Thursday, November 04, 2004

To My Fellow Democrats

We Democrats are supposedly the party of the therapists, the teachers, and the 'relationship experts.' If anybody would be proud of the title, 'active listener', it would be a Democrat. We're the soft ones who understand where the other side is coming from and negotiate.


Many Democrats think that our patience and understanding are our weakness. "We don't know how to fight like the Republicans," we all told ourselves after Florida 2000. "We have to be more like them: tougher, meaner." "We have to energize our base more."


Actually, no. Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. " "Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can't deal with their secret desires." Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.


And when I say 'responding,' I don't just mean 'coming up with the best counterargument and pushing it.' Sometimes responding to an argument means finding the merit in it and possibly changing one's position. That is part of growth, right?


Here are some arguments that are being made that the Democratic party has simply not responded to, in the larger sense of the word "response":

  • Whatever the UN was, might have been, or should be, it now isn't. Genocidal tyrannies are on the Human Rights commision. Saddam Hussein funneled over 1.7 billion dollars to various decision makers and world leaders to weaken his sanctions program. One out of every three votes is about Israel. Until the UN is significantly reformed, you shouldn't take its decisions seriously.
  • If we view 1000 or even 10,000 dead soldiers as unacceptable, we will never be able to fight a real war again.
  • Proportional response with no preemption allows the other side to set the pace of the battle.
  • Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships. That is why governments create a legal definition of Marriage and provide lots of benefits to heterosexual couples who enter into it. This has been true for States throughout history independent of the religious beliefs of the populace. Worrying about changing that definition, even to the point of deciding against a change, is not automatically sexism or bigotry.
  • If you never are willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line.
  • Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it. And just because someone uses the Bible as a source of their morality doesn't mean that any particular view of theirs is wrong. Actually, stuff that's lasted for thousands of years is more likely to be useful than stuff that was dreamed up in a French philosophy book.
I am not saying that all these arguments should win. But I do not hear enough Democrats elucidating reasoned counterarguments to these positions. "Bush insulted our allies and the UN," "Bush lied, people died," "We have become the aggressor," "Homophobia," "Religious nut." These are not responses, these are dismissals. When Democrats start actively responding, we will succeed. Until then, we will be increasingly ignored as irrelevent.


150 Comments:

Blogger WichitaBoy said...

Excellent essay. You have expressed my position quite cogently. Thank you. I hope you succeed with your target market.

November 4, 2004 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger David said...

This is a prescription for sanity. As a fairly moderate Republican I think that it is in everyone's interest for the opposition party to have something of value to contribute to the national debate. We do not have a responsible opposition party right now.

www.postmodernspectator.com

November 4, 2004 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger David Batlle said...

I've voted Democrat since Mondale in '84, but I voted for Bush in 2004. I'm done with my old party. They've become irrational, hateful, and have placed love of party before the interests of their country.

November 4, 2004 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I agree. Democrats do a horrible job of arguing their positions. They can't even stand up to the charge of "liberal" without defending themselves so that liberal has become synonymous with evil in this country. This was a huge problem with both Kerry and Gore. As a progressive, I find this very disturbing.

I'll take a crack at your talking points:

1. Whatever the UN was, might have been, or should be, it now isn't.The UN is fucked. It has no business making policy and the security council should be stripped of any power that it might have because it's completely counterproductive. Short of being entirely dismantled, the UN should focus on things it does nominally well such as supporting human rights and the health of children.

2. If we view 1000 or even 10,000 dead soldiers as unacceptable, we will never be able to fight a real war again.Yes, but we have to go war for the right reasons. Few people would have had a problem if thousands of US soldiers were to die in a war against an enemy that attacked us or in support of our allies which is why, despite appalling casualty numbers in WWI and WWII, everyone thinks these heroic efforts were sacrifices that needed to be made. On the other hand, if America is being misled into war, that's another story entirely. Would we fight Vietnam again? I don't think so. I fucking hope not anyway.

3. Proportional response with no preemption allows the other side to set the pace of the battle.Screw proportional response. We have to let people know who they are messing with. That's the best way to keep them at bay. I also believe the doctrine of pre-emption is essential to security. However it is undermined when what you are pre-empting doesn't actually exist. Therefore it needs to be used with extreme caution while always being maintained as an option. Hell, if it weren't for pre-emptive war Israel probably wouldn't exist and Iraq would have had a nuclear weapon by now.

4. Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships.Throughout history? I think your basic premise is wrong here. In fact throughout most history marriage was a social and financial contract for the purpose of maintaining wealth through inheritance. However if we agree your premise, what's your point? That making gay marriage illegal is going to make gay people marry someone from opposite gender in order to have kids? Isn't going to happen. Obviously the country isn't ready to legitimize gay marriage or gay unions of any kind. That's fine in the same way that most of the country didn't want women to vote before 1920. This idea that marriage is under threat is a smokescreen.

5. If you never are willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line. I agree that some people can look at abortion and see murder. However what's the remedy? We know that simply reducing supply does not reduce demand. All it does is put women who want abortions and can't find a clean facility to have one at risk. What I would say to pro-life supporters is that we, as a society, should be doing everything possible to eliminate the demand for abortion. We do this through education that includes family planning and by promoting adoption.

6. Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it. And just because someone uses the Bible as a source of their morality doesn't mean that any particular view of theirs is wrong.Of course just because it's in the bible doesn't make it wrong. It also doesn't mean that they are right. And people can argue about what the bible says and does not say all day long included passages that are incorrectly translated and additions made long after the apostles kicked the bucket. My problem is when policy decisions are made based solely on the bible, especially in our pluralistic society where this is no state religion.

French philosophy book. You just picked that at random, right?

November 4, 2004 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger MeTooThen said...

It is not sufficient to argue one's position, the Democratic Party and its leaders have all-but lost the ability to persuade.

And yes, "BusHitler!", "No Blood for Oil!", "Haliburton!", "He played on our fears!!", "The wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time!" are just slogans, and very bad ones at that.

As a life-long Democrat and Bush Voter, I found that the reasons to go to war, as put forth by the President, beginning on Sept. 20, 2001, the SOTU Address in 2002, and his speech at Whitehall last year were in fact persuasive, decidedly so.

And no, the Democratic Party cannot hope to regain the Presidency, or Congress, or our states' Governorships, until they begin to first listen to the voters and try to understand why people believe as they do, before lecturing to them.

November 4, 2004 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger DRK said...

Well said.

November 4, 2004 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger John said...

Excellent article. I've long felt there was a serious disconnect between the surface beliefs of Dems and what they actually say and do. (Dems are kind and tolerant; Republicans are mean-spirited.) Cruising all sorts of sites on Wednesday, the only use I saw of the word 'faggot' was from supposedly liberal 'thinkers'.

November 4, 2004 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I've been banging on this same drum over on my own blog -- to what effect, I don't know. You said it very well, and I hope you continue to pound this message home, because it's terribly important.

I truly believe that Michael Moore alienated 2 voters for every voter he brought into the fold. The idea that Bush is evil just didn't play, and will continue not to -- not when we are at war with an entire culture that would happily stone a woman to death because she bared her ankles. I hope Dems wake up to that in the next four years, 'cuz I'm getting a little tired of one-party rule.

November 4, 2004 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

(Jeez Louise, man, is this your first post on this blog? And it receives a link from Instapundit? How the hell did you manage THAT?)

November 4, 2004 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

http://www.livejournal.com/users/ozarque/31598.html gives an interesting reflection on the same topic.

I'm all for engagement, etc. (cf my website http://adrr.com/) and effective framing.

We need to talk with each other rather than name call.

November 4, 2004 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Strabo the Lesser said...

The thing that really upset me was Vietnam. Democrats have the following view on Vietnam: "We lost, and we deserved to lose because we were morally wrong, and we were morally wrong because we lost so it was all worthless" I believe that Vietnam was a just war that was lost by people like John Kerry who forced us to abandon our allies to evil forces.

November 4, 2004 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Bill In Longmont said...

Wow...there is hope for your party after all.

This is easily the most reasoned response I have read

Well Done!

November 4, 2004 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger James d. said...

An excellent commentary. It bears notice that the lack of a true opposition is not healthy for the party in power either. One can blame the Bush administration for Iraq, but in doing so must fault everyone else for the lack of a counter-policy that had teeth.

November 4, 2004 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Well, none of those things are especially radical. Bill Clinton ran into all of those problems.


Trouble with the UN? Check.

Pre-emptive wars? Check

Only took what, 18 to cut and run out of Somalia

And I'm pretty sure he signed the defense of marriage act.

Anyway, the Dems did have a candidate who was Clinton-esque in outlook - Joe Lieberman. IMHO, I think he would have won an election vs. Bush.

Of course, that wasn't suitable for the Democratic base. As the Boondocks cartoon put it, Lieberman could be Bush. They didn't like that (even though it wasn't strictly true)

November 4, 2004 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Excellent post.

I hope you keep it up, and your blog can become a center for rational discussion of real issues. I'm tired of all the name calling. I voted for Bush, am registered Independent, and don't want the Democrat party to wither on the vine - one party rule doesn't work well.

There is far far more middle ground out there than there are truly divisive issues - the average person wants the same things. If people are talking together, they can reach a workable consensus on the basic means of reaching those goals.

Kudos to you.

November 4, 2004 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger matt said...

I'd really like to commend you on an excellent, thoughtful piece.

As a socially moderate Republican from Boston, I routinely try to remind myself that most of the world does not look like my street, my neighborhood, or even my state.

Perhaps the most telling experience for me was an exchange I had with a staunch Democratic friend of mine. She said that that she believed the Democrats had lost because they "weren't able to properly explain to the country what the real issues were."

