Leftists, Rightists, Centrists--Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

I just finished reading Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, and I’ve gotta tell you, every page I turned got me angrier and angrier about the political polarization of this country and the agendae of the opposing factions of right and left. I know this has probably been debated many times before, but I feel the need to discuss this.

At the outset, let me just say that, for my part, I consider myself a little left of center. Therefore, I will start with the conservatives (don’t smirk, lefties, I’ve got a bone to pick with you, too!). For example, let’s take two “hot-button” issues–a woman’s right to reproductive choice and same-sex marriage. Now, if we are to take you at your word regarding your personal moral values, it would seem that neither of these issues directly impacts you. Why, then, do you constantly try to impose your values on the rest of the populace through lawsuits and legislation? Let me give you an example: a lot of people dress badly. My senses are offended by some of the clothing combinations some people wear. But I’m certainly not going to pass out petitions and try to enact legislation demanding that everyone subscribe to my taste or suffer legal consequences! This issue is between the sartorial offender and his/her mirror. By the same token, if you don’t believe in abortion, by all means, don’t have one ! But please respect the rights of the rest of us as adults to make an intelligent, informed and highly personal decision for ourselves. And as far as same-sex marriage goes, I have one question: What the hell do you care? I mean, what’s the divorce rate now, something like 50%? It seems that your definition of marriage isn’t exactly foolproof. Why then do you insist on denying commited same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections the rest of us enjoy? No one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you or your children into a same-sex relationship, so what does it matter to you? Remember my example above about the clothing? You have every right to be offended; you do not have the right to turn that offense into laws to make the rest of us toe your moral line!

Now, for some of the “liberals” out there–your brand of “political correctness” is really getting out of hand. I am not a religious person by any means, but I am certainly not offended by the display of a Nativity creche, even in a public park, and I doubt that most people are. It’s not like there are bands of armed Christians dragging you in front of it and forcing you to your knees to worship at it! And now there’s controversies about the display of the Ten Commandments. I don’t know about you, but apart from the “I am the Lord thy God” one, aren’t these the basis for most of our laws? Not to mention some pretty good rules to live by?
Don’t we have more important issues to worry about, like the economy, loss of personal liberties, crime and violence, and the growing apathy among the rest of us that allows this kind of insanity to go on? Can’t we all just agree to disagree on the moral issues and focus on what’s really important in this country, like jobs at a good wage, affordable housing, reducing our dependence on fuel imports, and realizing that there’s more to being a strong nation than just the ability to kick butt?

We have three inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. With those in hand, we can probably figure out the rest.

OK, you’ve got theft, murder and perjury get covered, but the other seven?

I probably should have clarified that: the basis for most of our criminal laws. And if I’m not mistaken, most laws protecting people from criminal acts involve theft and murder of one sort or another. As far as the rest of the commandments, they fall under the category of “good rules to live by”.

While that may be true, much of what we think of as progress in government since the Middle Ages has consisted of purging our laws of the influence from the other 7 commandments.

The problem I have with the left is primarily rooted in the idea that the world should be remolded into what is “fair” and politically correct, with the folks on the left getting to decide what is both. This way of thinking leads to generally naive and unworkable ideas for economy management, income redistribution, regulation, etc. At the moment, I can’t think of a single idea or policy goal from the far left that I agree with except for more money for education and job training.
The problem I have with the right is in the social arena. I believe that abortion should remain legal, but it shouldn’t be used as last ditch birth control. I don’t like being told what I can watch on television or that I can’t buy alcohol or lottery tickets because they offend other people. I also think that the whole “deportation” idea for the illegal immigrants is intellectually harsh and physically unfeasable. I don’t think that more tax cuts are a good idea with everything that’s going on. I would like to see some effort to reduce spending to get the budget defecit under control. I could best describe myself as a conservative with libertarian leanings. Yet to hear some posters on this board tell it, I’m to the right of Hitler, toasting evil while standing on the backs of the poor and downtrodden. And it’s that intolerance to ideas and idologies that disagree with your own that is at the heart of the rancor on this board and in the country in general. “What, you don’t agree? You must be an idiot!”

