Fellow Berean Mark Caleb Smith continues to write eloquently about the need for improving civil discourse, as in our current featured post, yet I fear he will continue to be a voice in the wilderness. While he and I have some disagreements in this area, certainly he is right that a major problem in our current politics is the inability to treat one another with respect–we can’t disagree agreeably.
Naturally, those of us more on the conservative side tend to see this more on the progessive side, and undoubtedly progressives see the reverse. But I do believe its worse on the progressive side, because as Thomas Sowell writes in his book Conflict of Visions, progressives (those falling into the category of what he calls the “unconstrained vision”) highly value intentions; intentions matter more than results. Thus they are often unwilling to grant their opponents good intentions, as this is a high compliment. Conservatives (those of the “constrained vision”) do not value intentions nearly as much, but rather focus on results. So they are much more willing to be charitable and grant their opponents good intentions, focusing their criticisms toward their opponents as misguided and naive.
We can see some of this in the debate over immigration (which flows even into disagreements among Bereans and our readers). To briefly summarize my own perspectives, I tend to be in favor of relatively open borders, and thus would like a pathway to legality for those that want to come to American and work hard and pursue their dreams. However, I am firmly opposed to any pathway to citizenship that rewards those that have broken our laws. Being hospitable to the alien does not necessitate giving them citizenship. Milton Friedman once said you can’t have open borders and a welfare state, and I think he is generally right.
Democrats are now firmly (but not unanimously explicit) in favor of no immigration laws, with many cynically believing this is a way to a permanent progressive majority. As Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chaffee says,
“We’re right on immigration,” said the former Rhode Island governor and senator, during the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in Minneapolis. “The fastest growing voting bloc in the country,” Chaffee added. “Of course we want that people to be treated with respect and to vote Democratic.”
Republicans believe this, and therefore fall into the Democrats trap to portray them as hostile to immigrants. Of course, Republicans are right to be concerned–the data show fairly clearly that not surprisingly poor immigrants will vote for a party that promises to give them goodies. But Republican opposition is then portrayed as not having any legitimate basis, but labeled as–yes, drop the progressive thermo-nuclear bomb–racist. Writing in Salon, and getting his moment of fame by being linked in the Drudgereport, Ilias Isquith targets the Tea Party members specifically,
And if we keep in mind that these folks think the world is ending as it is already, their strategy makes sense. In fact, it’s a real mistake to dismiss these people as lunatics, as their critics, both on the right and the left, so often do. Far as I can tell, these “crazy” tactics have borne them plenty of fruit. Where they break from the rest of the political establishment is in their analysis; that apocalyptic stuff about the end of the republic, the New Black Panther Party, and immigration being akin to “invasion.” But that’s not craziness; that’s racism. They’re different.
Fight on Mark Caleb Smith. You have your work cut out for you.