Indeed, whether the Democratic Party chooses to acknowledge it or not, the public forums of our generation are the parking lots at WalMart and not the gourmet coffee shops of Harvard Square.

Ultimately, elected officials are in a position of service. Until Democrats learn to look past their disdain for America's heartland, rise above their paternalistic instincts to educate the unwashed, and open their ears to opinions that differ from theirs - they will never restore themselves to a position of prominence.

As a Republican, this might sound strange, but I do hope for the best for the Democratic Party. Democracy is worthless if not based on a real discourse and exchange.

November 4, 2004 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Amatyultare said...

Very well said. I'm conservative, but I recognize that having two viable political parties is healthier than having one, and this is the kind of thinking that can indeed save the Democrats from irrelevancy.

I'm particularly impressed by your discussion of gay marriage; I'm not opposed to gay marriage/civil unions (actually, as a libertarian I'd be just as happy to call state-sanctioned marriage 'civil unions' for every couple and leave the term 'marriage' for the churches), but I understand why many people are nervous about the idea and it frustrated me when any opposition is dismissed as homophobia.

While I'm not entirely sanguine about your chances, I sincerely wish you luck with convincing other Democrats.

November 4, 2004 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Nice to see a Democrat who can honestly reflect without even a trace of condescencion.

You've just been added to this conservative Republican's blogroll, FWIW.

November 4, 2004 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Dave in L.A. said...

Thanks for writing this. I'm a Bush voter and blogger who misses the civil dialogue of years past. I've just added some comments about this post to an item here:http://www.illusionfree.com/weblog/index.php/no_illusions/niperm/20041103_nowwhat/, so I'll keep this brief: If you want to feel good about yourselves, I guess you can continue to characterize all conservatives as rednecks, Bible-thumping cretins or pave-the-planet mercenaries. Eventually we'll get the message that we just can't communicate with you. I'd much rather have a reasoned dialogue where you treat my ideas with the respect I give to the many thoughtful and articulate liberals I know. Impugning my motives or questioning my intelligence will get both of us nowhere.

November 4, 2004 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Weisshaupt said...

Thank you. Thank You, Thank You.
It would really be nice to have a conversation with a Democrat where I

a) might learn something that I hadn't considered because of my own biases
b) am not automatically dismissed as ignorant, evil, or a zealot (religous faith does not equal idiot. Darwinism DOES not prove a non-existence of God, it merely suggests a non-christian explaination of how we came to be)

November 4, 2004 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger granman said...

I've voted Democrat my entire life. My wife worked around the clock as a volunteer to get Clinton re-elected, then much less enthusiastically for Gore. This election, I not only voted Republican for the first time, I voted a straight Republican ticket. I am completely disgusted with the Democratic party. My friends who are Democrats can't stop talking about "white trash" this, and "religious nut" that. This flies in the face of their self-image as representatives of the common man. Either the Democrats take the advice offered in this excellent post, or they continue to sink into irrelevance as a national party.

November 4, 2004 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Mr. Bowen said...

Well said! Very well said, and as a lifelong libertarian who voted straight party line Republican this year, I appreciate it very much that a Democrat is actually sensible about losing for once.

Andrew brings up a point about defending oneself from charges of liberalism. I have a suggestion: Re-discover classical liberalism, what it meant to be a liberal before that word became libertarian/Republican code for "another damn Socialist", and your party will be well on it's way to regaining national relevancy.

But hurry, you've only got a year till the 2006 Congressional Elections. If you can't change the party significantly before then, you can expect to lose at least two more Senate seats and three more in the House.

November 4, 2004 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger ed said...

Bravo! Bravissimo!

You make many excellent points! The flip side of the coin is for us Republicans to listen to your debating points too. This I would be willing to do with anyone who is willing to listen to my points and take them seriously enough to really consider them.

For my part:

I'm opposed to embryonic stem cell research because I value all human life, at every stage of development. To me this type of research reduces human lives to the level of a commodity, which in fact it does. No other form of human life can be created, destroyed or sold. So many lives have been spent to fight slavery, that it can now take hold once again is a canker on the soul. And yes I believe there is a slippery slope. Science is wonderful, but it has many pitfalls. While we can all say now that we won't condone slavery of humans, what is the definition of a human?

If a human embryo isn't a human, then what is? Will there be grades of humanity? At what level does the human begin? Can anyone even discuss this issue without the chilling thought that Dr. Joseph Mengele would be right at home in a research lab?

And no, I'm not even a Christian. To me the question isn't when I will die. All men die. The question is in what way I will die. Will I die trying to grasp at every single minute of life, heedless of the costs? How many children would I be willing to kill and dismember, vivisect in all but name, to claw a few more moments of breath? All men die. And I'd like to think that I can face my time with some dignity.

And the knowledge that I didn't stoop to murdering a child to save my life. And yes, this is a serious issue for me. I have kidney disease and both of my kidneys are non-functional. But I'd rather be dead than accept a cure based on the murder of children.

November 4, 2004 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Honus said...

You are entirely correct. I've been trying to tell people this, but they don't listen. There seems to be a lot of talking and not a lot of listening. Both sides are guilty, but I think the Dems got more into it than Reps. Seems to me that the Reps are a silent majority right now.

November 4, 2004 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger Thomas Dahlgren said...

If Democrat politicians spoke like that, and actually meant it, I would gladly vote for them.

November 4, 2004 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger rwwalter said...

That was scary! I hope there aren't too many Democrats who read your blog or Republicans like myself might start to worry. Al Gore destroyed the Democratic party in 2000 when he pandered to every interest group under the tent and ignored the lessons learned during the Clinton years. Thankfully they didn't learn a thing in 2004 and nominated, not only the most liberl canidate in history, but one who had zero ability to realte to middle America. If I were a northeast, or west coast liberal I would take the next four years, travel through all those red states and try to understand the thoughtful, intelligent people they routinely dismiss. Luckily, for Republicans, it is more likely they'll go back to their wine and cheese parties, tell each other how smart they are and continue to lose elections.

November 4, 2004 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Very well put. The problem is that you can't answer those questions on a sign to march with. It's not about protesting... it's about having an honest real world debate. Bravo.

November 4, 2004 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Andrew still doesn't get it...

November 4, 2004 at 10:13 PM  
Blogger J. R. P. said...

One bit of insight from the right, I hope.

It appears to a lot of us on the right that a lot of people on the left have been lied to, repeatedly and consistently. The indoctination of the young by academics into proven failed philosophies and worldviews (deconstructionism, pomo, and the materialist dialectic) will always lead you to the wrong answer, no matter how good the data coming into your heads. That said, the MSM is doing a bad job at giving you accurate factual particulars - their bias hurts you (who have no memetic innoculation) more because you've already been set up to fall for it hook, line and sinker.

One of the greatest disservices the MSM has committed is to promogulation of the idea that 'neoconservatives' are 'ultraconservatives'. They aren't. They are philosphical liberals who have lost faith in the marxian base of mere materialism, and returned to a (neo-)classical dualism, leading to a certain set of beliefs that are in alignment in some areas with what 'conservatives' (aka classical liberals) continued to believe all this time.

Those of us on the righter-right see neocons as sharing a major flaw with the left, which is the belief in big government really serves to help people. We think it only appears to help, and does more harm than good, ultimately.

Truth is, from my perspective, liberals have a _lot_ more in common with the neoconservatives running the White House than you've been lead to believe. With a little perspective, this is a way you guys can work together without the 'big hate' coming between factions.

I think everybody should each do what they do best: conservatives can step over the bums in the street, you liberals can put flowers in their hair, and we can all work with the neocons to actually get some stuff done, by trying some new stuff and killing off some old stuff.

November 4, 2004 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Asa7 said...

This is a start in the right direction, unfortunately the democrats have become the party of appearance (fake? sun tans, botox?, photo op's, ect.) of nuance and have withdrawn from being the party of ideas, they put forth no new ideas to move forward-- only ideas of what can't be done. Can't touch SS, can't protect our country, can't choose what we want to eat-- the party of do as I say not as I do--in short a backward looking party. They claim they are so smart-- so learned but if you look at their constituency-- you would find that that is not the case, they are the party of the uneducated-- sorry but it has to be said.

November 4, 2004 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Matteo said...

Nice! Ties in perfectly with a post I just made. I've linked back to yours also.

November 4, 2004 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger BeckyJ said...

Great post! And many congratulations on getting an Instalanche on your first post!

I have forwarded this post to some of my students and will be sending it to select friends (those I know who won't accuse me of taking secret instructions from Karl Rove!)

November 4, 2004 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Oh, man. What an excellent post! I surfed over here from a link at Instapundit.

I voted for Bush, and feel pretty good about it. But I'd feel even better if I thought there was a strong, principaled, focused opposition out there to keep things in check.

You nailed just about all of it in your post. I'll be back! You may count me a regular reader as of today!

November 4, 2004 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger John S said...

Andrew,

Bravo...your points are similar to the ones I've been trying to make since March on my site, ( http://www.leanwrite.com 'A Longtime Democrat Crashing the Party'). I left the Democratic Party in 2003 after watching it take a leftward turn after the 2002 midterm elections. I continue to look on with dismay as die-hards talk about 2006 and 2008, as if the demographics and mood then are any more likely to support a liberal vision than they do now. The Democratic Party has to come up with some good, solid answers to the questions of our day, or it will fade even further from the public's eye.

The foreign policy of Harry Truman, Roosevelt, or even the anti-communism of JFK would be foreign notions to today's Democratic platform, I fear. Your advice and points are all well-taken.

Best,
John

November 4, 2004 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Mike Koenecke said...

Thank you for your reasonable (in every sense of the word) thoughts. As I have said to many people, discourse between political views has become nearly impossible: I would dearly love to see someone say "I disagree with President Bush's policy in this case for these reasons, and believe that a better course of action would be / have been..." instead of the verbal vitriol commonly thrown. Perhaps we can actually learn something from one another; I'll be back visiting regularly.

