“Liberals” verses “Conservatives” and Our Current Contentious Culture

As I have often said, the labeling names referring to “Liberals” or “Conservatives” can be the “Logical Argumentative” pitfall of a “Generalized Statement” much like using, “Those People,” because there is no defining what the words mean.  The words are as different in meaning as there are people’s perspectives to their meanings.  This is where the discourse begins…..basic NAME CALLING!!

My loyal readers also know I have also stated, “We are the sum of our life’s experiences,” and for the Baby Boomers growing up in the turmoil years of the 1950’s and 1960’s, which had the large influences of whom we are today and how we view, perceive, and handle current events.

Jonathan Haidt is the author of the forthcoming book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, to be published in March 2012.  His current research focuses on the moral foundations of politics and on ways liberals and conservatives can move beyond the culture wars and engage in more civil forms of politics and discourse.  In the book, Haidt explains the evolution of morality, how we evolved to have different morals, and how these differences can bind us together into groups that seek victory, not truth, and blind us to our own predispositions.  In an era of increasing political polarization, he strives to strengthen understanding and dialogue rather than falling back on the usual partisan accusations much like Rush Limbaugh’s statements of, “You just don’t get it!”…as if the person making the statement truly does.

Our country is more politically polarized than ever.  Is it possible to agree to disagree and still move on to solve our massive problems, or are the blind leading the blind over the cliff?  It is our current contentious culture, why we can’t trust our own opinions, and the demonizing of our adversaries. Haidt states, “When it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to compromise.  Compromise becomes a dirty word.”

Haidt goes on to say those coming of age during the 1930’s “Great Depression” and later WWII could disagree politically but still had embedded into them that everyone was in this together for the betterment of the country and were able to move forward through compromise.  I give you the example in the 1980’s of Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan were still able to work together to compromise on issues that they were on opposite viewpoints, because “it was for the good of the country.”

But the “Baby Boomers” grew up in their early years with the damaging extremism of Joseph McCarthy’s making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence.  Then in the 1960’s we had the riots in the streets with the mentality of “US” against “THEM,” “GOOD” verses “EVIL,” “LIGHT” against “DARKNESS.”  Whether it was fighting to keep the Southern “Status Quo” or “Breaking the Shackles” of Racial Inequalities; everyone lined up with regards to their personal perspective.  I might add that both sides stated that “GOD” was on their side with this debated issue.

The “My Country Right or Wrong, or “Hell No We Won’t Go” Viet Nam War divisions also moved into the streets of our large cities across the nation.  Of course what also came from these years were women demanding their voice of “Equal Rights of Employment and Pay,” social advancements, proper application of medical health treatments, etc. and those who wanted to squelch these issues keeping women subversive because it would destroy the “Fabric of the Family Unit.”

So in summation, are the two divisions today going to be able to get past the differences, work together, compromise, and progress forward for the betterment of the country and the citizens of the nation, or are we going to continue to hunker down and block progress with enough contention that the country as a whole will suffer?  If the latter is the case, I know what side I was on with the issues mentioned above and will be very comfortable with the progressive viewpoints I have today….because as the progressive viewpoints won out then, they will eventually win out once again and I am not afraid of the fight needed to get there. 

Being Progressive is why they call it Progress.

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9 Responses to ““Liberals” verses “Conservatives” and Our Current Contentious Culture”

  1. Northwest Ohio Native Says:

    Sorry, I do see how using the phrase “those” people/blogs could be taken as aggressive. I was putting the word in quotes because I thought it was nicer than being more specific. I’ll work on that.

    Want to fall off your chair? I googled Toledo blogs and came across Sepp’s and Mud_Raker’s. I immediately sided with Sepp because I assumed being a Republican we’d have more in common. I read Mud_Raker’s blog because I wanted to see why the other side thought like they did. Nobody was more surprised than me when I found I actually agreed with Mud_Raker most of the time and thought Sepp needed more ……. I can’t think of a polite way to say it now.

    I occasionally still read the “more right” (better than “those”?) blogs just to continue trying to understand their positions and look for common ground.

  2. Engineer of Knowledge Says:

    Hello NON,
    We all can fall into the bad habit of “Generalized Statements” which make for poor “Logical Argumentation” debates.

    See I just gave you an example of a “Generalized Statement.”

    The correct statement would have been, “Most people can fall into the bad habit of “Generalized Statements” which make for poor “Logical Argumentation” debates.