Don’t get me wrong…I think the further you get toward either extreme, the more unworkable your ideas become. But given the makeup of the board, I rarely see a far-right example of idological overindulgence. (Since each persons perspective is hs own, I’m sure someone will provide an example of a moderate idea and call it “right-wing”…but most of you get what I’m trying to say.)

Including Honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy?

There are two objections: the first, already covered, concerns the stuff that is not proper in a society without an established religion. The second is that the source of our laws, including the ones we all agree with, is our society, not God. There were prohibitions against murder before the 10 Commandments, whether you think they started during the Exodus or later. The only reason to give them special preference is an attempt at establishment. Having them as one item in a history of law seems to be different and constitutional.

I expect you can come up with some stuff the left believes in that is more amenable to criticism than this. It’s not like anyone is perfect.

Thing is, lots of political partisans want to take away my liberty. Why should I get along with people who want to take away my right to control my body (abortion) or my right to own a weapon? I can’t consensus with people whose beliefs directly contradict what I consider to be my “God” (for lack of a better phrase) given freedoms. More and more, I’m seeing all stripes of political slants as my enemy; both “sides” (which are when you come right down to it the SAME side) are in the business of installing a nanny state, just that they have different ideas about what it should consist of. They’re both in the business of propping up this twisted brand of capitalism we swear by that is killing civilization. But then again, I’m not on either of the political “poles” as they exist in America, nor am I a centrist. But no, we can’t “let the moral stuff go.” In many cases, as with abortion, it directly affects the liberty and rights of people. I can’t consensus with anyone on the cracked-out bipolar political spectrum, but I especially can’t consensus with people who want to take away my control over my own body. It’s not a piddling issue.

Also I am getting pretty sick of the misappropriation of the phrase “political correctness” on these here boards. Nobody but the most diehard militaristic atheist is “offended” by a Nativity scene on private property. What people object to is having displays of religion on public grounds paid for by public money, without any supplemental (i.e. non-Christian) displays on site as well. Can you find polls saying that even a sizeable minority of liberals are antagonistic toward religion, except that they don’t want it in schools and courtrooms? And what does this have to do with “political correctness”?

They do want me to pay for it, however. They also don’t want to pay to air the opposing view; I can imagine the reaction if a list of atrocities committed in the name of religion was posted next to that nativity scene, for example.

They are not the basis of our laws. Besides, that commandment alone is bad enough for me, since I regard religion as utterly evil and irrational. Not to mention, it preaches hatred of all other religions by declaring them false and itself true.

As far as the others; honor your mother and father ? What if they are child abusers ?

Thou shalt not steal ? What if you are starving ?

Then there’s the one that equates wives and mules.

The prohibition on graven images is silly; should we blow up Mount Rushmore ?

Why should taking the name of a god in vain matter ( whatever that means ) ?

Why should “breaking the Sabbath” matter to an unbeliever ?

Thou shalt not commit adultery ? What about open marriages ? What if husband and wife have an arrangement of some sort ? And why is it our business, anyway ?

No perjury ? What if it’s the modern version of the Nazi SS questioning you ?

All those are things the Right opposes.

Don’t blame Al for reporting the unpleasant truth. You may also want to read Al’s psuedo-sequel, The Truth. It’s a bit more concliatory and less heated, which sounds like something you’d appreciate.

Dopey me, and here I thought one of the principles of our nation is the protection of the minority from abuses of the majority. Saying “most people won’t mind” is a limp-wristed way of dodging around the matter.

The thing I don’t understand is why the religious zealots (by which I mean the folks who are gung-ho for government endorsement of their faith) appear to be so insecure in their beliefs that they feel personal expressions of religion aren’t sufficient. I mean, if my neighbor is so golly-gee grateful for Jesus that he wants to share it with the world, why can’t he just build a ten-foot cross on his lawn, complete with matching nativity diorama or something? What is with this need to require the (ostensibly neutral) government to endorse it as well?

