Pardon me for scamming the title of this page from a Christian Tract I remembered from when I was a boy. I’m going to post this as a “page” as well, so I can refer to it later.But I’d like to lay out a few principles that I’d like to hope is the “Baseline” of assumptions for all participants in this blog’s dialog. These are written in the interest of keeping the dialog sane and fruitful (if that’s possible), and they are written so that both the conservative and the progressive can agree to them. If you don’t agree, and you can convince me, I may modify them. But you better have a good case.
1. Every American loves America. Republicans love America. So do Democrats. Don’t accuse either group of hating America, or anything that sounds like it. On the other hand, people’s choice of policy might hurt America or be un-American. Attack the policy, not the person. (Yes, I know there are a scant few Americans who don’t love America. Now stop bothering me.)
2. America is a Principles-Based Nation
We were born out of a desire for Liberty, and Equality. However, in order to achieve control in a sovereign nation, a balance between freedom and control needs to be achieved. But the driving principles are Liberty and Equality–not control. It is better to err on the side of Liberty and Equality than the side of control.
3. American Principles apply everywhere, not just America
Thomas Jefferson wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There is no qualifier here (and I’ll liberally say that “men” is a generic pronoun.) This means that the principles that America holds dear are true of all people, everywhere. Not just Americans. Not just English-Speaking People. Not just Christians. It applies to a Muslim child in Ethiopia, whether that child knows it or chooses to believe it or not. Likewise, opinions from any nation should have just as much weight in the debate, as American policies impact the entire globe.
4. Americans are Mostly too Busy and/or Amused to be Well-Informed.
It’s sad, but we have to face this fact. We do not read much anymore. We tend to get our information in small, bite-sized chunks. Men in power know this, and use it to their advantage. As we become less informed, the potential that we will be deceived increases. It’s possible that people who post to this blog are operating under false assumptions. This does not mean that people are stupid. It means that they are ill-informed. Don’t attack the person, attack the bad information.
5. The Media is Biased.
Sometimes it has a leftward bias; sometimes it has a rightward bias. But while the Media can be a reliable source sometimes, it can also be grossly manipulative. It presents truth in sound-bites (see point #4), but the truth is invariably much more complex and has two sides. Bloggers who spout soundbites are merely perpetuating the problem.
6. The “Left” and “Right” are Becoming Disparate Networks of Information.
The Left has their sources of news propoganda (AirAmerica, The Daily Show, XMPR are mine). The Right has their sources of news propoganda (Rush, Bill O’Reilly, etc.) As this country is becoming more divided, and each side watches only their own source of propoganda to validate their current opinion, the ability to dialog between the two has become practically impossible. It’s as if the two sides speak different languages.
7. Neither the Left nor the Right is 100% Correct.
Anything short of this is just foolish arrogance. If I want to strive for 100% correctness, I will never achieve it if I am unwilling to listen to opposing viewpoints. Anyone who never learns from their opponents, doesn’t want to.
8. Dialog is Good.
Hegel might have been onto something. While a dialectic approach might not always accomplish a thing, it sometimes does. Keep your mind open and be willing to learn.
9. Opinions Can be Valid, But Facts Rule.
While one blogger may have a passionate opinion, if his opponent can state facts to the contrary, the opposing side has a more credible argument. This often means that the more doggedly determined faction in an argument–those who care enough to dig up related facts and assert them–will often “win” a debate. Ignoring a fact does not make it go away. Spouting unrelated facts won’t win the argument either–only hijack it.