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What I’d Do About It

The comment referenced below came in for moderation last night at 10:09 PM. Since then, I have wrestled with my conscience to determine whether or not I ought to allow it to see the light of day.

Bill A’s message to me came in response to my “I Hate It” post, where I lament the vicious hatred exposed by the Trayvon Martin case. Bill A quotes me – accurately – as saying ““We’ve reached a point in America where we can’t disagree without presuming that the disagreements are rooted in malice. It’s not enough that I be proven wrong; I have to be evil besides.”

To which Bill A responds:

Yes. So what’s your point, Jim? What do you plan to do about it?

Now, already, “Jim” is a red flag for me, as I have tried to maintain some veneer of anonymity here. The rest of the comment goes on to reference my family and my personal circumstances in a way that would have previously caused me to delete the comment in moderation and block the commenter from ever writing anything again. But times have changed. Now that I write a Deseret News column in my own name – the latest of which is in the paper today and can be read online here – it seems silly to balk at the use of “Jim,” especially since each column links back to this blog. In addition, I’ve referenced my father and my personal circumstances repeatedly in that column, so I don’t really have a leg to stand on if I try to prevent such details from appearing here.

So here’s the rest of Bill A’s comment/indictment, highlighted in green:

This is the place we’ve been headed now for decades. It’s where Democrats have been taking us. It’s where RINOs (including your father) have been letting them take us with little objection.

So how were you fighting these attitudes when you abandoned the GOP and went off to support Sam Granato after they dumped your father for Mike Lee?

I ask this not just as a Utahn, but as a resident of the state senate district you once tried to represent.

Well, there it is.

I want to begin my response by stepping back from the personal nature of the comment and call attention to its stark logical deficiencies, which should be readily apparent to any dispassionate reader. Remember, my “I Hate It” post, and the sentence Bill A pulls from it, focused on the viciousness of our current political discourse, where all disagreements are rooted in the presumption that those who disagree with us aren’t just wrong; they’re evil. Bill A places the blame for this solely on the Democrats, and then he asserts that my unwillingness to be sufficiently partisan is a major contributing factor.

In other words, the way to diffuse ideological hatred is to be more rigidly partisan, excoriate RINOs, and place the blame solely on the left side of the aisle.

Does that make any sense to anyone else? Because it certainly doesn’t make any sense to me.

Of course, I could be blinded by the personal viciousness of the comment, which I will now address in detail. I’ll begin by answering Bill A’s second question – i.e. “So how were you fighting these attitudes when you abandoned the GOP and went off to support Sam Granato after they dumped your father for Mike Lee?”

In my mind, that’s precisely what I was doing in supporting Sam.

I talk about some of this in my Tribal Politics post, but I want to go on record as saying that my work on the Sam Granato campaign was, personally, one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had in the political arena. It opened my eyes to the fact that most Democrats are, in fact, not evil, and that they want what’s best for the nation, too. Indeed, that experience was the direct catalyst for the sentence that Bill A quoted at the outset. On the Granato campaign, I was in the line of fire of the very partisan hatred that I rail against and which Bill A embodies.

Also, for the record, I do not think Mike Lee is evil. I think he is wrong. I think his brand of Tea Party extremism is not what the GOP ought to be championing, and I believe he has proven to be every bit the embarrassment to the state of Utah that I thought he would be. I’m also watching, behind the scenes, as Utah Republicans who agree with me line up to challenge him in 2016. But that’s a discussion for another day.

So to answer the first question, which is the title of this post – i.e. what am I going to do about it?

I’m going to make every effort to presume that people who disagree with me are doing so in good faith. I’m not going to let the fact that someone’s a Democrat dissuade me from acknowledging and appreciating any good ideas they may have. I’m going to refuse to pick my friends on the basis of party affiliation. I’m going to support and work with good Republicans and good Democrats to make a better nation and a better world. I’m going to oppose people like you, Bill A, when you try to advance the idea that the Republican Party has a monopoly on virtue. And I’m going to support you wholeheartedly when you’re right, which, unfortunately, in this instance you are not.

So what are you going to do about it, Bill? Because your comments are emblematic of the problem of which you are a part.

 

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  1. People love labels, and nothing unites like a common enemy. I’ve found it funny when people I consider friends, who really like and respect me in non-political contexts (work, church, etc), find out I don’t adhere to strict party politics and immediately label me as a member of the opposite party they are (most commonly liberal, though I have some liberal friends who would never claim me as one of their own). When you support people, not parties, and are not an ideological purist, it’s a lonely row to hoe.

  2. Have you joined NoLabels (http://www.nolabels.org/)? I can’t remember if it was this site I first heard about them or not, but they are definitely putting forth the right attitude. I just wish they would start discussing the tougher issues (budget, taxes, healthcare, etc), but I suppose all in good time.