Let’s face it, America. We need some serious couples counseling! Democrats and Republicans have grown so angry with each other we are like an unhappily married couple bickering over every little flaw we see in our spouse. Republicans are racists! Democrats are baby killers! You didn’t put the lid back on the toothpaste! I’ll kill you.
We need to somehow decide what the big issues are and what the little issues are. What can we agree to disagree on? And what are the hills that really must be defended?
Right upfront, you should know that I am a conservative. The posts you’ll see on this site are written to explain some of the problems I see with the Left. But I want my audience to be inclusive. I want liberals to respond. Tell me why you are upset with what I said. Link to resources where I can better understand your point of view. And don’t get upset if you don’t win me over. I’ll do my best not to be mad at you, too.
That said, here are a few guidelines for everyone.
Before you make an argument, ask yourself why you feel upset.
Are you mad about this particular issue or are you angry because of other things that the other side has done or said? Don’t fall into the ad hominem fallacy. “They believe in abortion, therefore, everything they believe must be wrong.” Or “They want to take away my rights over my body! They can’t be trusted on anything.” Don’t automatically disagree just because the other side believes it. Keep in mind that the people on the other side are people. Generally speaking, they are right from time to time. Your hatred of a person or group cannot alter a truth. A person may hate his wife to no end, but it won’t change that fact that she was right to say they needed to make their mortgage payment on time.
Stick to one topic at a time
This point is related to the first one. Make sure you’re not letting the fact that you disagree with the other side on one issue cloud the issue you are discussing. Examine one issue at a time. Read a variety of sources. Analyze the information. Question the bias of those sources that provided the information. Put aside your distaste for the other side. Then, make a comment. And for Pete’s sake, don’t bring up some other issue that’s not related. That’s called a Red Herring tactic. Stay focused on the topic at hand, and if you start to realize you’re losing on that topic, then accept it! Be humble and say, Hmm. You know what? You have a point.
Expect to be offended, but realize that you can get over being offended very easily. It’s called being an adult.
Someone will say something that will absolutely piss you off! This is guaranteed in today’s polarized world. Just expect to get offended. But also expect to respond maturely. Even if you don’t win an argument, your tone could win a heart. And if you insult your interlocutor, you will lose the battle. So use good language. Try to keep the f word to a minimum. Sometimes, it’s the only word that really expresses your frustration, but do your best to avoid it and other curse words because they add nothing to your argument. When you’re commenting, take a break before you hit the post or send button. Walk away a while. The angrier you were when you wrote the comment, the longer the break you should take. If you felt like killing someone when you wrote the comment, better sleep on it. Wake up the next morning and have a good breakfast. Pray, (or meditate or something if you don’t believe in God) and then read your comment again.
Listen to the opposing person or read carefully the comments from the other side
Nothing’s worse than arguing with someone who doesn’t listen. I can’t say how many times I’ve argued with my wife only to realize that she wasn’t listening. She was just preparing her next argument or attack. If you listen closely, you may realize that you’re saying the same thing just in different ways. Honestly, we think of the line between left and right as being linear. But the truth is, it’s circular. If we go far enough to the right, we end up meeting those who went way far off the left. For instance, some Bernie Sander’s supporters and and some Trump supporters have a lot in common. Don’t think that just because they supported one candidate means you’re going to disagree on everything.
Examine yourself and don’t be so haughty
I believe that at the heart of our differences lies two competing world views. One worldview says that human nature if flawed. We are not perfect creatures. We do bad things and we need guidelines, God and a larger community to help us follow the right path. This is really the idea espoused by Judeo Christian tradition. The other worldview seems to think that humans are generally good and if left alone, they can make their own right moral choices and everything will be fine. What is your starting point? Which view of humanity do you take? Many of the arguments we’re discussing, especially the moral arguments, lie here. Examine yourself. Do you believe you are a good person and that you are probably more moral than other people. If you do, I’d urge you to reconsider. Humble yourself. Look inwardly at your own flaws. Think of what you have said or done to hurt others in the past. Okay. My cover is blown. I’m a conservative who is fully aware of his imperfections. I don’t judge others. I mean, I don’t say “that person needs to go to hell” but I do evaluate others based on their words and actions. We all do. If we can evaluate ourselves too, maybe we will have more empathy when we respond to others.