For those of you who despair over the coarsening of political discussion and wring your hands over what social media hath wrought, I offer you ... no disagreement. But maybe a little perspective.
All that nasty, angry, divisive public hyperventilating has actually existed for a very long time. It's called: Sports Talk Radio. And as far as I can tell, it has not brought with it the end of times.
If you are not familiar, go ahead and sample a call-in show sometime. Although with the same warning that comes with Googling, say, mating rituals: Be careful — you may experience things that you will not be able to un-experience.
If you'd rather not take the chance, I can tell you that it features many of the same characters you'd find on any comments page:
- The Self-Proclaimed World's Most Renowned Authority: "If the Tigers had only accepted my advice on altering space and time, they'd have the best bullpen in the Majors!"
- The Fairness Expert: "I cannot believe that you keep accepting caller after caller to talk about relief pitching when you completely censor other important topics. Give hitting, fielding, and the effects of fluoridated water equal time!"
- The Axe Grinder: "If you ask me, the problem with the Tigers' relief pitching can all be traced back to the designated hitter rule. Get rid of the designated hitter, and everything gets better. I will now list the 573 reasons I have for hating the designated hitter rule. One,..."
I exaggerate to make a point: In truth, I find nothing fundamentally wrong with Sport Talk Radio. Sure, it can get weird sometimes and definitely over-amped. But it's a decent venue for people to be passionate about a subject they care about.
I see much more harm in a lack of passion — specifically, for really important things like educating our children. It's more than a little unsettling to see Michigan's Education Achievement Authority come to such an ignoble end, especially when it was rolled out with such promise and fanfare just a few short years ago. You know, the same sort of promise and fanfare we see now in those proposals to unleash charter schools.
If the citizens and leaders of our state do not have the passion to develop and stick with real solutions, they will fail when the going gets tough. (And with education, the going always gets tough.)