For once, the Left Angeles Times had something in today's op-ed section that was useful.
In the print edition, the conservative vs. liberal discussion was titled Cross Purposes.
What it really was about is a conservative writer and a liberal novelist writing about why it is so hard to speak with each other.
It is worth linking the liberal first, Diana Wagman because, as a conservative, I think that reading her point of view is instructive.
One has to go only a few short paragraphs to get the thought that because the people her and her husband were having a good time because they were. . .Democrats.
In paragraph five, we find that one of those people had the nerve to say the following:
"The tea party is not racist."
WHOA! Mrs. Wagman was totally taken aback. She could not believe it. And worse, how can a dude married to a Black woman be a member of the Tea Party?
Now it should be noted that while the conversation deteriorated, it appears that a lot of adult beverage passed the lips of those participating.
And that is never a good thing.
Yet as I continued to read Mrs. Wagman, she went on to write about what she thought was so right and logical that it clearly set up the end result:
My views on all these things — gay marriage, abortion, the war in Iraq, healthcare, education, food stamps, even NPR and PBS funding — seem so logical to me. Of course we need to take care of those less fortunate; of course we want everybody to have the joy and legal benefits of a life partner; of course we want every baby to be wanted and every person to be safe, healthy, informed and looking forward to a better future.
Well, of course Mrs. Wagman is in Fantasyland, IMHO.
But would it be a dealbreaker to me to be friends with someone that we had such political disagreements?
For me, no.
But for Mrs. Wagman, her life is her politics. And she just does not understand why anyone would disagree with her point of view.
And how she ends her piece is to me rather tragic:
Next time I drive to our cabin, I'm going to make sure I take everything I could possibly need. I don't want to ask my neighbors for help. I hope it's their weekend to stay home.
Really, Mrs. Wagman? You claim that as a liberal you are the one that is tolerant. That you have the superior ideas. That everyone should agree with that no matter what. Yet when the opportunity is there to engage with someone on the other side, you would rather not.
It is the smugness of the liberal mind.
So, I read with great interest Charlotte Allen and her take as to why it is so difficult to talk to a liberal.
For one, I am totally understanding of Mrs. Allen and her family relations.
She points out that most of her family are liberals.
Same with me.
As I have written here before, I am the only Republican in my family. Living or dead. I am the first and only one that I know of. Talk about being outnumbered!
But bless Mrs. Allen's heart for trying to engage with liberal people. Here how well that works out:
Whenever I advance to them even the mildest of challenges to liberal orthodoxies, on topics ranging from the welfare state to illegal immigration to abortion, I'm greeted with name-calling, obscenities, shout-overs and, finally, the grave-like silence of ostracism.
Yep, that sounds just about my experience with my family mostly.
That is why I have tried desperately to follow the Dennis Prager rule. That it is not worth talking about politics and or religion with family members that you know there is disagreement.
But Mrs. Allen points out that for the liberal, there is not that kind of common courtesy.
The personal is always the political, and vice versa. I nearly lost one of my oldest and dearest friends in 2004 after she forwarded me an email containing an incendiary anti-George W. Bush op-ed by the leftist novelist E.L. Doctorow. Among other charges in the op-ed, which made Bush look about as caring as King George III in the run-up to the Revolutionary War, Doctorow claimed Bush didn't care about the "forty percent" of Americans "who cannot afford health insurance." "Do you really believe this?" I emailed back, pointing out that Doctorow had gotten his numbers jumbled. It was not 40% but 40 million Americans — more like 15% — who lacked health insurance for various reasons back then. It took six years for my friend and me to mend our sundered relationship.
Now note the contrast between the angst of Mrs. Allen nearly losing a long-time friend over some political disagreement and Mrs. Wagman totally dismissing a potential new friend because they were not of the same political mindset. Mrs. Allen was in pain because she did not want a political disagreement to ruin a friendship.
That is humanity at the gut, personal level. Something that Mrs. Wagman really did not show other than in a smug, condescending way.
The rest of what Mrs. Allen wrote is funny and so true to my own experience in dealing with many liberals.
But what both sides need to realize is that at a level of personal relationship, we are not all that far apart.
I firmly believe that we both want the best for our children. Our families. Out neighborhoods. Our cities, states and nation. We just disagree about how to get there.
To me it is not worth it, especially in family relationships, to let this politics stuff ruin relationships.
Yet the first thing is talking with each other.
An example of how this can work is a situation at church that really bothered me.
In the prayers of the people recently, we prayed for two men that were duly convicted and executed.
I was thoroughly bothered by that. I felt that two things were wrong with that. One that we forgot about the victims of the crimes that the two men were executed for. And that we are elevating the two convicted killers over those they were convicted of killing and executed for.
In a discussion group, I talked about my concern. And a member of the clergy was present. I would have to say that other than myself, there was two others that saw my point of view and are marginal supporters of the death penalty. I was the only absolute supporter of the death penalty.
We layed everything out there about it. What we thought and why we believed the way we do. The reality is that no minds were changed. But what was done is we listened to each other. We did not diminish any one's thoughts or feeling on this most contentious subject.
The problem is that when people are so convinced they are right that they do not want to hear that maybe, just maybe there is another point of view.
What I got out of the two articles?
That the liberal writer, Diana Wagman, is a caricature of liberalism, pure plain and simple. She wants to be be in her cocoon of a liberal world and not recognize that there is maybe another way of getting to the same place.
That the conservative writer, Charlotte Allen, has the more open mind. That she wants and seeks to have many friends no matter their political point of view. That a political disagreement should not end a friendship. One willing to give the other side that benefit of the doubt.
If we can not agree on how to speak with each other, then how are we able to have the discussion to begin with?