First of all, these murders are obviously horrifying and disturbing on so many levels. Our Democracy depends on a respect for the election process and if someone fears for their life if they choose to vote on a controversial issue, this is a major, major problem. We want our elected legislatures to vote for bills with their conscious. If they vote against the will of the majority in their represented district, they will suffer consequences in the next election cycle. Obviously, the worst that should happen is that they lose their jobs not their lives.
What's more is that Giffords was out there engaging with her constituency when an attack on her life was made - this kind of violence will only further insulate our politicians from the people they represent. It is sad.
I'm not sure how many people really paid attention, but Harry Mitchell received death threats after he voted for the Health care bill and stopped having town halls because of it.
The Judge John Roll who was one of the victims who lost their life on Saturday had previously received death threats after ruling in favor of illegal immigrants who has sued a rancher.
And, of course Gabrielle Giffords herself had also received threats of violence for her votes on health care.
All of this is so sad and so disturbing and of course not entirely unique, read this brief history of American assassinations (and attempts) and the motives behind them.
But what can we learn from this? I really hope and pray that the extremes of our politics are marginalized from this. That the more moderate and civil among us come out of this ahead. I would love to see AM talk radio lose a lot of support, and the likes of Glenn Beck and Mark Levin lose sponsors, viewers and listeners.
I don't blame any of these people in any way, but the kind of hatred on the air-waves is certainly not helpful.
Here's Andrew Sullivan:
"But the level of animus toward the new president and anyone supporting him reached preposterous proportions at the beginning of this presidency; the gracelessness from the Congressional leadership on down, from 'You lie!' to 'death panels' and 'palling around with terrorists' ... this is a real problem in a country with its fair share of disturbed individuals and much more than its fair share of guns.
The Palin forces, who have fomented this dynamic more viciously and recklessly than any other group, are reacting today with incandescent rage that they could even be mentioned in the same breath as this act of political terrorism. That's called denial. When you put a politician in literal cross-hairs, when you call her a target, when you celebrate how many targets you have hit, when you go on national television and shoot guns, when you use the language of "lock and load" to describe disagreements over healthcare provision ... you are part of the problem."
Finally, here's a conservative response comparing this mass murder to the one in Fort Hood.
I do think we have to be careful with our finger pointing, but certainly a move toward civility and compassion and a world where Americans are Americans who can disagree but at the end of the day still be friends is something I want to support.
Does Sarah Palin's rhetoric encourage that? I say it does not and I hope she and her kind (of any political stripe) lose a lot of political influence as a result.