A Better Political Discourse

07Sep08

I’ve touched in previous posts (and in my Google Reader Notes) on the idea that I believe people should be analyzing the presidential race on the policy issues that will directly affect them during the future administration, rather than analyzing which president is more likable, or feels more like them, or some other character-based metric.

As such, I think it’s possible for both the left and the right sides to come together on a majority of issues and agree on desired outcomes: more jobs for Americans, fewer people in poverty, a robust economy, a secure nation, etc. Once those shared desired outcomes are decided on, then we can argue about implementing policies to get us there, which should be where the two parties differ. The two sides’ approaches may have different side effects and degrees of effectiveness, and these things should be argued, but we shouldn’t be outright demonizing the other side as evil in order to win because it’s simply not honest.

Now, with that in mind, I can’t stand articles like this one, who have accepted the image of a polarized nation to the point where they believe a war is necessary to… I’m not even sure…. eliminate the other side? Reconcile irreconcilable differences?

“In 2000, when President Bush won (others say “when Bush stole”) the election, the Democrats became enraged, some say “deranged.” That rage has grown. If McCain wins–I predict that the cultural wars will not only intensify but will turn into the beginnings of the next Civil War in America.

What do you think will happen after one side wins and the other side loses? Will blue or red states want to secede from the union? Will there be more violent and ugly confrontations upon encountering ideas and practices with which one disagrees?”

While I think this is technically a possibility, I think it would be wholly unlikely for anything like this to come about. I think this view is fed by the increased polarization that the media has employed to stay profitable and the public perception that we can’t disagree about politics and yet both hold valid points of view.

So, in my view the media needs to do a better job helping bridge the divide between viewpoints. That means we have to get past the previous incarnation of having two pundits shout at each other, into something more productive. At some point, simply expressing both sides’ views becomes useless if we can’t move forward with those views.

I’ve got some project ideas in the design phase that I can hope would help this shift, which I’ll hopefully share later on.

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