Us and Them

Just a little post-election reading today:

Not a big fan of Thomas Friedman’s — I think he abdicated his duty as a skeptical and credible observer when Bush was pushing us toward war in favor of a rather thin hope that the Iraq adventure would turn out well. But letting bygones be for today, his column in Thursday’s Times (free registration required) asks some compelling questions, especially about the role of religion in the Bush party:

“… What troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don’t just favor different policies than I do – they favor a whole different kind of America. We don’t just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

“Is it a country that does not intrude into people’s sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn’t trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us – instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?”

Another good read I happened across was a long entry on the blog Philocrates by a Unitarian Universalist minister (and Kerry supporter)) in Tennessee. It’s an interesting take on a subject a lot of liberals and progressives are talking about now, which is how to communicate across the divide to conservatives. The thrust is that liberals must reimagine how they frame their basic appeal:

So, we need to do two things. First, rather than heaping scorn upon conservatives who “just don’t understand,” as liberals, we need to understand that they mean it when they say they are voting their values. Understanding them, and taking them at their word, means living out our own value of empathy. It also means getting to know our neighbors, not holing up in some liberals-only enclave.

“Secondly, we need to learn how to articulate our own values in metaphors, and then learn how to reframe the debate. Using conservative terminology and frames—”tax relief,” “partial-birth abortion,” etc—we’ve already lost it.

“I don’t yet know the compelling metaphors that will give voice to our values the best. But the work is before us. This is where I find hope in the election. If it is true that people are thinking and acting morally—all of us, not just those who voted like us—then there is hope for persuasion, and change.”

I’m not saying I buy the guy’s whole argument. For one thing, I don’t thing the handwringing that’s going on now about how liberals look down on religious conservatives takes account of the raw contempt many conservatives and right-wing religious activists voice for liberals at the same time they’re talking about how important their Christian values are. But there’s a lot of interesting food for thought there.

And last, by way of my bro-han John, there’s a nice little piece on Boing Boing about a nice future arrangement for Blue America and Red America:

“… The new USAR (United States of America Red) can ban books, repeal civil rights, persecute gays and have all the wars they like. They want prayer in schools? More power to them. They can ban abortion and post the Ten Commandments in every federal building in their country. Bring back slavery, if they want. We’ll be free to live with our like-minded countrymen who believe in science, modernism, tolerance, religion as a personal choice, and truly want limited government intrusion in our personal lives. Why should each side be driven mad by the other any more, decade after decade? Call the Culture War a tie and everyone go home.”

Ecotopia,” anyone?

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