Has our culture lost the ability to foster honest public discourse?
Sometimes it appears so. One blogger had this to say after one of the campaign debates last fall:
What is it about politics that tends to reduce normal, presumably at least quasi-thoughtful journalists (and others) to insult-slinging, cliche-hurling, party-line-toeing ideologues who all mysteriously sound the same with the sole exception of which party line they’re toeing?
I will not attempt to answer her questions here, but I do know of a new blog where the authors are trying to do something about this very problem:
In March of 2004, the political drama The West Wing aired an episode entitled “The Supremes” and the story arc dealt with the challenge of putting justices of conviction on the Supreme Court, from both sides of the political aisle. Rather than put forward moderates who could not be pressed to defend their actual opinions on the various issues that face the Court, the Bartlet administration elected to nominate two justices who demonstrated the ability to give full-throated defenses of their principles: a liberal lion, Evelyn Baker Lang and a conservative anchor, Christopher Mulready. The reasoning behind this seemingly odd (and sadly fictional) choice was that serious and healthy debate is what is best for the Republic, that earnest discourse between citizens who believe in the process and work for the best future for our nation will produce results that uphold the ideals that gave birth to America.
As we come together to speak and debate public policy, it is this legacy that we aspire to.
It’s not always easy to find fair, well-balanced commentary coming from both sides of the political aisle in one place,and it’s not always easy to find pundits who will take their opponent’s ideas seriously and critique them fairly. It’s even harder to find two such intelligent writers who can do this to each other while remaining friends! This is a shame, because while it’s not always easy to live in community with people of different viewpoints, it’s something we all have to do – and we’d better learn to do it well. ‘