Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bipartisianship? Not without genuine liberals

Gerard Alexander: Why are liberals so condescending?
Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration. Indeed, all the appeals to bipartisanship notwithstanding, President Obama and other leading liberal voices have joined in a chorus of intellectual condescension.


This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government -- and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.


Indeed, when the president met with House Republicans in Baltimore recently, he assured them that he considers their ideas, but he then rejected their motives in virtually the same breath.

"There may be other ideas that you guys have," Obama said. "I am happy to look at them, and I'm happy to embrace them. . . . But the question I think we're going to have to ask ourselves is, as we move forward, are we going to be examining each of these issues based on what's good for the country, what the evidence tells us, or are we going to be trying to position ourselves so that come November, we're able to say, 'The other party, it's their fault'?" [...]

I'm tired of this grandstanding. The article goes into great detail, with many examples, of how the left refuses to listen to anything the right has to say. Yet it also acknowleges some similar resistance on the right, though it claims it's less prevelant.

Liberal isn't a dirty word to me, so I hate the way the word is used in this article. But it gets used like this, because so many people who are calling themselves liberal are really anything but.

A genuine liberal is easygoing, open-minded, and is flexible; not rigidly ideological. I think that description fits a lot of independents and people near the political center: conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Their voices need to be heard more, because it is they who can bring about genuine bipartisan consensus where it's desperately needed.

All the rest of it is too much fiddling, while Rome burns. Enough already.

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