The Untergeek's Old Blog

Political Discourse in America

Written By: admin - Sep• 29•04

A healthy debate is taking place over at Times and Seasons about the declining level of political discourse in America. Specifically, Gordon Smith (one of the site’s contributing authors) claims that both sides of the aisle are increasingly using hatred as a motive for political action. A number of intelligent and interesting opinions are being expressed by both left and right-leaning readers. What are your thoughts? Feel free to head on over and join in the discussion.

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  1. Peter says:

    In the near future, Michael Moore will be speaking at UVSC. I will venture a guess at how this will go.

    I expect Moore will bring up some good arguments, but that these arguments will be so entirely polarized, and delivered in such an offensive manner, that not a single conservative will realize what the arguments are. Instead, Moore will preach to the choir. The libs will nod their heads and say, “yes, he is right,” and the conservatives will not even consider the arguments for the anger that hides them. This is, in fact, not argument at all. It is polemic.

    Of course, Hannity and Marriane Jennings (who I read regularly) are guilty of this as well. I once read a Jennings piece that quite rightly tore into some liberal fallacies. She said: how can the liberal rely on an argument that is so devoid of facts and full of ad-hominem? A month later, I read another Jennings article – an ad-hominem rant against Michael Moore. She hadn’t even heard Moore’s argument, and admitted as much. I had never seen such a contradiction in political journalism before, and since then I take everything Jennings writes with a grain of salt. These pundits, with their self-serving wit, only come across as condescending. We never see the arguments and rebuttals anymore. We see personal attacks and moral judgments, with the actual arguments somewhere deep inside. How can the other side ever approach this rhetoric? The art of persuasion has been forgotten.

    I blame this on the new liberalism and the neoconservativism. The economics of these two camps are largely the same: Center-left by American standards. There is little to argue about, so increasing attention is given to the social politics. This used to be a non-issue since everyone held largely the same moral views. Now, nobody knows how to argue social politics without further polarizing the issues. The true conservatives are now called Libertarians, and the Republicans and Democrats only have moral issues to argue about, which naturally degenerates into hate talk as each side feels the other is intolerant. They don’t realize that matters of conscience don’t belong in civil government.

    There are names for politicians who I think need to consider social politics. Names like “councilman” and “mayor.” Maybe even “governor.” I think if you step back from the emotionally-charged issues, and look at actual civil government, you realize that we really don’t have two parties anymore. I, for one, would like to see a change.

    In my mind, we could easily merge the existing Democrat and Republican parties, sans the moral issues, into a single Democrat party. This would be our left-wing party for those who are all about big government and social programs. Then, we can take the Libertarians and make them the new Republicans. This would be our right-wing party for those who are all about small government, “open” borders, less taxes and a fair private sector in lieu of social programs. Then we would have something to argue about, and no need to get belligerent.

  2. Save only a few differences of opinion, I find myself more in line with the Libertarians than not. I would prefer more open borders (read: easier legitimate immigration), smaller government, and an outright end to welfare and social security. It is positively amazing what that kind of cruft adds to the budget every year. I even wouldn’t mind an end to forced public schooling. Social programs, in my opinion, have little to no place in government. The preamble to the Constitution says it best: “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Promote the general Welfare does not equal provide for the common welfare.

    Heh. If that doesn’t invite discussion…

  3. Carl Youngblood says:

    Great points Peter. One of the things I learned in my BYU American Heritage class was that when politicians have trouble finding significant ideological differences with one another they resort to personal attacks. There would seem to be some truth to this in today’s political arena. I am definitely conservative in the sense you describe and feel that neither of the two parties represents my views anymore.

    Speaking of which, I’ve been interested in reading a book on this issue lately called Take Back the Right: How the Neocons and the Religious Right Have Hijacked the Conservative Movement. Philip Gold (the author) basically says that there is no room in the “Republicrat Hotel” for an increasing number of Americans, who feel that the Founders’ original intentions have been hijacked by a myopic presentism that has no regard for the lessons of history. I’ll let you guys know if it’s any good.

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