Saturday, June 26, 2010

Perspectives on a Manifesto - Part 1

Several friends have suggested that I read Ron Paul's book "The Revolution: A Manifesto" since the beginning of his 2008 campaign. Because the campaign is long over and these are my personal opinions about the issues and the underlying philosophies, rather than the candidate, I feel confident that I'm in no danger of violating the 1939 Hatch Act by putting my thoughts about this book here.

I do feel I am in danger of being misunderstood, however, based on some of the reactions I tend to provoke. To avoid that, I'd like to address some remarks commonly made by my readers in past discussions. If you have ever said any of these things, please rest assured that I am not singling you out, as the word "commonly" should indicate that more than one person has made the same comment in different contexts. (Hard as it may be to believe, you are not my only friend.)

So, if you've ever thought or said these things while reading my past discussions, please consider these points while reading my upcoming posts. It will save us both a lot of frustration if you do.

I just think ____ are so SMUG! Whatever you fill in that blank, you're probably right. People who believe strongly in their cause tend to sound overly confident about it. I apologize if I sometimes sound condescending, but there are times when I feel pretty confident about what I'm saying, or feel it is appropriate to use humor to express that idea. It's important that you, as a reader, recognize that your perception of my attitude (or the attitude of whomever we are discussing) doesn't change the substance of the argument. Often, though, the "smug" accusation is aimed at other who are beyond my control; all I can say is, I'm not them, so don't blame me for their attitude. In any case, attitude does not equate to right OR wrong, so don't be such a crybaby and address the ideas, not their presentation.

You're BIASED! or You just think you're right and everybody else is wrong. Well, yes. Everyone is "biased"...and why would I say anything at all if I didn't think I had something worth saying? As for my biases, I think I make them pretty clear. But don't mistake my chosen role as "devil's advocate" for "taking sides"... if I'm arguing with you, I will very likely disagree or contradict you a LOT before eventually making up my mind about your ideas. Don't give up too easily, unless you already know you're full of crap. ;)

You LIBERALS believe THIS.... Don't put me in a box, and then attribute everything OTHER people say to me. If you think my ideas or my logic are flawed, then address them. But don't fool yourself into thinking "his idea sounds like this group's position, so he must be one of them..." Don't waste our time arguing with people who aren't involved in the discussion at hand.

You're a HYPOCRITE because... Sometimes, I am confusing. Sometimes, I change my mind about things. I am only human, like you. claim to be "centrist", but you spend all your time attacking MY side. Sometimes I don't have time to waste slamming "the other side" just so you can feel like I devote "equal time" to "both sides". Part of that is your own fault for locking yourself into a "both sides" mindset when the truth is that there are far more than just two sides to the story. Most often, I "attack" (your word, not mine) the group that I feel should be on MY side, but has failed. I am also an opportunist; I only really pay attention to what drifts across my radar screen. Not only that, but when I take a position - such as being opposed to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, which will be discussed later - even though there is strong opposition from both liberal and conservative ends of the spectrum, the immediate assumption is that I'm taking that position because of the liberal agenda. This is a mistake on your part, not hypocrisy on my part. make arguments based on things you don't believe in. I don't think many of you have caught on to this, but I often build an argument out of ideas that I don't consider to be valid. For example, I am not a Christian, but I will cite scripture in my discussion; usually I do this because there is some religious element to the issue at hand, and I want the Christians I am speaking with to understand that there is a Biblical basis for a position that I am taking. It doesn't always matter why someone believes a particular way, but if we can agree on a position or solution, that's the outcome I'm looking for.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, as far as I'm concerned, we are not enemies. I don't even consider most of the things we are talking about to be "political" - because politics is all about negotiating and horse trading to take these philosophies and put them into practice. I'm really only interested in the underlying philosophies, and consider all of the partisan bickering to be a distraction from that discussion.

Now, let me get to work on that discussion...

No comments: