I have wondered all weekend if that is what Loughner was all about.

  3. January 10, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I think the Republicans and their tea party wing were trying to intimidate Democrats of all stripes.

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