Is debate truly dead? Hear all sides

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As I enter into a phase of my life in which I’m becoming aware that I’m actually older than some people, I’m starting to reflect on some things I never really thought of when I was a young man. One of these things is the phenomenon and, in my opinion, the somewhat false dichotomy of liberalism vs. conservatism.

I use the term “false dichotomy” because I’m perceiving an increase in polarizations among political views to the point that all liberals are being likened to fringe left-wing extremists, while all conservatives are being likened to fringe right-wing radicals. I’m finding that the argument for left or right is being incorrectly oversimplified down to Pelosi vs. the Tea Party.

Further, I feel as though I can read an online article about something as intrinsically benign as, say, kittens, and scroll down to a comment thread filled with liberal- and/or conservative-minded individuals attacking one another by means of hateful and generalized one-liners about abortion, capital punishment or the poor.

TELEVISION IS NO different, either. I can’t think of a single news channel (be it CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or any others) that’s actually in the news business. They are all in the entertainment business, pitting left and right against one another to get people’s emotions invested in the current program being aired (along with its commercials). When was the last time you watched a national cable news channel and actually saw meaningful discourse during which either side agreed that the other side at least had a good point?

I get it: ratings – nature of the beast. It doesn’t mean, however, that we’re all either right or wrong in our “leftist” or “rightist” views. I just refuse to believe it’s that simple.

Moreover, when did “liberal” become synonymous with “Democrat” and “conservative” become synonymous with “Republican”? I know plenty of people who are quite conservative in many ways but also happen to think that we, during the George W. Bush era, spent entirely too much money in the Middle East. Conversely, I know plenty of people who are quite liberal in many ways but also happen to think that Obamacare is nothing more than a trillion-dollar Band-Aid that does very little to actually address why people get sick or unhealthy in the first place.

PEOPLE CAN BE fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and vice-versa. It doesn’t mean they’re inconsistent, either. To me, it may mean they are quite thoughtful and reflective, and have arrived at their views and convictions by means of their own internal logic and volition (not unlike adapting a faith).

I understand the benefits of a two-party system, as did many of the Whigs and Tories after the American Revolution (which is about the earliest back we can trace such a system). I do not understand, however, how rhetoric concerning our system in particular has digressed to a dualistic muddle of cathartic hate toward the “other side.” Why do the fringes have to try to hijack their respective parties?

The next time I disagree with someone, I’m going to try my best not to enter into the conversation with my emotional buttons already pushed. I’m going to try to listen to the other side with reason and the ability (and room) to learn. Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle, and I hope and pray that we and our elected officials remain cognizant of that possibility.

(The writer operates a downtown Augusta optometry practice.)

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/08/14 - 05:52 am
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Myopic View

Assuming the “fringes” have already gained control of both parties, it means the Tea Party is in control of the Republicans. What does it mean about the Democrats? What’s the fringe element that has taken over their party? We don’t mind calling grass roots American Tea Party members extremists, but we don’t want to face the truth about the socialists controlling the Democrats.

deestafford
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deestafford 06/08/14 - 06:31 am
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Why is it difficult to debate and get along?...

Why is it difficult to debate and get along?

Very simple. Since the 1960's the Democratic Party has been trying to destroy the principles of America's Founding. The train of destruction has only picked up steam since then. It is difficult, if not impossible, to name one thing which the Democratic Party stands which is consistent with the Founding Documents and Founding Philosophy.

On the other hand, most of the Republicans (excluding some of the "establishment" mainly in DC) want to preserve the bedrock upon which America was Founded.

The Progressive Movement, starting with Teddy Roosevelt, and really kicked off by Wilson, and became runaway trains under FDR and Johnson, then mixed with Marxism under Obama has taken the country far away from the Founding.

If one looks at what the Democrats have been doing for over 100 years one will see they have done nothing but take America away from being that "Shining City on the Hill". They have tried to make it like every other country and many of us out here are doing all we can to stop that march toward internationalism, multiculturalism, and collectivism.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/08/14 - 06:34 am
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The Tea Party isn't in

The Tea Party isn't in control of anything, they are too small and too fragmented to accomplish anything.

Remember the ACES telling us that the Tea Party candidates that were elected were going to bring sweeping change?

I'm still waiting.

They haven't done diddly squat.

Bodhisattva
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Bodhisattva 06/08/14 - 06:39 am
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Thanks for the Glenn Beck,

Thanks for the Glenn Beck, David Barton (pseudohistorian, the man who never met a quote he couldn't invent) version of American history. Fake American history, but that's their stock and trade and gets the uneducated suckers who don't know any better and believe their claptrap to buy their books.

corgimom
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corgimom 06/08/14 - 06:46 am
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"On the other hand, most of

"On the other hand, most of the Republicans (excluding some of the "establishment" mainly in DC) want to preserve the bedrock upon which America was Founded."

