Coming to Terms

JP, I’m not sure where you are headed here, but I will play along. Glad we are still civil. If you are trying to make a case that Americans should be more accepting of the positive role government can play, then we agree, though to differing extent. If you want to discuss the roles polls play in public debate, okay. If you want to discuss how evidence can back up a case for a particular cause, okay.

First, two points about pols. One, they are different than bandwagons. Should a poll show that a corpus of people take a certain position, then that snapshot of opinion is taken. Until you look at several polls asking the same question, you do not have a trend, Next, in any case, it does not convince people (at least is not intended) to change their opinion. And finally, there is nothing implicitly right or wrong to be in any certain opinion group; except, save, for “push polls,” which are hardly any sort of trustworthy media.

Now, let’s look at some data and trends. The fact that the word ‘liberal’ has become a less desirable term than ‘progressive’ should say something. The rise and continued existence of conservative media (however unfortunate and undesirable) is another indicator. And most telling, the most recent election results show that conservatives have become a very real force in our country. There are polls documenting conservative trends in general, and more about particulars, like faith in the Health Care Reform and other policies. I would agree that it’s justified to blame this trend on the conservative media, and that cause may back up that the trend is a shallow one, but facts are facts. Certainly for you and me as well, this is even more unfortunate and undesirable! But beware of becoming what you accuse others of. Jealous, irritated, alright, but do avoid the hypocrisy.

Terms are good, especially ones generally agreed on, if we are to use them in purposeful dialogue. But let’s not reduce the discussion to algebraic logic. We essentially are talking about the public’s faith in government here.

I think one particular that upsets you is the apparent hypocrisy of the public, polls indicate they love their entitlements and public works, but don’t like taxes that pay for them. There are other ironies, too, like how they favor increasing benefits to the rich at their own peril. Next, you marvel at the seeming hypocrisy of the right’s distaste for several of W Bush’s policies.

This is a good place to mention that many of today’s conservatives are not happy with several of the policies of the W Bush administration. In other words, the right does not like to be pigeonholed any more than the left does.  

So what we look for, then, is some sort of justification that people will come to their senses. And here is where defining terms is most appropriate. Most people believe their opinions are sensible, and labels do little to convince. Combat is less fruitful than dialogue. As Churchill said, and I’m sure you agree with him and me, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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