Tried to post this in the comments below, but it was too long 🙂

Hmmm, I don’t edit these posts very well, and it shows…the first thing should be omniscience, not omnipotence. And I can see why liberals would feel conservatives are omnipresent & at least trying to be omnipotent.
Kim, my take on things is pretty subjective: I find that when I tune in to liberal politicians & commentators, I’m frequently greeted with a kind of insularity which makes it clear that the person in question isn’t interested in convincing me b/c I’m not worthy of listening or even talking to. On the other hand, if I check out conservatives, I hear stuff like the above which makes me wonder if the person in question has actually gone completely nuts. But neither side has a monopoly on those rhetorical tactics, I’ve felt the same ways about the opposite sides too.
Perhaps because I don’t feel like I fit neatly into either camp, so when either side starts playing the “us against them” game, I’m more often the them. Maybe because I am more conservative or because I tend to listen to and read more liberal than conservative sources, I feel like the liberal’s “them” more often than I do the conservative’s, but conservatives certainly aren’t innocent of this tactic either. And of course, liberals do create straw-icons of their own and charge cons with hypocrisy too–hypocrisy isn’t an illegitimate charge to make, either, it’s just that when it comes to politicians it’s almost too easy 🙂
I couldn’t agree more with Jeff’s second paragraph, but although I like to think I’m usually the opposite of an alarmist, I also find a more upsetting reason for what I see as the recent escalation of rhetoric combined with the decline of debate. Although America is hardly in crisis yet, I think the terrorist attacks on America pushed us towards a crisis mode of thought, and our ongoing low-level war and the threat of more attacks in the future have kept it going. I think the crisis way of thinking galvanizes people into more extreme ways of thinking, into a “fundamentalist” form of what was previously merely a political preference–looking for “salvation” through correct politics as well as for “infidels” to blame problems on and declare a “holy” war against.
Both sides are equally guilty of this–of course, not every member of both sides by any stretch of the imagination, but such opinions have gained a greater prominence and it’s become more socially acceptable to explicitly demonize one’s opponents in public–in ways which, I believe, in calmer times would find a forum only in street-corner rants. It’s obviously not to the point of actual “war” in the way of suppression of alternate viewpoints and so forth, although if devastating enough events occurred here, it could.
In the meantime, however, I find such rhetoric both frustrating and incredibly counterproductive. If this really is a crisis moment, we need more than ever to work together and not start choosing sides for an us vs. them showdown.
Now that I think about it, I don’t recall anyone requesting another crazed rant from me, so guess I’ll pipe down. Thanks very much for the comments–I can’t believe my loony ravings draw such interesting & insightful responses 🙂

4 Responses to “response”

  1. kim says:

    Thanks for your response. In response to your points and Jeff’s below, I wonder how much of the mindless shouting is due to television – especially the 24-hour news networks. When it’s all about getting ratings, 5 second, controversial soundbites are more likely to draw in the viewers than a nuanced, intellectually rigorous debate on issues rather smearing someone’s character. Unfortunately, I don’t know if blogs will make the discussion any more reasonable. So many people just read blogs written by people who agree with them and the rhetoric has a tendency to get even more partisan and ugly (obviously your blog is an exception!). Anyway, I totally share your frustration with the lack of substantive political discussion out there; sometimes I think I can’t possibly grow any more cynical about politics, but I’m always proven wrong.

  2. Jeff says:

    I think there are two things that make your blog different from many others. First, you know most of the people who post in real life. We can’t hide behind our screens and say whatever we want. We are accountable to some extent. I would never “go off” on here, like I might on a Husker football board detailing how evil Steve Pederson is, because Michele would beat me senseless with a wet noodle. Also, and this is crucial to the entire debate, your blog works well because you think faster than you talk. So, even when you go off on a rant, it’s still a well thought-out, and well written rant.
    I don’t want to be an alarmist again, but we are not the country of thinkers that we used to be. To me a mark of leadership is when someone attacks a problem from many sides, really chews on it and then reacts. Now, it seems too many of our leads simply react then think about what they did wrong later. I’m physically exhausted by all of the investigations we need to determined who messed up, how they messed up and how to avoid messing up again.
    Some things are time sensitive, which is where the ability to think on one’s feet is so important. But, if you don’t have that gift, don’t pretend you do. It’s worse than simply taking the time to figure out the correct course of action. For example, I fundamentally disagree with some of Tom Osborne’s ideas. But, I have always respected him as a person. And, the biggest reason I respect is because he never speaks without thinking first. You know what he really believes, even if you disagree with it. It’s so much easier to debate a person you can get a handle on. That all being said, I have a feeling his lack of being able to produce a sound bite might have cost him the primary. He doesn’t connect to many people thses days.
    We have a choice if we want to improve the debate in this country. We can either slow down life in order to prcess more of it. Or, we can speed up our abilities to take it all in. So, good luck with that guys, I’m moving to Mexico. 🙂

  3. michele says:

    Kim: yes, and I suspect people also read blogs that disagree with them so they can build up a good mad & then blow off self-righteous steam in the comments.
    Fortunately, the folks who comment here are all reasonable and non-abusive.
    Jeff, you can rant all you like about Steve Pederson here, although you’ll be the only one here who knows who that is 🙂 Is he the new coach or something?
    I’d vote for Osborne, and I don’t even know what his politics are. Just the fact he always seems unimpressed, not to say slightly bored with whatever is going on (including his various national championships) and doesn’t shoot his mouth off at every opportunity is enough for me.

  4. Jeff says:

    Well, if you knew who Steve waas, you’d be upset with him too. He’s the athletic director at NU, responsible for firing Frank Solich, Osborne’s hand-picked successor. So, if we employ a bit of geometry…if someone messes with someone who likes someone I like, you mess with me. Did I mention I failed logic, twice? Who needs it, I think with my heart.
    Anyway, yes, Osborne is somewhat bored with the competition of man. When someone honestly values other things, higher things, in life, it is easy to see how little they care about winning or losing. Certainly, he wanted to win, but it was always more important how he won, or how he lost. I had a good argument with my 13 year old nephew on that subject just a couple days ago. He didn’t quite “get it.” I really don’t care if it’s a presidential election or a game of Monopoly, it does matter how you win.

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