Debates are often viewed as two opposing sides finding some common ground in the middle.
However, this framework presumes that both viewpoints are valid and equal when in reality not all viewpoints are, or should be, considered as such.
And sometimes when you concede ground to meet in the middle, you still end up losing. And losing is the correct word. In political debates when you don’t achieve what you’re fighting for, which should be people’s benefits and rights, you’ve lost your fight.
The middle between civil rights and genocide, which means both sides have given up some grounds, is murder. No matter what you achieve, you’re responsible for the murder.
People may have some in common with their political opponent but it’s exactly the differences that matter. Common ground of believing in women rights’ to vote means nothing if one side of the debate is Hitler.
I’m sure we have all some stuff in common with Hitler. Charlie Chaplin had a mustache in common. Animal lovers and pet owners have something in common with him. Hitler even did some good stuff when he was in power.
Hitler instituted anti-animal cruelty laws. He was a well known animal lover, and was accompanied frequently by his pet dog, Blondi, which he killed near the end of the war to test a cyanide capsul to see if it would work if he ever needed to commit suicide.
Hitler instituted laws to prevent smoking in public. He abhorred smoking, and as Führer made laws that made smoking in public illegal in many places.
Hitler helped to start the automotive company Volkswagen. He was a primary endorser of the Volkswagen Beetle, a “people’s car” intended to be affordable for all Germans.
Hitler started the first major construction of the Autobahn, plans for which were divised and badly started by the Weimar Republic. The Autobahn is a prominent highway in Germany today.
Hell he even started the tradition of Olympic runners carrying the torch to the Olympic stadium and lighting the Olympic torch. While people forget the origins of this tradition, Hitler started it as a marketing tool for Germany.
But the fact that he killed millions of people, did war crimes, and committed genocide prevents us from making him an ideal in out political positions. Hitler will always be remembered as a monster he was, no matter how many animals he saved or how many poor people he rescued.
When we talk about political debates, it’s not the wins we care about, because the wins were our basic rights, but it’s the losses that matter, because those are rights we lost.
You either have your abortion rights or you don’t, there’s no middle. Part of your rights is not enough. You either have all of or you have nothing. You either have your freedom or you don’t, there’s nothing in the middle.
Don’t get tricked by those who urge you to sacrifice your rights to accomplish something. It’s a trap to lessen your freedom, trick you to accept less, and finally abolish your freedom completely.
You remember the campaign Jon Stewart promoted years ago? It was “The Rally to Restore Sanity” which was all about people being more moderate. The message of the rally was that if the media stopped giving voices to crazy people on both sides, maybe we could restore sanity.
It was an urged non-partisan cooperation between moderates on both sides. What they forgot was that Obama tried that and found out there are no moderates on the other side.
Jon Stewart believed that the national convention is dominated by right-wingers who believe Obama is a socialist and people on the supposed left (Democrats) who believe that 9/11 was an inside job.
But there weren’t any Democratic leaders who said 9/11 was an inside job but Republicans who think Obama was a socialist? All of them.
It was official Republican policy to claim Obama is a dangerous socialist. Like tax cuts pay for themselves and gay men just haven’t met the right women.
As another example of both sides using overheating rhetoric Stewart cited the right acquainting Obama with Hitler and the left calling Bush a war criminal. Except for thinking Obama is like Hitler is utterly unfounded but calling Bush a war criminal is the opinion of General Antonio Taguba who headed the Army’s investigation to Abu Gharib.
Republicans keep staking out a position that is further and further right and demand the Democrats meet them in the middle, which is now not the middle anymore.
That is why healthcare reform is so watered down. It’s Bob Dole’s plan from 1994. Same thing for cap and trade, it was the first President Bush’s plan to deal with carbon emissions. Now the Republican plan for climate change is to claim it’s a hoax.
Two opposing sides doesn’t necessarily have two compelling arguments. Martin Luther King spoke at that mall in the capital and he didn’t say those southern sheriffs with the fire hoses and the German Shepherds have a point too. He said “I have a dream”, they have a nightmare.
This isn’t Team Edward and Team Jacob. Liberals and Progressives must stand up and be counted and not pretend that we’re greedy or mean or shortsighted as they are and if that’s too polarizing for you and you still want to reach across the aisle and hold hands with someone on the right, try staying there, because they suit you more.