Partisanship and Political Discourse

Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 06:15 am
Politics is, by its very nature, about the battle.

Each time we have made progress; when we won the right of women to vote, when we ended segregation, when we stopped laws targeting homosexuals, it involved a fierce fight. In each case there was no middle result; there were winners and their were loser. Progress isn't made by uninvolved "centrists" twiddling their thumbs thinking calm thoughts about peaceful inclusion.

Political progress involves hard headed, confident people who don't shrink from the fight. Sure the heroes of the past were intelligent but they were also confident of their position, and insistent they were heard and determined in spite of the fact that people disagreed with them.

Alice Paul broke windows, when arrested she went on a public hunger strike. In doing show she earned support and shamed the US president. Rosa Parks refused to obey the laws. Of course, not every political action is successful. In a struggle there are winners and losers and sometimes strategies work, and sometimes they don't. But you don't have progress without a strong committed core of people fighting for what they believe is right.

Winning is why we do politics-- and if you like the fact that women can vote, or that schools are desegregated, or that you have social security... you shouldn't have a problem with this.This is why I am bemused by the calls for some sort of non-partisan politics-- as if politics isn't about two sides engaged in an often nasty fight. I hear the calls for me to not to point out the craziness of the right, or to put on some pretext that I don't want the opposition to lose so that I can win.

There is room for intelligence. I can admit when my opposition makes a good political move. I can also work to explain why points my opponents are making resonate. I can call for restraint from my own side when they act in ways that can backfire strategically. I can even be patient when an issue I care about will conflict with other national or political interests.

But, Bipartisanship is a myth-- an issue always belongs to the people (on either side) who consider it important enough to fight for. Asking for some mythical ecumenical point of view from people trying to make progress is pointless.

There is nothing wrong for you trying to understand both sides of an issue. But, by doing so, you are going to have to talk to those in the trenches. If you have a problem with the fact you only get one side of an issue from someone involved in the struggle that is politics, perhaps the problem is that you are out of place in politics.

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Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 06:46 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
Each time we have made progress; when we won the right of women to vote, when we ended segregation, when we stopped laws targeting homosexuals, it involved a fierce fight.

I agree those were all changes. I even agree they were progress. But then again I'm not a cultural relativist, unlike you. How does a cultural relativist like conclude these particular changes were progress?

Uncharacteristically, I agree with the rest of your initial post. Evidently, then, your post was too mushy and uncontroversial.
ebrown p
Reply Sun 13 Sep, 2009 06:54 am
No problem Thomas. Progress is clearly a subjective judgment.

People who were fighting for woman's suffrage or against segregation were fighting for what they wanted for the society they lived in. I have no problem with the idea that people in other societies have different solutions to these disagreements, or that other people in my society have different ideas.
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