March 29th, 2010
06:39 AM ET
7 years ago

Republican: We need to respect anger about country's direction


Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, discussed the need for a more civil political discourse on Sunday's State of the Union. (Photo Credit: CNN)

Washington (CNN) – Commenting on the high-temperature political rhetoric of the last week and some incidents of violence and threats against lawmakers, a leading Senate Republican walked a fine line Sunday.

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said “ugliness” ought to be condemned. And, at the same time, the Tennessee Republican said the nation’s leaders needed to “respect” the anger some have about the direction the country is headed in.

“There's no doubt there has been - the anger today is more visible,” Alexander told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “You can go to any Web site and see ugliness. It used to be beneath the surface and it's on top now, and it ought to be condemned.

Related: Anger over health care bill a sign of the times?

“But there's also a lot of real anger out there about the direction of the country. And we need to respect that and then conduct ourselves in a civil way, which I think we United States senators are capable of doing and did do this week.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, agreed with Alexander and had detailed advice about how to cool down the country’s political rhetoric.

“I have a suggestion,” Mikulski told Crowley on State of the Union. “Let's go back to the three R’s: respect, rules of engagement that promote decorum, and, number three, stop the rewards system that enables you to raise a lot of money after using outrageous and bizarre behavior.”

Asked about recent efforts by fellow Democrats to raise money in the wake of threats and vandalism directed at Democratic lawmakers who supported the health care bill, Mikulski called out members of her own party.

“I think it's stridency, whether it is from the right or the left. We need to lower the decibel level."

Earlier: Axelrod weighs in on Dem fundraising off of threats, violence

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. JR

    "But there's also a lot of real anger out there about the direction of the country. And we need to respect that..."

    'Respect that'? How about 'defuse that' and not exploit the 'us vs them' angle to all this using the politics of division? Instead, focus on the 'we' aspect of our representative democracy, and how WE need to get on with dealing with the problems of our country.

    While both parties are fanning the flames, ridiculous and inflammatory buzzwords and exagerrations like "Armageddon", "Socialism", "reload" and "anti-American" definitely can be heard more stridently coming from one particular group. Not to draw parallels, but I recall another political movement/party that utilized similar tactics to gain support, only this one was in Germany, and the times were the 1920's and 1930's.

    March 29, 2010 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  2. Dudley E.

    What I am still trying to understand is the particular demographics of the angry protesters. why are they not an ethnic cross section of america? why are they all middle aged to older middle to upper income white americans? just wondering what that says

    March 29, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. james

    When you ignore the people, they get angry. Democrats ignored the people, and the people are angry. Should there be violence? Of course not. But considering what we value in society today (violent video games, mixed martial arts sports, violence in just about every aspect of our lives), it should not be surprising when some turn to violence when they are told they don't know what's best for themselves.

    March 29, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. RufusVonDufus

    It would be better served for Mikulski to admit the cause of the "ugly" incidents currently taking place after a completely partisan raid by the freeloaders on the savings of the workers in this country. The CBO's accuracy in scoring this piece of legislation will not be known until it is way too late to correct it as it was with Medicare and SS! We need fiscal responsibility right now, not irresponsible spending. Since we are now stuck with Obama's vision of socialized medicine I hope it works as well as the Arrogant One says it will, but am afraid we have once again been duped by the Dem's. Keep your fingers crossed!

    March 29, 2010 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Bob R., Lanham, Maryland

    Senator Barbara Mikulski, thank you for being a strong voice of civility and reason.

    My lovely wife of 50+ years and I are very grateful you represent us Marylanders in the U. S. Senate. We are very proud of your contributions to the needs of the entires United States of America and its posessions. We love you Senator Barbara Mikulski.

    March 29, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  6. jp,michigan

    There was anger when the Republican and Bush were the majority. The difference the media gave the Democrats a pass. Never did the country become so divided , since the civil war. The Obama administration plays on division and uses as a weapon, the media. The back door deals and scare tactics this administration is not afraid to use. This division of of American voters is seen as anger and discuss of the political system on the Hill and in the Oval Office.

