Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Healthcare debate

The Healthcare debate has left me very disappointed in the American people. What a colossal show of ignorance and incivility we've suffered through for the last month. Is it no longer possible to have a civil political discussion? Can we no longer disagree respectfully? Is there no chance of engaging in discourse with the intention of listening and learning rather than shouting down and storming off?

The glee with which the right shut down town hall meetings rather than presenting alternative ideas, the ease with which ideas were dismissed with pejorative words (socialism, facism, Nazi) rather than engaged and dealt with on their merits, the circus-like atmosphere of hijacking meetings with death threats and public displays of weapons, all horrified and shocked me. Even if the nonsense was amplified by the media (which it surely was) even a small amount of that kind of nuttiness deflated a lot of my faith in democracy.

My faith tells me that humans beings have inherent worth and dignity. I believe that, while also admitting that people are not always going to act out of that essential quality. But I also know that if we are going to succeed in the great transformation of society into the realm of peace, love, and justice, that I seek, that it is going to require the cooperation and co-creation of all of us (or at least most of us - we can carry a few with us who refuse to do their share, but these are big goals that require a lot of workers). When I see people who not only don't want to work toward the same goals I seek, but don't even seem interested in the idea of working together with anyone on anything, who seem gleefully happy merely at sowing confusion and mistrust and anger, then I despair as to how we would ever achieve transformational goals.


Tom said...


Check out http://karws.gso.uri.edu/jfk/conspiracy_theory/the_paranoid_mentality/the_paranoid_style.html

Written in 1964, it may not make you feel better, but at least it should make you feel less lonely.

An interesting question is the role of the "paranoid style" in UU culture. We aren't as nutty as the birthers. But we do make the paranoid Theodore Parker into one of our saints.


Bill Baar said...

Sound a bit pompous here Rev. Check Camille Paglia today. You've been in the vat so long, you're pickled as Paglia says.

But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clich├ęs that it's positively pickled.

Mickbic said...

I have a fairly severe hearing loss so I do not watch much television. That has left me somewhat out of the loop as far as the poignancy of misbehavior about healthcare reform. I may have lower expectations from my fellow Americans than you do. I take some comfort in the scriptural observation that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.

Maybe the sociologists will tell us that a little anomie is good for us. The center does not appear to hold most of the time.

Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel of despair.

Bill Baar said...

Tom, It's Hoffstader Liberals can thank for this bad turn Liberals often (and sadly) take.

...there was something dismissive about Hofstadter's analysis that blinded liberals to the legitimate grievances of the populists, the progressives and, yes, the right wing.

The late Christopher Lasch, one of Hofstadter's students and an admiring critic, noted that by conducting "political criticism in psychiatric categories,'' Hofstadter and his intellectual allies excused themselves "from the difficult work of judgment and argumentation.''

From E. J. Dionne's review of a of by David S. Brown's bio of Hoffstader.

Liberals go Rev's Ricky's way here every so often and it's self destructive.