duets v dialogues
by Ipsa Liberalis
I am a liberal.
My most recent experiences tell me that other people who think they are liberal want to participate in a duet, not a dialogue.
Duets sound good. "Summer Lovin'". "Let it snow". "Anything you can do". Those are some catchy tunes, but they don't really get us anywhere but across a stage.
When I'm talking to someone about views or politics, I don't want what their singing to be an extension of what I'm singing. I want it to be a dialogue.
I want a marketplace of ideas. I want someone to come along and put something in my craw for me to choke on a little bit. I'll give an example from a "conversation" I had this year. With this one, it wasn't actually another liberal, though.
Her thesis was: The government should not provide tuition free higher education to its citizens because those citizens didn't work hard in public high school and don't value education.
With an ancillary thesis of: Why should the government take away MY hard earned money to pay for such lazy people who don't value education?
Well, I know that she went to private school, and she sent her kids to the same private schools, and what she knows about public education starts and stops with her tax bill. Also - she's a family member so it wasn't just politics with us. Of course, I believe in public education, and I can see that college tuition has inflated astronomically.
I know that not everyone gets a fair shot at education the first time around. I think the economy might be bolstered letting people who want to be in school be in school, etc. I think the government should be big enough take care of this. I'm a liberal.
But as I had this idea stuck in my craw about how this person thought that it was terrible to use her tax dollars for education, I found a fair rebuttal, I thought. We raise taxes all the time for sports arenas. We let private gajillionaires use our tax money to bolster their businesses. Here's a link.
If her kids came home with season tickets to the Yankees, but none of their college textbooks got bought, she'd be livid. But the American taxpayer does basically the same thing time and again, and she's not complaining because it's *business*. I have a lot of thoughts about the "business" of sports, but that's not for today.
The point is, she gave me something to chew on, which I did. Then, after a few days of choking on it a bit, I found a way to reinforce my point. Yes, philosophically it's important to make education available to anyone who wants it AND here is where you could find the money if you really wanted to on a practical level. So, what's the next argument?
I was better for considering her view. My view was stronger, with better support. I might even be able to build a bit of a platform out of it.
When I try to have a conversation with other liberals, though, they don't want a dialogue. They just want something jazzy that we can step-two-three-turn-step-two-three to.
You might not have noticed, but there was an election this month. There was an upset, and people were very upset by it. Lots of people didn't vote for anyone at all, and lots of people voted for the candidate they hated less or out of spite. The losing candidate didn't do as well as "Liberals" assumed she would, and they are mystified. Try to explain to them what kept people away from the polls (an unlikeable candidate, a lack of confidence, general misery over the state of politics) and they just sing right over you. "La la la, can't hear you."
They are looking for a forlorn duet, not a productive dialogue. They don't want to admit their mistakes, let alone learn from them. They just want to tell me I'm Wrong because they are Right.
Nothing the chorus sang before the election did anything to assuage my concerns, and I did not sing along. However, listening to someone who said something that challenged me made my own views better. I know I am better for being exposed to some diverse ideas and people and places, and I value the heterogeneity. I am a liberal. Are you?