Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:
Re "Name-calling trumps civility," Perspective, Oct. 7
Robin Abcarian has gotten to the core of our political discourse: Name-calling has indeed come to trump civility.
But why is that? Is it a symptom of our political dumbing down? Does it mean that we have run out of ideas? Have we lost our sense of being a politically exceptional nation?
I cannot imagine members of our current Congress being anything like the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who in 1776, appealing "to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions," pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
I am hard-pressed to imagine our present Congress doing the same.
John H. Geerken
The writer is a professor emeritus of history at Scripps College.
Abcarian's evenhanded call for Democrats and Republicans to behave as adults misses the point, as all such appeals to civility must.
What is happening in Congress, and even more in state legislatures, is an ominous echo of May 22, 1856, when Southern Sen. Preston Brooks thrashed and almost killed anti-slavery Sen. Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate with his cane.
The act epitomized the loss of civility in national discourse that was driving us toward civil war.
Today's campaign — waged for decades by one party to secure power for the powerful by degrading the political process to the lowest level of race-baiting class warfare — has spawned childish radicals who openly exult in the process of destroying the nation.
This madness can no longer be appeased by the only adults in the room. It must be confronted and named.
We the people are the problem, not Congress.
We blame the tea party, we blame the Republicans and we blame the Democrats, but it is us, the voters, who elected these people who are in turn failing us.
Apparently, many voters have serious short-term memory problems because we continually elect these people and then complain that they are obstructionists and not doing their jobs.
Let's remember this shameful time and put a note on our refrigerators carrying this reminder: I will become an informed citizen and vote for people who will put the good of their country ahead of their self-interest.