November 4, 2004 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Holy Roman Umpire said...

One of the most sensible election comments I have read. If you can keep the crazies out, you will have a dynamite blog. Good luck from a God-loving, sin-hating, Bible-believing Republican-voting Catholic.

November 4, 2004 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger ed said...

Hmmm.

Oh BTW. There's another issue for Democrats and that is the excessive reliance on a compliant and partisan MSM. A pet theory of mine is that Darwin's principles can be applied to politicians and that politics, and political campaigning, can be treated as an environment. In this type of situation then an aggressively predatory MSM actually has worked for the last 40+ years to improve the quality of the Republican candidates.

I'll admit that there have been a few mistakes in that regard, Bob Dole as an example, but the heavy hammer of the MSM has often eliminated marginal candidates or forged existing candidates into stronger politicians. On the other hand the compliant MSM has done the Democratic Party no good service.

Looking back at this election year I've seen more bad candidates in the DNC's side than I ever expected to. Indiana's Maria Parra, who couldn't do a televised debate because of **stage fright**, is an interesting example. But looking at the candidates for the Presidency, it is even more clear that none of those people had any reasonable qualifications to be the President. All of them had serious, nearly insurmountable, flaws that should have eliminated them completely during the early days of the primaries.

But a compliant MSM instead insulated them and allowed these marginal candidates to continue as if they weren't marginal. A more aggressive or predatory MSM would have smoked out Kerry's problems during the primary and either brought them out in the open, to be addressed early rather than later by the SwiftVets, or eliminated him completely.

Wesley Clarke, who nearly started World War III with Russia, was essentially fired as the Supreme Commander during the Balkan campaign. A point never raised when Mr. Clarke attempted to use his past experience as the rationale for his candidacy.

Carole Mosley-Braun, a one term congressperson, was so incompetent in office, and so tied to brutal African dictators, that her constituents threw her out of office.

Al Sharpton, a race baiting con artist, is responsible for a couple riots in NYC that resulted in the deaths of around 8 people and the murder of a jewish storeowner. And then there's that Tawana Brawley case.

Dennis Kucinnich, didn't he bankrupt a major American city while as mayor? This is a qualification?

John Edwards, Mr. Hair. This guy is a one term Senator who missed around 80% of all sessions. He only got elected to the Senate so he could run for the Presidency. Considering what a non-entity this guy was during the campaign, does anyone really think this guy is a serious candidate?

Kerry. God help you Democrats. He's still got a couple dozen skeletons in that closet. There's one issue that nobody is going to let go of and that is his very suspicious Honorable Discharge. He joined the USNR in 1966 for a 6 year enlistment. He should have gotten his Honorable Discharge in either 1972, when he exited the service, or in 1975, when he was finally removed from the reserves. Not 1978.

Then there's the absolute lack of any official USN/USNR documentation from 1972 to 1978 on JohnKerry.com. If he were still serving during that time period he should have gotten letters and notifications on a regular basis. Instead there's bupkis and Kerry can't even claim that he's holding onto records as he's gone on the record stating that ALL records have been released. Yet it's obvious that there are many records still be held secret.

There are some serious people who think Kerry got a Other Than Honorable discharge in 1972 and that it got upgraded secretly when Jimmy Carter forced a rule change that allowed it to happen. Ostensibly this was for Vietnam War protestors to upgrade their discharges, but it had a side effect of helping Kerry. A side effect of a Other Than Honorable Discharge is that it negates ALL medals and awards given during the service.

Then there's the curious fact that Kerry's Honorable Discharge and medals were all reawarded, and dated, on the same date. The approximate date that Kerry joined the Senate after his election.

And this is the guy who wanted to run as a Vietnam War hero? OMG.

November 4, 2004 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger The Anchoress said...

Excellent, Excellent essay. As a former Democrat, I applaud your common sense and hope and pray my old party will heed your words and your advice. We need two viable parties in America. Well done, and I will link to you at my blog!

November 4, 2004 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger Micajah said...

To paraphrase briefly similar remarks I directed into the digital ether toward the Democrats from the Republican side of the fence: Get well soon!
http://crokersack.blogspot.com/2004/11/divisiveness-of-minority.html

November 4, 2004 at 11:26 PM  
Blogger David Crawford said...

On another blog I read the following:

Republicans think Democrats are wrong.

Democrats think Republicans are evil.

And this has been going on since at least 1964 (see the absolute vilification of Barry Goldwater in that years presidential race).

Funny isn't it, that after that election the Republican Party has been slowly, yet in a non-stop way, building up to what they are now: The majority party of this country.

My gosh, most people want to hear more than one plan, one option. It never hurts to hear the alternative. They don't want their president called evil, or stupid, or a pawn of any industry. Nor do people want to be insulted for sincerely believing in a 2,000 year old religion. And for using that religion as a bed-rock for their views on life.

I've really come to hate the Michael Moore / Daily Kos / Dennis Kucinich wing of the Democratic party. And the fact that it holds such sway over the rest of the party. It's almost like the moderate wing of the party is afraid of standing up to them. Afraid of being called a sell-out, or carrying George Bush's water.

November 5, 2004 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Very thoughtful post. You give me hope that the Democratic party might finally return to some of the tolerance and respect for previously heretical ideas that the DLC pioneered four elections ago.

November 5, 2004 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger Irate Savant said...

Rubbish.

November 5, 2004 at 12:40 AM  
Blogger roublen said...

good post.

November 5, 2004 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger Pixy Misa said...

Well said - though the only really remarkable thing here is that you identify yourself as a Democrat. The more sensible Republicans, as well as centrists and former-democrats (such as Roger L Simon), have been saying these same things for the past three years.

November 5, 2004 at 1:13 AM  
Blogger frankalicious said...

Wow, where are you coming from?

You are repeating a very right wing characterization of what Democrats are arguing against.

The problem is that the conservatives/ republicans MAKE a sticking point out of these issues as though they are two sides of a fence on which democrats dug in firmly on the wrong side.

The gay marriage thing is simply not an issue. It is not even like the Democrats are FOR gay marriage. Very few are. But the question is how does gay marriage affect anyone in this country one way or another? How does it compromise marriage? It is absurd to proclaim it a dilemma of any sort when marriage in the United States, between straight couples, is purely a financial transaction. It is about as sacred as a dog license. Have you ever been to Vegas? What cracks me up is how it has been inflated into an issue by the conservatives to the point where I see bumper stickers attacking gay marriage for destroying "What America Stands for!” It is crazy! What about TV shows like "Who wants to marry a millionaire"?

The stuff you are saying about the UN, and the 10-20 thousand troops dying etc, etc... Who are you exemplifying? When have dem's raised the issue that the UN should be given more power or credence? What Dem' said the number of soldiers dying has gone too high for a war?

The only issue us "liberal democrats" have with the Iraq war is that it was entirely baseless. Do we not know this now? No WMD's? No ties to Al Qaeda? No ties to 9-11? What were we pre-empting? It has nothing to do with how many troops are dying in Iraq, it has to do with "why Iraq?" And yet, some people seem intent to overlook all of the investigations and findings and imply that Democrats simply opppose the war because they don't have the "brass" for it.

And the bible stuff is just silly too. It is another no brainer that has been made into something by the right in order to inflate "liberals" as being opposed to Christianity. The issue is not the bible, the issue is not Christianity. The issue is a separation of church and state to protect the sanctity of INDIVIDUAL rights. If we were talking about a state courthouse in Boston that had a statue of the Quran in its entry way, and Islamic emblems, quotations of Islamic law etc' decorating the halls. Would republicans take issue? Would it be ok to exemplify the "decent" laws from Islamic religion? Or the ones that seemd "right"?

People who want to discuss issues should not characterize the motives of others. Unfortunately, you started by repeating the characterizations spread by the far right. Characterizations that are as far from the objections and motivations of democrats as Iraq is from being a stabilizing force in the Middle East.

November 5, 2004 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger american_girl said...

I completely agree with you. It was refreshing to read your excellent essay. I shudder to think that if the Democratic party continues to self-destruct it will lead to a one party system. We need the two party system to keep this country great.

I hope for and want intellectually honest debate between the parties. However that is difficult to do when the Michael Moores, George Soros and Howard Deans have hijacked the Democratic Party.

I am glad that people like you have the courage to point out the problems with the party. For those who disagree with your analysis: they have their heads in the sand.

November 5, 2004 at 1:27 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

You have your work cut out for you. Note the comment above that claimed: "You are repeating a very right wing characterization of what Democrats are arguing against."

Somehow, the fact that you preceded those characterizations of the arguments by clearly saying that they were the arguments being made by the Republicans didn't have its intended effect:
"Here are some arguments that are being made that the Democratic party has simply not responded to, in the larger sense of the word "response":
Whatever the UN was...."

I don't know how you could get Democrats to realize that what you are saying is not a "straw man" argument used in place of the argument you think the Republicans have been making. (If I knew that, maybe I wouldn't have so much difficulty getting my point across to Democrats on the first try. It's small comfort that you also ran into difficulty.)

November 5, 2004 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger Yahonza said...

Excellent post....but it looks like its mostly Bush voters who are reading and commenting.....is this getting through to any Democrats....a lot of us want the democratic party to be a contemplatable vote again.

November 5, 2004 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger Dirk Belligerent said...

Since rational-sounding Democrats are about as rare these days as drummers who can figure sales tax and tip on the check, I've gladly linked this from DIRKWORLD and wish that more people were like this and less like Moby and Tubby Riefenstahl.

Kudos.

