Sunday, September 30, 2007

A response to Mr. Spoon

This post began as a comment to this post below, where Spoon and I are having one of our spirited disagreements. I post it here rather than there because of (a) its size, and (b) it's such a good discussion, I wanted to call more attention to it and perhaps get more of you in on the conversation. Join in--it's fun.


You know I respect you, but I don't follow your logic here one iota. Here's what I think I see you saying (and correct me if I'm off):

DEFINING THE PROBLEM: The problem is that members of both parties (and I'd argue that, unless and until the candidates disavow their tactics, MoveOn represents the Democrats in the same way that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth represented the Republicans) no longer value exchange, debate, or even thought. They only value their own dogma. Anyone who dares to go against it, no matter how conscientious or reasoned their disagreement, is either a traitor, a moron, or both.

For lack of a better word, we'll call the tactics of these dogmatic namecallers "uncivil simplemindedness."

Okay, uncivil simplemindedness is the problem. Republicans used it in 2004 to win, and we're all paying for it now.

THE SOLUTION: You're saying that by using the same tactics to win a "decisive, back-breaking victory," Democrats will solve the problem of uncivil simplemindedness.

I disagree. I believe that such a victory PERPETUATES the problem. Your wish for a lefty Karl Rove only increases the amount of dogma and uncivil simplemindedness out there. And should the Dems achieve their victory that way, our democracy will be no better off. Sure, the guys in power would agree with you and me more often, but the democracy would be as sick and sad as ever--we'd merely replace dogmatic simplemindedness of one flavor with dogmatic simplemindedness of another.

To put it another way, Karl Rove and Lee Atwater are morally wrong no matter which party they represent.

Or to put it a THIRD way, I'll quote the Who: "Meet the new boss...same as the old boss."

As for me, "I won't get fooled again."

Semi-related question: Who would you rather have representing you? A conscientious guy who does his research and thinks things through, but sometimes will disagree with you? Or a dogmatic simpleton who shuns research, ignores any facts presented by those who disagree with him, but agrees with your party's dogma every time?

I'd rather have the thoughtful researcher than a lapdog--ten times out of ten. Would you?

And if so, why crucify Rep. Baird for what is clearly a thought-out stand? We both disagree with him, but does that make him a bad guy or even a bad Democrat? If a thoughtful guy who disagrees with Baird on the war comes forward, Baird will likely lose my vote.

But if someone who kowtows thoughtlessly to MoveOn crap and generic namecalling comes forward, I'd happily return Baird to the Capitol--even if I agreed with the hypothetical new candidate about what to do from here in Iraq. I'd rather have a hundred of him than even one lapdog.

And great comments, by the way. You bring numbers and thought to the table--which is exactly what we need at the forefront in an election cycle. But, alas, nobody gives a shit about actual facts. We'd rather declare a moral high ground while acting every bit as bad as what we attack.

Incidentally, this exchange's thought process has me reconsidering who to support for President...maybe. I have to sort it through.


Joe said...

Just a philosophical thought, to really confuse the issue:

Groups cannot make moral choices. They are inherently incapable of it. Only individuals are capable of moral reasoning or action.

So it's not possible for a "party" to have a moral upper hand; that's only the aggregated perception of the acts of its members.

I don't know if this is useful, but you're the one who's big on not playing "us vs. them". :-)

tommyspoon said...

Here are some more numbers that are germane to your concern about partisan bickering. Just look at question number 1.

Measured response on my blog coming soon... soon as I can wrap up my project planning. Sigh...

tommyspoon said...

Every time I sit down to pull together a response, someone else comes along and writes it for me.

TeacherRefPoet said...


I'm afraid neither of your links is relevant to my main complaint about uncivil simplemindedness.

The first--question 1--simply says that people are concerned about the Iraq war. Of course they are--and they have different solutions. Some say leave, some say stay, some say surge. Being concerned does not necessarily mean we support a pullout...and even if it did, being popular does not mean an idea is right. Remember; a majority wanted to invade, too. I don't give a flying flip about opinion polls. I try to be right based on my own conscience--NOT based on party dogma. Therefore, I hate the attacks on Baird.

The second link doesn't have much to do with civil simplemindedness either. The author suggests that Cohen engages in it. The author also engages in it himself. He has some ideas that I agree with, and some I disagree with, but he doesn't answer my main question:

In Congress, would you rather have a thinking person who sometimes disagree wtih you? Or a non-thinking me-too party lackey who usually agrees with you?

My answer is found in my priorities: Conscience first, country second, party not even in the top ten.

Politics has all the passion and lack-of-thought that the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry now does. That's sick.

tommyspoon said...

OK, I've fiddled with this enough. Go read my response, TRP.

tommyspoon said...