How come I can't vote for you for WATS? Can you only win once?
I just really wanted to, just for this article. Well, not just
for this article, but... wow... this is some damned impressive impassioned
So I guess I can only pay it the best compliment I personally can bestow-- my jealousy. I wish I had written it.
I remember having a conversation with a then-girlfriend years ago. We were both strong-willed people, and we argued a fair amount. We'd start out
arguing about some particular issue, but often, along the way, we'd get sidetracked. What would happen is that one or the other of us would make
some statement or assertion or reference that was incorrect, and the other would jump on it. We'd end up fighting about that side issue rather than
the original point, and the person who had made the error would go to increasingly great lengths to try to justify it, while the other would get more
and more frustrated attempting to force an admission of error. In the middle of one of those, I suddenly saw what the issue was, and later shared my
realization with her. It didn't really serve to eliminate those arguments, but it did cut down on them quite a bit, since we were both aware of
See-- the thing was that we were absolutely opposed to each other on some fundamental issue, and we were jockeying for supremacy. When the side issue
would pop up, the person who was wrong couldn't bring him/herself to admit to that error because, despite the fact that it generally wasn't
pertinent to the original argument, it still tended to undermine one's credibility. Obviously it didn't REALLY do this-- but the appearance was
there anyway-- "If you're wrong about this
, then you're probably wrong about that
It appears to me that this is at the root of much of the partisan bickering that surrounds virtually every political issue that might come up here.
There's a fundamental battle going on between the two parties and their supporters that colors EVERY interchange they have. To each of them, each
minor argument is but a part of the fundamental struggle-- each point that they might "gain" or "lose" in a side argument counts toward the
It seems to me that the other issue behind all of this is the fact that extreme partisan political views are, by nature, essentially religious.
Neither side really KNOWS what the result would be if all of their views were to become the law of the land. They believe that theirs are the correct
views, but they don't-- they can't
-- know that they are. They have to have an element of faith. And faith all too often leads to absolute
and unwavering support for one's own views and absolute and unwavering opposition to the views of others. If one has invested oneself into one's
beliefs-- if one defines
oneself by one's beliefs, then to question those beliefs is to question one's very identity, and to allow any threat
to those beliefs is to allow a threat to one's identity. It then goes beyond defending one's views, and becomes defending oneself
something that can be seen regularly on message boards. People will speak of "defending themselves" when there hasn't been any attack on them
personally, but on their party. It seems that to many of the partisans, any "attack" on their party IS an attack on them personally. So they react
as if they have personally been attacked, which guarantees that even if the thread wasn't particularly contentious, it soon will be.
I'm not sure that there are any. I've tried for years now to get people to understand that partisanship harms us. I've written things like "We
are not each other's enemies-- rather we all, regardless of "party" have a common enemy in ALL of those who would seek to wield power over us" so
many times that I've got all the variations memorized. I'm not sure that it's accomplished anything. There are always people who applaud such
statements, but they already held that belief. Those who are among the partisans that I'm trying to reach seem to just see it as some sort of
holier-than-thou posturing, and, at most, respond with some sort of "Oooh, don't you think YOU'RE special" post, before jumping back into the
Anybody who's spent any time with dogs knows that you should not try to break up a dog fight, since the most likely consequence is that BOTH dogs are
going to bite you. But no feeling human can just sit by and watch one. Especially one that has such potential for effecting all of us.
I just don't know what the solution is...
I do like the idea of an entirely neutral forum for the discussion of issues-- one in which any post that says, "Well, y'know... them damned
..." would simply not be allowed. Somehow though, I think that such a forum would never really accomplish anything. It
seems that, when one eliminates partisan skewing of issues, they become fairly straightforward. I wouldn't be surprised if, if it could be done, it
would end up with one person writing a compelling analysis of an issue, and everyone else agreeing, and.... well...... that'd be about it.
And like I said-- that was a wonderful piece that you wrote here, and I agree, and... well......
[edit on 20-12-2005 by Bob LaoTse]