Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why Political Debate Feels Futile

Please proceed, Governor.
I like the notion of a reasoned debate. The idea that I could spend a few hours with an intellectual opponent who is clearly on the other side of the debate from me but who is rational, fair-minded and rooted in the rules of civil discourse holds great appeal. But, like Paul Krugman, I don't feel such debate is possible.

So, I end up blowing off the debate and simply offer my policy prescriptions in a way as reasoned, documented, and data-driven as possible. To elevate the mood, I use humor, which I admit, even to myself, often seems full of sarcasm and snark. It's likely, in reality, a survival technique. Instead of dissolving into a heap of despair, I maintain my policy vision with humor, albeit unevenly. C'est la vie.

At first, they do look human. Then they speak.
Krugman has long since denounced those who try to dismiss him as a "shrill" progressive voice and
instead embraces the denunciations as a badge of honor. He has the advantage of a very high perch from which to disseminate his views. What comes with that position is high visibility, along with a decent amount of vulnerability. He deflects the blows with humor, as well, and goes on with the battle. He thinks it's too important a battle not to fight with all his might. I commend him for that.

And the biggest sin, for Krugman, is that his opponents don't fight fair. That's why his side of the debate is filled with colorful language like zombie lies, wrong-headed ideas compared to cockroaches, confidence fairies, and Very Serious People. It's as close as he can get to a street fight, one that maintains the decorum of an academic debate, which he'd prefer if only his opponents could stay with reality-based tactics. This they can't do, hence his proclivity to dismiss their ideas as zombie lies. I've read his opponents papers, articles, and blog posts, and I find much to agree with Krugman on almost all issues. And "zombie lies" is as apt a description as any.

Bachmann dazzled her critics with nonsense.
So, like him -- perhaps Krugman is a mentor -- I heap scorn on Republicans and conservatives alike and soldier on with the good fight. The contradictions and hypocrisy among them are legion. We have to prepare our arguments for zombie attacks because they're coming! It doesn't matter that we desire reasoned debate. We're not going to get one, at least until the source of much of this madness -- that Kenyan Muslim Socialist in the White House -- moves on for good.

It's why I'll take another moderate Democrat, Hillary Clinton, for my dream president in 2016. We progressives might not get all or even much of what we want, but at least we get to watch conservative heads continue to explode, even if all that's left are zombies and cockroaches. At least it'll be entertaining until zombie ranks are sufficiently thinned.

And that will be none too soon.

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