November 5, 2004 at 2:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Great post.
I would hope the Dems start quantifying performance a bit more.
Bush is "terrible" on jobs. Rubbish. 5.4 unemployment is better than Clinton in 96. Other numbers are politically slanted (how many lost here or there, what industries, average wages of new workers, etc.)

The Bush-hate screaming has drowned out constructive criticism. I hope those who want better results, both Dems and Reps, try to quantify those results.

Afghanistan is a democracy!
A HUGE, great, fantastic Bush success!!!
Dems don't even notice -- do they care, at all, for Afghan people? Not as much as they care about posing with talented, highly paid, Hollywood airheads.
Iraq is on track to be a democracy.
If less than 2500 American soldiers are killed, it will be a HUGE BUSH success.

Watch the literacy rates of HS graduates in cities with voucher programs. Literacy will be going up -- Bush success.

November 5, 2004 at 5:23 AM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Excellent post, Democrats should take it to heart. The Moore-worshipping brigade won't, but they're not the majority - remember 48% or so of Americans voted against Bush. That means that at least 35% of Americans are perfectly sane, yet voted for Kerry anyway. The GOP must find out why, and address their concerns. That may be by changing the GOP's policies in minor ways.

I'm more concerned about Republicans than Democrats. In the Orgy of Gloating (in which I too have joined), it's easy to offend rational people whose guy just lost. Let's not do this, let's try to convert them, OK?

(Not Michael Moore - for him it's open season all year round, and no bag limit when it comes to Gloating)

The GOP should be listening to the Democrats arguments. They're not always wrong, and even when wrong are sometimes partially right. The GOP has no direct line to God, nor a patent on perfection. One of the reasons why Japan lost WW2 so early was "Victory Disease", an overconfidence they got from their wins in the first 6 months. Let's be original in our mistakes, and not make ones that have been made before.

I didn't vote - but that's because I'm Australian. And John Howard's "Liberal" party really is liberal in the US sense, it's equivalent of leftist Republican or right-wing Democrat. A long way to the Left of the GOP, but even further to the right of Blair's UK Labour Party. Both Democrats and Republicans should have a think about that.

November 5, 2004 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger MrFin said...

To my Democratic friends and neighbors: Please re-read the original post. We are lucky to receive such a well communicated insight. This truth will carry ALL of us a long way.

November 5, 2004 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Mark Buehner said...

Republicans look for converts, democrats look for heretics.

November 5, 2004 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger lax said...

well written post. hopefully the next 4 years will see more of an exchange of ideas rather than insults. even though i am a republican it is important to have a viable opposition party . no side has all the answers but also i believe in the "only nixon could go to china " theory . take the UN - it doesn't work but if bush came out and said that he would be pounded. However if the democratic leadership came out and said hundreds of thousands of people have died which the UN didn't stop. that is unacceptable and things have to change. i think then something good would come of it but that won't happen as long as both sides thing of this as a zero sum game

November 5, 2004 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger submandave said...

"Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships."

"If you never are willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line."

"Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it."

"Democrat" seems, to me, just a label you have applied to yourself. I, rather, consider you a thinker who, by his own independent thought, has found the Democrat emperor to be lacking. Come under the big tent, you and your thoughts are welcome here.

November 5, 2004 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger SteveR said...

Thank you, Andrew, for expressing many of my own sentiments so well.

As a child-of-the-sixties-McGovern-voting-Clinton-worshipping lifelong Democrat, I have found my Party's actions and direction since the 2000 election troublesome.

After being angry and frustrated at the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy during the Clinton years (yes, Hilary got that basically right, I believe, although one could argue about how "vast" it was,) I am shocked, shocked at how my fellow Democrats adopted VRWC-like behavior over the past several years.

Fellow Dems - we who voted for George Bush are not your enemies! Believe me, as Americans, we have enemies aplenty, but the "Red" voters are not among them.

Best regards to all,
SteveR

November 5, 2004 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger notherbob2 said...

Great idea, but in this day and age people are too sophisticated to go for the old “Famous Male French Author Of Erotica Turns Out To Be An English Lady” gag. As a new blogger myself, I know how easy it is to set up a new blog. No biographical info? The giveaway was the Instalanche. However, you are correct that the Democrats have become so full of hubris (the red staters have a briefer term for that) that they will not read anything that is not written by one of their own and I believe that this post is directed at Democrats. Frankly, I don’t believe that any real Democrat could have written this very cogent post, having just come out of the crazed atmosphere of the election. Where was the Philospher when we needed her? So good luck with the effort. The world would be a better place if it succeeded for at least a while.

November 5, 2004 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger VirusHead said...

ARGUMENT:
Whatever the UN was, might have been, or should be, it now isn't. Genocidal tyrannies are on the Human Rights commision. Saddam Hussein funneled over 1.7 billion dollars to various decision makers and world leaders to weaken his sanctions program. One out of every three votes is about Israel. Until the UN is significantly reformed, you shouldn't take its decisions seriously.
RESPONSE:
We have worked with the UN to put world opinion behind policy decisions. There are problems with the UN, and it shouldn't be our only recourse, but it is a significant sourse of pressure on other countries and should not be disgarded.

ARGUMENT:
If we view 1000 or even 10,000 dead soldiers as unacceptable, we will never be able to fight a real war again.
RESPONSE: That's not the issue, really. The issue is whether those kinds of deaths are recognized, whether they are for a just war and a just cause and a specific set of goals. Incidentally, the civilian deaths are now over 100,000 - most of them women and children.

ARGUMENT:
Proportional response with no preemption allows the other side to set the pace of the battle.
RESPONSE:
No one is arguing for no preemption, only over the terms of when preemptive measures are justified and necessary.


ARGUMENT:
Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships. That is why governments create a legal definition of Marriage and provide lots of benefits to heterosexual couples who enter into it. This has been true for States throughout history independent of the religious beliefs of the populace. Worrying about changing that definition, even to the point of deciding against a change, is not automatically sexism or bigotry.

RESPONSE:
The definition change is coming from the side of folks who are insecure about the status of marriage (and they should be), which is protected by the state for the sake of children and for no other reason. The ban on gay unions not only illegally discriminates, but also prohibits judges from hearing cases, prevents a loved one to visit in the hospital, and may even affect issues of insurance across all unconventional families.

ARGUMENT:
If you never are willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line.
RESPONSE:
Would that be so terrible? That judgment is one that every person makes for themselves. Just as values are not specific to any party, but rather different values may be, and ultimately values and integrity are qualities of an individual more than a group, I feel that the complicated and controversial issue of abortion is not one that can be decided now since public discussion hasn't yet come to consensus, and outside that, it should be a person's decision and choice. They can answer before their God on that, not the US government.

ARGUMENT:
Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it. And just because someone uses the Bible as a source of their morality doesn't mean that any particular view of theirs is wrong. Actually, stuff that's lasted for thousands of years is more likely to be useful than stuff that was dreamed up in a French philosophy book.
RESPONSE:
Nice to get in an anti-intellectual French bashing here - really cool. And so many Americans are deeply familiar with French philosophy and base their social thinking on it! But I agree that using the Bible doesn't necessarily make the argument wrong. I guess I would rather see more of the Sermon on the Mount, or an ethics of compassion, taking care of the least among us, and so on. Is there still actually a christian message in this fanatical judging going on? I think Jesus might think some of these folks are jerks. Just my opinion.

November 5, 2004 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Dave Schuler said...

Nice post. I've added you to my favorites list. I'll be looking in on you frequently. Keep up the good work.

You might want to swing by—we've got a lot in common.

November 5, 2004 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Capt Smythe said...

I cannot tell you what a relief it is to read your words. Keep on keepin' on with this, because what you and those like you of the center/moderate left persuasion must do is either:

a. Shame your party leadership into banishing the likes of Moore, Soros, Atrios, Kos and your radical fringe, in much the same way we kicked out Buchanan.

b. Or persuade those stated above that their ideas are never, never going to fly in full form the way they want, and help them moderate their ideas.

I envy you of neither of those tasks.

W won for one reason: I think the vast majority of moderate Democrats voted for him. It more that offset any 18-24 year old GOTV push by the Democratic Leadership.

With utmost sincerity, I look forward to honest, open, respectful & fruitful dialogue with you and yours. We need two viable parties, at least, in our system.

Thanks for your time...

Semper Fi,
Capt Smythe

November 5, 2004 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger DM said...

Nice post. I'm a conservative, myself, but I do want to see two viable parties, and I'd like both of them to understand one another. I use your post as a launching point of one of my own, here (on my blog). I agree with you, although I think part of the difficulty comes down to a misunderstanding of what it is to be "tolerant". I know democrats accuse republicans of being "intolerant" often, but I think many of us have a different view of what tolerance is. I've got an older post my blog (which I link to, in the post above) explaining what I think real tolerance is.

Anyway, nice post. I wish you the best, and hope you're able to bring some more understanding to your side of the blogosphere (in contrast to the slate column I link to in my post, which says Bush won because the religious right promotes ignorance).

November 5, 2004 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger sugis said...

Thanks for posting this Andrew. I feel exactly the same way.
(an excerpt from my post)
Look at yourselves, people. All of it. From the tallest sliver of hair on your head to the skin under your heel. What do you see?

I see an elitist. Welcome to Truth No. 2. Don't shake your head; that's what we've become. (Andrew agrees with me.)

Read the rest here

November 5, 2004 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger hopscotch60 said...

More thoughts on abortion. It is shocking that liberals accept what abortion has become. Arguments to legalize abortion were all about safe abortions for women who had very good reasons to want an abortion. Those "very good reasons" have led to how many million abortions? Is that really what the pro-choice people had in mind? It would do my heart good to hear pro-choice people admit that the sheer numbers of abortions make them uneasy, that they didn't realize their fight to legalize abortion would lead to this.

November 5, 2004 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger epictetus said...

