Had a conversation with a Ron Paul supporter who also professes himself part of the Tea Party. His jacket has Ron Paul in script on his back but his pins are about the Tea Party.
Polling circles label me a 'solid liberal' while I dub myself progressive. Talking with the RPSTP supporter, first I'm impressed with his intelligence. He's white, articulate and about twenty years younger than me, in his mid-thirties. He didn't want to talk about his new sources, citing 'mostly the Internet' but most of his quotes were from Fox News and CNN. He can't stand watching MSNBC and I can't stand watching Fox News, so there we were, facing one another across the chasm.
But the chasm narrowed as we grew accustomed to looking at it. There were a number of things I didn't get to ask him about but here's the gist of the matters. The RPSTP supporter is against war and condemned the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, but he blames Barack Obama for them. I'm also against those wars but I blame the Bush Administration and PNAC. I remembered some items for him, like how long the war had been progressing, and the weapons of mass destruction Iraq was supposed to have, and Curveball, but he still blamed Mr Obama for not ending it sooner. I also blame Mr Obama for not ending it sooner, while at the same time frustrated by how we destroyed the country and lives, and killed so many.
The RPSTP supporter and I agreed that corporations are not people and that corporate money and outside money is engineering a government contrary to what the people want, and that we have created a ruling class in Washington that can only be resolved with a Constitutional Admendment establishing term limits. We both bemoaned consumerism. We agreed that ethics and accountability suck in government in many ways, that greater transparency in government is needed, and that we need to do something about the economy. Our talks broke down in that area. He wants smaller government, cites government inefficiency without providing any facts, and worries about the deficit. I pointed to Mr Krugman's recent blog posts and articles about the deficit and how little the deficit matters. The RPSTP supporter attacked Mr Krugman as a leftist and I rebutted with Mr Krugman's point about the British deficit, how long it has existed, and how well they've managed to do despite it. He wouldn't accept the points, as the Brits aren't too doing well right now, and he doesn't know anything about their deficit history.
We agreed we liked our beers, that the band was good, and we agreed that it's good to talk. While we didn't say this after shaking hands, parting, and wishing each other, the country, and the world good luck, I went away thinking, we need the others that don't agree. We do not want a country of yes-people. Vigorous debate, progress and reform needs different ideas and thinking. America was founded on the flames of revolution. Those fires fuel our basic tenets, that all people are created equal, and everyone deserves freedom and equality. Sometimes fuel and friction are needed to keep the fires burning.
So praise to the others. We'll always need some of them -- and us -- around.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com