On Impugning Motives
I'd long resisted creating a blog myself. I finally decided to create The Polite Liberal because I was worried about the tone that political discourse in this country was sinking to. The most obvious problem is the hurled insults--it's hard to talk about policy when conservatives and liberals are simply seeing who can scream about "liberal elites" or "redneck racists" the loudest. There's a second problem, though, which is at once more subtle and more damaging.
The problem is that neither side is willing to assume that the other side is being honest about its motives. This leads liberals to screech that the war in Iraq is an excuse to grab that nation's oil, or conservatives to suggest that gun control is a prelude to seizing all guns in the country and imposing tyranny. It led a previous commenter on this site to write, in the middle of an otherwise reasonable disagreement with my last post:
"Is it possible that they are using my hard earned money to buy votes, to create a class of citizens dependent on the federal government? "
This sort of thing makes honest debate impossible. If we really want to debate policy, we have to assume that both sides are acting honestly, and are genuinely trying to create a better United States of America. We strongly disagree as to the means, but very, very few of us (on either side) are acting dishonestly. You can argue that welfare doesn't help the poor (this was in fact the thrust of the aforementioned comment), but not that liberals don't intend it to. These are all matters about which good people may in good conscience disagree.
Those of us on my side are political liberals, not the fifth column of the Red Army. Those of you on the other side are political conservatives, not aspiring brownshirts or corporate shills. We are all of us Americans, here. Let's act like it.