Wow, can a superficial blowhard like Chris Mathews actually offer a moment of insight?
I heard him being interviewed on “Fair Game with Faith Salie” and he said something to the effect of “Republicans want a leader but Democrats want a meeting.” Now obviously there’s a huge degree of generalization there, and perhaps “conservatives” and “liberals” would be more accurate instead of party designators.
But when I heard that, something clicked with me.
Just as example, here on the board, I have tremendous respect for the knowledge and analytical mind possessed by one Bricker, although I frequently disagree with him. In particular, on a couple of occasions, he and I have reached just a flat disagreement regarding our individual concepts over the nature of government.
Speaking only for myself, I see democratic government as being a manifestation of co-operative decision-making, in which certain people are temporarily given certian levels of authority, but ultimately, that authority belongs to all of us. In short, a president should be in concept, little more than the acting chair of our little meeting, and should be granted no more deference, honor, or respect than he or she grants the rest of us.
This concept is at the base of my objection to granting honorifics or titles to public office holders, for example. I prefer not to refer to a U.S. President John Q. Smith, but rather John Q. Smith, the U.S. president. I believe such a person should not be addressed as “Mr. President,” but solely as “Mr. Smith,” the same degree of honorific that any citizen is due.
It also is at the base of my objection to any notions of executive privilege. The executive is merely, temporarily acting on our behalf and, conceptually speaking, should have no right to withhold information from us regarding his communications while he’s doing this job for us. (Yes, there might be a practical reason for keeping certain military or intelligence operational information secret for a limited time, but that’s an exception, so let’s leave that aside for now.)
I also said in a recent threat (sorry, but my search-fu doesn’t seem to be working at the moment) something to the effect of “as a citizen, I don’t want a leader.”
So is some form of the formulation “Republicans want a leader, Democrats want a meeting” a useful basis for understanding some of the differences in which we see our government? More importantly, does analyzing it in this way offer us any opportunity to reconcile our differing views in a way that we can structure our government so that it meets everyone’s needs?
Or does it offer a basis to persuade those who are wrong about what democratic government should be to change their minds?