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gulliver

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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 12,609

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Arguing for bedrock values, not just using them to argue for us

I see a lot of folks from our side and in the media making arguments against the Republican strategy founded on what are assumed to be bedrock values. Those values include ethical behavior and commitment to truth, but they also include many other ideas such as respect for democracy and near-taboos against violence. Showing that someone's behavior or philosophy falls short in any of those areas is assumed to "defeat" that someone. Anything else would be an outrage.

The trouble with relying on "bedrocks" is that those bedrocks can be dismissed. The value of truth, for example, isn't final. It depends on a tacit acceptance that truth, in most circumstances, is "required policy." If truth is required, then proving someone to be a liar would be devastating to them. Lightning bolts would strike them. The evidence of Trump and, now, his many imitators in the Republican Party is that that's not the case.

In my opinion, we shouldn't solely resort to wielding bedrock values to defend our positions. If anything, it weakens those values to have an untrusted or even despised source (as seen from the Republican perspective) argue on their behalf. Instead, at least sometimes, we should support and pay homage to the bedrock values themselves instead of merely using them to support us.

A good example, as usual, came from President Biden in his recent speech. He did argue that the "election deniers" were a threat to democracy. But he didn't stop there. He further argued that their intended destruction of our democracy was un-American, unlawful, and a "path to chaos." He buttressed the value of the democracy bedrock by mooring it to other bedrocks. In other words, he made a case for democracy in addition to shining the spotlight on democracy's underminers.

One crucial thing Maher brought up last night about Dems and Republicans

In New Rules, Maher said of the Dem and Republican predicament, "It's like trying to win an argument in a marriage. Even when you're right, it still gets you nothing." I don't think it's the first time that analogy has been made, of course, so it really doesn't matter that it was Maher saying it. In fact, he's not married and never has been, so I'm not sure he's an authority on marriage arguments. But I have been both married and divorced, and his point does seem to me to have the ring of truth.

"What can we do to make (or keep) this right?" That's a question I've come to think bears keeping in mind when there is friction in a relationship, be it with a friend, spouse, parent, child, or co-citizen. I speak from painful experience. I can think of a lot of cases where I wish I had asked (or had been asked), "What can we do to make this right?"

We fight too much. We resent too much. We trust and respect too little. I sure hope we can get a handle on this.
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