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The Art of Antagonism

16 Feb

Merriam-Webster defines Antagonism as:

 a strong feeling of dislike or hatred : a desire to oppose something you dislike or disagree with

And I assert that we have reached a place in our political dialogue that we no longer pause, reflect, and learn about the the opposing positions, so much as we just lash out based on some false perceptions of self superiority, and this is found on both sides of the aisle amongst elected representatives and average citizens. There is no shortage of examples, and I am sure we could all fill volumes with our own favorites, and I am also aware that this phenomena is not a new development in our history. Politics has long been a very personal and contentious art form, but the current divide is a bit alarming in my opinion, and even I, a political junkie by most standards, have grown tired of it.

Case in point was the current debt ceiling debate, a debate of which we have had several times throughout the past few decades, and a debate of which is often shaped by compromise. Yet this time, and last, the supporters of the increase, framed the debate as “hostage taking” if 100% their demands were not met.  This tactic drowned out any sensible debate on what a compromise would look like, and was simply used as a club to diminish the opposition. This is a school yard tactic, and one of which that should have no place in a civilized forum. Considering $500 billion deficits, and a debt that now exceeds our GDP, I would think that mature, rational adults could realize that increasing the limit on our national credit card should come with a desire to implement some fiscal constraints.  I evidently was wrong, and the fact that not increasing our debt limit would not impede the federal government from meeting it’s core obligations was not only lost, it was never brought to light.

Unless and until more adults take command of the national political dialogue, the divide will deepen as will the vitriol, and the ability to truly understand the oppositions intent will further deteriorate. Now to be honest, there are some fundamental differences on how the governance of this country should be structured and in my opinion the more we depart from the structure laid out in the Constitution, the more our society will suffer. My political opposition likes to take the compassionate high ground, but there is nothing compassionate in enabling and expanding a federal bureaucracy that grows more and more detached from the needs of the people in fly over country. The Constitution is a nearly perfect blueprint for decentralizing power and authority and putting it in the hands of people that are closest to the societal problems that will always confront our citizenry, and this where real compassion can truly be effective. My hope is that someday, we could have that national dialogue absent the perceived self superiority issues.

Note to Watson – consider this a non racially charged comment. LOL

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33 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

33 responses to “The Art of Antagonism

  1. 02casper

    February 16, 2014 at 7:44 am

    “Yet this time, and last, the supporters of the increase, framed the debate as “hostage taking” if 100% their demands were not met. ”

    The only demand was that a “clean” bill be submitted. There was no reason to add anything to it. Besides, the budget that the increase will pay for has already been passed. And what was passed was far more what your side wanted than mine.

     
    • Cluster

      February 16, 2014 at 8:02 am

      My side? I am on record stating that the majority of the current GOP is nothing more than Democrat light, so they are not exactly on my side, and that’s what I mean by not taking time to pause, reflect and consider.

       
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 8:52 am

        But they are your side. Apparently, the only reason you distance yourself from the GOP is that they are not far enough to the right. But it would seem that when it comes time to pull the lever you will be doing so for tea party Republicans – your side.

         
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Yours is the mindset of a partisan amateur and exemplary of why we find ourselves so divided and in such a mess. You don’t even understand conservatism or pragmatism. You are Neocon, just the opposite side of the coin.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 9:45 am

        Your ad hominem is plainly ridiculous and weak. Why don’t you address the content of my post? I believe I correctly identified your “side”. If not, why don’t you explain which Democrats you’ll be voting for? Or have you just decided to not vote at all?

         
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 9:51 am

        I would vote for Joe Manchin in a heartbeat. And I always liked Evan Bayh. And by mentioning that the majority of the current GOP is Democrat light is in fact saying that they are too far to the left. Why do i always have to repeat myself with you?

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 9:52 am

        The irony of Cluster starting a thread lamenting “antagonism” and the death of “civilized forums” and then responding to my first post with an ad hominem attack is too funny!

         
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 9:56 am

        You have NEVER brought anything of substance, or introspect, or anything that would resemble a mature thought to this forum. I can not be held to account for that fact. By the way, what’s the score of your adorable little game?

