Let's Have a Dialogue
The “Change I Need” discussion (that seems to have finally – and thankfully – petered out) managed to devolve into a gratuitous exercise in name-calling. Thanks to Suzi – and a few others – for her efforts to keep it as cordial as possible.
It seems that politics, like religion, brings out the intolerant side of some people. This is why it is a good idea to avoid those topics at the dinner table. On a site like this, it is inevitable that political opinions will meet with opposition. It is possible, however, to have a civil discussion without impugning the intelligence or reputation of someone else. Bill Buckley was a master at that, and – oh – how we miss him. By and large, it seems that Barack Obama tries to do the same thing. His tolerance for and consideration of dissenting views is admirable. I think it is the consensus of most people posting on this site that we are fortunate in being able to elect such a person to the Presidency.
That election was due in no small part to the Republicans who still put country first lining up behind this man, and this web site is a major meeting place for those people. (A check of past postings on this site shows ardent support for Obama from thinking Republicans from over two years ago.) I'd like to think that this site had a not insignificant role to play in the election's outcome.
Those who condemn such people as “RINO’s” forget whence the Party arose. It was once the party of freedom and progress, though it is no longer. It has been the party of intolerance and racism ever since it developed its “Southern strategy” starting forty years ago, and co-opted support of segregationists from the Democrats who had tacitly supported them for so long. (Of course, that strategy was aided by Lyndon Johnson’s support of the Voting Rights Act that alienated so many southern democrats.) That strategy freed the Democrats to focus on more forward-thinking strategies and policies; while it cost the Dem’s some major elections – especially in 1968-1972, 1980-1988, and 2000-2004 – it further marginalized and regionalized the Republican party. It is noteworthy that the only region showing an increase in GOP voting in 2008 was in the belt from Arkansas to West Virginia and including most of the Old South states of MS, AL, GA, TN, SC. Obama’s race had a lot to do with that.
The 2008 election revealed that marginalization and regionalization. Only a major shift in thinking by the GOP can save the party from becoming irrelevant. Further wooing of the religious right is not the path to success. Even the very conservative Kathleen Parker has made this point very well. (See: http://www.kansascity.com/273/story/905690.html.) Focusing on cultural issues that will forever divide our society - issues like creationism and abortion and same-sex marriage – is likewise counterproductive. Gains can be made only by focusing on real common-sense issues like infrastructure priorities, spending, taxes, war, and international diplomacy. Drawing the lines here can be tricky, since either party can make some claim to being more sensible than the other.
Putting down the other party or people who support its common-sense proposals is a self-limiting tactic. True dialogue relies upon mutual respect and an honest attempt to understand the arguments. Slinging labels, such as “socialist” or “communist” or “nazi”, only hinders communication.
It is hard to take the time to review the details of proposals, but it is also necessary if we are to build our future and understand one another. We are, after all, wanting the same things: security for our families, hope for the future, proper care for those in need, good and affordable health care, environmental improvement, decrease of dependence on foreign oil, and – above all – freedom and responsibility to live our lives without feeling threatened by others.
The differences between the parties should be mainly differences of tactics to get there, not cultural differences.