posted on Jun, 17 2006 @ 05:01 PM
I think a common sense means of reducing or preventing the problems Valhall describes is for everyone to think about what they're posting, and
refrain from attaching personal positions to collective party positions.
For example, if someone believes the PATRIOT Act is a positive step, I can respect that opinion despite disagreeing with it, and carry out a hopefully
productive dialogue with that individual. Further, if someone says they prefer the Republican party for that reason, I can likewise respect their
reasoning and the equal validity of their life experiences to my own, and communicate rationally and cordially - even in a friendly manner - with
them. I like people, and I respect people's views. I try to get along with those I have disagreements with, and in fact I have a very close
Republican friend of many years who I would probably give the shirt off my back if it came to it. I'm sure he feels the same way. (I'm not a
Democrat, but I probably lean more toward what is at least the outward appearance of that party than I do to any other.)
The problem arises, I have observed here and elsewhere, when it stops being about "you and I" and starts being about "us and them." Suddenly you
aren't just debating an individual's stance on an issue, but instead find yourself attacking a political party. Pretty soon it isn't even about an
issue so much as about what side you're on. For that reason, I think reminding ourselves to make sure the words "me" and "you" are more abundant
in our posts than "us," "your side," "Republican," and "Democrat" would be a good first step and a rational rule of thumb.
Another thing I've thought about more and more lately and which I feel is critical to maintaining some small degree of participation in our
government is the need to understand the motivations and goals of everyone involved, beyond caricatures, generalizations, and strict partisan lines.
If we don't make an effort to do this, we are at the mercy of what each party tells us their objectives and agendas are. This not only leaves
us open to being blinded to genuine agendas, but also largely limits us to repeating our leaders' partisan rhetoric, which further exacerbates the
Think about the documentary film, "An Inconvenient Truth." Many democrats still see Al Gore as the true victor in the 2000 presidential race, while
many republicans see him as a sore loser, and someone selfish enough to drag the country through what was almost a "constitutional crisis." Making
Gore the movie's poster boy, if you're paranoid, theoretically accomplishes reinforcement of the image that this is a "liberal" film as opposed to
a universal or "conservative" one, ensures support from many democrats, and results in dismissal or criticism by many republicans. The net effect is
the sustaining of the status quo we already have with regard to the global warming debate, and the reinforcemet of partisanship in general. While I
don't believe or disbelieve this hypothesis, I have at least considered as of late the possibility that this is the very reason Gore is so central to
"An Inconvenient Truth." It's certainly not outside the realm of possibility, or even highly unlikely for that matter. The irony is that if this is
true, it would mean that party is irrelevant and that bipartisan cooperation behind the scenes for the securing of "net outcomes" as I call them,
while outward appearances would keep us none the wiser by reinforcing the partisanship some leaders are espousing publicly but not adhering to behind
the scenes. This is something I've suspected increasingly over the years.
While that may sound a bit outlandish, the point is that these sorts of possible scenarios are why dialogue between citizens supporting
opposing parties is critical. It's the only means available to us for determining if our real fellow citizens are as bad as all the mud slinging by
our leaders would have us believe. In my experience, it's not the case.