Note: we had nasty storms here last night, which knocked out our phone and internet. This post is for Friday, March 2nd.
Also, all quotes are paraphrases.
I’m tired of politics.
I’m sure that phrase is overused, and everyone is tired of the mudslinging and prevarication… but for me, it didn’t used to be that way. I enjoyed watching political situations unfold, and to see how intelligent people would use rhetoric and procedure to try to influence outcomes to their liking.
But I’m tired of it.
I’m probably just growing more aware of the nastiness, although it certainly seems like things have gotten nastier.
It feels like both sides spend all of their time simply trying to defeat the other side, to the point where they will completely change their mind about issues if the other side agrees with their original idea. (We have always been at war with Eastasia.)
But what I’m most disgusted by is the complete lack of access to political experts who can actually explain their stances. We get hundreds of people who can create or defend stances, but all the while they don’t explain them. Instead, they quote “studies,” like “studies show that this guy’s finance plan will cost billions” while the other guy says “studies show it will not, neener neener.”
I tend to be a liberal, and the loud voices on the conservative side have never once tried to explain to me why their position is more reasonable than mine. Instead, it’s just an attack on liberalism and how it’s evil and un-American and blah blah blah.
If you want to win me over, explain it to me. Help me get through the tough issues and to consider your angle.
We’re worlds apart. Pretend that I’m an alien who understands English, and you have to explain to me all the reasons why you’re right and I’m wrong.
I promise that I’ll listen. But, you have to promise to listen to me too, and answer the questions I ask. I’m going to come at this with preconceived notions — I can’t help it — and you have the opportunity to tell me where my logic is flawed.
The best political conversation that I ever had was with someone who couldn’t understand why I opposed the invasion of Iraq. This conversation took place after Bush had acknowledged that there were no WMD’s and no known ties between the 9/11 terrorists and Saddam Hussein. Many of Bush’s supporters pointed out that the world was a better place without Saddam, and that his regime had done all sorts of nasty things, and I didn’t disagree with any of that, but I didn’t like how we had gone in.
The friend I was talking with was confused by my stance. He pointed out that Hussein hated us; I said that was probably true. He pointed out that Hussein was a horrible person; I said he certainly seemed to be, but observed that there were lots of other horrible people who hated us out there, and we hadn’t gone after them. I was even willing to concede, for purposes of discussion, that perhaps — perhaps — a case could be made to justify an invasion that was economically based, although I couldn’t really support that.
My biggest problem was that it appeared we went into Iraq unprovoked.
His argument was something like: “If you had a neighbor who hated you, who had repeatedly said that he wanted you dead, and he had a gun and said he was going to come for you and your family, wouldn’t you want to stop him before he broke into your house?”
I said, “Yes, but in this analogy, we only had a rumor that he had a gun, and there was no indication that he was actually planning to break into my house. He could be all talk. He might not have a gun. He might decide instead to stay home and shout some more. He might be stopped by someone else in his house. There are a million possible outcomes, and no matter which one is the most likely, we don’t know for sure that he would have ever tried to kill me or my family. It’s not like we saw him brandishing the gun and crossing my front lawn. Someone else had done that, but not him.”
Ultimately, I was able to figure out why we disagreed. He believed in proactive self-preservation; I sleep better at night if I’m not the one who threw the first punch.
That’s all I want from political conversation. We may not agree at the end of our discussion, but instead of just yelling at each other and accusing each other of ideological idiocy, I just want to understand where you’re coming from and have you understand me.
I’m not sure we’ll ever see that day on a national scale. In fact, I’m pretty sure that day never existed and never will.
If we can’t manage that in our own country, what chance do we have of a true, permanent peace with other countries?