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
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.