This is the first time I have posted on a blog. Here it goes. A response to the initial arguments and to prior responses. 1) The UN: I agree that the UN is currently useless in resolving conflicts since it is not a non-partisan disinterested body but a group of very partisan, very interested nations few of which are actually democracies. It has some uses in monitoring elections as long as they are protected by "rough men willing to visit violence on those who would harm them". That usually means if the United States will stand beside them. 2 & 3) Acceptable and unacceptable casualties/premption/proportional response: I do not consider Iraq a pre-emptive war. Saddam invaded Kuwait, he was beaten, he asked for a truce, we thought a combination of sanctions and the demand that he disarm in 90 days would bring down his regime. We were still talking about it 12 years later. The draconian sanctions had to stop. They were unfair to the Iraqi people and creating more hatred of the US. The non transparent oil-for-food program had to stop. It was just giving Saddam more power and who knew where that money was going. The French, Russians and Chinese abstained in 1998 from the resolution renewing inspections and were signing contracts with Saddam. We had come to a fork in the road. We had to either let him out of his box or take him out of power. Whenever Saddam went down, from a coup, murder, natural causes, Iraq would have broken into civil war and we would have ended up there anyway. Better to do it on our own timetable. 4) Throughout history the advantage of marriage was in having a helpmate and for the powerful in cementing alliances. It is only in the 20th century that there developed a government-driven financial incentive to marry. I suggest we consider removing the financial incentive for all accept those that are rearing children and who cares what sex they are. We have many non-traditional arrangements for child rearing and they should all be honored. 5) Abortion. There is very little room for compromise on this issue. No one knows for sure where life starts . I am ready to go back to letting the people of the states decide. The day of the backroom dangerous abortion is over. There is now a safe drug to perform the same function. 6) Relying on the Bible: I have never seen a single example of a policy decision made solely because the "bible says its so". I would like to see an example if any can offer one.

November 5, 2004 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger american_girl said...

TO hopscotch60

I understand how you feel about this. I am pro-choice but I have to say it sickens me that abortion is as prevelant as it is.

I believe that birth control options are being ignored by many who know that abortion is a viable option. Just based on the numbers of abortions I have a hard time believing those numbers are from incest victims, rape victims and mother's who's lifes are at risk.

I do not want Roe Vs Wade overturned I want options available to women who need it and in a way I don't want the government dictating what I should or should not do with my body. However, abortion should not be a substitute for birth control.

A lot of democrats are pro-life and a lot of republicans are pro-choice so I don't think that it is the real wedge issue the crazies of both parties think it is. I think Bush won a second term just because of the lack of strong arguments from the other side. Also, the media had a huge influence on the outcome of the election because many of us in "red" states (whether democrat or republican) are sick of being talked down to. Yet the media continues to drag the democratic party down. Here's an article that isn't helping the democratic party: http://slate.msn.com/id/2109218/ (SLATE: The unteachable ignorance of the red states...)and another worth reading http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/05/opinion/05krugman.html?ei=5006&en=abb533bc6cfdc7c7&ex=1100235600&partner=ALTAVISTA1&pagewanted=print&position=
(NY TIMES Krugman at his worst)

By the way after the decisive loss of the democratic party the party is already tearing up the "loser" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6414892/site/newsweek/. The party can not come back to the greatness of the John F. Kennedy Party if this continues.

November 5, 2004 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger pasteve said...

I linked to your site from your comments on anOp-Ed by Ann Coulter posted on Yahoo. Your points are excellent.
For me this was a difficult election, because for the first time since 1980, I voted against one candidate rather than for another. Ultimately I voted for Kerry because I was not pleased with the way the war in Iraq has been conducted. For over ten years I was in the Army, where "setting someone up for failure" is an indictment of the leader, not the led, and I felt the Bush administration had done just that.
That was my single issue. With so many friends still affected by the war, it is very important to me. I thought we needed a different approach. On the whole "morals" issue I probably lean more towards those who voted for Bush, but in personal belief only. On the issue of civil liberties, of allowing others to do as they believe, I lean more toward the Democrats.
For all I know neither candidate believed a single word he said. They both appear to have stumped on pre-determined issues extracted from public opinion polls. Do they truly care about the People or are they just out for their careers and their Party? I don't really know. Although based on post-election interviews about what went right and what went wrong, I have my suspicions.
Ultimately the remedy will be for all Americans to adopt a live and let live attitude towards their countrymen. That will take longer than four years to accomplish. Your point about the need to listen to the other side and understand them is a great place for both parties to start.

November 5, 2004 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger delmarm said...

I agree with your comments. Yet, I am a Liberal and will always remain a Liberal. 12 years ago I was a content happy Democrat when the party considered my points of view. Today the NEW Democrats call me a homophobe, right wing religious zealot, etc, etc, etc…

The only thing the Democratic Party wants from me is my vote, while expressing no interest in my concerns or desires. Several hundred years ago there was the cry, “No taxation without representation.” I had hoped that the Democrats would understand that “without consideration there will be no representation.” The Democrats have increasingly become more inconsiderate during the last 6 years continually placing negative labels on me just because my core values are not in complete alignment with their values. In fact all most all Democrats condescendingly agree with me in my presence, and then verbally stab my in the back.

Now for the Republicans. While the Republicans have this need to punch me in the nose for my beliefs they are respectful and listen to my argument. OK you brutalize me, yell at me, and in general disagree with my core values relating to less government involvement in private affairs. After speaking with a hardcore Republican I am usually tired and totally exhausted. I mean after the conversations I really feel as though I barely survived all of the rounds in a boxing match. Ironically in most cases the outcome is a mutual respect and better understanding of our ideas.

Amazing isn’t it, therein is why I am now a member of the Republican Party. Because of my personal beliefs the Democrats do not listen to me, and the Republicans are against me. I don’t believe in God, yet I believe in freedom OF religion defining separation of Church and State (as opposed to freedom FROM religion defining separation of Church and State). I believe that a woman has the right to have an abortion, yet I also know that in performing an abortion I am not protecting the right of an unborn human being. I believe in civil unions for homosexuals, yet I cannot accept the word marriage for homosexual unions. I can go on and on with my statements, yet….

Because I am stuck between two political parties I have been forced to re-evaluate the statement, “the enemy of my enemy is ….” In summation the knife wounds in my back hurt much more than the bloody nose and black eyes. For the last 3 years I have referred to myself as a Liberal Republican.

November 5, 2004 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger East Side said...

Fine piece!
Democrats should take note: whenever the Repubs lose bigtime, they immediately ask "Where did we go wrong? How can we correct ourselves?" The Democrats are continuing their habit of blaming everybody and everything, never considering that they themselves might be the problem.
I speak as an Independent who used to vote the straight Dem ticket until the nuts started taking over. If you want to see what one of the nuts is like, go to my blog, http://fromtheeastside.blogspot.com/, and read the latest comment from my faithful reader, "Anonymous." This is the party of FDR, Truman and JFK? If so, they're doomed to obscurity.

November 5, 2004 at 2:16 PM  
Blogger slarrow said...

Good post, and good luck convincing Democrats of this need. Democrats need to engage the opposition and be persuasive since they no longer have enough political power to attract voters. That begins by regarding their opponents as equals, not inferiors.

November 5, 2004 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger alias420 said...

I'll bite. Yes, even though this is the only post in a brand-new blog, naming itself Democratic, that somehow garnered a link from a high-profile conservative blog on the very same day. Yes, even though all my instincts tell me that even if this is not a very well-crafted troll (as it seems from cues like the choices of stereotypes), it is functioning as one by the mix of self-congratualtory and defensive comments it is generating. Yes, even though everyone's probably bored of this thread already and no one will read all the way down to comment #99.9 or whatever this is.

Why? Because I think that there are some good points here that are only being half-made, allowing the predominantly Republican commenters on this thread to co-opt the message and turn it to simple self-validation. Because the few Democratic responses (I feel) have by-and-large been trollbaited (again, functionally, whether or not the original post was sincere) into defensive positions.

Good point: it's best not to resort to argument by invective.
Ironic co-option: the commenters who oh-so-graciously allow that this *one* Democrat might be thoughtful -- meaning that none of the rest of them are (except for maybe some other, similarly singular Democrats that they also may have damned with the same faint praise).
Necessary continuation: people always take insult done to themselves or those they identify with more seriously than insult done to their opponents. Thus, everyone thinks that the other side is worse. If you're serious about increasing the civility of discourse, focus on reforming the people who agree with you -- and this means no meta-invective, either. No making how rude the Other Folks are into a reason to disagree with them.

Good point: people may sincerely and intelligently disagree.
Ironic co-option: the assumption by many commenters that addressing the conservative questions as posed in this post should necessarily cause Democrats -- individually, or as a party -- to change their position.
Necessary continuation: disagreements in general position often result from a difference in emphasis, not a difference in facts. The phrasing of each of the six arguments in this post (and even the choice of the six issues themselves) is designed to favor the stock conservative position, since the whole point of the post (if it is sincere) is to remind Democrats to think about questions not just with the emphases that are important to them, but also with the emphases of those who would differ. This is good advice across the board.

(Please note that I do not disagree in substance with Andrew on either of these points.)

To all of the conservatives who've expressed approval of this post -- including the Instapundit himself, if he ever checks back in on his links -- think to yourselves about how the six arguments posed here could be rephrased, honestly and intelligently, to make the stock liberal answer the only possible conclusion. Now -- and this is the hard part, the actual hard work that this post undertakes -- come up with six different arguments posed by the left that Republicans have failed to answer, keeping in mind that difference of emphasis means that they're likely to be questions that you don't think are very important.

I know, I know, you just won a big election, so it's perfectly reasonable to be thinking to yourselves that you don't need to think about your defeated opponents, they being defeated and all. But if, as you say, you want the quality of discourse to improve in this country, it's the least you can do.

