Richard Cohen wrote a great op-ed in the Washington Post today.
I don’t think this article should be taken as a criticism of conservative ideas, but instead of the horrible state of intelligent dialogue in this country. Like with the Robert Kagan piece posted yesterday, Mr. Cohen’s article addresses the themes emphasized in this blog: clarity and rationality. We cannot have an intelligent discussion or find solutions to any of our problems if we rely on dogma and anti-intellectualism.
Why is it wrong to be articulate, intelligent, and thoughtful? These are all qualities we should cherish. Both parties are guilty of eschewing rational discussion of the issues, but in recent years the GOP has certainly been much more bold in their rejection of nuance and complexity. I’m sure that those on the right will just say that I’m a crazy leftist, but like most folks that throw around labels and oversimplify, they’d be wrong.
The important theme Mr. Cohen repeats in the article is that, “It depends.”
Do I agree with the Democrats more than the Republicans? It depends.
I don’t stick with anything by rote, and none of us should. Everything depends on the circumstances and facts. I would love to see people try to form opinions and build solutions based on facts, but lately, I see less and less of this. The GOP might be especially bad, but this reliance on dogma is everywhere. The Occupy Wallstreet folks do it. The Teachers Union does it.
Anybody can be guilty, and we shouldn’t be afraid of calling it out. Just because you are liberal, doesn’t mean you should support ridiculous stances by liberal organizations. Similarly, just because you are conservative, doesn’t mean you should support absurd candidates political stances because they are of your party.
Please people, don’t stand by an idea in general or a concept in theory. Remember that everything depends on circumstances!
On a less serious note, this post made me think of a poem by William Carlos Williams (and remember making fun of it in high school):
- so much depends
- a red wheel
- glazed with rain
- beside the white