Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Something I can't stand

Is how people on the extremes politically view life. The franges seem to view everything as one or the other, us or them, black or white, good or bad. The left fringe criticizes anyone who isn't as far left as they are as being "the right" and (naturally) uninformed and unable to understand the truth. The same occurs on the right. It appears as though neither side is capable of considering that there is a middle, a middle that is probably much larger than the fringes, and by lumping those of us who aren't solidly on either side in with the "other" side, you alienate us.

The President's approval ratings are at 31%. Unless you believe that nearly 70% of this country is "the left," then it's errant to refer to this as the left disapproving. Think about it. Over half the country voted for him, indicating that "the left" who would arguably vote against a Republican President on general principal, couldn't possibly be 70%.

Why do I mention this? Because it shows that the President is losing support from places other than the left. His policies have alienated "the left." They've alienated much of the middle, as well. Those of us in the middle don't like the bullying demeanor ("I'm the decider"), the inability to change his mind, that he seems to want a reason to fight with those who aren't "on his team," - seriously, why nominate General Hayden? Why nominate Harriet Myers? Were they REALLY the most qualified you could find, and it just so happens that they were ones that would cause such a ruffle? Remember, General Hayden, the man selected to head the CIA, the former director of the NSA, is the one who got the Fourth Amendment wrong. Wrong. And he's the most qualified person you could find to head the CIA? Other issues such as arguing rights as president during war to authorize items (FISA) while creating a possible situation for perpetual war (when is the war on terror going to be over?). Invading nations for reasons that turn out to be false, then justifying it because we're spreading democracy (We'll kill as many of your people as necessary for you to embrace our way of life and be free), which is really close to what the Soviets were trying to do, isn't it? Secret prisons, warrantless wiretaps, missing WMDs, "err on the side of life," sticking at your ranch during a hurricane and then not acting when information suggesting lives could be lost, declaring mission accomplished and not having the troops out three years later, increasing the cap on national debt rather than curbing spending, never vetoing anything in over five years in office, no child left behind, releasing declassified information, lying about it, and then vowing to go after the declassifiers - the list goes on. But what's probably most offputting to me is that he refuses to listen to anyone or anything that offers something contrary to what he wants to hear or do. He's supposed to be a public servant; he's supposed to work in our best interest, yet he "listens" and then does whatever the hell he wants, because he's the decider.

and that might just be why the majority of the country doesn't approve. It's more than just a left/right thing, and it's more than the MSM having it out against republicans - remember the amazing deference given to the president in 2001-2003, the insane benefit of the doubt given him and then it turned out to be wrong, and it took too long to admit it. It's a cumulative effect of his errors in judgment.


English Professor said...

I love ya, man. ;-) GREAT post.

Wayne Booth, a rhetoric scholar at U of Chicago for decades (and a first-class gentleman) addresses the problem you so ably identify in his 1984 book, _Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent_. This lovely man, who lived ON CAMPUS, in the dorm, during the 1960s and 1970s, was equally tired of yelling and name-calling, and the Modern pseudo-sophistication (which he attributed to Bertrand Russell) of not believing what others had to say and not being willing to engage with them in honest discussion. He was part of the Good Reasons movement, which advocated real dialogue and active listening between opposing sides, believing that they would, as you suggest, find that there was more common ground between them than they initially realized. The "radical" approach he advocated was to believe rather than disbelieve--instead of automatically discounting whatever someone else had to say, to choose instead to consciously believe it, then of course run it through one's own experiences and critical judgment (critical as "discerning," not "picky"). One would initially disbelieve only if one had concrete, valid reasons for doing so, usually ones that dealt with the ethos of the speaker. [In my case, the prime example would be if Henry Kissinger were moving his mouth.]

It's interesting to me that you follow your lament with an observation about the lapdog press in Bush's first term, and here's why: I was asked a similar question in my orals. My chair wanted to know how I would reconcile Booth's calls for a rhetoric of assent with the fact that way too many people today seem to be assenting to whatever the administration puts forth.

If you ever get tired of law, you can always come study Rhetoric with us.

Steve said...

Thank you, EP. I pretty much just sat down and started typing, and didn't edit, so I wasn't entirely sure that what I put down was at all coherent. I was fed up with the democrats bitching and moaning during the Clinton years about how people had it out for him, and I'm sick of the republicans doing the same now.

Bruce said...

I very recently searched my heart and decided that I'm going to stop evaluating politicians on the basis of "left" and "right". Instead, I'm going to measure each one on a scale of "positive/constructive" versus "negative/destructive".

I've decided that's what I really care about.

If someone is an extreme right-winger, or far-out on the left - I'll support them if they focus on creating new opportunities and successes, and if they are successful doing so. If they are attackers, destroyers, "those who tear down" - then I oppose them.