Go ahead, post your own sets of six self-critical questions on your own journals and link to them here, and I will gladly come on over and return the compliments you've given Andrew.

Thanks,
Dan

November 5, 2004 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger RauluaP said...

For what it's worth, I have posted what I feel are well thought, non-standard, rebuttles to the points made in the WONDERFUl blog. Seriously, this was one of the best things I've read, but I think it is dangerous to start conceding that "they may be right" at this point.
http://idontwanttoblogdammit.blogspot.com/

November 5, 2004 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Rational said...

Hey, I am a democrat and here are my reponses to your argument.

Your arguement:
Whatever the UN was, might have been, or should be, it now isn't. Genocidal tyrannies are on the Human Rights commision. Saddam Hussein funneled over 1.7 billion dollars to various decision makers and world leaders to weaken his sanctions program. One out of every three votes is about Israel. Until the UN is significantly reformed, you shouldn't take its decisions seriously.
My response:
I alittle confused here. Is the UN good or is it bad? The current administration used the UN resolutions as a justification to go to war among other reasons. And when those other reasons did not pan out (a.k.a. Saddam was contained and did not threaten the United States,) I still heard those conservatives say that Saddam violated the UN resolutions. It seems to be alittle hypocritical to use UN resolutions as a justification for war when you think the UN is broken and needs to reformed. (I have more to say but I am a slow typer)

Your arguement:
If we view 1000 or even 10,000 dead soldiers as unacceptable, we will never be able to fight a real war again.

My response:
When war is justified, then we will do what we have to do. But when it comes to the Iraq war, the overwhelming majority of the administration's justifications fall flat. So when the administration sends troops into harms way because their own ideological beliefs, a 1000 deaths is not OK.

Your argument:
Proportional response with no preemption allows the other side to set the pace of the battle.

My response:
The majority of the world believe that we have the most powerful military in the world. For the last 40 or 50 years, we have relied on threat of retaliation to prevent attacks. IS preemption a necessary policy but in only extreme cases? Also, as we have seen in the Iraq war, the justification for preemption is quite flawed.

Your Argument:
Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships. That is why governments create a legal definition of Marriage and provide lots of benefits to heterosexual couples who enter into it. This has been true for States throughout history independent of the religious beliefs of the populace. Worrying about changing that definition, even to the point of deciding against a change, is not automatically sexism or bigotry.

My response:
First of all, that is a very interesting first line. I believe most goverments in history were preoccupied with how women and children were going to be taken care of instead how to increase their populations. (I would like to hear your references that supports that first line since many people in history thought the world was flat too.) Second of all, I do not believe that historically people killed gays because they could not have children. Lastly, being unable to change with times reflects deeply ingrained historical sexism and bigotry. But what is even funnier is that libertarians would be for the goverment interfering in citizens' sex lives but be against the government's involvement in their financial lives a.k.a. you are not really consistent.

Your argument:
If you never are willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line.

My response:
In your 2nd argument, you seem to indicate that we have to accept more death and more blood spilling to wage war. In this argument, you want to define life as a few cells that cannot survive without help life. You do not seem to be consistent. You want to save cells that you, but not the majority of the science community, think is the beginnning of life but you are more than willing to kill adult human beings because it is their jobs (being soliders).

Your Final Argument:
Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it. And just because someone uses the Bible as a source of their morality doesn't mean that any particular view of theirs is wrong. Actually, stuff that's lasted for thousands of years is more likely to be useful than stuff that was dreamed up in a French philosophy book

My response:
I am sorry it just sounds you are whining now. The Bible does have its place. However, it provides a guidelines of how to live. But anyone who lives by a literal translation of the Bible needs to catch up with times.

Now I bet you are wondering why I am not finding merit in your arguments and trying to grow. I will definitely try to grow when you improve your arguments. Second of all, it really sounds like you are a strong supporter of the administration. Let me ask you one question: "What would Bush have to do to lose your support?" If you cannot think of an answer, then you are blind to your own ideology.

November 5, 2004 at 4:11 PM  
Blogger Hal said...

Rational said: "What would Bush have to do to lose your support?" If you cannot think of an answer, then you are blind to your own ideology.

If I might, I'd like to ask the question another way: 'What would Bush have to do to gain your support?" Is there a 'rational' answer?

November 5, 2004 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Thank you.

I'm a lifelong Republican and very conservative. Heck, I'm part of the religious right. Your post gave me one of the few glimers of hope I've had since the election that we might be able to discuss something in this country for the next four years.

Your arguements perfectly summarize my beliefs that my Democratic friends are ignoring. Starting there, maybe we can actually have some productive discussions and years ahead of us in this country.

November 5, 2004 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more about your comments. However, I seriously doubt the Democratic Party's ability to fundamentally reform itself adequately. Hence why I believe it's time for a new party.
http:\\thenextparty.blogspot.com

November 5, 2004 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger alias420 said...

So Mark, if you're interested in productive discussions, are you up for my proposal (four posts above yours)? After all, only Nixon could go to China; only the winning party has the position to be gracious winners and set the standard of civility.

Sinerely,
Dan

November 5, 2004 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger alias420 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 5, 2004 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger hopscotch60 said...

Rational said, "You want to save cells that you, but not the majority of the science community, think is the beginnning of life..."

Okay, then. For the sake of argument, let's pretend that the majority of the science community agrees that a pregnant woman's swelling abdomen contains the beginning of life at... oh, say, the twelfth week of pregnancy. Just for the sake of argument, you understand. If everyone agrees that it is the beginning of life at that point, let's make a law not to abort after that point. I'll even spot you a few weeks in case the twelfth week seems a bit too early to be certain and we can cut off abortions at 16 weeks. I'll take what I can get.

I am not a one-issue voter but arguments like that of Rational might just make me one.

November 5, 2004 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

I think the Democrats are going to have to face the fact that America is now too rich to support socialism.

Bush is going to clean up on his opportunity society.

Second: despotism is a problem in the world how do you intend to address it?

Once you get those points down I think there is a good case to be made re: social issues. Anti-abortion laws will be intrusive, the drug war is a disaster, marriage is a church function etc. The leave me alone position.

But you are going to have to get with capitalism and deal with the despots question first.

That is going to be very hard.

November 5, 2004 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Re: abortion,

I think HS60 has the right idea.

When does an acorn become a tree?

What he proposes is pretty much what is already in place. Most abortions are in the first 12 to 16 weeks, not many (relatively) after that. Very few in the last 12 weeks and then restricted to protecting the health of the mother.

Abuses? Some. The alternative I think is vagina police. Not a good idea in my opinion.

If a woman will not carry a child to term how can she be trusted as a mother?

I say the same about guns. If you cannot trust your neighbors with weapons there is no hope for our society.

Training and education makes the difference in both cases.

November 5, 2004 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Chuck Smith said...

1. Funny, but it seems to me that millions of people got it right, but just a coupla million more got it wrong. The Democratic Party doesn't have to change its ideals...we just have to out organize the opposition.

2. No lifelong Democrat voted for Bush in 2004, no matter what their alleged registration is today.

November 5, 2004 at 6:30 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Right You are Chuck,

Ignore the House losses, the Senate losses, the Pres.

Bush was a weak candidate. Lieberman was my choice. He was not on the ballot.

If we go by your definition there are fewer life long Democrats every year. Once they stray they are no longer life long. By definition.

--==--

You may be right though.

What is your answer to despotism?

November 5, 2004 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger tristero said...

hal, to answer your question:
admit that he is wrong.
on something.
anything.
(besides appointing paul o'neill)
until then...

November 5, 2004 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Al Hedstrom said...

This is all well and good - reasoned debates using rational methods. But don't count on Republicans tripping over themselves to respond in a like manner.

November 5, 2004 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Morrigan said...

Excellent post; needless to say, I agree entirely: insults are not arguments, and I'd like to have a serious and honest opposition to keep my party honest. Incidentally, if you haven't seen it yet, John Kerry's brilliant speechwriter Andrei Cherny makes a number of ancillary points in his New York Times article.

November 5, 2004 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

The Democrats do indeed preach for greater inclusion, for greater empathy, but every unifying political party must do that in order to enfold the populace within the banner of "American Pride." Why is this nation moving towards the right? Why are the Democrats often seen as spineless and quite uninspiring? The "Right" may point their fingers and say, "it's an issue of faith." Is it?

Are Democrats flailing across the country because their "arguments are weaker," is that their sin? Does it all fall to their stupidity? Part of the problem, is indeed that the Republican party houses a more powerful artilliary of "intellectual capital." Novel solutions are offered to genuine problems, "realistic solutions," it's ironic that Kerry's health care plan is largely founded upon a proposal by a Republican Senator. When Hillary Clinton was asked to spearhead the committee for health care reform, it ballooned to absurd proportions and placed such an onerous burden upon employers that many small business owners fled from the Democratic party, their "natural home."

One must also ask, "are people listening closely to the arguments issued?" Most voters, even those who decided to watch the national debates, had already made up their minds. It's a polarized nation, and especially in a time of "national uncertainty," people cling to familiar icons with an ever more desperate strength. Bush is charming, he's affable, he's a person people can have a beer with, though not really because he should be clean and sober after AA. Kerry is kind of stiff, he's callously ambitious, and he's never sacrificed for any cause, for any issue, he's always prompted by the winds of "political expedience." Republicans find it very easy to point their fingers and strike with lessons from kipling, " a leader must have a character, he must have a solid core, an identity, he must stand for something for fall for anything." People dig that. Wouldn't you? Can you trust an "entity," a haze of contradictions, an unpredictable egotist? Even if that describes you perfectly?

