As I drove home from work on Tuesday, I had an epiphany, or what passes as an epiphany for me. As I often do, I began crafting this column during my commute; I wanted to write about how our political discourse has devolved largely into little more than name-calling.
That is often the case. One Facebook friend regularly shares posts from a Facebook paged called “Too Informed To Vote Republican.” I take that to mean no intelligent person would ever vote for a Republican. Another Facebook friend refers often to “low-information Obama voters.” I take that to mean those voters back Obama and his policies because they don’t know any better.
I grow weary of the insults and want no part of the name-calling. My friend Bill is a liberal, an unapologetic supporter of the entitlement state, including the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as it’s commonly known. Suffice it to say, Bill and I don’t agree on much, but we don’t call each other names.
That’s partly because we’re friends who respect one another, but it’s also because we’re not so arrogant as to insist that we’re always right.
And that was my epiphany: Our default position is to dismiss people who disagree with us – to question their intelligence – because we’re certain that we are right. And we must be right because all of the newspapers, websites and blogs we read agree with us.
Perhaps you can see where I’m headed here: Because we want to be certain in our convictions, we cherry-pick the sources of our informed opinions. Liberals watch MSNBC; conservatives watch Fox. Liberals read Paul Krugman; conservatives read Charles Krauthammer.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I read the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal, not The New York Times; I read the columns of Krauthammer and George Will, not Krugman and Maureen Dowd.
But in the back of my mind, I think that, maybe, I could be wrong. Maybe government-run health care is the cure for what ails our health care system. I sometimes think too that if we don’t have jobs for Americans, it won’t much matter how cheap those Chinese imports are; no one here will be able to afford them.
I’m not about to renounce my conservative credentials or switch my party registration from Republican. But because it’s possible that I’m not infallible, I refuse to pass judgment on people who think differently than I do. Besides, debating is much more fun than name-calling. Just ask my friend Bill.