It’s not uncommon to get a response from one of my posts that starts out benign to lull me in: “Gary, I agree with a lot of what you say…”
My guard goes down as I enjoy being agreed with, but then they will edge toward a counterpoint: “…but, Gary…”
I lean in (even when I’m reading) to capture what it is that I am wrong about, but very quickly the screw with turn. “…you damn liberals want to put everyone on welfare!”
I really do enjoy debate and I rarely draw first blood, and while my blog may incite opposition, I am careful to use evidence and first hand observations to illustrate my positions.
I am guilty of the occasional joke but I can laugh at jokes about liberals and Democrats, too; what I don’t like are generalizing indictments of progressive agenda (“lazy, liberals hate America”).
Dear Conservative and/or Republican Friends, I have never had a conversation with a liberal or attended a meeting of Democrats where we’ve discussed any agenda to make America a socialist state or to put everyone on welfare.
My detractors must imagine that our meetings go something like this:
“This meeting of the Black Hawk County Democrats and Young Socialists is called to order! Please read the minutes from last week.”
“Um…the Nanny State Committee reported that, unfortunately, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs seem to be working, and with unemployment numbers coming down, we are losing the battle to keep people on the dole!”
“That’s bad news, people! We’ve got to buck up! Has anyone thought to raid Best Buy? If we can deliver more flat screen tv’s to the poor -they won’t look for work! Let’s get it done!”
“Also, the Young Socialists gave a 3 minute presentation on fire safety and neighborhood watch programs and then we watched a short film about foreign policy called, “Wave the White Flag.” Bob Johnson made a motion to include black, yellow and red on our white flags to be more inclusive. It passed unanimously.”
Meanwhile…on the other side of town at the Republican Headquarters, the meeting has also been called to order…
“Let us recite the pledge….I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the Majority for which it stands, one nation, under Reagan, with liberty and justice for all who are just like us.”
“Has the Plutocracy Committee prepared their report?”
“We have, sir. The transfer of wealth is almost complete. Its taken 30 years but the wealthiest Americans—“
“Praise them!” cries a woman in back.
“Yes, praise them! The wealthiest Americans have increased their holdings by nearly 250 percent!”
“Yes….of course…praise them! Koch is risen! We now have 10% controlling 90% of the wealth. The Middle Class is nearly obsolete and the poor….”
(The room stifles laughter)
“…well, the poor continue to get—“
“POORER!” the crowd chants in unison.
“And finally, a big ‘thank you’ to the food and decorations committee who bought this evenings meal with their own food stamps. Thank you, Barbara!”
Okay…perhaps a little too much coffee this morning, but I do have a point. These generalizations are ludicrous. I can cite Corporate Welfare of over 100 billion dollars a year to counter anti-entitlement arguments. We can argue about Social Security, the New Deal, who freed the slaves, and what Biden really whispered to Boehner until the tanned cows come home, and never get anywhere.
We can fight with numbers until we are blue (or red) in the face, however- there is such a thing as truth and there are such things as facts. There are things like respect, humanity, compassion, and there is a capacity to judge right from wrong stored in some primal cavity in our brains. It is stimulated by information.
And the more information we seek from credible sources, the better informed we become to make better decisions that can lead to better changes…and in the meanwhile we can have better arguments and make fewer generalizations.
See you at the next meeting,