The Republicans are myth-manufacturers, they're able to offer incantations that implant images into the mind that incite the heart. People do not vote based on rationalistic induction, the doubt must always end, and when it does, it's easy to fall upon familiar prejudices. The Republican Party provides "wholesome apple pie rhetoric, the we are better than all other countries, the we are exceptional because we are believers." Indeed, Americans are believers, it's astonishing that in states like North Carolina, where the middle class is growing extinct, where workers are shifting from dead-end job to dead-end job as the textile factories move to greener pastures, are not revolting. Why are they still voting for George W. Bush, why not Kerry, Kerry who will protect them, who will slow the diffusion of factories to third-world nations.

Their failure to do so provides an illustration of the "perils of the heart," Bush is not good to them and yet they still "love him so."

[Headache and a heap of work for tomorrow, really, I read a great deal, I'm new to the blogging community so if you're interested in the continuation of this argument, please drop by and leave a comment, inquiries and further issues are much appreciated]

By the way, this is a great blog, compliments to the author. :)

November 6, 2004 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Rob Gutkowski said...

Great Stuff, welcome to the Blogosphere!

November 6, 2004 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger rjstreet said...

After reading Molly Ivins' article (pure vitriole) this morning, I am sure the leaders of the Democrat party will not heed what you say. If my Democrat friends would have reasoned discussions such as this, I would probably still be discussing politics with them.

November 6, 2004 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Ric James said...

You've certainly made a huge splash and made my daily reading list in short order! Welcome to the blogosphere. I look forward to reading much, much more.

November 6, 2004 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Mister Bixby said...

I have seen a few voices out there urging the Democratic Party to begin actually listening to its opposition and those Bush Democrats who are leaving the party in droves. Most notably here. (Yes, believe it or not, that is a Democratic Underground quote, let's hope they listen).

I can't wait to see either a Democratic Party that rediscovers its roots and love for America, or a new political party that can effectively compete with the Republicans on the battlefield of ideas rather than only in the sphere of witty insults and clever turns of phrase. Would that we had an actual choice at the polls.

November 6, 2004 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I only want to comment on the UN. I could comment on other parts, but the misperception of the UN is a big one, as it is incredibly misunderstood, both what it was and what it is. It is a forum. That's all, nothing else. It was designed as a place where countries could work out their disagreements and maintain a constant dialog. It was never intended as a policy making body for the world, and anyone who thinks otherwise is misinformed. Serious Democrats and Republicans know this. What is bizarre is those who've come up with the idea that it is some sort of global Congress, either to rail against it or to support it.

As policy goes, the UN can be a useful tool for explaining and selling our policy, getting the reaction of the world to our policy, and a structure to provide support for our policies in all realms of international relations. Like all forums, there is no way for us to completely control it's function, but to walk away is to ensure that we don't have our voice heard in the process. Ask the Russians when it came to the Korean War. They walked away and the globe invaded one of their proxies. Sure, it's not the cure to all ills, but it's the best we've got for now. Notice even our most conservative president in memory didn't walk away from the UN. I don't think he used it effectively, but that's a different story. Diplomacy is the art of letting other people get what you want, and if you don't talk to them, you certainly won't get it.

November 6, 2004 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What I'd really like to see is a third party...or even several more. I'd like more choices. Two is not enough. I like things to make sense. Neither of the current (viable) parties do that most of the time.

We're overpopulated: ANY form of birth control is ok by me, even abortion.

Tired of paying "unfair" taxes?: Make up a reasonable budget (No frills or hand-outs!) and charge EVERYONE the same percentage of their profits/wages.

End the whole religious debate: Practice your religion in any private place and treat religious discussion the same as sexual harassment, i.e. no UNWELCOME religious discussion or practices.

The gay marriage question is irrelevant if we do the above. There would be no government sanctioned tax breaks or support (we're all paying the same %, remember?) and it's probably not a welcome religious discussion on someone's part if they tell a gay person that they're being sinful.

I'll probably take heat on this from both parties' members. See why I want a third?

November 6, 2004 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Toc said...

I am stunned at the responses here. Typical conversation that I have with conservatives:

Me: I find the emphasis on gay marriage bewildering. Who is threatened by this? When I looked at pictures on the net of gay couples after their SF marriage ceremonies, I was in tears! I couldn't think of the last time I had seen such a blissfully happy group of adults.

Conservative Friend: It is morally wrong.

Me: Please explain.

CF: It's immoral. You can't understand because you are a liberal.

- End of conversation.

This is the answer I get to almost every question I have ever asked a conservative, generally accompanied by outrage at the question itself.

I agree wholeheartedly with the poster: I have no understanding of the other side.

November 6, 2004 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger TheMalau said...

My problem is that I agree partly with what you say. Us Democrats have forgotten how o be the "active listeners". But on the other hand, it seems like what you are proposing (and correct me if I am wrong), is for the Dems to be a little more like the Reps, and to adopt more of their points of view. And I genuinely do not see the effort on their part to do the same (But I guess I cannot expect them too, because in some way, the point of being "conservative", is to want to "conserve", right?).

I guess what I am trying to say, in my poor english (ESL), is that I do not think that the only way for the Democrats to succeed is to lose their Identity, and their principles. Do they need to define them more clearly, and more efficiently, I more than agree. Do Liberals need to do a better job at explaining why they believe in a certain viewpoint (like separation of chuch and state, war as a las option, the flawed nature of what is considered appropriate manliness, equality of genders, or the ever so popular civil unions), Oh YES. But abandoning the fight or Social Justice, Civil Liberties, Equal opportunity and equal range of outcome, etc, would amount, in my opinion, to creating Two parties that are mirror images of each other, and we would lose the progressive force created by the debate of ideas.

Now if I may, as a first step towards that clariication, I tried to put together a set of Liberal Principles that I believe the Dems and Liberals support for the most part:

- Tolerance and respect of others (even those you disagree with) and their opinions
- Personal responsibility for one's choices and actions
- Religion as a personal choice, creed and way of life
- Respect for the belief in God (or other deities)
- Respect for the non-belief in God
- Security for the right not to believe
- Integrity and honesty
- Rejecting discrimination on the basis of race, gender, origin, class, religion and/or creed, opinion (except as regarding to murder-inciting hate-speech) and sexual orientation (and this is where some in the right-wing calls us evil, because we don’t want to kill gay people because of the adult and consenting person they sleep and live with).
- Constant hope in the capacity of mankind to bring about a better future
- Confidence in the transformative possibilities of reason and science
- Government as a participative tool and for the people's progress, not a totally estranged, distant and obscur realm of special interests (whatever interest that may be).
- Working towards a tangible cause/effect relation between the taxes paid, and the services received.(in other words, the ability for one to see their tax dollars at work in a meaningful way)
- And of course, the separation of church and state.

Tell me what you think. I will try to write a post on my blog answering the points you raised from the right, especially abou the UN. Though I think your perspective was fairly right-winged, you do make an insightful argument, and I thank you for that.

November 6, 2004 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger notherbob2 said...

Baggy, you are the poster child for smug elitism. You only care about the other side because you lost the election. Otherwise, you are completely happy with your liberal beliefs and only sorry that others less (fill in your blank here) than you can't be so enlightened. You can't understand because you don't listen except to spot an opportunity to make your point. As soon as a smart conservative identifies you it is the end of the discussion. They are too smart to waste their time.

November 6, 2004 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger earth said...

Moral issues aside, one of the reasons the "reality based community" is so outraged by this election is that the numbers suggest that those who believed Saddam was behind 9/11 voted for Bush and those who did not believe that voted for Kerry by a wide measure. Similar for whether Saddam had helped Al Qaeda. The evidence is, outside of the partisan bickering, fairly clear, yet the misperception was allowed to continue. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57582-2004Oct23.html



Although there is a lot of anger about the homosexuality issue (a very minor side issue that most people should be able to agree on and gay marriage should not dominate a presidential election during a time when there are wars going on), the primary issue that ended up killing Kerry was that the Bush administration intentionally played games with the truth to avoid having to clue the electorate into the very serious foreign policy problems that exist AND that Kerry and his team failed to sell him as a really clear Tough Guy who could handle being the leader in a war time.

Instead, he got painted as a wimp and had the Catholic Church hierarchy bashing him for voting against a very random abortion bill.

"Ooops" The lack of tolerance you detect or project onto "your fellow Democrats" seems to me to be largely based on short term anger at having such a patently poisonous White House win again.

Kerry called for healing, Bush came out swinging, another instance of "with us or against us".

Gay marriage is a sideshow that the DNC let drown out the story they wanted to tell. Bigotry isn't pretty, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that most of the country has no interest in "government sanctioning" of homosexuality, whatever that means: if they get the option of voting on that, they will vote against the gays. That's what we call the Tyranny of the Majority and we, in our saner and more moderate moments, are glad that the Constitution and the Courts stop the majority from voting against executing them.

There is listening to do, to be sure, but the main lesson of recent elections seems to me to be that good, data-based arguments lose to better worded arguments and that push polling, well-executed slander, and whisper campaigns are amazingly effective.

ah well, humans are a messy bunch,

earth

November 7, 2004 at 12:05 AM  
Blogger notherbob2 said...

Thank you "earth" for giving us an example of the third and fourth paragraphs of the original post. With so many comments we had gotten away from the original thread. The original paragraph read more or less:

“Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Ooops" The lack of tolerance you detect or project onto "your fellow Democrats" seems to me to be largely based on short term anger at having such a patently poisonous White House win again.” “Bigotry isn't pretty, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that most of the country has no interest in "government sanctioning" of homosexuality, whatever that means: if they get the option of voting on that, they will vote against the gays.” “…the main lesson of recent elections seems to me to be that good, data-based arguments lose to better worded arguments and that push polling, well-executed slander, and whisper campaigns are amazingly effective."

