The comments to my recent post, Liberal V. Conservative, brought up something that I think a lot about: our roles in these political debates. Are we arguing our side? Or arguing for the truth?
As I said in that post, I believe deeply in “liberal” ideals. I think they are correct. But I still have my own balance of views, some more conservative and some quite liberal. But, in general, my view almost always coincides with the prevailing liberal view.
But, as I wrote about in The Things On Which We Agree, I am very interested, when it comes to policy, to try to look for middle ground. Where do we agree, Right and Left, such that we can move forward with policy?
So I kind of play two roles in my mind. I play the Defender of the Left in the political debate and The Solution Seeker when it comes to policy. The former is the abstract debate about what is right and wrong on the issues and the latter is looking for common ground to get things done when it comes to the matters at hand, right now.
Most of the time, on this blog, I am arguing, debating and trying to persuade. But I am interested (and do address, I think) the areas where we can compromise, find middle ground or find common cause.
I also thinks these two roles are consistent with each other. It’s OK that we kick and scratch and claw in the debate. It is blood sport and that kind of spirited sparring can bring out the issues and challenge ideas. But when the time comes to govern, we have to try to get along.
As I’ve said, Bush sucks at this. He’s been a bastard to the Left. Politics permeates all policy with this White House. It’s embarrassing. The only thing these guys are competent at is grabbing power. They can’t govern.
Compromise, though, cannot mean watered down crap where we hurt them a little and they hurt us a little. We need to make good decisions. That’s hard and we need all viewpoints at the table.
So, to conclude, the Defender of the Left wants to smack you around a bit until you see how wrong you are thinking. People do learn things and people do change their minds. I learn things and I change my mind. I reject failed hypotheses. We can’t be afraid to get our cages rattled. You have to know why you think what you think. You have to show me where my thinking is wrong.
But The Solution Seeker should probably come out more in all of us. In the end, we need to all row at least slightly in the same direction or we go in circles.