What do I do now?

Bear with me as I try to figure out what I'd like to say.

It would be false to pretend that I don't have a pretty clear bias in my political views. Anyone who reads this blog (for whom I am sincerely, unironically grateful) knows that I fall pretty tidily on the Left of things.

Now, I like to believe that this bias comes from an informed and honest appreciation for facts and truth and "the American way," whatever that means at any given moment in our nation. My own self-image is of someone whose viewpoint is informed by compassion and a diligent attention to the way the world really works, and to the needs of people in my community, my country, and the world as a whole.

Perhaps I am deluded in this, or at least naive. Perhaps I give myself too much credit. Perhaps I am as prone to assumptions and intellectual sloppiness as anyone I would decry on the Right. I hope not, but perhaps.

When Sharron Angle talks about "second amendment remedies," not as some fringe lunatic at a rally but as the GOP nominee to replace the Senate Majority Leader, I can neither interpret that as anything other than a thinly-vieled justification for political violence nor think of an equally troubling statement by someone currently within hierarchy on the Left. Whatever my biases might be, I honestly cannot find an equivalent example. If someone can fill this lacuna in my knowledge and mention an equally worrisome statement from an equally notable member of the Left (not a blogger at Daily Kos or HuffPo but a politician seeking or holding an office of equal power) in the comments, they are genuinely welcome to do so.

In a similar vein, I remember Nancy Pelosi making it very clear that there would be no effort to impeach President Bush making its way through the House. I do not understand why John Boehner is not willing to make an equally strong statement about any potential bills calling President Obama's citizenship into question. I would sincerely love to give the GOP the benefit of the doubt, but I see precious little room to do so. Is this mere bias on my part? To me it seems like an honest assessment of the world as it is. Again, people with a contrary point of view are welcome to elaborate in the comments.

I will step back a bit from impressions I gave in earlier posts and make it more clear that the responsibility for Rep. Giffords's shooting rests firmly on the shooter, at least in my opinion. After Princess Diana's death, there was all manner of noise about the awful, awful paparazzi and how they killed her, when really it was her intoxicated driver and lack of a safety belt. As inappropriate as I still consider the crosshairs to have been, Sarah Palin is no more responsible for the Tucson shootings than Martin Scorsese was for Reagan getting shot or Marilyn Manson was for Columbine.

So now, where do I go from here? I find so much of the conservative agenda highly objectionable. I find the GOP's continued allegiance to the religious fundamentalist Right deeply worrisome. I am suspicious that the Republican Party would once again turn the creation of public policy over to industry lobbyists, given its druthers. I think certain high-profile potential candidates for the White House are dangerously unqualified, and too incurious to correct that problem. What do I do?

I realize that the likely impact of what I write on the national discourse will be roughly nil. But the only things I can control are my own language and actions. How do I write truthfully about my honest opinions without contributing in some small way to the further coarsening of our civil conversation?

Update: Fair is fair. I was unaware of this and if I'm going to criticize Palin for using imagery that could be construed as inciting violence, then it's only fair that the DLC should admit to having done something similar.

1 comment:

  1. Why should you back down from criticizing the conservative agenda, should you find it wanting criticism? Taking a reasonable, principled, and non-inflammatory approach to public issues does not mean abandoning your own opinions. There's good ideas and bad, good actors and bad.

    For instance, if you see a difference between Pelosi and Boehner's handling of spurious challenges to the legitimacy of the President, by all means say so. If you think that dichotomy is rooted in some fundamental structural difference between their respective parties, that's a more ambitious sort of claim which would likely require more evidence than these two data points, but by all means make your case.

    Maybe it would be helpful for you to put together a manifesto of principles -- ideas and concepts that you think would lead to better government, better public policy, a better shared society. Frame it objectively, such that it could be applied to things that come from any point along the political spectrum. Then test policy proposals, political maneuvers, or other public events against your manifesto with equal force to all actors. Chances are that in your case, the manifesto will be such that Democrats come out cleaner most of the time.