Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gerson: The Ugly Party vs. the Grown-Up Party

Former speechwriter for President G. W. Bush, Michael Gerson has an excellent editorial in the June 30, 2010 Washington Post on political discourse. He decries the sourness of public speech in recent times and suggests the internet has exacerbated the situation. Gerson echoes my call for more empathy in politics when he writes,
The rhetoric of the Ugly Party shares some common themes: urging the death or sexual humiliation of opponents or comparing a political enemy to vermin or diseases. It is not merely an adolescent form of political discourse; it encourages a certain political philosophy -- a belief that rivals are somehow less than human, which undermines the idea of equality and the possibility of common purposes.
 So what is the alternative to the Ugly Party?
The alternative to the Ugly Party is the Grown-Up Party -- less edgy and less hip. It is sometimes depicted on the left and on the right as an all-powerful media establishment, stifling creativity, freedom and dissent. The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute -- presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks -- on the electoral implications of the energy debate. I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.
Well put, Mr. Gerson. Count me a member of the Grown-Up Party as well.

Read the whole thing here.

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