Sunday, October 25, 2009

Talking Politics

I've decided that as much as I enjoy and value the discipline of Political Theology, I just hate politics. I guess, like everyone else, as long as I'm talking with people who agree with me I do alright but even then I get frustrated with people on either side of a political argument. I have always been one to try and see both sides of an argument (although I can't claim to be without bias because I hope I'll always come out on the side of the oppressed and of those who suffer). But it's difficult because it seems that the people who are open minded are rarely passionate about politics and the people who do care about politics are rarely interested in hearing both sides. Of course there are many exceptions, exceptions like many of my friends (including Danny) who are never so quick to a conclusion that they miss the full argument of both sides. But even with those exceptions, I can't help but dread political conversations.

Everyone thinks they know something that "nobody realizes." Everyone thinks they're the "educated" ones. Everyone thinks that they came to their conclusion by unadulterated logic. It makes me wonder if we're all just a bit dumber, a bit more ignorant, and a lot more arrogant than we think we are. The truth is almost always on both sides of any argument. The debate is rarely truly about one side being "right" and another being "wrong" (although I am convinced that this is the case sometimes). The true debate is in the values of either side--what is important to one and to the other. We shouldn't make it out to be about "right" and "wrong" if it's not because we'll find ourselves divided with little hope of overcoming our differences.

An example, though I don't want to make any statement about which side I'm on in this particular post, is the health care debate. Though both sides seem to have "truth" on their side and both sides seem to be logical, the true debate is about what's important. Many of the people I know who are against a public option are against it because they don't want more taxes. They're convinced that if there is a public option "somebody's gotta pay for it" and that somebody will be them along with all the other hard working Americans. Other reasons may be that they're convinced that their own health care with get worse, that the government will have too much control, or that it'll increase incentive for illegal immigration. Whatever the case, they have their values that they aren't willing to compromise. Well, the other side is in the same situation.

Many people I know who are for a public option are so convinced that everyone should have health care, that it's a moral issue, blah blah blah, that they don't really care who pays for it. It's a problem and it needs to be solved, so moving forward is crucial and the details need to be worked out along the way. They've decided that universal health care is important and they're not willing to compromise on that value.

Neither side is "stupid." They just share different values and they can't get past that. If we all realized that and if we realized that we're not privy to some secret knowledge that the other side doesn't have then we may be able to have more real and productive political conversations.

Today in the same two hour period I heard someone say "those liberals just don't get it" and I saw someone else holding a sign that said "to hell with the people who support the insurance companies." When's it gonna stop?

3 comments:

Richard Kidd said...

Wes,

I agree. Our country is so polarized on both sides and no room for any moderation and no civility.
Out of disgust I took off my political affiliation on FACEBOOK. I'm tired of it all.

nate said...

I think polarization is natural, as it reflects the essence of absolute thought...but, I agree. Subversive language should not be a part of the political debate, although healthy debate is necessary to sift out bad ideas.

Like Richard Kidd, I have become so disgusted with those who put more passion in their party allegiance than with the principals (usually leading to statements like "liberals are stupid", etc.) I changed my political status some time ago on facebook to "barbarianism," in hyberbolic reflection on the state of American politics.

(I do hope my comment on the exegesis post was taken for the sarcastic humor that was it's intent, by the way!)

WES ELLIS said...

Nate,
Thanks for your thoughts. I think polarization may not be avoidable (in fact too much strife comes from trying to make everyone think alike) but healthy dialogue should be our goal. And don't worry... I laughed at your comment on the exegesis post.
-Wes