And when I say 'responding,' I don't just mean 'coming up with the best counterargument and pushing it.' Sometimes responding to an argument means finding the merit in it and possibly changing one's position. That is part of growth, right?"

I know you are open to growth because you still include the oppostion within your definition of "human" so show us some growth and include a constructive response with your invective.

November 7, 2004 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Most excellent essay!

(FWIW, I don't use the blogger site to actually blog - that's at Xanga - but I signed up so I could comment on brilliance I find here.)

November 8, 2004 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Pluto's Dad said...

Well put.
I am what some call stauchly conservative, yet I consider myself staunchly liberal. :-) I suppose I am closest to Libertarians, yet registered Republican.

One thing people like you (and apparently Carville) get is that the Democratic party has to find a platform. This was not a referendum on the war. If it were, Bush would win but the House and Senate would have stayted the same. The fact that the House and Senate got swept by the Republicans shows there's many other issues that people were voting on, since no one votes for the House (and only a little bit in the Senate) on national issues but local issues.

Whenever I talk about social security, welfare, universal healthcare, education, all the problem areas of our country. I get "it's the right thing to do".

But most of us believe the "right thing" is the START of the argument, not the END. There are so many things that are the "right thing", we have to weigh them against each other, we have to also look at how much money we can raise in the short term vs long term, and also, we barely even ask this anymore, is the government going to do a better job, or can we create incentives for the private sector to take care of this.

What posters like earth don't get, we Republicans were not blinded by abortion, gay marriage, or these other issues. His insinuation that my beliefs, and those of anyone else who voted for Bush, were not based on "data-based arguments" but on "push polling, well-executed slander, and whisper campaigns" is an insult in itself and proves your point. How the hell does he know what arguments I believe to arrive at my viewes? Can he tell me why I switched from being a Democrat to a Republican when I was 25? As long as people like him are running the Democratic Party, they will continue to lose.

For your sakes, I hope your party will listen to Carville. Actually for all our sakes, since the government is not helped by one all powerful party and one completely ineffective party.

November 9, 2004 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Mike Mansfield said...

Hmmm. I became a Democrat after I voted for George W. Bush the first time. I didn't make that mistake twice.

As for the Viet Nam War and someone's insistence that Kerry and others like him caused us to lose it, I believe that person must not have lived through that war or ever heard what Bob McNamara had to say about it or listened to the LBJ tapes.

We Democrats lost. In so doing the world is probably the worse for it. None of us can say for sure how the next four years will be, though; but if the first four are any indication: UNBELIEVABLE NATIONAL DEBT, MORE DEMANDS UPON THE STATES WITHOUT ANY FUNDING FOR THE MANDATES OF THE FEDS, MORE WAR FOR OIL, AND SUPREME COURT JUSTICES WHO BELIEVE FAIRY TALES.

I am opposed to abortion; but more abortions are occuring during this Bush administration than during the Clinton years, when they were decreasing.

Valuing human life, though, is much more than not wanting unborn infants killed in the womb, or as they come out of the womb. Valuing human life is avoiding war if it is possible to do so. Valuing human life is elminating the possiblity that any innocent person would be executed at the hands of government -- better still that no one is executed by the government. (I wonder where they get the idea that violence solves anything? Oh! From the government!)

I do agree that communication between Republicans and Democrats need to occur during the coming years; but I'm not sure that blogging is the solution. It's too anonymous even when we see photos or profiles. F2F is a much better way; and perhaps over a couple of glasses of soda pop or something.
I'm in central Kentucky; and I'm a progressive, or if you prefer you can say I am proud of my liberal monicer.
http://revjmike.blogspot.com/

You don't need to agree with any of this; but I would appreciate some arguments or agreements.

Mike

November 10, 2004 at 12:50 AM  
Blogger Bobby Bland said...

Baggy is correct about talking to christian conservatives. There is simply nothing that you can discuss with someone who has a single book do all their thinking for them. They are right because God told them what to think and that is that.

November 10, 2004 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger EQ said...

As Joe Conason writes,

"Liberal policies made America the freest, wealthiest, most successful and most powerful nation in human history. Conservatism in power always threatens to undo that national progress, and is almost always frustrated by the innate decency and democratic instincts of the American people...

"If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances..."
You said:
Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously.I have yet to see an argument from the other side that makes any sense or is backed by anything this administration has done or attempted to do. Instead what we get is inflated hyperbole of issues that are of trivial importance compared to the much larger issues that are ignored in debate. Abortion? Gay Marriage? Religious Morality? Those all come under the provisions of the Bill of Rights and were already argued and protected by the Civil Rights movement of the '60's and Roe v. Wade. So why is this an issue at all? Because it's easier to steer the argument into trivial matters than have a real debate over the larger issues of an immoral baseless war in Iraq.

In an "Orwellian Animal Farm" country coming soon to a neighborhood near you, Conservative Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Radical Fundamentalists, and Evangelicals will ultimately peck each other to death in their quest for righteous leadership. Bush received a majority vote not based on a platform of rational thought and sound fiscal reasoning, but one of "fears and queers". These "morally superior Americans" are repulsed by a couple of gays holding hands in public, but not by the severed limbs and destruction of a poor and impoverished people in an illegal and immoral attack on a country that was never a threat to the fiercest military machine in the history of the planet Earth.

We "tax and spend" Liberals were certainly more fiscally responsible than the "compassionate Conservatives" (who have been neither of those things). Bottom line: a record federal deficit, and an ever-increasingly large government which constantly oversteps it's reach into States' and individual's rights and has no fiscal accountability or nonpartisan oversight. Faith-based initiatives can do a better job than government-subsidized housing, food, medical, educational, scientific research, and job programs? I doubt it, and hundreds of experts and Nobel Prize winners agree with me.

Keep carpet-bombing cities full of civilians, rounding up people into your concentration camps and raping and torturing them only to let them go later with an "Oops! Sorry, we were wrong!" and see where that gets you. Supporting and protecting corrupt corporations like Enron and Halliburton? Making a fraction of the population enormously wealthy, while the working poor and the elderly are squeezed bloody white? And then complain about how immoral Liberals are. If these are your moral values, I'm glad I don't share them.

November 11, 2004 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Sergio Méndez said...

Let me answer point by point:

"Many Democrats think that our patience and understanding are our weakness. "We don't know how to fight like the Republicans," we all told ourselves after Florida 2000. "We have to be more like them: tougher, meaner." "We have to energize our base more."
Actually, no. Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. ´Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that.´"

I agree in part. We haven’t been paying to much attention to our opponent’s arguments (and I say this not as a democrat, but as a leftist). Mea Culpa. But that hardly means just cause they have an argument it means they are right or that they can’t be horribly wrong -as I think they are-.

"Here are some arguments that are being made that the Democratic party has simply not responded to, in the larger sense of the word ´response´:"

Ok, lets see.

1- UN: Yes, the UN is a very imperfect organization. But it is a good intend to regulate the way nations deal with each other in a more civilized way than the realpolitik of the XIX and XX century, and created the colonial empires and later two world wars. You will say that the League of Nations was worthless. True. But the lesson is not to abandon the project, but as you say, reform it. I just hope that when you use reform does not mean, "transform the US into an organization that serves only American interests, and to the hell with the rest of the world"...

"If we view 1000 or even 10,000 dead soldiers as unacceptable, we will never be able to fight a real war again. Proportional response with no preemption allows the other side to set the pace of the battle."

War is a very ugly concept. If you are going to fight one, you better have VERY GOOD REASONS for going into it. 1000 or 10000 death soldiers - wonder why you dont count civilians- is to much in a war fought for the wrong reasons or unjustified. Even 1 person dead for such kind of war is too much.

2-Homosexual marriage. You say:

"Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships. That is why governments create a legal definition of Marriage and provide lots of benefits to heterosexual couples who enter into it. This has been true for States throughout history independent of the religious beliefs of the populace. Worrying about changing that definition, even to the point of deciding against a change, is not automatically sexism or bigotry. If you never are






willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line."

Excuse me, but the existence of an institution during thousands of years, hardly makes the institution just or fair. That is not an argument. Slavery - that still exists- is probably one of the oldest human institutions, only matched by prostitution. You think they are good just cause they are as old as mankind?
I think you have a point when you say that not everybody that opposes gay marriage is a bigot. But even if the word is used in a no reflexive way, that doesn’t mean that there can be a case where people who oppose gay marriage are promoting bigotry, even if they do not honestly hate gays. These people are pushing for the support of a discriminative state against homosexuals, and certainly such position can be called bigoted, even if the holder is not a bigot himself.

3- Religion. You say:

"Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it."

True, but the opposite is also true. But unfortunately of those who wave the bible to support their claims, usually have nothing ELSE to back up their claims. So why should we believe them? And what about those who interpret the bible in a different way? Not all religious people are conservative, you know?

"Actually, stuff that's lasted for thousands of years is more likely to be useful than stuff that was dreamed up in a French philosophy book."

I wonder why the French..what the french have to do with this? Why not a German or a Greek philosophy book? People like you go around complaining to much about "anti americanism", but I am getting tired to see you bashing the French. Stop using them as an space goat to avoid having a real argument.

4: Non-arguments?

´Bush insulted our allies and the UN,´Bush lied, people died,´ ´We have become the aggressor,´ ´Homophobia,´ ´Religious nut.´ These are not responses.

I suppose you are trying to say that slogans are not responses. But have you considered the many liberals and left wingers who actually have made an argument about how Bush has isolated the US with its unilateralism, how Bush lied about the excuses for going to war in Iraq, how the US started a war on a country that did not attack it, how there is a rampant feeling of homophobia in large sectors of the population and how many of these people are religious zealots that have abandoned reasonable discourse? What IF all of those claims happen to be true? Or you have decided not to listen anymore this side of the argument?

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