...a truthful-speaking Democrat? Although he admits he wouldn't have uttered this colorful phrase if he had decided to run again, it's probably what all his constituants figured he was thinking for quite some time.

Democrat Congressman On Why He’s Retiring: “People Have Gotten Dumber”

Written By:
Rob Port
Jun 21, 2012

Bloomberg put together four members of Congress – Kent Conrad and Olympia Snowe from the Senate, Gary Ackerman and Geoff Davis from the House – and interviewed them about why they’re retiring.

The entire piece is an interesting read, but most interesting perhaps are these comments from Rep. Ackerman in answer to this question, “Congressman Ackerman, you’ve been here 30 years. Can you define comity as it existed when you arrived versus how it exists now?”
Your premise is that comity exists now. It may not be entirely accurate. It used to be you had real friends on the other side of the aisle. It’s not like that anymore. Society has changed. The public is to blame as well. I think the people have gotten dumber. I don’t know that I would’ve said that out loud pre-my announcement that I was going to be leaving. [Laughter] But I think that’s true. I mean everything has changed. The media has changed. We now give broadcast licenses to philosophies instead of people. People get confused and think there is no difference between news and entertainment. People who project themselves as journalists on television don’t know the first thing about journalism. They are just there stirring up a hockey game.
Obviously, the whole “people have gotten dumber” thing is the most provocative comment, but the jab at giving out broadcast licenses to “philosophies instead of people” is perhaps the most telling.
I think Rep. Ackerman’s problem is that we have too much free speech these days.

The idea that public discourse has become more uncivil, and more polarized, is a consistent talking point for many in politics and the media. I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think public discourse is any less civil than it ever was, I just think there’s more of it. Where it was once contained to newspaper editorial pages and the like, now it’s all over the internet including in our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

And to the extent that politics has become more polarizing, I think the additional scrutiny the internet allows has made it harder for double-talking “moderates” like Kent Conrad and Olympia Snowe, etc., etc. to keep up their charade. It’s harder than ever before in politics to say one thing and do another.

I think it’s a good thing that our political leaders are being forced, through additional scrutiny, to be more accountable to their constituencies. But this development is described as “polarizing.”

Many, I think, would like to return to the days when Americans got all of their information from just a few news sources that were easily managed by the politicians and their press people. It was easier to be in politics when all you had to handle were a few reporters, editors and producers.

Now anyone with a cell phone in their pocket can distribute information to a potential audience of millions, and the game has changed.

Again, that’s a positive thing.

Tags: Asshats, gary ackerman, Kent Conrad, olympia snowe