An Attempt At Bipartisan Civility

I know it may come as a surprise to some of the commenters on this site that I have friends, let alone liberal ones, but it’s true. A liberal friend with whom I enjoy mutual respect, Marjorie Hall Snook*, has agreed to engage in a social effort in which we try to create a forum to figure out how the “left” and the “right” can talk to each other, discuss issues, and stop the insanity that seems to have taken hold of this country. We don’t know if it will succeed, but as decent humans, we have both agreed to try. What follows is a back-and-forth between me and Marjorie tentatively dubbed the “Bipartisan Civility Commission.” Civil comments contributing to this effort are welcome, but others not so much, and will be deleted.

Hassinger: In the greatest country on earth, the most advanced civilization in history, today, RIGHT NOW, I’m watching society tear itself apart over issues that were settled but do not seem have gone away. I don’t claim to have an answer to the question of how we got to this point, but let me ask my liberal friend to concede a small rhetorical point. We conservatives are not Nazis. Republicans are not fascists. The “right wing” is not about white supremacy, nor nationalism, nor racism, nor anti-semitism, nor subjugation of women, nor homophobia, nor anything other than the advocation of a more efficient government that taxes less and delivers necessary services more efficiently. The scum in Charlottesville are not “alt-right,” not some super-duper version of radical conservatism, not some “far-right” wing of the Republican party -they are psychotic filth that deserve no more attention than a crazy person standing on a street corner shouting warnings about the end of the world. They may have called themselves together under a mission to “Unite the Right,” but there is nothing “Right” about them. We disavow them as belonging to our party, our movement, and our philosophy. We are horrified by those people and their views and their actions, and we will stand with you in fighting them, because we are Americans -just like y’all. Would you ask your side, Marjorie, to please stop calling us Nazis? Can we agree on that?

Snook: It is much easier to reduce our opponents to a caricature, and then attack the strawman we have just constructed, than it is to honestly engage with their ideas. I cannot count the number of times that I have put forth a thoughtful analysis of a certain policy only to be attacked as a ‘libtard’, accused of never working in the private sector, living off of welfare and murdering babies. This is not productive engagement. And it isn’t productive when liberals respond to our conservative friends’ proposed tax policies by calling them brownshirts.

Snook: I abhor racism. It is my abhorrence of racism in all of its overt, covert and unconscious forms that has fueled most of my own political advocacy. The failures of this White House to respond appropriately on this issue is appalling. But there is a silver lining.  We are at a moment in this country, just two generations removed from the Civil Rights movement, where a large number of leaders from all sides are coming out and strongly condemning bigotry and racism, some even having the courage to attack by name the leader of their own party. It is not perfect. We have a long way to go. But instead of being angry at Republican leaders for not going as far as we want in attacking Trump, which for some people on my side would requirement impeachment, can we be thankful for the agreement that we have and work from there?

Hassinger: Yes, we can. We’ve found a tiny bit of common ground  -you’re not a libtard, and I’m not a brownshirt. I’m even willing to tell my side that y’all love this country as much as we do. Where we differ is the point at which my side is lumped with the white supremacists by semantics and virtue-signaling, as is the case with the current discussion over removing Confederate monuments. So here’s an immodest and genuine proposal: Tear them down. Tear them all down. Rename every street, topple every statue, sandblast the carving off Stone Mountain, let the Washington Monument crumble to rubble and vent your spleen at history until you are satisfied. I will help you, on one condition.  When we’re done, and we’ve hung our collective heads in shame at our nation’s ugly, painful legacy of slavery, I never want to hear another word about racism again. You won’t be allowed to speak about the underrepresentation of African Americans in the Forbes 400 list, nor about “white privilege,” nor police shootings, nor any other injustice caused by actual racism. Ever. If you’ll agree to that single condition, I’ll fetch my crowbar and start whacking the nearest Confederate gravestone. Deal?

Snook: No deal. Racism is an issue that we are going to have to grapple with for many years to come, whether these monuments stand or not. But we have to have these difficult discussions as fellow Americans, not as enemies. The reason that Confederate memorials bother me, as an umpteenth-generation Georgian and as a proud Southerner, is that I DO love this country. This country almost got torn apart, and the attempt to tear it apart was a horrible thing and would have been a tragedy for mankind had it succeeded. But we do not properly bury the legacy of the Confederacy by starting a new civil war.

Hassinger: Well, then, what would you have us do? 

Snook: We need to be able to listen to each other, truly listen, without making assumptions about who or what a person is. We have to take the time and energy to engage with people who disagree with us and will challenge our preconceived notions. We have to understand that reasonable people of good will can look at the same facts and come to different conclusions, and their disagreement with us does not make them stupid or evil. We can all be better Americans.

*Marjorie Hall Snook is a DeKalb County native, PTA mom, failed journalist, Democratic activist, and environmental consultant.

