Thursday, November 04, 2004

Dialog II

(Continuing the dialog.)


Thanks for the thoughtful and respectful response to little old me. I feel like a minor celebrity (very minor).

On the issues you've discussed, I agree with you almost entirely.

We are political geeks, we enjoy this stuff. I also agree that most people are not and care very little about most of the little details of politics. And you're exactly right that the impression that a politician makes is more important than the underlying details of his plan. Having said that, I don't think that the side that does a better job of staying on message is also necessarily the side that has the details wrong.

I also agree that it is important that there is a strong, viable opposition party. It is absolutely important that one party is not comfortably in power. Being a Republican, I can tell you that I feel good right now, but not comfortable. I invite you and others to keep us on our toes.

Unlike you, I've pretty much always been some version of a partisan Republican (I've never been an independent). However, I constantly question my beliefs and seek out reasoned viewpoints in opposition to my own. I personally know Republicans that can say intensely partisan and borderline hateful things that make my skin crawl. I'm sure you've met one or two Democrats from that category as well. My point is that ideologues come from both sides, religion is not the only source. I'm also not convinced that my party is under the iron fist of people like that... not that the Democrats are either.

I hear your complaint about the attitude of governing Republicans. I can't say that I see it, but I accept that you feel it. I'm not sure how to remedy this at this point because Republicans would say that they are entitled to govern since they are governing. Democrats would say the same if they were governing. But attitude is important, I'll be watching.

Demonization is also a two-way street. For every talk radio loud mouth there is an alternative weekly that thinks that fascism is just around the corner in the form of John Ashcroft's library stormtroopers. And gerrymandering is an age old technique that is both disgusting and unfortunately, accepted. A truly non-partisan redistricting commission would be nice but highly improbable.

Finally, look at it this way: political campaigns are like trials without the judge (at least if the media isn't doing as good a job as they should). Both sides will say whatever they plausibly can to get elected. We, the jury, have to decide who made a better case based on incomplete information that has been spun beyond belief. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (when you think it works and when you think it doesn't tends to depend on who you voted for).

Thanks for responding to my comments in such an extensive way. I really appreciate your comments and hope that we can continue the dialogue.


P.S. Maybe I need to upgrade my account? [Maybe. -Ed]


No doubt there are hateful voices on the left. But that's an example of the doctrine of false equivalence. It doesn't matter that, pound for pound, there are as many hateful people on both the left or the right. What matters is how big a loudspeaker they have to espouse their hateful views..

Lefty hatemongers are lucky if they can reach an audience of a few hundred through alternative weeklies and community radio. Righty hatemongers not only reach millions of Americans on a 24/7 basis, several of them are in prominent leadership roles in your party.

The left is only lately starting to put forward a viable media alternative to the right-wing noise machine. But there efforts are still a mosquito buzz compared to the booming artillery of the right.

In fact, I would argue that, to the extent that the most extremist elements on the left can be said to get a voice it is because the right-wing noise machine picks them out of the crowd and puts them on display as "an example of a typical liberal".

Reasonable, liberal voices have to work mighty hard to be heard in this country. Republicans just have to open their mouths.

(and continues)

Grover Norquist can be shrill and I'm not going to apologize for that statement. He's the sort of fellow I could do without on my side (if he even is on my side, his "no tax no matter what" stuff is a bit much, even for me).

Fellow Republicans: Please, keep it in your pants. We won this week, can't that be enough for a while? I know only a few of you are being Grover Norquist-ian but you can discourage gloating. It will be us on the losing end of this sometime very soon and you don't want to be compared to a cat, dog, or ferret.

I Thank you, Jimmy

I think we can both agree that there are good reasons for Republicans and Democrats to be upset at the way the opposition caricatures the other side. But it is the Republicans who appear to be pushing this as a deliberate political strategy (dividing the country works for them, at least in the short run). The Democrats have to suffer their own share of fools. But they don't give those fools the keys to car.

I can say with all honesty that I believe that the majority of Republicans are decent human beings who love their country, love their families and only want what is best for both(*). It is the party's leadership, not the party members that disgust me. The extent to which I will continue to feel that Republicans are generally decent will depend on how willing they are to put up with that leadership because they like to win.

Keep in touch,


(* I hope you can say the same about Democrats)


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