Something precious is being squandered in the rough and tumble of this political season – – a shocking decline in respect for the values that made this country a symbol of freedom and decency. After years of progress in the area of civility and civil rights voter angst in a time of economic trauma has become an excuse for virulent, racially-charged campaigns.  Suddenly it is acceptable to air long-repressed hostility that had been frowned upon as the country moved to moderate an ugly, divisive past.

Tea Partiers say they want to take the country back, a rallying cry without substance except as an expression of anti-government fervor even though, in many cases, protesters are the beneficiaries of federal programs like Medicare and Social Security. They feel oppressed, over-taxed, and under-appreciated. And they tend to support candidates in spite of their dubious qualifications because those deficits are a better fit with their own self image and distance them from people they disparage as political elites. Gaining an advantage is the game; no rules of conduct need apply in attaining that goal.