Disrespect is the reaction to those in pursuit of power who show no respect for others. The author of the Nov. 21 column, "Finally Some Good News," states “mutual respect was a way of life, and to act otherwise was simply considered unacceptable.”
The corrosive force that destroyed this cherished American value was desire for power. In 1987, the Reagan Administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine which required holders of broadcast licenses to present viewers information that was honest, equitable and balanced. Without that regulation, commentators were no longer bound by journalism's professional “code of ethics” which required they present viewers information that was true, accurate, impartial and fair. Where errors were discovered, corrections had to be made to prevent misleading the viewers with false or inaccurate information.
The abolition of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 allowed news stations and journalists to control the narrative. Being truthful, fair and impartial were no longer required. Rush Limbaugh, who was fired from multiple broadcasting jobs, suddenly became a superstar by 1990. By 1994 conservative talk radio had legitimized attacking the character of political opponents.
Newt Gingrich used the same tactics when he advocated for Republicans to stop being “nice” and start “raising hell” because politics was a cutthroat “war for power.” He pioneered a style of partisan combat where name-calling, dehumanization, conspiracy theories, obstructionist policies, win at all cost scorch-earth mentality became the norm. Truth and respect no longer mattered.
Bombastic commentary on conservative talk radio was a financial bonanza. Rupert Murdoch started Fox News in 1996 with Roger Ailes as CEO. Together they hired a cadre of Limbaugh wannabes who ignored the professional code of ethics in journalism and relentlessly spewed personal attacks on political opponents, government institutions and free press, while pushing conspiracy theories, falsehoods, etc. By 2002, Fox was the No. 1 news outlet in America. Profits mattered, truth and respect didn't.
In 2008 the economy was collapsing. Gingrich advocated for complete obstruction by Republicans of Obama's agenda. Of the 227 elected Republican politicians in Washington, only three senators supported economic stimulus to reduce the severity of the recession. Republicans relentless opposition inflicted economic pain on Americans.
By 2010, millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure, 8.5 million people lost their jobs, 170,000 small business filed for bankruptcy, home values declined 33% and the S&P lost 50% of its value.
During this time of enormous suffering, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “the single most important thing we want to accomplish is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Party allegiances and pursuit of power were more important than passing legislation to help suffering Americans. Power mattered, respect didn't.
Republican politicians exposed their obsessive desire for power and their total lack of respect for our constitution and their oath of office. They passionately defended President Trump as he was undermining the institutions of government, free press, international alliances and our electoral process. Treasonous behaviors by government officials aren't respectful behavior, but apparently that didn't matter to almost 94 million voters.