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Ron McCauley
Ron McCauley

There’s much more to the divide between the left and the right or Democrats and Republicans than just views on race.
In my opinion, there can be no exchange of real ideas until Republicans disown their positions on climate change and on our tax structure.
Denying climate change is absurd.
Asserting that tax reductions for the most wealthy will stimulate the economy are equally absurd and damaging.

The Eiger
The Eiger

It’s funny that you don’t see the outright hypocrisy in your statement. You seem to think all of our country’s dysfunction is republican’s fault. Let me rephrase your absurd statement.

“In my opinion, there can be no exchange of real ideas until democrats disown their positions on abortion and on our welfare state.”
“Denying abortion as murder is absurd.”
“Asserting that our country needs to make more people dependent on the federal government without looking into the costs are equally absurd and damaging.”

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Except the morality of abortion is based on one’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) and belief in climate change is based on the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community. I get the point you’re trying to make, but the analogy is supremely flawed.

The Eiger
The Eiger

Nope, the analogy is perfect. There are many people who feel abortion is wrong not because of their religious belief, but the science says that group of cells in a woman’s body is an actual human being with a heartbeat and can feel pain. The science says that. Not God.
..
Ron’s statement was stupid and you know it. I don’t defend Noway when he says stupid stuff. You shouldn’t either.

The Eiger
The Eiger

To elaborate on this analogy more. It really is perfect. … I believe what scientist say about our changing climate. I believe that humans have an affect one the climate. I choose to not care. Honestly. It’s not that big of a deal to me. … I’m sure you believe what doctors and scientist say about a fetus. They have a heartbeat at 12 weeks. They feel pain and happiness in the womb. They are a living human. Just in the womb. Same as I choose to not care about the climate. You choose to not care about that life.… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I’m not attempting to defend Ron. If anything, I agree more with your point about both sides needing to set aside pre-conceived notions.

I know that you and I are wont to chase each other down rabbit holes, so I’m not going to further engage in a debate over the moral rationales for and against abortion.

J. Wagon
J. Wagon

I love how you can distinguish between science and God based on what’s convenient for you.

From the science point of view – humans evolved into their current form around 200,000 years ago. Judiasm and Christianity are recent developments on that scale.

So, how is it that for hundreds of thousands of years, science has dictated that a woman’s genetic programming is to make the decisions on how to grow, care for, and if she should stay pregnant, but up until recently, religion has taken that away?

I’m just trying to reconcile science and God here.

The Eiger
The Eiger

“So, how is it that for hundreds of thousands of years, science has dictated that a woman’s genetic programming is to make the decisions on how to grow, care for, and if she should stay pregnant, but up until recently, religion has taken that away?”

I’m just trying to reconcile science and God here.

I wasn’t aware Planned Parenthood was around helping murder Cro magon women’s babies. Do you know something I don’t? It wasn’t until relatively recently in evolution terms that it became normal to murder babies. That doesn’t mean it’s right.

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Ok. Fine, Brother EigerKoch. If we can get Republicans to stop blaming the poor for the deficit and admit the rich and corporations should pay their fair share.

The Eiger
The Eiger

I’m happy to have that conversation. If you knew who I was in real life you would believe me. We will not cut our way out of debt. We also can not tax our way out of debt. It will need to be a combination. If you simplified the tax code with fewer deductions and had a discussion about major reforms to Medicare and Medicare I’d be happy. But your side refuse to see Medicare and Medicaid as being in trouble and there are folks on my side who thinks a 10% corporate tax rates solves all the worlds problems.… Read more »

NoParty4Me
NoParty4Me

Sorry for any insult, but you seem to always be on the “side” that wants no taxes, no government, no citizen protections from business malfeasance. I am on the “side” of removing fraud and waste within our healthcare systems and insurance. I also expect to have these programs available to me, if I need them, since I have paid for them through my taxes and payroll deductions. I also want to cut out the middleman, health insurance companies, so more of my money goes directly to paying for healthcare and lowering health care costs. This is going to take a… Read more »

The Eiger
The Eiger

What is wrong is that their are people with this mindset “In my opinion, there can be no exchange of real ideas until Republicans disown their positions on climate change and on our tax structure.”

Also, I’m all for the government writing you a check for every penny you have “paid” into the system. Most people will realize very quickly they are taking ten fold more than they put in. It is not sustainable.