Sure, but that’d require tolerance on the moral issues, which is a non-negotiable point for a lot of conservatives. When you look at the hot-button issues like gay rights, or abortion, or separation of church and state, it’s the die-hard conservatives who reject all attempts at “agreeing to disagree.”

The post right above mine is why we can’t all just get along.

That is, Der Trihs’ dishonest screed. We can’t have an honest dialogue because everybody is too busy accusing people of stuff that’s untrue.


That was funny. But did you mean **rjung **or Der Trihs? Could it be… both? :slight_smile:

It’s usually both, and I haven’t had it out with rjung for a while so it’s tempting to say so, but no, it was Der Trihs’s post that I was referring to.

I had to comment on this portion of your post. If we are to assume that abortion carries no more moral significance than dressing badly, your analogy is fine. However, if you proceed from the assumption that the act of abortion murders a human being, as many people do, it doesn’t make sense. Would you ever say, “If you don’t believe in wife beating, by all means don’t beat your wife” and leave it at that? Or would you support a law banning wife beating regardless of the perpetrator’s opinion on the subject?

First, to Voyager : I forgot about the “Sabbath day” commandment. Obviously that has no place in a society based on religious liberty. Sorry 'bout that. Regarding the other commandments, unless you believe that God actually handed Moses those stone tablets, the commandments (except for the two already mentioned) came from the mind of man, and are derived from those pre-Mosaic laws, so they truly are “society’s” laws.

Avenger , you make a good point about “P.C.”. I was simply talking about the micromanagement of people’s “sensibilities”–the same micromanagement that has made its way into the private sector. For example, the use of “holiday” instead of Christmas or Easter; those terms were good enough for years, and now everyone is being overly sensitive about excluding anyone . I grew up with Jewish friends who had a Christmas tree in their house–they weren’t offended by the concept.

One thing, tho’: I never said we should “let the moral stuff go”. Obviously anything involving personal liberty is not a “piddling issue”, and I spent a good portion of my original post railing against those who would curtail those liberties. I was addressing both sides when I said we should agree to disagree and get on with the more important issues that impact society as a whole.

I don’t care who started this partisan antagonism we’re mired in; I just want to find a way to end it.

“Dishonest” ? How ? I may be in error on occasion, but I’m almost compulsively honest; it gets me in more trouble than lying would.

I didn’t want to turn this into a debate on reproductive rights, but if I may be permitted a rebuttal: Whether or not a fetus in early development is a viable human being is a matter of personal belief and/or conscience. The laws concerning domestic violence and battery already cover the wife-beating issue.

Apples and oranges, as they say.

Do you think that the majority of people who would like the commandments outside law courts want that because they feel they’re a shining example of society’s laws?

I wouldn’t want the commandments outside the courts in my country (i’m not American, but your law system and ours are based on a common source). Our laws are society’s laws, not the laws of God. The commandments have a mix of both, and in very simplistic terms.

I do not have an opinion on the status of the early fetus, but of all the political rancor out there, the fuss over the life of an unborn child is the most forgivable out there. In fact, if they really believe what they claim they do I am surprised they aren’t more vocal.

And there just aren’t a lot of crazed atheists out there trying to destroy Christmas. The fuss is raised when others try to mandate religion or lie about the motives of pro-Establishment-clausers.

So I give both sides a pass here.

I myself, however, don’t like the one-dimensional political system per se. I’m not even a two-dimensional (ie. Political Compass,) kind of guy. Heck, on each individual issue I am often way out there off the political continuum! It’s hard for people like me to disagree with people nowadays without them assuming I’m part of the radical fringe of whatever side they oppose.

If you’ve got examples of die-hard conservatives taking a lassez-faire attitude on “moral issues,” I’d like to see them.