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

        And by mentioning that the majority of the current GOP is Democrat light is in fact saying that they are too far to the left. Why do i always have to repeat myself with you?

        I understood you the first time, Chuckles. You have to repeat yourself because apparently you don’t understand plain English, like when I wrote: “Apparently, the only reason you distance yourself from the GOP is that they are not far enough to the right.” Sheesh.

         
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 10:21 am

        It wasn’t apparently. It was matter of fact.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 10:08 am

        You have NEVER brought anything of substance, or introspect, or anything that would resemble a mature thought to this forum. I can not be held to account for that fact. By the way, what’s the score of your adorable little game?

        More delightful ad hominems from Mr. Civility. You’re sure not a fan of leading by example, are you?

        Your score still stands at 1, but I just started last week and you haven’t been posting much.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

        It wasn’t apparently. It was matter of fact.

        Uh, for your information the two are not mutually exclusive. Is English your second language?

         
    • mitchethekid

      February 16, 2014 at 8:25 am

      I am in agreement with the tone you are suggesting we should have and lamenting that we don’t. In my opinion, the greatest obstacle to having a discussion about what should be done; or needs to be done about our fiscal situation is the zealotry of fanatical ideologues, most specifically folks like Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz, and those who admire him pose a real danger to both the Republican party specifically and the county as a whole. If you are going to use the term “hostage taking” please put it in an historical context. The last time this irrational act of petulance was played out that is exactly what was going on. Perhaps not literally, no one was putting a gun to the Statue of Liberty’s head, but essentially a minority took the position that getting what they wanted was more important than the (hackneyed phrase) good faith and credit of the United States. Remember the congressperson who; when faced with reality said “Well, we have to get something out of this! I just don’t know what.” What does Dr. Seuss have to do with economic issues? These object lessons, while important and of value, serve no purpose when a real crisis is being played out. It’s plain stupid to have a fire-drill during a fire; arguing about methodology. And I’m sure people of the more conservative persuasion don’t want to be reminded of this but (1) the deficit is going down and (2) if taxes were not cut while two wars were put on “credit cards” we probably wouldn’t be in such a serious situation.
      For the past 5+ years a certain group of people have reacted disproportionally to both the President and every circumstance the country has been in.
      Conservatives like Cruz are intolerable of democracy and the legislative process. Period. Their Totem, Ronald Reagan was a master at compromise. Maybe they should take a refresher course. The truly adult thing to do is to realize that ultra hard core conservatives have no desire to cooperate with others and offer no solutions. All they want to do is to disrupt. Eventually patience runs out, tolerance reaches it’s limit and these saboteurs are shown the door. Hope it doesn’t slam them in the ass on the way out.

       
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

        The good faith and credit of the US is NEVER at risk. We bring in enough revenue to meet our obligations without a debt limit hike. It’s a matter of priorities. And this again is a good example of not pausing and considering. Also, you can hardly single out Ted Cruz as the problem. I can easily say that the hysterics of people like Pelosi and Reid are equally at fault. Also, the minority seeking compromise is at the very heart of our founding and Constitution. You are familiar with checks and balances, correct?

        The deficit is “going down” from an inflated 2009 $1 trillion deficit as a result of TARP I. It still stand historically high at $500 billion so please stop patting yourself on the back.

         
      • mitchethekid

        February 16, 2014 at 2:02 pm

        Please don’t defend Ted Cruz, please. There is no comparison to Pelosi and Reid. None. The former has no qualm in paralyzing the country and seems to have no respect for either the legislative process nor the procedures in the Senate. His behavior has caused him to be all but ostracized. His self promotion rivals that of Palin. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but he’s to the right of Rand Paul. And Rand is on target when he says that unless the party changes and broadens it’s appeal it will be a very long time until we have another Republican President. Here is but one example of the destructiveness of Cruz’s behavior. His attempt to filibuster the debt ceiling talks resulted in the votes being held in secret where even the verbalization of ones vote was prohibited. But more importantly, it allowed 6 Republicans to vote with Democrats. It’s a fair assumption that those 6 are ashamed and embarrassed by Cruz and his coterie of rebellious radicals who’s only purpose is disorder and disruption.They took Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No policy way to far.

