In his comment on my Nov 28 post, Ross made the following sensible suggestion:
I boil it down to one question: can you list three cogent pros/cons for each candidate? If the answer is “no”, then you’ve fed for too long at the trough of Hannity or Olbermann. If the answer is “yes”, then let’s talk.
After reading this, I discussed it with somebody I know who tends to be quite levelheaded, a brilliant man whose opinions I generally respect quite a lot. He seemed to agree with Ross’s suggestion, until I said “for example, it would be interesting to try to come up with three cogent reasons why John McCain might have been a good candidate to vote for.” In about ten seconds, my conversant went into what can only be described as a controlled rage, incensed at the very suggestion that there could be a “cogent argument” for McCain, and clearly quite annoyed at me for proposing such a thing.
I tried to tell him that if you’re going to sway people who are on the fence on an issue, you need to understand what parts of the opposing arguments they are buying into, at least well enough to counter those arguments. But he was no longer listening. Within about thirty seconds he had angrily fled the room.
I was surprised, to say the least. I am sticking to my guns on this one – I might strongly disagree with the opinions of one hundred million of my fellow citizens, but I’m not willing to simply – or dismissively – label them all as deluded idiots. Some of these people are thoughtful, intelligent individuals, however much I may disagree with theim. I think I need to understand how they reached their conclusions, even if only to understand my own conclusions with greater clarity and perspective.
Are there really so few of us who are willing to reach across the aisle?