If that were the case, then they would be for abortion and for a separation of church and state, because that's the way it was when our country was founded. And only wealthy white men that held property could vote, and slavery would be legal, and so would beating of children and women.

See how ridiculous your statement is, Dee Stafford?

The country has seen enormous change since the 60's, we aren't ever going to go back to those days. Some of the change has been positive, some hasn't, but that's the way it is.

Personally, I think it's better than when everything was "a Communist plot" and how we had to fight Communism, when the truth is that no you don't, it implodes on itself.

But I have to laugh when I read the postings of people that think we should turn the clock back 50 years, that isn't ever going to happen.
What a futile waste of time and energy.

The world is international and multicultural, and so is the United States, and that isn't going to change. But lots of luck trying, Dee Stafford. Tell me, how's that going? Because you can try to stop that march, but look around you. It's already here, and it's not going away.

stuaby
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stuaby 06/08/14 - 06:48 am
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"...digressed to a dualistic

"...digressed to a dualistic muddle of cathartic hate..."

Wow. Thou waxeth eloquent.

Why is "hate" always brought into the mix? Disagreeing vehemently with someone doesn't mean that you hate them.

Or does it?

What does it really mean to hate someone?

In any case, I suppose that it can be cathartic to call someone an "idiot" when one has made his best case ideologically, to no avail.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/08/14 - 06:58 am
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What The Tea Party Is and Isn't

"The Tea Party isn't in control of anything, they are too small and too fragmented to accomplish anything."

Corgimom, I can agree with you to a point. The Tea Party is a grassroots organization, not a formal group by any means. It is simply folks with common goals of lower taxation and a balanced budget. The letter writer used them as an example of extremists while for the example of Democratic extremists he simply used Nancy Pelosi. He should have pointed out socialists control the Democratic Party.

stuaby
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stuaby 06/08/14 - 06:59 am
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"If that were the case, then

"If that were the case, then they would be for abortion..."

Why is abortion the first thing you have to say about this?

I vehemently disagree with you about abortion! You're wrong!

Now, having spewed those statements, the author's take would be that there is hate involved with that.

But I don't hate you, as far as my definition of hate is concerned.

Your take?

stuaby
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stuaby 06/08/14 - 07:07 am
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"they would be for...a

"they would be for...a separation of church and state..."

Why all the public references to God back then by the statesmen of the time, if that's the case?

stuaby
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stuaby 06/08/14 - 07:16 am
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The author's desires are

The author's desires are noble, I suppose. However, a lot of the things that people tend to disagree over are irreconcilable. Abortion, for example. Core beliefs like this tend to be bundled with other issues that seem as if they are reconcilable; but are not, because the same thing driving the irreconcilable beliefs drives everything else.

Bodhisattva
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Bodhisattva 06/08/14 - 07:38 am
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The Tea Party get tens of

The Tea Party get tens of millions from groups like Americans for Prosperity. Why do you think they got all in a dither about the IRS deal. They still don't have to pay taxes on te money. They jst want to make sure they get to stay listed as a "social welfare organzation" so they don't have to list their donors. They even formed a PAC,, which is their "sucker fund" for the little donors. $4.7 million came in unitemized donations of less than $200. Evidently super PAC's do have to list large donors becuase some poor slob of a used car dealer gave $5,000 and one man gave $15,000. They, however SPENT NOT ONE DIME ON ANY CANDIDATE IN THE ENTIRE YEAR! They blew $5.3 million in "operating costs" for the year, of which Jenny Beth Martin, the founder and head crook of the 2 groups, get her $15,000 per month as a salary. She's the woman who managed to get out from $700,000 in back taxes in almost no time at all. They spend all of the money fundraising and on themselves. That's why the Tea Party gets nothing done. Just remember though, they're not allowed to. They're "social welfare organizations". If they were spending all of their time on politics, like they really do, they have to release donors names. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the GOP started raising a ruckus about the IRS non-scandal at the same time the IRA was starting to investigate 5 big time donors giving millions away to 501(c)(4) organizations and trying to get away with not paying estate and gift taxes (which they do have to pay on 501(c)(4)'s, and a bunch of GOP Congressmen jumped in with both feet interfering with an IRS investigation. More of this will come out even though Issa will try to block it.

deestafford
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deestafford 06/08/14 - 08:07 am
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I sometimes believe cogimom...

