This blog makes no secret that my politics are very conservative. However, it bothers me that there is so much partisanship today, not so much in party affiliation as in the right/left dichotomy itself. People on either side in our country are deeply steeped in heaping invective on the other side, treating them like monolithic stereotypes and indulging in harsh personal judgments against them. I admit, I do some of this too, though I’ve tried to be better.
Last month I read The Federalist Papers, and while it definitely did strengthen my conviction of conservative principles, one passage stood out as a warning against this cultural civil war between halves of the spectrum.
In Federalist #50, James Madison refers to a contentious political gathering to examine government workings that had occurred a few years before. In his analysis of it and its lessons for the new Constitution, he notes that “When men exercise their reason cooly and freely, on a variety of distinct questions, they invariably fall into different opinions, on some of them.”
Perhaps the political spectrum on the 1780’s wasn’t quite as wide or diverse as ours is now, but it’s always worth reminding ourselves that those who disagree with our positions aren’t trying to subvert democracy, destroy America, establish a dictatorship, or any other such thing. We’re all trying to do the best we can to help America, in the best ways we know how. Our ideas may conflict, but we don’t have to.
I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments here. I don’t like the atmosphere of high-pitched yelling that seems to be so prevalent in political discussion. If you question this or that idea, you’re either a terrorist sympathizer or an outright traitor; OTOH, if you defend some administration’s handling of some cases, you’re a tool and a fool.
The message seems to be that you are worthy of your human rights if, and only if, you agree with me to the tune of 99.9% of the time. I say that we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
Just one nitpicking remark: I am not at all sure that in the 1780’s the political spectrum was less, shall we say colorful, than now. Ideas were certainly different than now, but from what I’ve read about the history of those times, there were some quite kooky political movements. Naturally, the “Know-nothing Party” (like “Tippecanoe, and Tyler, too!”) came a bit later, but still. It’s just that “the good old” times tend to get a gloss from very selective remembrances. And if my examples there were more on the lighthearted side, there’s this to remember: Those guys weren’t happy to castigate each other, they used powder and ball to drive home their opinions (of course, there’s all the talk about “Second Amendment options” which is quite simply code for armed insurrection).
Anyhow, I like to read your musings, even if I sometimes find myself disagreeing with you.
…weren’t happy with castigating each other…
Why do I always see those too late?