Sunday, July 11, 2010

But They Do It, Too!

Conor Friedersdorf discusses Glenn Beck and political discourse with Matt Lewis.

It's a good talk, but I really have to take issue with one thing Lewis says. At one point, after Friedersdorf says that he thinks it's a problem when people on the Right like Beck demonize the Left and make them out as being not people they disagree with, but people allied with our enemies. Lewis then says that it's not much different than what liberals were doing when Bush was around. In other words, "B-b-but they do it, too!"

You know who else makes arguments like this? Kids. My daughters do it all the time and I smack them down every time. Just because someone else has done something wrong, I say, does not mean it is okay for you to do it. I know other parents don't let their kids get away with this, either. So, why is it okay for adults to get away with this? Why can't Lewis or anyone else debating something one side or the other has done in politics instead say, "You're right. They shouldn't be doing that and I don't support that." Doesn't that sound more mature than pointing fingers at other wrong-doers?

I also wish that Friedersdorf had been stronger on the dangers of making someone you disagree with politically into the scary other. These people-one-step-removed-from-Hitler are people that we have to live with, work with, and, yes, compromise with. We don't live in a nation where one group always gets what they want. We have to be able to live together and accept that no one (no matter where you may be on the political spectrum) gets to have everything they want in terms of policy. And, if by some chance you (yes, you) get a piece of legislation that you think is perfect, just wait. Control of Congress will change and your favorite legislation will get changed, watered down, or repealed.

So, instead of making political opponents your enemies, how about we respectfully disagree, work on persuading them of the rightness of our actions (rather than the wrongness of theirs), and learn how to work together like adults.

Yeah, I know that sounds about as likely as "Imagine," but that doesn't mean it's not something we should strive for.

HT: Andrew Sullivan

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