|>If you were invited to go to the White House by whoever is President
>to just talk about the future, would you go and speak your mind?
I wouldn't really have much choice, that's kind of what I'm genetically
programmed to do.
>who else would you like to see be invited to forum or maybe a salon?
>Second, I'm been trying to compile more effective ways of bringing
>civility as a start to political campaigns.
It can be done, but it has to come with an overall change of attitude,
especially from the Republicans.
Now let me preface this by saying that I've always felt strongly that the
country needs both extremes...that's how we find our balance. I've always said
that the American eagle needs both a right AND a left wing or it ain't ever
getting off the ground.
To background further for a second...our founding fathers were pretty smart
guys. They decided that the one trap they most needed to avoid was
concentrating too much power in any one branch of the government, or in any one
So they created a series of checks and balances, divided the government between
judicial, legislative and executive branches, for one very specific reason: to
create a situation where people would have to compromise to get anything
done...so that no one view would ever have a chance to hold sway.
Having set the stage, let me now proceed to the problem, and explain why so
much of this rests at the feet of the Republican party.
For the last twenty plus years, the Right has hammered away at one consistent
theme: that liberals are bad people, that Democrats are just shy of being
traitors to America. You've had people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter out
there spewing bile into the American spirit of the most hateful, false, and
What happens is this: those who would like to believe this, do...and thus view
the other side with hatred and distrust and the sense that they are traitors.
And you don't compromise or deal with traitors.
On the other side of the political spectrum, you have people who you've just
called traitors who know that they're no such thing...and when you call people
disloyal traitors, they have a tendency to get real angry about it. And you
don't compromise or deal with people who impugn your honor like that.
So right off the top...you have a situation where people are yelling at each
If you go back to the pre-Reagan years -- when a lot of this started to get
going, not due to him per se but just timeline wise -- when you fielded
candidates for president, it was business as usual...they had their positions,
debated their positions...and you voted accordingly. The race wasn't
predicated on the notion that the other guy's party is filled with traitors.
The premise was that honorable people can disagree honorably and, most
important, respect the system that puts them into office.
Nobody disliked Nixon more than me, but at the same time, I recognize that he
had respect not only for the office, but for the process. He understood that
the nature of the government was predicated on compromise. Sometimes rough,
sure, sometimes behind-the-scenes strong-arming, but the system was what it
Now we have a nearly monolithic system in which the Republicans control the
House, the Senate, the White House and, to all intents and purposes, the
And they have used this as a stick to try and further consolidate power to
destroy the spirit of compromise. (One leading republican advisor, Grover
Norquist, went so far as to say that "Bipartisanship is another name for
date-rape.") Democrats have been excluded from committee positions, actually
booted out of meetings and told other meetings are off-limits...it has all
become about destroying the very notion of compromise.
And here's the amazing thing about all this.
The government is *supposed* to be caught in bickering and argument, because
that ensures that all sides are being heard.
When the government becomes monolithic -- on EITHER side of the aisle -- the
corrolary is that the population ends up the one that falls into bickering and
argument. Because too many people feel that they're not being heard, which
leads to frustration.
This is not a left or a right issue, though at this moment it's the right that
has pushed this situation through because they're objectively speaking the most
organized and lock-stepped. It's an issue that goes to the very heart of the
American system, and we are for the first time in living memory in actual
jeopardy of seeing that system break down, for one fundamental and very simple
Because Americans have been taught to hate and distrust one another.
The goal set down by the people who built this country was that we should
constantly strive to "create a more perfect union." Not to tear each other
apart, but to make a more perfect union of different beliefs and attitudes and
And somewhere along the way, mainly in the last twenty years, we lost that.
Your mre civil discourse is at the other end of that dilemma.
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