The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Invitation to the Dance

I made comments about the nuttiness on the Right that offended and apparently discomfited some of my readers. I tried to make it clear that I believe there is an equal amount of nuttiness on the Left, even if I can't enumerate it as easily (probably my ideological blinders). Ordinarily, I'd leave it as that, and chalk it up to "too much sensitivity."

But I won't. Not today. America is undergoing a seismic shift, a cultural shift, one I richly agree with, in many ways. But this country needs both halves of itself--Right and Left, Conservative and Liberal, Republican and Democrat...or it will die. I've tried hard to make Dar Kush a place where it is safe for people with differing views to express themselves without being attacked, and I wanted anyone offended by my comments to understand, clearly, that I honor your position, and the Conservative viewpoint, even if I strongly disagree with some of the aspects, or some of the people. Trust me: I don't get along with everyone on the Left. My biggest argument with Lefties probably comes from the frequent implication that America is sick. When pinned down, I rarely hear a good answer about who we're sick in comparison to, and the thrust seems to be that since we think we're the best, anything less than perfection makes us the worst. When pinned down on this, the speaker generally gets excited and somewhat childish. Honestly, I've had this conversation a LOT.
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But you have to know that I don't believe either side "has the answers." I believe that we are healthy as a nation when we move back and forth: preserve the past, cautiously step into the future, retreat to what works, try something new, reward the top, nurture the bottom...and so on and so forth. The radical edges, left and right, will never be really happy. Both sides will say we're going to hell in a handbasket. A plague on both houses.
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What I'm trying to say is that today, it looks like America is crossing a threshold I've been praying for my entire life. I do not, in any way, want my joy to be someone else's pain. Even the chance that I forgot that there are tender feelings out there right now gives me pause. I am committed to being more sensitive than that, more perceptive.

I'm dancing, but have no interest in stepping on anyone's toes as I do. Don't worry: in a few songs, it will be your turn to dance again. That's the way this works.

11 comments:

Mike Ralls said...

>Don't worry: in a few songs, it will be your turn to dance again. That's the way this works.<

Truth. Politics is like "The Simpsons." It never really ends. It just keeps going on and on and on.

Gam zeh yaavor. Take it to heart everyone. It's a great truth of life.

Kukulkan said...

"Don't worry: in a few songs, it will be your turn to dance again."

Usually that's the way I feel about our political system. It swings back and forth. However, you also note that "America is undergoing a seismic shift, a cultural shift . . ." I also feel this seismic shift, and unlike you, I don't like the shift I am feeling. I'm not sure what shift you are referencing. If you are referencing the fact that a candidate with African ancestry can run a viable bid for President, I also am happy about the shift. I am not happy about the shift that I am feeling, which is entitlement. I do not believe we are entitled to health care from our government. I do not believe that the 30% of Americans who pay no income tax are entitled to a tax break (i.e., a rebate on money not paid). I do not believe that we should be funding new special interest programs when we have been running a deficit for the last eight years (and most of the years since 1974). Based on what he has said, Sen. Obama wants all of these things to come true. My concerns regarding Sen. Obama, would be greatly reduced if it didn't appear that the Democrats would have solid majorities in both houses of Congress. Given the majorities that appear inevitable, I am afraid that we are faced with real change of a kind I do not want. Given the real shift that I am feeling, I do not think that the balance will ever swing back to the middle. I am very concerned that populism is here to stay. Look at what populism did in Athens. It wasn't pretty.

Brian Dunbar said...

What I'm trying to say is that today, it looks like America is crossing a threshold I've been praying for my entire life. I do not, in any way, want my joy to be someone else's pain.

Don't worry - I don't think Senator Obama's policies will be good for the United States, but I think that if he's elected it's a pretty good thing for us as a country.

I'll share your joy and look for the silver lining is what I'm trying to say.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I don't trust Obama on the eoncomics, either, especially his mistrust of trade, but I do think he's mentally flexible enough to change policy if he finds he's doing something that isn't working.

In any case, I did vote my fears. A pro-torture government scares the hell out of me, and it looks like we aren't going to have one. It may be crazy, but I'll sacrifice the economy and the medical system if necessary to not have a government that's actively vile.

Good point about the depressive aspect of the left.

I love I'm dancing, but have no interest in stepping on anyone's toes as I do. Don't worry: in a few songs, it will be your turn to dance again. Still, I'm hoping that the racist aspect of conservatism is permanently left at the edge of the dance floor.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Thanks. You've in fact always made it very clear that you want both halves of the country around. I still appreciate having the point re-made, though.


--Erich Schwarz

Brian Dunbar said...

It may be crazy, but I'll sacrifice the economy and the medical system if necessary to not have a government that's actively vile.

I agree with you Nancy. However I reserve the right to be sarcastic and bitter should my job get whacked by the economy.

Marty S said...

It is perfectly possible for two faced with the same choice to make different decisions and both be right. In finance there is something called utility theory. It says that a given amount of money has different value to different people. This is pretty obvious because a gift of fifty thousand dollars clearly mean more to someone with no money in the bank than to a millionaire. It also says that not all dollars have equal value to a single individual. A bet with two to one odds in my favor might be very attractive to me if I have to put up five dollars, but not if I have to put up five thousand dollars. The point is this concept of utility can be applied not just to money but any thing else to which we assign a value. Some examples are we have a given amount of money to spend and we could use it feed 100 homeless people or provide 10 families with medical care. Each person would make a different decision as to how we divide this money depending upon their personal relative utility of feeding a homeless person vs providing the medical care.
In this sense both conservatives and liberals are right by their own personal standards.

Dan Moran said...

A very gracious conservative friend of mine called me the day after the election in '04 to point out that elections were cyclic and someday things would swing. So to all my conservative friends, this is just one election.

That said, it's a good day in the Moran household. This is looking like a possible generational realignment, and I do I mostly think that's a good thing.

I watched the Obama "Yes We Can" video again earlier today in between bouts of phone banking. That's probably the best political video since "Daisy," and a damn sight better for repeat business.

Dan Moran said...

In this sense both conservatives and liberals are right by their own personal standards.

You're likelier to attend a different church from your parents than you are to vote differently. Early conditioning runs hard, and most of us got our politics from our parents. Certainly I did. It doesn't seem any less correct to me because of that, but I imagine that's your actual point. :-)

jennihart said...

Hey Dan,

Interesting....I attend the same church my parents did but I definitely do not vote they way they did. Haven't since my first election. We don't discuss politics in my parent's home as it gets very personal, very fast.

Marty S said...

Dan: My parents and both my sisters vote Democratic