The Mythos of a Gen-X Male
Principles Meetings

Building a Consensus

In the most recent Time magazine, Joe Klein has a piece entitled "How to Win Over a Nation of Partisans." It is the most recent in a number of articles I've read in recent months about the partisan divide in this country. It looks that we are divided pretty much 50/50. There may be only 5% who are swing voters (way down from 10 years ago). Everyone opinion poll I see -- on the election, on Bush's performance, on Richard Clarke's authenticity, etc. -- all seem to be divided almost 50/50.

What concerns me is that in the wake of such a division in this country, it is the duty of the leadership to attempt to build a greater consensus. We have been so divided by big events like the 2000 election and the war in Iraq. (We were united after 9/11.) What the administration is doing is ramming its agenda down the throats of the country because they've basically got 50% plus 1. What they ought to be doing is building a broader consensus and attempting to lead past this period of divisiveness.

P. S. Singing Elton John songs on American Idol last night was very revealing as to the vocal abilities of the contestants. Fantasia remains my favourite.

Comments

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Timothy Youmans

I guess my last blog was a little about the need to build consensus, difficult, though when you do feel strgnly about your convictions.

Some essay I read recently suggests that America's system of checks and balances does indeed keep things in balance, but maybe so much so that no one ever has enough power to lead they way they intend. So we never know whether or not ideologies truly work, since they never get a chance to fully test them.

Jacob Zimmer

Yes, I agree. Although it was not published in TIME magazine, I wrote the following as the intro to a 7 page essay 2 days prior to the War in Iraq:

Like most political and ethical issues that are argued, two sides quickly emerge and they are at odds with each other: pro-life vs. pro-choice, unionization vs. right to work, democrat vs. republican, conservative vs. liberal, my team vs. your team. President Bush laid down this notion right after September 11th when he stated to the world that “You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

This competitive nature is not as common in many eastern cultures. US capitalism is based on opportunity for everyone to succeed, but with fierce competition. Virtually everyone in the US grew up going to high school and college athletic events where the pride of the school was on the line dependant upon on winning or losing a sporting event. That’s fine for a school game, but unfortunately I see this same attitude in the rallies the last few months. The pro peace demonstrators shout: “PEACE IS POSSIBLE” and hold signs that read: “NO BLOOD FOR OIL,” while the opposing demonstrators wave flags and declare that “WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.” I even saw a sign mocking John Lennon’s famous Vietnam era chant that read: “Give War a Chance.”

One problem with the debate is that two sides need not be mutually exclusive. The concept of this dualism creates the ridiculous notion that if you oppose Bush’s push for war, you support Saddam’s dictatorship and oppressive regime. Likewise the opinion that if you are for world peace, you are not patriotic is also absurd.

This ‘us vs. them’ mentality must change. We all must be willing to step back, listen to both sides and understand the feelings and position of the other side rather than just root for our home team.

Jennifer Maddox

On a lighter note, let me say how much I completely agree with Elton John and the Idols. It revealed the truly talented singers. I still love Jon Peter's personality, but his singing that night proved to be sub-par. Fantasia is the best!

Scott Jones

I'm glad we agree on Fantasia! Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow night.

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