CMC Government Professor, Phoblog mentor, and generally brilliant guy John J. Pitney, Jr. has an article in today's Chronicle offering a controversial confession:
I doubt that all wisdom lies on my side of the political spectrum. I do not think that all the people who disagree with me are crazy, stupid or evil. Though I'm voting for President Bush, I hardly believe that the election of Sen. John Kerry would bring on the end-times.What? Excuse me? Is that - dare I say it - reasonable deliberation I sense there? Shoot, even I fly off the handle on my side these days. He is right, however, to mourn the loss of national discourse in this cycle:
The eruption of political bile would be less annoying if it were intellectually stimulating. When Lincoln and Douglas debated in their 1858 Senate contest, they stoked a lot of heat but also cast a lot of light. At the moment, though, the intellectual lamps are dim.Pitney also highlights the danger in pointing out your own side's shortcomings - labels like "squish" and, increasingly, "traitor" are tossed out like so many hand grenades.
I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Especially in light of the recent Dreier discussions. I remember thinking that there weren't any "bad guys" when I was working on the hill - just people with similar goals and different ideas for achieving them. These days, though, I don't feel as generous when it comes to assuming purity in politicos' motives and tactics.
I guess the challenge is going to be emphasizing what is important without going off the deep-end. I'm not sure I can do that on Republican - or at least Bush Administration - foreign policy, but I'd be willing to have a discussion about domestic policy.