        The problem conservatism is experiencing isn’t so much what the basic philosophy is, it’s the people who call themselves conservative. The entire approach to life and governance has been taken over by a regressive, socially and sexually repressed mindset and an exclusivness that most find off-putting. As I have pointed this out before, there is a straight line back to 1968, Lee Atwater, Roger Ailes and Richard Nixon. If you keep teasing people about being invited to a party, yet the actual invitation never arrives, sooner or later they might get angry and crash it.
        Joe Biden is correct. There is no more Republican Party. I think the Tea Party is more of an annoyance than a real threat. It started as an anti-tax protest movement but quickly changed into something else. And like a lint roller, it has become synonymous with the assorted crazies, secessionists, folks who have fetishized the 2nd amendment, social Calvinists who equate suffering with holiness, a monetizing of resentment and turning it into a profit generating industry, Dominionists, science deniers blah blah blahblah blah. I don’t know where the image will end up in this post, but when I think of people who in all seriousness think that armed revolution is just around the corner: That the President should be impeached because he’s the lawless devil: That free will is to liberal and that the only solution to stop the inevitable progression of time is to recreate 1959. It’s sad really. The quote is from Andrew Sullivan. But I’d bet that Wm F Buckley would concur.

        “I prepped by re-reading parts of my friend Jesse Norman’s terrific book on Edmund Burke: The First Conservative. I was reminded again of how routinely and extravagantly Burke was ridiculed and mocked in his time for his alleged contradictions: supporting the American colonists then unleashing a barrage of brio against the French revolution, a British MP defending the rights of Catholics in Ireland, a patriot obsessed with colonial abuses of power, and an enemy of empire .

        He was not a reactionary and yet remained a skeptic of unbridled liberal aspirations to improve society. He was a conservative Whig, and a liberal conservative. It’s that prudential balance – partaking of both traditions in Anglo-American thought and practice, and tacking toward one or to the other depending on the specific circumstances of time, people and place that makes him, in my mind, a conservative.

        For a conservative should not be implacably hostile to liberalism (let alone demonize it), but should be alert to its insights, and deeply aware of the need to change laws and government in response to unstoppable change in human society. Equally, a liberal can learn a lot from conservatism’s doubts about utopia, from the conservative concern with history, tradition and the centrality of culture in making human beings, and from conservatism’s love and enjoyment of the world as-it-is, even as it challenges the statesman or woman to nudge it toward the future. The goal should not be some new country or a new world order or even a return to a pristine past that never existed: but to adapt to necessary social and cultural change by trying as hard as one can to make it coherent with what the country has long been; to recognize, as Orwell did, that a country, even if it is to change quite markedly, should always be trying somehow to remain the same.

        That is rooted simply in a love of one’s own, in feelings of pride in one’s country or family or tradition. And unlike liberalism, conservatism does not shy from these sub-rational parts of what being human is. They are not to be conquered by sweet reason, because they cannot be. They need to be channeled, not extinguished, guided not fetishized. A conservative will be a patriot, but not a nationalist. He will be proud of his own country but never tempted to argue that it is a model for all humankind, or that it can be exported to distant, different places with vastly different histories.

        This means a true conservative – who is, above all, an anti-ideologue – will often be attacked for alleged inconsistency, for changing positions, for promising change but not a radical break with the past, for pursuing two objectives – like liberty and authority, or change and continuity – that seem to all ideologues as completely contradictory.”

        Calvin

         
      • Cluster

        February 17, 2014 at 6:45 am

        …to recognize, as Orwell did, that a country, even if it is to change quite markedly, should always be trying somehow to remain the same.

        Well let me remind you that you guys voted twice for a guy who promised to “fundamentally transform this country”. And he is actually doing it, for the worse.

        I don’t need to defend Ted Cruz, he is very capable of doing that himself, and I think his voice in the Senate is one that needs to be heard. He is a nice contrast to the old, white, milquetoast, docile voices of Reid and his group that’s for sure. And i will also remind you that Cruz does not lead the Senate, which recently broke with tradition and ended the filibuster, so he can not be held to account for that bodies dismal performance.