    March 29, 2010 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. JC from Kansas-40 years a Republican -so sorry

    Perhaps it's time that the Republician members of Congress stood up and accepted responsiblinity for the current political climate in the nation, rather than saying we must respect the anger. There is such a thing as disagreeing without the theatrics that we have wittnessed by the members of Congress. I hold the Republican members of Congress responsible for the anti-government rallies and radical groups that have popped up calling our government Socialist and showing a total disrespect for our national leaders. Out burst such as "you lie", and "baby killer" in the halls on Congress, these individuals are not fitting to be called gentlemen, if they wish to act like scum, then let us recognize them as scum. It's fun when you think you are pulling the strings but this is what happens when the puppets cut loose.

    March 29, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  8. Terry from West Texas

    This is not a spontaneous, grass-roots response to Obama. This "anger" is the work of Conservative operatives who are sort of the opposite of community organizers. They persuade people to be uncooperative and unhappy. Their efforts are focused on:

    1. Stirring up racist opposition to Obama

    2. Convincing fundamentalists that Obama is the Antichrist (Harris Poll: 25% of Republicans believe that Obama is the Antichrist)

    3. Convincing gullible voters that certain preposterous lies are the truth: death panels, tax increases, you can't see your doctor any more, rationed care, old people will be allowed to die without treatment, etc.

    4. The tea party movement is coordinated and orchestrated by Republican operatives. Republicans are playing the tea party people like harmonicas. They provide the street theater that we have been reading about in the news.

    This deliberate campaign to create opposition where none would have spontaneously appeared is well-financed, and our Conservative leadership pretends that it doesn't exist.

    March 29, 2010 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. Bill Fleming

    The Senators are right. But I would add a couple of items. First, take responsibility and be accountable for what "you" did or said. It is not admirable to yell "baby killer" on the House floor, apologize, then immediately attempt to raise money with the same accusation. It calls into question the sincerity of the apology and offers yet another example of shameless behavior.

    Second, context matters. Some of the language would not be incendiary under ordinary politics, but these are not ordinary times. If Sen. Alexander wants to honor the anger out there, then do it by changing your language usage in recognition of that very anger. What would his reaction have been if the day after Pres. Regan was shot, democrats put up a web map with crosshairs on it calling for "targeting" Republicans in upcoming elections?

    March 29, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  10. janey

    Every incumbent regardless of party who is up for re-election needs to be voted out. The only way to give power back to the people is to destroy the "old boy" network of I'll scratch your back if you scartch mine. T^hese pigs do not represent anything but their own pockets.

    March 29, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  11. jim darnley

    anger is fine but violence is not

    March 29, 2010 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  12. elaine of calif

    There is only anger because the people who are angry are glued to Faux news and the lies that Rush, Hannity, Beck and of course the publicity seeking hoar Sarah Palin (sales herself for a buck). is spreading.....

    March 29, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. Ancient Texan

    The Dems choose to ignore the folks. So what else is new? The people ARE angry and will be heard in the next two elections. They won't forget.

    March 29, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  14. verlie

    The representatives and senators should remember who put them in office and respect our wishes. This is where the anger comes from. How very soon these people forget about who puts them in office and do the things THEY choose to do for our country instead of what WE want and need. They should have to live off what we live on!

    March 29, 2010 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  15. johnnyhouse

    I have heard people interviewed in prisons and they seem to argue the same point as to who caused them to be in the fix they are in.They usually blame the victim and obsolve themselves of any blame.

    March 29, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  16. Minnesotan

    "....the Tennessee Republican said the nation’s leaders needed to “respect” the anger some have about the direction the country is headed in." Why? You cretins, Bush and the neo-con ninnies created far worse situations and you didn't respect our anger. Thanks for the trillion dollar debt, two wars, tax breaks for the rich, outrageous gas prices, rampant corruption, cronyism and failing to protect the country from 9/11, Republicans....

