If we are to honestly engage and discover the “other” side, political, economic, religious, or one of the other measures by which our society is divided one thing has to be set aside, which alas is hard to do. It is easy to decide that the “other” side are stupid or evil, and they are by and large no more stupid nor evil than any other side of the fray, with of course a few obvious exceptions. From my comments yesterday,

I believe that the truest measure of a society is how they treat those who are least able to defend and to speak for themselves.

How a Republican could say that with a straight face is beyond me.

“Bravely fighting for tax cuts for the rich” would be a little more… true.

The Democrats, the progressives, and the GOP all share concern for the poor and “those who are least able to defend and speak for themselves”. It is true, on both sides, there are stupid people and there are evil people. And one can likely argue endlessly about which side has a smidgen more of which and which particular individuals are stupid or evil.

If one suggests, for example, that private charity is a better approach generically to dealing with the less fortunate in our midst than broad stroke applications of OPM administered by “somebody else.” That doesn’t mean either the person who favors the big OPM approach vs the private approach have a different concern for the unfortunate, but that they differ on what is the best and the most effective means. Alternatively on one side, one might suggest that strong long term economic growth is better for the poor than tepid or slow growth.

Mr Obama, Mr McCain, Mr Cheney, Ms Pelosi, Mr Bush, and Mrs Palin none of them are stupid or evil, and this lesson should be remembered by all of us. What those on the “other” side don’t share with the rest of us are the same fundamental differences in our divides. Additionally of course, the “sides” themselves are far more complex than we like to pretend. There is no monolithic “GOP” view on the best solution to the problems that face the nation as there is no “monolithic” progressive one. We all see basically the same moral, ethical, and material world. However, there are a number of different assumptions one can make about how to order those things we see. But if we keep in mind that those who disagree with us on what is the “best” set of assumptions are just as smart and good (or not stupid and not evil if you prefer) as ourselves.

For example, in my recent essay (and follow-up) on healthcare, in which I noted that healthcare is certainly nothing like what I understand to be a right, it was pointed out that the costs of certain ideas on healtcare and new poverty-fighting programs match or exceed the current national budget. My notion is that the best thing would be to cut healthcare costs, suggesting that a one or two order of magnitude reduction of the costs involved in healthcare would be a far better way to insure that everyone gets it, because given that those costs are impossible … it’s actually more likelyl the only way that everyone will get it. I oppose nationalizing healthcare and healthcare insurance, and in fact, most healthcare regulation because I think those are the biggest obstacles to innovation in healthcare which is the only way those costs will come down. But that doesn’t mean either the person who is for nationalizing healthcare or me (who is against it) differ on motive, i.e., we all want everyone to have the quality and quantity of healthcare they desire … just the means to that end. That argument can be repeated almost universally across the board.

Filed under: Mark O.You Cry Out

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