I was not surprised to receive a lot of response to my last column, which among other things, included these sentiments:
“Once you have drunk the Republican Kool-Aid, you seem to remain forever deluded... (Republicans) don’t feel the same way that we do about either hypocrisy or democracy...If the Republican Party was a spouse, we would have gotten divorced...They are untrustworthy...Voting Republican is morally wrong at this point.”
The most thoughtful and heartfelt letter I received came from B, who said, among other things:
“I try to keep an open mind... It’s a big country with a lot of layers... I find myself where Democrats were 20 years ago... Live and let live... The extremes on both sides are a bit intolerable and the truth is somewhere in the middle... As someone who plays devil’s advocate in the middle, I feel like you’re not asking yourself the same questions of your party as you are asking the other side....”
B also wrote that he hoped that I would read the column about “Extremism” that appeared on same page as mine, written by fellow Southwest Connector columnist Eric Ortiz. Here are a couple phrases from that column:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result... Going to the extremes does not work... People used to be able to work together, even if they disagreed... What happened to both-and solutions?”
I appreciate honest dialogue, and so I’ll begin by saying that I agreed with a lot of what Mr. Ortiz said in his column. I don’t find extremism in policy to be a wise thing, so sure, I believe we can find middle ground between having “some parking and some bike lanes.” For what it’s worth, in my opinion, the most counter-productive phrase ever uttered was “defund the police.”
But, like I said, it’s honest dialogue I appreciate, and it’s honest dialogue that has been abandoned by, not both, but only one of the two major parties.
So, to Mr Ortiz, I would answer the question, “What happened to both-and solutions?” with this: What happened? One side quit negotiating honestly. Yes, “people used to be able to work together,” but we can’t any longer because the Republican side insists on “alternative truths,” which are, in fact, not true at all. Global warming is not a hoax. The election was not stolen. Iraq was not manufacturing yellow-cake uranium.
We actually went to war on that last lie. And since then, their lies have become commonplace. We even get to call them lies on TV now. Before Trump, we couldn’t utter the word “lie” in polite company.
And sure, everyone lies. Everyone is capable of bending the truth. No one is perfect, so you can always find a place to point a finger.
But if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, aren’t we insane to continue to trust them and work with them? Is it really such an extreme position to “want a divorce?”
You may recall that regarding Obama’s agenda, John Boehner came right out and said: “We’re going to do everything – and I mean everything we can do – to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.” Mitch McConnell said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” And so, despite Obama’s inheriting the greed-fueled Great Recession and banking crisis, Republicans did nothing but obstruct every healthy change he tried to enact. And let’s not forget Karl Rove’s denigrating comments about the “reality-based community,” those of us who were stuck repeating our “judicious study of discernable reality,” while he and his Republicans “create our own reality.” “We’re history’s actors,” he said, “and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
This is the modern Republican, and so, to B, I would say this: If you’re where the Democrats were 20 years ago, you’re living in the past. Those times are gone. We now have a Republican party that thinks the FBI are the bad guys and the Russians are the good guys. Twenty years ago that would have been absurd. And as Star Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis noted the other day, the party of law-and-order is now taking the fifth. Sure, the extremes may be intolerable, but is it really so extreme to expect a party to stand behind “reality” and the peaceful exchange of power?
My point here is that we are not equally extreme, nor are we both equally responsible for the mistrust and the spreading of dangerous lies. And so long as well-meaning people believe that the solution is sitting down and talking honestly with people that have proven themselves incapable of honesty itself, we are “just doing the same thing over and over.”
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