    March 29, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  17. KJ

    Sen. Mikulski has hit the nail on the head! She has provided sound advice. The question now is whether the elected officials of both parties have the maturity and courage to act on this advice.

    March 29, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  18. Cindy V

    I just want to understand why my anger about the direction our country WAS headed doesn't seem to count! I'm dismayed that because I'm polite to my neighbors and respect their fanatical following of all things republican that it meant I didn't care about how things WERE going. I hated every thing that was happening and so I used my voice and VOTED and we WON. I'm pleased as punch with Mr Obama but can't crow to my neighbors because while we are friends, I'm afraid of what they'll do with my opposition. A friendly chat around a flower bed has become a diatribe about how awful things are now. I, for one, wish republicans could be as respectful of my President as I was of theirs (whom btw I voted for).

    March 29, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  19. Right Leaning Independent

    Both parties need to get over it! The far left liberals showed the far right wingers how to get down and nasty with their actions toward Bush and Palin. Now the far right wingers are giving it back!

    March 29, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. jack

    The Rep. leaderships needs to speak clearly that threats and intimidation are NOT accepted in a democratic country! They are NOT doing that

    March 29, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. ThinkAgain

    This "anger" is visible only because it's sponsored and promoted by Roger Ailes and Fox who given this small band of retired white people airtime.

    And I refuse to respect bullies who instead of engaging in fact-based, civil debate, resort to fear-mongering, intimidation, threats of violence and acts of vandalism.

    If these folks want their concerns to be addressed, they need to stop acting like a bunch of spoiled children who aren't getting their way.

    March 29, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. Seattle Sue

    It's just a matter of time before some one is killed and the blame will lay heavily on the heads of Alexander, Boehner, McConnell, McCain, Palin, Beck,Limbaugh and the other very radical right wing people.

    March 29, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  23. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Of course, a significant portion of the "anger" that the Republicans are respecting was generated by them with their lies, inuendos and half-truths submitted during the times they did not take part in any of the debate in forming the current health care system. Once the "people" realize they will no longer have their lifetime benefits capped, the Medicare Donut Hole is closing and there are no "death panels", all the Republican talk about getting a majority to repeal Obamacare will lead to naught and many of these folks will find themselves out of a job. Now if Congress had the intestinal fortitude, they could pass legislation to deny a Congressional pension to anyone who loses the election. Why? How many folks in the private sector get to keep their pensions when they are fired? When a congressman or senator is voted out of office, they are fired by their bosses – the US Citizens! The savings could pay for the health care benefits without raising any taxes or cutting any other programs!

    March 29, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  24. wewill

    Our Republicans Lawmakers...Angry, Violent , Racist and hungry for money; all in the name of God and Country. For they are the true Americans. Everyone else is scum and wastefull spenders. How low can this country go. We now spit on our elected officials and travel to other states to tell the voters in "that" state not to elect the person "they" did before. If you don't like what's happening in D.C., write "your" elected official or vote "them" out. Don't resort to violence against those you did not wasn't your decision to put them into office AND they only represent the people of their state. Clean up your own house. Sen Alexander, if you're going to denounce violence, do some with some conviction or have the guts to support it with conviction...pansy!

    March 29, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  25. Morty

    So what do they expect? Should they be surprised? No, of course not. Our country had been transformed from being one of respect for others to one of "in your face". It has come about because of the lack of personal responsibility being the norm and no one is ever wrong type of attitudes being fostered and fed by society. Further, when someone is "working" for you, like your elected officials rather than them taking the "what's in it for ME" position they should reflect their constitiuents desires. I expect we will see worse, a lot worse before attitudes swing back the other way. There is no premium in today's world for being nice.

    March 29, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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