Friday, November 30, 2007

The high ground awaits

Like most others, I had almost no difficulty choosing a political party. Growing up with a specific set of beliefs tends to make the decision an obvious one. As a liberal, criticizing republicans quickly became second nature, as it seems to be for most liberals. Of course, this is a process that goes both ways. One has only to take a brief glimpse of any Fox News broadcast to see that few punches are pulled at the left wing’s benefit.

It seems that even the slightest personal misstep is sure to make any politician the butt of the opposition’s jokes, regardless of its relevance to political discussion. All too often, both sides attack arguers, but not arguments—politicians, but not policies. For every extraneous conservative attack, the left is quick to present one of its own—for every Ann Coulter, an Al Franken. As such, we begin to act if the opposing party is little more than an inside joke, which, of course, any “intelligent” person is sure to find hilarious. Thus, I believe this is a problem worthy of bipartisan recognition, regardless of its potential to be corrected.

Perhaps the best example of this is our current president, whom hard-nosed liberals will remember for little more than starting a pointless war and a tendency to choke on both big words and pretzels alike. While it appears the former is a perfectly reasonable reason for criticism, the latter too often becomes the object of left wing attacks. Amusing as they may be, Bush’s fumbled words are no more relevant to politics than they are intelligible. In spite of this, the President’s lacking verbal proficiency still seems to draw almost as much criticism as his failed policies.

Like most, I rarely make an effort to defend the political opposition. But perhaps I should. After all, we tend to be skeptical of any argument that does not consider the strong points given by its objectors. The public is not ignorant to this common oversight. Voters want a party they can be proud of—not merely the lesser of two evils. As such, the public is likely to respect any party unwilling to engage in the closed-minded squabbles initiated by the opposition. However, because politicians are so intent on kicking their opponents when they’re down, it seems any movement to eliminate these irrelevant discussions will have significant difficulty getting off the ground.

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