Tragedy in Arizona Sparks Political Debate

Naperville residents join with the rest of the nation in morning six victims of the shooting at a political event at a Tucson grocery store.

Jared Laughner allegedly fired dozens of shots in the crowd gathered at the supermarket parking lot.

Supporters had come together for a constituent meeting with U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Fourteen others, including Giffords, were injured.

The event touched off discussion about whether political debate in this nation played a role in the violence. Politicos and media alike took the opportunity to try to place the blame.

“The political climate has nothing to do with somebody committing murder,” said Jim Ryan, a Distinguished Fellow at Benedictine University and former Attorney General of Illinois. Ryan said that the blame that some politicians have gotten in response to the shootings is unfair.

In Naperville, debate got heated when City Council made tough decisions to reduce the city’s budget deficit for 2012. But for the most part, debates have been civil.

In a phone interview with Naperville News 17, Mayor George A. Pradel said he believes the political climate in Naperville is relatively calm.

But with a Democrat in the oval office and Republicans recently taking over the House of Representatives, bipartisanship hasn’t been as easy to come by nationally.

Media coverage certainly doesn’t help.

“[There’s] lots more conspiracy theories,” said Stephen Maynard Caliendo, Associate Professor of Political Science at North Central College. “And while there are legitimate policy debates to be had on all of those issues, a lot of the language that’s being used is not in terms of legitimate policy debates.”

Both Caliendo and Ryan agree that little will change the availability of national and local lawmakers.

“Members of Congress are very accessible,” said Caliendo.

“Anyone in politics is exposed to the potential for violence. That can’t freeze you into being immobile,” said Ryan. “If you’re in politics, you have to be in the public eye.”

At his recent appearance eulogizing the Tucson victims, President Barack Obama favored forethought and an effort to cool the rhetoric.

“At a time when our discourse has been so sharply polarized…it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals,” said Obama. “Not a way that wounds.”

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