Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
 
Worthy Opponents and Keeping Debates Separate

A few weeks ago, Josh Marshall endorsed a new blog, The Bull Moose, by a newly released senior aide to John McCain who is now free to speak his own mind. Marshall Wittman, the "McCainiac" in question, seems to have started out life as a Republican, but has now endorsed Kerry-Edwards. In the long term, however, I get the feeling he's more interested in formulating a New "National Greatness Conservatism." If there are forces in the Republican party that want to take it back towards Theodore Roosevelt, I'm all for it--there are plenty of good, idealistic conservative ideas that I'd much rather debate than the dross of bad policy and incompetence that we have to scream about now.

This is somewhat related the conversation thread below with The Participant and John about conversation, debate and sports. I recall hearing that good strategists never aim to destroy their opposition. On a shallow level, they need their opposition to rally their own side against. In the realm of democratic debates (whether it be about politics, religion, or economic choices), where there is a single large population of people and the two teams are trying to win more of the population to their side, I think it's much more crucial. People don't like being made to feel they don't have a choice. Kerry can ride on the wave of people who honestly feel that this time, Bush is simply unacceptable--but he can only do it a few times. If the Republican Party does not get reworked into a viable option for conservative moderates, the Democratic party will suffer because it will have to take in all those conservative moderates.

This is also a reason why it's important not to conclusively tie up independant variables. Different sides in different debates should not be correlated with each other. My politics should not be conclusively tied to my religion, which should not be conclusively tied to my epistemological world view. One of these things is going to be more important to me than the others, and if I am forced to jump on a religious bandwagon I don't like to maintain my politics or vice versa, the quality and honesty of the social conversation suffers greatly. Ideas win allies they don't deserve, and the system becomes more cynical as it gets clogged with people who are fundamentally unhappy or badly served by their artificially bundled-up allegiances.

With that in mind, I think the Bull Moose made an excellent point last week, which I have been making for years:
The Moose fears, though, that by attributing the President’s arrogant intransigence to his religious faith may actually play into his hands. That is to say, many religious Americans identify with the President even more strongly when they sense that he is being attacked for his religious devotion. Many of these Americans even oppose his policies on the war and the economy while they deeply identify with him as a devout person.

It's an interesting post, and I recommend reading the whole thing.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


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