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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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12 Comments

  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.

    • I did join NoLabels and then dropped out when they started quoting Paul Krugman, who is as far from a NoLabels-y guy as you can get. Before that, I found them to be pretty vapid, overall. The rallying cry of “We ought to do something!” becomes pretty tiresome when it’s clear that you’re not willing to advocate any specific somethings that ought to be done. For my part, it’s not that I don’t have an ideology – I’m predominantly conservative and fairly Republican, although I think the GOP is up in the night re: immigration and, for the most part, health care.

  3. “I’m going to make every effort to presume that people who disagree with me are doing so in good faith.”

    Yet you didn’t do that with my 95 word comment. You assumed the worst. I’d like to respond to some of your other points and accusations, but I don’t have the time right now to do so.

    And for the record, I do support people rather than parties. I’m not certain what defines an ideological purist, but I’m certainly not a partisan.

    Thank you for responding, though.

    • “Yet you didn’t do that with my 95 word comment. You assumed the worst.”

      In what way have I misrepresented you? Is there a way to interpret accusations of RINO-ness that isn’t pejorative? Have I attributed to you any position that isn’t present in your initial assault?

      • “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.”

        “Partisan hatred.” None here.

        I think that liberals are wrong more often than conservatives (obviously – otherwise I’d be a Democrat), and I think that they are generally less civil, but I don’t think that they’re all uncivil nor do I give conservatives a pass.

        If you felt partisan hatred directed to you while working on the Granato campaign then it may have been because Republicans felt you abandoned the GOP out of spite, after they had sent your father to Washington for 18 years, your grandfather for 24 years, and after you, yourself, had run as a Republican in (iirc) 2006. That was certainly my interpretation of your decision – you expected Republicans to fall in line when your father won the nomination, but abandoned us when we gave it to someone else.

        Seriously, I did not intend in my comment to rehash the 2010 senate race, but in the context of the blatant politicization of Trayvon Martin’s death, it was hard to ignore.

        • “Partisan hatred. None here.”

          Nonsense. Earlier you wrote:

          “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.”

          You used a deliberately insulting partisan and, yes, hateful term to describe my father. You attribute hatred in politics entirely to Democrats, refusing to acknowledge Republican participation in the problem beyond their letting Democrats lead us to this hateful place. There is no reasonable way to interpret that paragraph as anything but an expression of partisan hatred.

          “I think that liberals are wrong more often than conservatives (obviously – otherwise I’d be a Democrat), and I think that they are generally less civil, but I don’t think that they’re all uncivil nor do I give conservatives a pass.”

          Again, to quote you – “It [i.e. the place where people demonize their ideological opponents] is where Democrats have been taking us.” You cannot reconcile your current tepid qualifications with what you initially wrote. You placed all the blame on Democrats and only excoriated conservatives – actually, RINOs – for letting it happen.

          “If you felt partisan hatred directed to you while working on the Granato campaign then it may have been because Republicans felt you abandoned the GOP out of spite, after they had sent your father to Washington for 18 years, your grandfather for 24 years, and after you, yourself, had run as a Republican in (iirc) 2006. That was certainly my interpretation of your decision – you expected Republicans to fall in line when your father won the nomination, but abandoned us when we gave it to someone else.”

          I did indeed, although I think the abandonment was mutual. Anyone attending the GOP State Convention in 2010 and hearing the vicious chants and cheers in the crowd when my father lost would recognize that this was a party in which my family was no longer welcome. That’s been tempered in the intervening years as many of the extremists that voted my father out failed to win reelection as delegates. As to whether I did it out of “spite,” well, I don’t think I did, and furthermore, I don’t much care if you think I did.

          “Seriously, I did not intend in my comment to rehash the 2010 senate race, but in the context of the blatant politicization of Trayvon Martin’s death, it was hard to ignore.”

          It was? For my part, I can’t see any possible connection between Trayvon Martin’s death and my work on the Granato campaign. Pretty easy to ignore, really.

  4. I’ll add something else for your consideration. My reference to your father as a RINO wasn’t in regard to any of his positions on various issues – taxes, abortion, whatever. I’m thinking more in terms of the command by Flannery O’Connor to “push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”

    Culturally, too many of our politicians have been surrendering in that war, happy to do so as long as they can get a few more tax cuts for the rich here and a porkbarrel project there. That Mike Lee is imperfect is a given. He’s a politician. But he has refused to let the Left set the terms of acceptable debate, and for that I give him credit.

    • “My reference to your father as a RINO wasn’t in regard to any of his positions on various issues – taxes, abortion, whatever. I’m thinking more in terms of the command by Flannery O’Connor to “push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”

      So calling him a Republican in Name Only had nothing to do with his entirely mainstream Republican positions, but rather some tenuous link to something “in terms” of a Flannery O’Connor statement? That’s bizarre and impenetrable reasoning. And how is one to interpret RINO as anything but a deliberate insult?

      “[Mike Lee] has refused to let the Left set the terms of acceptable debate, and for that I give him credit.”

      He has made a lot of fiery speeches, yes, and in the process alienated nearly all of his colleagues, advanced no legislation with any hope of passage, and essentially abandoned the state that elected him. (Not a single one of his DC staffers is from the state of Utah.) Regardless of “the terms of debate,” he has accomplished absolutely nothing and advanced the cause of Utah and/or conservatism not at all. He doesn’t deserve a lot of credit for any of that, I’m afraid.

  5. The “mainstream Republican positions” that precipitated the 2007/08 financial meltdown, got us stuck in Iraq & Afghanistan for a decade plus, and which have left us with 12 million illegal immigrants at a time of plunging wages and a Democratic Party all too willing to exploit racial animosity for their own gain?

    It’s the mainstream Republican positions that are the problem. You stated above that Republicans are “up in the night” with regards to immigration. Really? When millions of foreigners and their employers violate our laws with open contempt? When we already allow 1.1 million people to come here legally every single year? When we’ve more than tripled legal immigration rates since the ’70s? When we’ve added over 70 million people to the US population in just the last 25 years, 2/3rds of the direct or indirect result of immigration?

    Do you have any idea how insane most Democrats and many Republicans are on that issue alone?

    Wow. Thanks for chatting.

    • “The “mainstream Republican positions” that precipitated the 2007/08 financial meltdown, got us stuck in Iraq & Afghanistan for a decade plus, and which have left us with 12 million illegal immigrants at a time of plunging wages and a Democratic Party all too willing to exploit racial animosity for their own gain?”

      Seriously, you’re all over the map here. Initially, you said you weren’t calling him a RINO for any of his Republican positions, and now you’re calling him a RINO for his Republican positions…? You’re inconsistent to the point of incomprehensibility.

      “It’s the mainstream Republican positions that are the problem. You stated above that Republicans are “up in the night” with regards to immigration. Really?”

      I have no interest in debating immigration with you. I stand with the LDS Church on this issue – see http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/55974230-90/church-faith-immigrants-immigration.html.csp – and not with you or Senator Lee.

      “Wow. Thanks for chatting.”

      No partisan hatred, huh? Please.