Election Reminder / A Plea on Political Discussions

userpic=voteFirst, I’d like to use my lunch break to remind my readers in Los Angeles that there is an election tomorrow, March 9, and your vote is very important. I’ve done two posts with my thoughts on the elections and the contests on the Sample Ballot. You can find my analysis of the mayor’s race here; a separate post covered all the other municipal and special district posts, as well as the two local measures. As always, I would like your thoughts on my thoughts.

While eating lunch was was reading about the kerfluffle about a Veterans Monument near Orcutt. As always, I’m reading the comments, and I’m seeing the usual vitriol against liberals. This is something that was bothering me all weekend on Facebook, where I constantly see ad hominem  attacks on liberal spokescritters (i.e., attacking the person, not what they way), and liberals targeted in a blanket way (e.g,. “blood-sucking liberals”). Before you say anything, I also seem similar rhetoric from my politically-active liberal friends against the conservative side, and it also bothers me.

As a result, a plea to my friends who want to have political discussions (this is primarily targeted at the American political spectrum; adapt as necessary):

First, remember the people who disagree with you are not anti-America, anti-American, or hell-bent on destroying this country. On the liberal side, they are not socialists (socialism is, as they say in Princess Bride, something different than you think). On the conservative side, they are not bible-belt thumpers who want to introduce a theocracy. They are people with whom you have honest disagreements, but who are working for the same goal: a strong, united, Nation.

Second, remember that using ad hominem attacks and broad-brush name calling will only serve to further the partisanship, and shut people down from hearing what you say. It may be fun, and it may bring you comments from your side, but it does nothing to help your cause, whichever side you are on.

Third, remember that the goal in our discussions is not to sway the person to your side. The goal for any discussion must be to understand from where the other side is coming.* That doesn’t mean we have to agree with the conclusion, mind you. It means that we must respect the other side enough to listen, understand their chain of reasoning, and recognize that they see it as a valid solution to whatever problem is being discussed. By understanding each other, we can move closer to finding solutions.
[*: What, you have some other goal? What is it? To preach to the converted; to post articles to people already convinced of your view simply to drag the other side through the mud? That’s just being mean and childish. Grow up! I’ll challenge your views, and you challenge mine.]

Fourth, remember that this country was built on compromise, not rigidity. The Constitution and Declaration of Independence are all the results of compromises from different factions. The current hyper-partisanship of “my way or the highway” is not within the American tradition. American tradition means that each side understands and respects each other, and each side gives some to end up with a result that neither is comfortable with, but that both can live with. America doesn’t instantly find the best solution to problems; we wander back and forth from side to side, like a pendulum, slowly closing in on the right answer. We often forget that, especially in the “I want it now!” generation.

Lastly, remember that our political problems were not caused solely by one party or another. It is very rare that both houses of Congress and the President are the same party, and that there are supermajorities in both houses. This means that both parties have been involved in making whatever decisions are problematic. Take the sequester (please!). Last year, there was almost a moderate grand compromise between the Administration, the Republican house leadership, and the Democratic senate leadership. Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor talked John Boehner out of supporting the compromise (this is on the record), and so the sequester was created to establish a game of chicken that neither side would want to lose. Both houses had to pass the sequester legislation, and the President had to sign it. Then, as opposed to solving the problem before the sequester kicked in, neither congressional side was willing to find a compromise the other could accept. Every one shares in the fault. Except, of course, my congresscritter. My congresscritter is doing a great job (and, by the way, that’s the problem: everyone likes their congresscritter; it is the other ones that are scum).

Music: As Day Follows Night (Sarah Blasko): “Sleeper Awake”


4 Replies to “Election Reminder / A Plea on Political Discussions”

  1. Hi,

    I’ve read your posts for quite a long time on LJ. I’m Pinkrose70.

    Not sure if I should say much, as I am an inspector for the elections…tomorrow it is in Valley Village. (even though I live in Sherman Oaks…precincts have all been changed.

    I’m going to finish reading your post though, right now.

    I read them all, even your show reviews.

    And, I thank you for them,


    1. Given that you’re local, we’ll have to get together one of these days. We’re in Northridge, and my wife is also an inspector (precinct captain at our precinct in Northridge).

  2. Compromise is but one tool, not an idealized end in itself. I would argue that compromise–or even the desirability of compromise–has its limits.

    You mention the Constitution as an example of compromise. In doing so, you should remember that one result of a “compromise” was that African-Americans were declared as three-fifths of a person — and still held the legal status of property. Holding up the Constitution as a beacon of compromise while not mentioning the ugly compromises isn’t a balanced (or accurate) approach.

    It’s fashionable to cite Lincoln these days, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon. He is known as someone who compromised, but one of his greatest accomplishments was where he decided not to compromise. Instead of accepting a long-standing compromise that left blacks as slaves through our first fourscore and seven years, Lincoln took a stand that slavery was wrong, that tearing the country apart was wrong and that, on these two points, there was no compromise.

    In some respects, we face a similar situation today. The great division, though, is not necessarily between Republicans and Democrats. The bigger divide is worldwide, between people who want a more humane progressive society and a top 1 percent that is interested in nothing more than power and greed. Just as there was little room for compromise between viewing someone as a human being or a piece of property, there is little room for compromise between those who want freedom and those who want world domination.

    Would you compromise with vicious dictators who violate human rights? Would you compromise with someone who viewed slavery or colonialism as acceptable? Would you compromise with those who, even to this day, seek final solutions to groups they happen to not like?

    1. There are times you go with what you can get. So while I wouldn’t compromise with dictators, I wouldn’t be negotiating with them in the first place. As for the Continental Congress, that was a different time and place, and what was done was required to get the country off the ground. If those compromises hadn’t been made, it is unclear whether the USA would exist today. Yes, it had to be adjusted down the road.

      I don’t believe that the Republican party — at least the rank and file members, as opposed to those at the top — are inherently evil, want world domination. If there’s no room to negotiate, we might as well split the country and have the civil war again.

      So I’ll stick to my hope that some middle ground will be found. I’ll also continue to stick to trying to respect those I disagree with, disagreeing with the ideas while not demonizing the person.

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