Ron McCauley
Ron McCauley

Climate change and taxation policy are real and quantifiable. The Republican talking points on each are outright lies. I expressed myself as I did because one can’t have a real dialogue when one side refuses to acknowledge reality. As for climate change: I think most of the scientific community would agree that the trajectory is such that there is no means to reverse it in our lifetime. Greenhouse gases need to be reduced, but the effort to do so won’t change the current inertia. However, there are other solutions to be tried if all can agree to the existence of… Read more »

The Eiger
The Eiger

Well bless your heart. You truly are blinded by partisanship.
..
“I expressed myself as I did because one can’t have a real dialogue when one side refuses to acknowledge reality.” Does a baby’s heart beat at 12 weeks? Yes.
..
I know it’s hard to know when you are being hypocritical. I also know it’s even harder to admit that you are being hypocritical. You are either unaware or so blinded by partisanship that you don’t care. Either way, bless your heart.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I will say that immediately defaulting to social issues is a very Republican response.

Yes I am fully aware that it’s the same thing as a Democrat defaulting to identity politics.

The Eiger
The Eiger

“I will say that immediately defaulting to social issues is a very Republican response.” Ron saying that he refuses to talk with republicans until they acknowledge climate change is the exact same as a republican saying they refuse to talk to democrats until they call abortion murder. Both are equally absurd and the reason we have many of the problems we have now.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

If y’all want bipartisan civility, just pay for a round of drinks for Eiger and myself at Tortilla Coast.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

No bully on the playground was ever stopped by a plea to play nice. It came from potential consequences for being a bully. Barbarians kill, burn and loot citizens and it cannot be tolerated. Social order is further confused when communities react overnight to “fix” the problem with no orderly plan.

As for the monuments to confederate soldiers:
http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/08/why_are_there_monuments_of_confederate_soldiers.html

xdog
xdog

I’d be good with dropping talk of racism if you guys promise to quit pushing lies about voter fraud, and I promise never to mention ‘white privilege’ again (not that I think I ever have, but I’ll make doubly sure going forward) just as soon as your friends stop whining about whites in this country being the ones who are really discriminated against. Oh, and stop talking about wars on Christmas and call those who don’t stop dumbasses.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

“No Deal” as Snook said, on dropping talk of racism in return for quitting pushing lies about voter fraud. The significant vestiges of racism won’t go away without talking about it, and are likely to always need to be checked at least in small degree. And for a promise that people don’t show themselves witless? It’s a lose-lose, win-win.

bethebalance
bethebalance

points

rickday
rickday

I do this exercise every weekend. I’m in a unique situation where I can talk to a well represented diverse part of my county citizens. Politics always comes up when discussing business or even the weather. Common ground: 1. Drug war is a failure. Cannabis is best regulated than allowed to grow wild in a black market. 2. Expanding Medicare for all is better than “Obamacare”, or even better than the Affordable Care Act [sic]. 3. Neither of us has received our promised tax breaks yet. 4. No wall and unlikely to ever have one that will work, to be… Read more »

Lawton Sack
Lawton Sack

I don’t like the Beatles or the Stones, so I guess I am on Common Core Ground

xdog
xdog

That’s un-American.

Lawton Sack
Lawton Sack

For not liking two English bands??????

Ellynn
Ellynn

So who would you pick instead?

xdog
xdog

Think metaphorically.

Lawton Sack
Lawton Sack

Johnny Cash

Charlie
Charlie

What if you already picked someone else? Like, last November:

Pence

Ellynn
Ellynn

That is so wrong Charlie, on many levels…

Benevolus
Benevolus

Must be a Who guy.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

The only appropriate response to Lawton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHoNWwhzh3M

FreeDuck
FreeDuck

“They may have called themselves together under a mission to “Unite the Right,” but there is nothing “Right” about them. We disavow them as belonging to our party, our movement, and our philosophy. We are horrified by those people and their views and their actions, and we will stand with you in fighting them, because we are Americans -just like y’all. ” I agree with this. All of the Republican leaders that I respect, and some that I don’t, came out on the right side of the Charlottesville mess. I believe that the ‘alt-right’, white supremacists, and neo-nazis do not… Read more »

Benevolus
Benevolus

“The “right wing” is not about … anything other than the advocation of a more efficient government that taxes less and delivers necessary services more efficiently”.
(Do you really believe that? )

And the left wing is only about forming a more perfect union, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, and promoting the general welfare.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I guess I should add that my point is that these are not realistic definitions of “the left” and “the right”. To have this conversation you have to start somewhere- like defining the different ideologies, or listing points of contention. Something like that. I’m also not sure it is fair to assume that both sides are equally obstructionist. It’s quite possible that one side is more responsible for the lack of civility and ability to cooperate. If true, the other side should be given credit for starting from a level playing field as they will have already sacrificed something just… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

But everything on each side IS the same, except when it isn’t.
.
Trump crowed in Phoenix Tuesday about the 2.6% increase in GDP in the second quarter, good but run of the mill growth in that growth was 2.6% or more in 10 of the 18 previous quarters, yet the 2016 Trump campaign responded to the announcement that 2016 third quarter 2.9% increase in GDP growth was “modest”.