Bill, my other half, has a way of cutting to the chase with quick pithy sayings that nicely illuminate what’s going on in a situation. It’s a gift I don’t have and treasure in him. Here’s one of his sayings: “Once you label or stereotype a person, you start responding to the label and not to the person.” [See more of Bill’s wisdom on our website.]
In our culture we label people as liberal or conservative, and we each tend to put ourselves in one of those camps – and then discount what’s said by those in the other. It’s the great divide of our country. When I must, I label myself a liberal or progressive. And, like those in both camps, I prefer to read material written by those on my side of the divide. However, believing that an open mind is one of life’s most precious gifts, I do make an effort to read what some conservatives say. Of course I’m making value judgments about which of them are worth listening to – I value intelligence in public discourse above anything else. David Brooks and Peggy Noonan are two who come to mind.
Peggy Noonan has a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal (a conservative rag not usually at the top of my reading list) that has a great deal of wisdom in it. It’s about Sarah Palin, the Republican party, and the immense challenges facing the USA. I dare say it strikes such a positive note with me because I value intelligence in our national debate so highly and this quality is so rarely in evidence. I urge you to read it.
Updated July 12: Frank Rich’s column in today’s New York Times points out that the essence of Sarah Palin’s support is emotional, not idealogical. He says:
“Palin won’t go gently into the good night, much as some Republicans in Washington might wish. She is not just the party’s biggest star and most charismatic television performer; she is its only star and charismatic performer. Most important, she stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind. Palin gives this movement a major party brand and political plausibility that its open-throated media auxiliary, exemplified by Glenn Beck, cannot. She loves the spotlight, can raise millions of dollars and has no discernible reason to go fishing now except for self-promotional photo ops.”
Scary stuff this if you value intelligence. She’s turning to demagoguery in place of politics – seeking to become a political leader by appealing to grievances and prejudices with not even a wink to rational argument.