Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thoughts From Far West Berlin: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Thoughts From Far West Berlin: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?: One description of Juan Williams book Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate reads: "Only those towing the party line—the screaming v...

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

One description of Juan Williams book Muzzled:  The Assault on Honest Debate reads:

"Only those towing the party line—the screaming voices of the extremist—get airtime and dominate the discussion in politics and the media. Each side, liberal and conservative, preaches to a choir that revels in expressions of anger, ideology, conspiracies, and demonized opponents. The result is an absence of truth-telling and honest debate about the facts."

Politicians are bad enough but is amazing how the general public drinks their preferred Kool-Aid.  As a lifelong centrist I am continually amazed by the refusal to acknowledge common-sense compromises.  Have we completely lost our ability to see that there is rarely ONE philosophy or ONE style that ALWAYS works ALL the time?  Apparently the insanity of the political arena is seeping – or pouring - into everyday life.

The partisan rancor surrounding the Bush-Gore campaign soured me on politics for years.  How could liberals uniformly support Gore and conservatives uniformly support Bush when the issues relating to counting the votes in Florida had NOTHING to do with ideology.  "Oh well if that's what THEY want then it has to be wrong."  It's as if we're stuck in a football game and we don't care if the referee makes a bad call so long as it's in favor of OUR team – and moreover, we can't objectively evaluate the call.  

This election season may be the most worst ever and with social media, everyone feels free to speak his/her mind.  I have the unfortunate tendency to chime in much of the time.  I get called a lot of names for disagreeing with people – thankfully, most are open to civil discussion, although I've been unfriended by more than one person who made it quite clear that if I didn't agree with them 100% then I can just go away.  Others prefer to let me hang around so they can make sure everyone else knows I'm a Nazi.

I'm not a big fan of the modern far-left and our current President has his share of shortcomings.  That being said, do we really need to attack every facet of his personality just because we don't agree with his politics?   I've heard him called everything from Socialist to idiot to America hater and the list goes on.  He's got no experience, no integrity, no leadership, blah blah bah.  The  #SOTU message was remarkably centrist and advocated, among other things, dramatically increasing offshore drilling and teacher accountability (rewarding good teachers and firing bad ones), two things alone that will surely infuriate his base.   Sure the proof is in the pudding but we ought to at least give him the benefit of the doubt.  Instead, Sean Hannity immediately comes on and makes it clear that there was nothing in the speech but more of Obama's Big Government agenda.  Seriously Sean?  Were you actually LISTENING or too busy writing your critique?

There are plenty of things to criticize this President about – what is it that keeps us from sticking to what's really wrong and acknowledging anything he does that has merit other than getting Bin Laden, which is rightfully deemed to be the result of years of intelligence and pursuit by multiple administrations.

With an election coming up and multiple members of the opposition vying for the right to face-off in November, the bile from the left is even more plentiful.   I'm not going to go on about all of them, so let's talk about Mitt Romney.

I'm not sure what to think about Romney – he's had at least two conversations that screamed "douchebag" at me…so I'm not here to defend him either.  That being said, he has had a successful career, made a lot of money honestly and donated a great deal to charity.  So why all of the sudden is it a PROBLEM that he's rich?   Barack Obama is no pauper and for that matter, neither are John kerry, Al Gore or other prominent Democrats.  

There is an article on the far-left website entitled "What Romney Money Could Do for the Average Family."  Seriously?  Well, the author says he made it without lifting his "beautifully manicured fingers" and paid only the capital gains tax.   Gee, that sounds like MOST investors, which is not a crime.  Even my uberliberal parents look for tax-smart investments and why would ANYONE take a salary when they can take a capital gain?  Saving money is human nature.

The author goes on at length to describe what the rest of us could do with that kind of income – as if that is somehow relevant in contrast to what we could do with the income of say, George Soros, Michael Moore, the Kennedys, Alec Baldwin, ad nauseum.    If you have a problem with conservative financial principles that's fine – but ostracizing Romney because he is a successful business man is just plain stupid, not to mention hypocritical unless you want to say the same thing about every liberal who's made money the same way.  Somehow THAT part of the "1%" doesn't count.  

Our incessant need to go beyond finding fault with only specific aspects of someone's policies and instead, throw a blanket criticism of every aspect of their being is disheartening and doesn't bode well for the elusive idea of working together.  People need to realize that solutions are largely a matter of blending of left and right, conservative and liberal, public and private and so forth.    Maybe if we dig deep we can think beyond what we're fed by "The Liberal Mainstream Media" and "Faux News" and remember that we don't prosper by applying absolutes to everything.  That just leaves a lot of people still asking "why can't we all just get along."