        In this Congress, the House has passed and sent over to the Senate 253 bills. In stark contrast, the Senate has sent to the House 63 bills. The Senate produces only one quarter of what the House does. while House Republicans have allowed minority Democrats to offer 71 recorded amendments, Senate Democrats have allowed Republicans only four. Senate Democrats seem concerned only with protecting themselves from taking votes that might anger their liberal donors or their voters. They do this by closing off debate, eliminating amendments, changing Senate rules meant to protect the minority, and writing their bills in secret, shutting out Republican voices and input.

        And the debt limit vote was held in public so the CSPAN couldn’t who voted for what. That’s how dysfunctional the Senate has become under Harry Reid. And Pelosi? Pelosi recent said that the Founding Fathers would embrace the ACA. I tell you, you guys should be proud of her – she’s a sharp cookie. I will leave you with the following quote to contemplate:

        “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” – James Madison

         
      • mitchethekid

        February 17, 2014 at 7:27 am

        When Cruz defends himself he reconfirms that he is the embodiment of the fanaticism of the Tea Party. And on occasion he builds credibility by denying he was involved in any way of the government shutting down. The guy reading the Dr.Seuss book was his evil twin Trixie. People like Cruz and the Tea Party do nothing to elevated conservatism. To be a bit histrionic, they horrify people. Not only is Cruz deaf, he’s blind as well. And it seems to be intentional.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

        When speaking of antagonism in government, one need look no further than the GOP and tea party. Dems may be guilty from time to time, but GOP obstructionism under Obama is unprecedented and extremely harmful to proper governance. So pardon me if I don’t take right wing crocodile tears seriously.

        It’s disingenuous to present recent debt ceiling debates as routine. Debt limit votes have often been opportunity for posturing and good partisan political theater, hence conservatives giddily pointing their fingers at Obama voting against a rise in 2006, but the GOP’s refusal to bring a clean bill to the floor in 2013 had very serious consequences for the country; it’s proper to characterize their unrealistic demands as hostage taking. “School yard tactics” and “civilized forums” indeed. Crocodile tears.

         
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 9:53 am

        Your ignorance of recent history is astounding, and your profound rigid ideology is extreme.

         
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

        Yet another ad hominem while completely ignoring content! Are you trying to set a record, Mr. Civility?

         
      • 02casper

        February 16, 2014 at 10:26 am

        Cluster says:
        February 16, 2014 at 9:41 am

        “The good faith and credit of the US is NEVER at risk. We bring in enough revenue to meet our obligations without a debt limit hike. It’s a matter of priorities.”

        And the priorities were set during the budgeting process. Congress decided at that point what to spend.

         
      • Cluster

        February 16, 2014 at 11:05 am

        You guys are missing my point here with this post (no surprise). I am in search of pragmatist, objective, problem solving, critical thinking. No ideological gotchas, or routine government procedural information.

        What we are doing politically, both procedurally and rhetorically, is NOT working. It would be nice if we could all leave our agendas, and preconceived notions at the door and objectively bring forth some new ideas. Just for one post. Then you can resume the mud slinging.

         
      • mitchethekid

        February 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm

        Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the debt ceiling political jargon for paying already agreed upon obligations? As far as sterilizing ourselves of partisanship, stereotypes, agenda’s etc I think it’s a grand idea. Now, how to we implement it, create an environment where it can flourish and not eventually turn into the very thing we are created it for in the first place?

         
      • Cluster

        February 17, 2014 at 6:31 am

        We bring in enough revenue to pay our interests and essentials and we need to reevaluate our “obligations”, that’s been the argument all along. Years ago my son “obligated” me to pay for a very expensive laptop. I evaluated our financial position and said no.

         
      • mitchethekid

        February 17, 2014 at 6:57 am

        That’s funny. Did he ask first?

         
      • 02casper

        February 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

        Cluster says:
        February 16, 2014 at 11:05 am

        “You guys are missing my point here with this post (no surprise). I am in search of pragmatist, objective, problem solving, critical thinking. No ideological gotchas, or routine government procedural information.

