For the last few weeks I’ve been engaged in an interesting email conversation with a Liberal who happens to be the husband of an old girlfriend of mine from high school. She is a self-described “knee-jerk Liberal”, and detests discussing politics because, I suspect, she’s is unable to defend her “knee-jerk” positions. Her husband, OTOH, approached me a while back, lamenting the fact that we have become such a hopelessly divided nation, and wanting to know if I had any thoughts on the subject. I said I thought the biggest problem is that each side has some misperceptions of what the other side believes, which, more often than not, prevents any attempts to find common ground; misperceptions that are often exacerbated by an agenda-driven media in an effort to further divide us. I suggested we engage in a one on one discussion on the condition that we keep it civil. Upon his agreement to give it a try, I led off with the following:
Splendid. I’ve never been accused of being an ideologue, and I detest confrontational arguments that almost always end up in name-calling. I look at political debate, first and foremost, as a learning and mind-expanding experience, rather than a win or lose situation, and, as a result, my thinking on a number of issues has changed over the years. I have neither tolerance nor respect for people who lie or distort the facts to score political points. For most of my life I was an unexamined Republican until this marvelous thing called the Internet came along, and I was able to not only question everything I heard, read and saw, but was able to at least attempt to search for the truth. That the truth doesn’t have an agenda and doesn’t need a majority to prevail has become somewhat of my personal motto, and that’s the lens through which I try to examine every issue.
I view the Constitution as a contract between the government and the people by whose consent the government exists, not perfect, but better than any other governing document ever produced. To anyone who says the Constitution is a living document that needs to change with the whims of the times by legislation, executive order or judicial fiat, I ask, would you work for me with a “living” employment contract, or borrow money from me with a “living” loan contract, or play poker with me using “living” rules? I have yet to get a yes to those questions — from anyone.
On social issues, I’m pretty much an agnostic. Neither the Constitution, nor any of the Founders in any of their writings addressed a need for the federal government to be involved in social issues, and I regret that issues like abortion and gay marriage are allowed to play such a predominant role in national politics.
Hopefully that gives you some idea of where I’m coming from. What drives how you look at politics?
His response was not really what I expected, and, although he denies being a Liberal at the end, he voted for Obama — twice, an admission of sorts that he supports an uber-liberal agenda.
Regarding the use of the Internet, I’d express a word of caution, it can be replete with inflammatory rhetoric that vast majority of which has NEVER been nor will EVER be vetted. A landslide of opinions. And you know the old line about opinions… “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks.” So cast a cautious eye on whatever you find out there and due whatever due diligence is possible to find the reality/truth of the situation.
You raise an interesting conundrum regarding the Constitution. Just what parts would you hold to be inviolate? Certainly NOT The amendments since they seem to be the mechanism of making it a “living document” that brings it into the “times”. I’m a little confused by your position here and would like to know more before commenting further. I’m also NOT a Constitutional Specialist by any stretch of the imagination so would like to know more.
One of the things that has always puzzled me about laws, legislation and the rights granted by the Constitution is why do rights, seemingly granted under the Constitution have to subsequently be “granted” through extra legislation? Voting Rights legislation, Civil Rights legislation, Right of Women to Vote being primary examples of my concern in this area. Is it because while we have this grand and noble document we still have to reign in human behavior to keep order in our society? Is this the necessary component for the document to remain viable/alive and in concert with changing times?
It also seems strange to me that rights granted to individuals have now been granted to Corporations… What is that about? Citizens United being a primary example of the latest travesty in this arena.
And just what is so holy and immutable about the terms for Senators and Congressmen? As we have previously discussed, we’re lucky to get a year’s worth of service from members of Congress these days since they seem to be campaigning for re-election from the moment they initially attain office. Are these terms spelled out somewhere in the document or an Amendment? And if so, why can’t these be adjusted by the “will of the people” to remain viable in today’s culture of lobbyists and special interests?
Interesting that you use the word “agnostic” in terms of social issues. I’d only considered it in terms of religious views. Personally, I find the area of abortion a personal one and one that gets legislated strictly on behalf of religious moral views. I may not agree with the concept of abortion personally and, if there is truly separation of church and state then why are religious morals driving this issue? Seems the separation isn’t working as intended.
And for gay marriage, just what is the basis for the furor? Who cares? Who would be harmed if this “right” were granted? Why does the right have to be granted at all? Why is the government meddling in the personal lives of its citizens? Again, I blame the religious extremists for continuing to pursue this vendetta. If love is universal and blind, who are these people to denigrate love between people of the same sex when love between a man and a woman is fraught with problems and such a high divorce rate? Heterosexual couples are in no position to speak about what is right for others at all.
I’m not sure if this was what you were expecting.
Willing to continue with your grand experiment. As long as your know that I’m probably NOT your average Democratic bleeding heart liberal. Nor am I an uber-conservative Republican. Just one of the many stuck in the middle while both extremes continue to tear down our country through intransigence.
In Part 2, my response.