A big part of me feels like a jackass for posting other people's articles here, both because they are not my original thoughts and because it's kind of a cheap way to go about creating a post. Nonetheless, here is an article that caught my eye today. Pardon me if its theme seems entirely repetitive of those that I have posted here before, but I guess in this election year the endless talk of our American "culture war" is everywhere--even on this lowly site.
The article is from the current issue of Time Magazine and is written by Joe Klein. It discusses the veracity, or lack thereof, of the popular notion that we are a polarized nation in the midst of a "culture war". Are we truly split down the middle, each side dangling its legs off the edges of the political spectrum, or do we just feel like it because the opinions of the select few seem to bombard us from every angle? Oh, and I think I may have let out an audible yelp of joy when I read the Jim Lehrer shout-out. You go, Jim.
It's a nice idea, similar to Barack Obama's keynote speech at the DNC a few weeks ago. We are all Americans, despite our beliefs and political affiliations, and that should--at least in some small way--be a comfort in such an argumentative climate.
At the same time, we clearly have our own opinions. I am most certainly a liberal leaner: I make up my own opinions about issues, "hot button" and not, and it so happens that they often happen to skew towards the left. Growing up in New England I am certainly not alone in my leanings, but sometimes even here there is a sense of shame the accompanies the term 'liberal'. I'm reminded of another recent article I read by Anna Quindlen about the "L" word.
We liberals have fallen on hard times in recent elections...we are not supposed to say our name...But it's worth remembering that today's moderate values were the liberal notions of yesteryear. Social Security. Integrated schools. A war on poverty...We liberals have been shamed into thinking our vision failed, when in fact it has simply been absorbed into the national self-portrait. From the idea that a woman ought to have the same legal rights as her male counterparts to the belief that workers should count on being safe from hazardous conditions, formerly liberal principles have become bedrock democracy.
To be sure, we don't all think alike. We're not quite that Orwellian or Huxleyan (not a word) yet. In many ways I hope I understand the conservative views that normal Americans feel strongly about. I also have no shame in the fact that my conservative brother calls me a "bleeding heart liberal". (He does, thankfully, feel I don't quite warrant his ultimate insult: "tai chi liberal").
Winston Churchill once said "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains."
The fact that we don't all think alike is not a weakness, and it most certainly should not be a selling point for radio hot-heads or ego-driven filmmakers
Today on NewsHour Jim Lehrer had five different commentators, all of whom had their own niche along the political spectrum. They sat and talked about their opinions, listened politely to the ideas of others, and managed to remain civil for an entire 30 minute segment.
We as a people should celebrate our beliefs and have discussions, not yelling contests.