The true center of American politics isn’t found where most of us agree. We fiercely disagree. That’s not a problem. Democracy assumes disagreement.People have to understand that there are good reasons to disagree. There is nothing wrong with having different viewpoints. We bring different experiences, different ideas, and different personalities to bear on our views about political life. If we all agreed it would be a very boring, very stultifying, very ugly society.
The true center is about how we resolve those disagreements. Most of us believe we should work them out respectfully.
We don’t believe in winning political arguments through bullying, name-calling, lying, intimidating, or using violence.
In other words, the political center isn’t about what we decide It’s about how we decide. The center American democracy is a commitment vigorous debate, done honestly and civilly.
That’s why some of what we’ve been witnessing recently is troubling.
Consider the foot-stomping incident in Kentucky by Rand Paul supporters, just outside a Senate debate. Or Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller’s security detail handcuffing a reporter from a liberal-leaning website.
Consider last year’s congressional town hall meetings where members of Congress were shouted down, a Tampa town hall meeting turned violent, and gunshots were fired at Democratic campaign headquarters in Arizona.
Consider the outright lies about “death panels,” “government takeovers,” and the President’s nationality.
Consider Rep. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” outburst against the President on the House floor.
And the vitriol emanating at all hours from rage radio, yell television, and Fox News – against immigrants, intellectuals, “coastal elites,” gays, and the President.
We’re better than this.
This is not respectful disagreement. It’s thuggery. It has no legitimate role in a democracy. And most Americans are fed up with it.
Sadly, we needed two comedians to remind us.
All political points of view have a role to play:
- Real conservatives have a role to play in reminding us of truths from the past. They help hold us true to ourselves and to our roots.
- Liberals are important to remind us of the great value of tolerance and an openness to new ideas, new people, and new social institutions.
- Libertarians are important to remind us that government is a tool to facilitate our social interaction. We don't owe it allegiance if it isn't working for us.
- Socialists are important to remind us that society is a collective endeavor. We have a duty to make sure that everyone is carried along as society moves forward.