An argument founded on a false premise.
If the recent assassination attempt targeting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh weren’t sufficient proof that a divided America is tiptoeing toward violent conflict, a research firm released a “disturbing poll” showing that nearly half of male Democrats under the age of 50 believe it acceptable to assassinate a politician “who is harming the country or our democracy.”
Uh huh. Know who else deemed ruthless politically-motivated violence not only “acceptable,” but downright essential? Go on, guess.
Sen. Rand Paul, who has suffered two violent, politically motivated attacks in recent years, called out the White House and congressional Democrats for “ginning up and encouraging” violence. However, in a country that increasingly eschews rational debate and embraces the vituperative soundbites of reality TV, it can be no surprise that the political stakes in America are tending toward bloodshed.
The author’s overly delicate sensibilities prevent him from digging down deep enough to uncover the root cause behind both the eschewal of rational, respectful debate and the escalating inclination towards bloodshed: the America-hating Left’s open advocacy for extreme authoritarianist tyranny, an ideology which is impossible to reconcile with the ideals of our Founding Fathers.
It was once widely understood in the United States that vociferous debate and vigorous policy disagreement were features of a healthy American society. Hashing out arguments over contested issues in the public square had two immediate salubrious effects: it allowed the average American to appreciate the “pros” and “cons” of consequential policy decisions, and it provided those whose viewpoints did not win the day to nonetheless speak their minds.
Here we have ourselves another insuperable problem: how can any debate, vociferous or otherwise, take place when of the two contestants has demonstrated, repeatedly and unequivocally, his inflexible disdain for it? Is their any point to trading away our core ideals in bootless pursuit of a hopeless bargain? If you’re open to compromise with Leftists, which parts of the Constitution are you willing to throw away? How many times must a stubborn fool be kicked in the teeth before he stops crawling back for more of the same?
As a testament to how vital debate and disagreement are to the process of creating good public policy, it has often been the case throughout American history that the well-articulated arguments of the “losing side” eventually rise to guide future generations.
Another suicidal, self-evidently false assumption: that the phantasmagorical ideal of a decent, patriotic, well-intentioned Left whom men of integrity can trust to engage in honest debate lives on still, perhaps even thrives, in direct contravention of all available evidence. The importance of well-articulated arguments and respectful disagreement lies not so much in their being vital to the health of a Republic than in being confirmational markers of a healthy Republic’s existence.
Of all the fruits that naturally grow from the variegated branches of free speech, its disposition toward counseling wisdom is perhaps the sweetest. In an age when the word “democracy” is thrown around indiscriminately by politicians who wish to clothe themselves in its virtuous connotations, it is society’s respect for diverse opinions and its willingness to engage those opinions with serious debate that truly provide the cornerstone of any democratic system.
Yet where does our nation stand today — on the side of free and muscular debate, confident that lively disagreement only strengthens America’s foundations? Or on the side of insular state-sponsored dogma that tends to smother the full range of voices naturally expected from a diverse society?
To ask the question is to answer it. In a society truly confident in the strengthening quality of free and muscular debate, there’s no need to even ask. In a society smothering under the malign insularity of state-sponsored dogma, questioning it is outlawed, a criminal offense.
So what does it say about the current health of our nation that so many Americans seem unable or unwilling to respect opposing points of view? What does it say about our political leaders when they increasingly spurn public debate and vilify those with whom they disagree? What does it say about our institutions when they are quick to label those who protest government policies as “domestic terrorists”? What does it say about our prominent news publications when they declare certain debates “settled” or certain opinions “disinformation”?
What does it say about the author, that he would have us “respect” creeping Marxist tyranny in our own goddamned country instead of fighting to the very last extreme to destroy it?
It says, I believe, that we are advancing down a dangerous path in the United States, one that will only become more treacherous the more we refuse to “agree to disagree.” Silencing opinion to drown out noise will only cause greater animosity.
Which animosity, on the part of the blameless multitudes who have been unjustly silenced, is entirely commendable. Admittedly, the path is a dangerous one. Unfortunately, we’ve advanced practically to the end of it, we’re just coasting along with no brakes, and it’s all downhill for us now.
Censoring dissent in order to fabricate “unanimous agreement” will only lead to bad policy outcomes. Demonizing adversaries as unworthy of consideration will only divide us more sharply.
Apart from the malodorous and un-American use of censorship, insult, and intimidation to manipulate public debate, increasing incidents of political violence are timely reminders why vigorous argument still serves this country best.
“Vigorous argument” can best serve only a healthy Republic, whose polity holds values and beliefs that may differ, but are in the main compatible.
If debate and disagreement are no longer understood as hallmarks of the American system of democracy, then that system will quickly go up in smoke. If individual Americans are treated as “domestic enemies” for their political beliefs, then spiraling violence becomes inevitable.
Got some bad news for ya, JB: the American system, a perennially-harried combustible “transitioned” by fanatically patient and determined Leftist firebugs into soot and smoke which long since wafted right up the chimney, out, and away. Worst of all, if we’re too prissy, too stiff with delusion, too complacent and/or cowed, to admit to ourselves the existence of a formidable OpFor contingent of bona-fide, self-declared “Enemies, Domestic,” we were soundly defeated well before the first shot was fired.
It’s remarkable, the number of otherwise intelligent people who sincerely believe today’s dissolute, incurious, lazy-minded generation of Americans to be well above so much as contemplating any future resort to the barbaric measures employed by our primitive, unenlightened Founders to carve out a new nation from the constricting coils of the British Empire for themselves and their posterity. As if Jefferson’s prophetic warnings of the ever-present need to maintain a finely-honed edge on our ability to call down the thunder whenever the situation requires it of liberty-loving Americans.