Vanderbilt expert: Keep partisan politics out of Tucson tragedy

John Geer

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Blaming the Tea Party or heated political rhetoric in general for the Tucson mass shooting would be the wrong response to a terrible tragedy, according to Vanderbilt University political scientist John Geer.

“[rquote]To inject politics into this situation without any evidence that the shooting was politically motivated serves only to increase the partisan divide[/rquote],” said Geer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and co-author of Beyond Negativity: The Effects of Incivility on the Electorate. He noted that public debate and the ability to criticize elected officials are key components of a democracy.

“There are numerous examples throughout history of presidents and other political leaders whose lives were placed in danger by extreme elements of society,” he said. What is important at this point is for the nation to come together, as President Obama and Speaker Boehner have urged, while authorities investigate the case.”

Geer said that many observers complain about polarized politics that define the nation and those concerns are reasonable. But to jump to hasty conclusions in the face of this tragedy only promises to widen the gap among Americans. He believes that it would be far more prudent to let cooler heads prevail and dampen the harsh rhetoric.

“The wounds of those who are injured will not heal faster with accusations. And for those who have died, the best way to honor their memory is extinguish the flames of extreme partisanship,” Geer said.

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