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"You ask what I am?"
"Why, a machine. But even in that answer we know, don't we, more than a machine. I am all the people who thought of me and planned me and built me and set me running. So I am people. I am all the things they wanted to be and perhaps could not be, so they built a great child, a wondrous toy to represent those things."
We are virtually split down the middle on healthcare reform. We were evenly divided on the auto bailouts. We are divided on how to treat gays in the military. And though the 2004 and 2008 elections were more decisive, the 2000 election came down to five electoral votes. The sides of the political divide can't agree on much of anything and worse, it seems that we don't even like our fellow countrymen on the other side of the debate. It's not just that we disagree, we oftentimes feel genuine anger and hatred for the opposition. Over the last few days, as we approach the denouement of the healthcare reform saga, I've wondered how we can proceed in such a partisan environment. If we're evenly divided on most issues and actively hold contempt for one another, will we be able to move forward as a country?
In short, yes, we can.
Although partisanship can be painful and ineffcient, it is far more desirable than the alternative: agreement. Conservatives and liberals hold two oftentimes diametrically opposed views on the role of government. Conservatives seek limited government. Liberals seek an active and effective government. In pursuing our respective goals, conservatives and liberals have developed different approaches for administering government. The tension between these two positions may or may not lead to better results, but it is clear that the tension provides for a broader discussion and analysis than the discussion that would result if we all agreed. If we all had the same opinion there would be no arguments and we'd probably get things done faster. But we would lose the critical eye of the opponent that strengthens our arguments and exposes weakness in our ideologies.
That said though, there still remains a difference between disagreement and hatred/assigning motive/character assassination. The civil war is over. People that disagree with you are not necessarily your enemies. I realize that we, liberals said some pretty nasty things about George W. Bush and the GOP. Consequently, it seems like a great deal of the vitriol expressed toward Obama is less about racism and more about payback for the liberal arrows slung at Bush. If that is indeed the case, we (on both sides) need to get over it and focus on the issues at hand. Neither Bush or Obama did anything personally to you or your family. The policies they champion are simply that, policies. So save the outrage for real tyranny. When your President starts rounding people up and and locking them away without due process, then you can start the criminal proceedings . . . oh, wait a minute. . .
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