    When we are writing and posting, we need to be aware of these pitfalls because if some debate monitor were keeping score, we would loose points for employing “Generalized Statements.”

    As far as visiting and siding with one blog site as you are a Republican but found yourself agreeing with another, I have said often and teach the message, “Our time here on earth should be one of a self journey of enlightenment….and as we grow, educate, and seek illumination…..truths, facts, and logic will reveal themselves. No one needs to apologize for the corrections along the way.”

    Needless to say I have enjoyed our conversations and exchanges very well. We have a lot in common.

  3. J.O.B. Says:

    EOK- You’ve made this argument before. I don’t understand when Liberal, or Conservative, became a bad word. Liberal means Democrat, Conservative means Republican. Are there other people that give those words different meanings?

    To answer your question(are the two divisions today going to be able to get past the differences, work together, compromise, and progress forward for the betterment of the country and the citizens of the nation). No. Politicians rarely want too admit that they are wrong, or change positions. When they do, they are called flip-floppers, as if it’s a bad thing.

  4. Northwest Ohio Native Says:

    “Liberal means Democrat, Conservative means Republican.”

    That’s no more true than the statement “Muslim means terrorist”.

    I’ve been accused of being a liberal Republican and a conservative Democrat. I like to think of myself as more of a American with compassion, economic know how and especially common sense.

  5. Engineer of Knowledge Says:

    Hello J.O.B.
    This is a good reply and the perfect segway to one of my points in the posting, “Most people will fall and regress to our own predispositions as we approach a subject.” I am no different as I am human too but I try to approach subjects with an open mind and really listen to both sides to make up my own mind of the subject.

    That being said, we all have predigests that we have learned from our total life’s experiences. An example such as I was jumped from behind when I was 13 by another black kid about my own age when I was walking home from a local Firemen’s Carnival. I reacted by shoving my elbow into his gut and I knocked the wind out of him. He then just turned and ran away. I told the local police stationed at the Carnival but they did NOTHING!! To this day I am very cautious when I am out and I carry a very razor sharp locking back, 6” long blade, Buck Knife. My mind will regress with the thought that “I WILL at least follow the blood trail.”

    On the other hand, I cannot allow this instance to be projected to any black young man or adult I meet……but it can be hard not to.

    Just like NON has stated, I too have been accused of being a liberal Republican (RINO) or a conservative Democrat. May I also add that there are many Democrats here in my area with the Southern Mindset that are more conservative than many Republicans I know. They are called “Blue Dog Democrats.”

    Your answer of, “No. Politicians rarely want too admit that they are wrong, or change positions. When they do, they are called flip-floppers, as if it’s a bad thing.” Very Good comment as today you are spot on. That is why I passed on the example in the 1980’s of Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan were still able to work together to compromise on issues that they were on opposite viewpoints, because “it was for the good of the country.”

    Even today many Republican Politicians attempt to liken themselves to the much honored Republican Icon Ronald Reagan, but even he knew there had to be compromise for the betterment of the country. This aspect is what we have lost today and are armed with the binding separation groups whose mantle is to “Only seek victory, NOT TRUTH, which blind us to our own predispositions.

    In my opinion this is the very weak point in the unity, (the Achilles Tendon) of our nation having to deal with the pressing issues of today.

    Just as the lessons from the book, “Art of War” written by the 6th century Chinese author Sun Tzu. Try to conquer from within by causing turmoil among themselves as he who prepares will take the enemy unprepared. With this current divisions to the depth and distances we have today within, along with no concern to work together at all on solutions, we are setting up ourselves to be conquered from outside.

  6. J.O.B. Says:

    EOK & NON- I think we should just refer to ourselves as Fat-Asses….LOLOLOLOLOL. Fat, for the GOP elephant, and Ass for the Democratic donkey. I like it.

  7. Engineer of Knowledge Says:

    J.O.B.
    Fat-Asses…..Hummmm…..I gonna let NON make that call. 🙂

  8. Northwest Ohio Native Says:

    Hey, it grows on ya after a while. I mean my behind grew bigger in the last few years.

  9. mudrake Says:

    The ‘answer’ it seems to me is in the words themselves. The Taliban, al Qaeda and Muslim fundamentalists are in the same boat as the right-wing of the GOP. Each is against progress and change. Each wants to cling to the past. Each denounces [or kills] those who would want to move forward, seek the Truth, and or improve the lives of The People.

    That’s why I’ve always been a ‘progressive’ or ‘futurist.’

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