Is it just me, or doesn’t it seem like public discourse – particularly political discourse – has become nothing more than trying to be the person shouting the loudest?

I like discourse. It’s been said, “never discuss politics or religion.” While I can see some wisdom in that, I love to discuss both. I have friends who think as far to the right of the spectrum as I can imagine, and they are my friends. I have friends who think as far to the left of the spectrum as I can imagine, and they are my friends. As long as we can agree on the front end to be friends on the back end, I’ll discuss anything.

I love to watch and listen to public discourse. I like to hear a point from one side, and then the counter from the other. And I like to hear the points debated – even though resolve is not the object (and never achieved).

But it seems lately that it’s all yelling and screaming. Issues are complicated. One person states her facts, and then another person states his facts. And they aren’t the same. I’ve been around the block once or twice, and I can tell when two facts contradict:

Pundit 1: “The congressional record shows that Representative Billy Bob voted to increase taxes 5 times in the last year alone.”

Pundit 2: “The facts will show that in a distinguished 24-year career in Congress, Representative Billy Bob has never voted even once for a tax increase.

Somebody’s lying.

However, none of this is really that new.

Aaron Burr disagreed with Alexander Hamilton so vehemently that he killed him in a duel.

President Obama is on record referring to Kanye West as, let’s just say “an animal usually found on a farm,” as are the opponents of Andrew Jackson during the election of 1828.

The debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858 were long and, at points, heated and bordered on profane.

I suppose it’s not that new. Maybe it’s just we, who enjoy it, see it all now – unfiltered.

(This would be the perfect post to end with an embedded video of Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin doing “Point/Counterpoint” from the early 80s. But alas, YouTube has put an end to any record of that discourse!)

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