I sometimes believe cogimom leaned The Constitution in Obama's "college class". By the way, there statement in The Constitution says nothing about "Separation of Church and State". It's intention was for Congress not to establish a NATIONAL religion. It did not prevent prevent the states from establishing a state religion. As a matter of fact, if you read the preambles of many of the early state constitutions you will see where they reference Christ and his blessings on their state. I encourage you to read the off the record comments of the justice who wrote the majority opinion in that case in the 40's when he misconstruded Jefferson's quote in his letter to the Danville Baptists. If you do that you will see his sinster motive behind his actions.

Nobody is advocating turning the clock back 50 years. What is being advocated is returning to the principles of those days such as no abortions, no out of wedlock births, two parent families, no gay marriage, and love of country to cite just a few. No one is talking about returning to segregation or anything like that.

Bod, David Barton does not make up quotes. He takes his quotes from the original sources rather than what someone said about the original sources. At one time he did as many historians and quoted others as they quoted the Founders and then he changed because he found that to be hearsay in many cases. Sadly, most of the academics still continue to quote others about what the Founders said rather than original sourcing.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/08/14 - 08:32 am
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Bod, About the Tea Party...

There is not a single national “TEA PARTY” organization. As I said, it’s a grassroots movement embracing many issues and many names: Patriot, Liberty, Conservative. There are thousands of completely independent groups across America who consider themselves as being in the Tea Party. There is an organization called the Tea Party Movement that started after the Tea Party movement, but it certainly doesn’t speak for all the conservative organizations or have the power to sanction Tea Party meetings.

historylover
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historylover 06/08/14 - 09:13 am
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Corgimom

Your comments are very well put this morning. Thank you.

jimmymac
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jimmymac 06/08/14 - 10:42 am
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DIVISION
Unpublished

To the writer if you disagree with some one you must hate them. Actually I feel sorry for democrats. Many possess a lack of knowledge about our free market system and wish to destroy the very thing that has made our country great. Obama and his minions have done everything in their power to bring it down. Their belief in wealth re-distribution instead of encouraging people to lift themselves out of poverty is bringing our country to the cusp of destruction. Welfare benefits put in place to temporarily give a helping hand have become generational occupations. The sad thing is democrats encourage this because they're pandering for votes. They could care less about the damage they're doing to the nation because they've always believed the end justifies the means.

Darby
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Darby 06/08/14 - 11:53 am
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"Fake American history, but that's their stock and trade

and gets the uneducated suckers who don't know any better and believe their claptrap to buy their books."

.
Just ONE DOCUMENTED example please??!!!

Just one!

Darby
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Darby 06/08/14 - 12:02 pm
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I'd suggest that a clear example of

"faking" American history might be one where Bergdahl, after deserting and placing American soldiers lives in danger and making at least two propaganda videos for the Taliban is.....

held up as a hero who "served with honor and distinction". Would anyone, without a crisis of conscience, deny that?

myfather15
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myfather15 06/08/14 - 01:05 pm
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Hate? No!!

Dislike? Absolutely!! Every day I dislike leftists more and more; and that is just the simple truth!!

How do you continue to like someone who is constantly calling you names, simply because you disagree with them? How do you like someone who belittles your intelligence, simply because you believe differently than them?

Every time a leftist uses the term bigot, racist, homophobe, sexist and so forth, I want to punch them in the mouth!! Why? Because they say these things without a "SMIDGEN" of evidence and are only using these terms as political WMD's!! So basically, they are LYING about people and calling them names, simple for the sake of politics!! Every time a leftist refers to us as simpleton idiots, who can't think for ourselves because we don't believe in the hoax that is manmade global warming, I want to puke!! Leftist believe themselve to be so superior in intellect and actually claim this; yet the vast majority of them do nothing but copy and paste!! There isn't a single, original thought in their heads!! How do you "like" people, who treat others like that?

So, listen to both sides? No, I've listened to them for years, call me and those I agree with, every name in the book!! I don't care to listen to them anymore!! They make me sick!!

bigj706
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bigj706 06/08/14 - 01:50 pm
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Well his article kept his

Well his article kept his point just bashing no reasoning.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 06/08/14 - 08:03 pm
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The author makes a good point

The author makes a good point that not all people fall under the canopy of conservatives or progressives but they are called moderates or independents. Both Rep and Dem both seemed controlled by the more fundamental conservative or fundamental progressive respectively, and now political ads are no more than psychological warfare and demonization and little to do with policy-as though most people even care -which is just sad. Seems the divide between those two is insurmountable hence the stalemate. This kind of stalemate needs a constitutional fix because nothing gets done. I've often thought that the Vice President should be the loser or second runner up in the election-hence Obama and Romney as Prez and VP. Romney would have little power other than the Senate but it would add some balance.

stuaby
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stuaby 06/09/14 - 09:05 pm
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"This kind of stalemate needs

"This kind of stalemate needs a constitutional fix because nothing gets done. "

But that will never happen. It will take something more drastic for anything to change.

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