        What we are doing politically, both procedurally and rhetorically, is NOT working. It would be nice if we could all leave our agendas, and preconceived notions at the door and objectively bring forth some new ideas. Just for one post.”

        Ok, you want an example of thinking outside the box. How about the way Iceland handled the finacial crisis.

        http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-27/let-banks-fail-becomes-iceland-mantra-as-2-joblessness-in-sight.html

         
      • Cluster

        February 17, 2014 at 6:28 am

        If you’re advocating ending bail outs, which Iceland did not do, you will get no argument from me. Conservatives were opposed to TARP I which was cited as a national emergency by both Congressional leaders Reid and Pelosi and rushed into passage. A few months later, the new president Obama cited that without another $800 billion stimulus, we would fall into an economic abyss, then we bailed out the unions in Detroit, and now we will soon bail out health insurance companies per the ACA law. So you are exactly right when you say that we need to let institutions and people fail. Failure is actually a huge part of success.

         
      • Marner

        February 17, 2014 at 6:56 am

        According to the CBO, insurance companies will be paying the government twice as much as the government will be paying them. That’s quite the bailout.

         
      • 02casper

        February 17, 2014 at 8:01 am

        Mitch,
        Cruz is one of the best things Democrats have going right now. He hurts his party much more than theirs.

        Cluster,
        What Iceland did right was put resources into the safety net instead of going the austarity route. They care more about their people than the banks.

         
  2. rustybrown2012

    February 16, 2014 at 10:59 am

    My hope is that someday, we could have that national dialogue absent the perceived self superiority issues.

    And…cue the ad hominem attacks! Maybe I should start a new list for glaring hypocrisy and sanctimony.

     
    • Cluster

      February 16, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Here’s an ad hominem attack (since you seem to like that word today and play the victim very well I might add)

      A tree squirrel is superior to you.

       
      • rustybrown2012

        February 16, 2014 at 11:26 am

        I repeat ad hominem ad nauseam because that seems to be all you’re capable of in this noble post of yours calling for an end to the vitriol. Hint: if you lament mud slinging you shouldn’t be the first one to sling mud.

         
  3. watsonthethird

    February 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Case in point was the current debt ceiling debate, a debate of which we have had several times throughout the past few decades, and a debate of which is often shaped by compromise. Yet this time, and last, the supporters of the increase, framed the debate as “hostage taking” if 100% their demands were not met.

    I wonder whether the premise of your complaint is actually true. Perhaps there has been “debate” “several times throughout the past few decades.” but I believe there have only been three times in which the so-called debate reached the crisis stage. These would be the crises of 1995-6, 2011, and 2013, all instigated by Republican controlled congresses against Democratic presidents, supposedly in the name of fiscal responsibility.

    But since the Ronald Reagan era, Republicans as a group have essentially never demonstrated fiscal responsibility. In the latest hostage-taking crisis, Republicans wanted to demand some sort of concession from the president for raising the debt ceiling only weeks after agreeing to a budget to fund the government. If they did not want to increase the debt, why did congress approve such a budget in the first place? And if the Republicans’ motives were as altruistic as you seem to think they were, why was it that they flailed away floating one hostage after another, making it appear that any hostage would be suitable so long as they had one?

    I know you will trot out the Obama quote about raising the debt ceiling when he was a senator, but I’d love to see some background about these so-called debates.

    Yet this time, and last, the supporters of the increase, framed the debate as “hostage taking” if 100% their demands were not met. This tactic drowned out any sensible debate on what a compromise would look like, and was simply used as a club to diminish the opposition.

    So-called supporters of the increase understand that increasing the debt ceiling is a necessary procedural move because congress has already approved spending the money. It has to be done. Attempting to attaching strings to it just makes the Republicans look like petulant children, which is basically the way they have been behaving since President Obama took office, and especially since Tea Party Republicans took office. I don’t see that there is any compromise to be had. The time of compromise was when congress fashioned the budgets and approved the spending of the money in the first place.

    You do realize that the debt ceiling is a twentieth century invention and not enshrined in the constitution right? Maybe it’s time for it to be a twenty-first century casualty and be done away with.

     
 
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