Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Where's the balance?

I am running out of level headed friends on the left who can discuss or debate any subject without being subjected to a totally back-and-white, frothing at the mouth assault on everything conservative. For most people it seems if you lean left you have to go all the way, and there is zero tolerance for any suggestion that a conservative position might have merit, or that a Republican politician might have decent motives. I don't keep conservative friends who are equally extreme, but I seldom run into a conservative who is so committed to the right or the Republican Party they cannot entertain reasonable dissent.

It is disappointing because I'm not always right and I look for reasonable opposition to help discover something close to the truth, or to gain insight into an opposing position. But when the mere suggestion that global warming might not be directly President Bush's fault, or that he did not personally engineer the 9/11 attacks brands you a right-wing-nut-case, it is hard to find middle ground. It is one thing to be unhappy about the conflict we are engaged in, but it is another to totally vilify one person or group of people and hold them entirely responsible for it.

I can live with the fact that I praise Clinton for some of the things he did as President and also fault him for some of his behavior. I disapprove of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation and his ineffective handling of the illegal immigration matter, but at the same time believe tax cuts have worked well for the economy, fighting back "over there" was the best response to 9/11 and that the President is probably a decent man trying to do a very difficult job. I am very unhappy with the Congressional spending under the Republican majority, but I don't necessarily believe that the Democrats would lead any better. This kind of thinking brands me a right wing extremist because I don't subscribe to the "one side is all good and the other is all bad" line of thought.

Trying to stand in the middle is not easy because it forces you to revaluate your position constantly. It would be easier to put on the face paint and just blindly root for my "team"; however, I can't make myself give up the notion that there is good and bad, right and wrong on both sides. It does not bode well for our future if we lose the ability to have civil debate and respectful disagreement.


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