I said yesterday that we should be humble enough to recognize others can disagree with us on policy or strategy without being morally deficient. This is especially true for those in our own political party. Politics is a blood sport, and those of is involved in politics have deeply held convictions. Because of this, it is easy for us to condemn those who disagree with us personally instead of simply disagreeing with their ideas or arguments. This is something we should not do.
I have often failed to uphold this standard, so I am writing to myself as much as to a wider audience.
Here are a few examples: Someone who advances a particular policy agenda after a tragedy is not necessarily exploiting that tragedy for his personal gain. Someone who opposes a candidate in his own party is not necessarily a sellout or a traitor. Someone who disagrees with us on a contentious moral issue might have legitimate reasons for doing so and may be able to express those reasons in a consistent, understandable way. Just because someone supports abortion rights, for example, does not automatically make him a bad person.
Instead of assuming that X is morally deficient because he disagrees with you on policy or strategy, why not consider what he has to say? After a long discussion, I may be unconvinced of the validity of your argument and may even be more resolute in my own convictions than I was before. That does not automatically mean that you are a bad person or that you are acting immorally because you disagree with me. It only means that you and I disagree.
Now, let’s be very clear. There are morally depraved people. There are liars. There are thieves. There are hypocrites. There are degenerates. There are people who have been bribed, or who bribe others. There are corrupt politicians who try to hide what they are doing from the people. In cases where this is true, we should not be afraid to speak the truth, and we should not be afraid to condemn actions that spring from the root of corruption. I am not advocating and will never advocate that we should refrain from speaking the truth about this.
But we can all do better. I can do better. Let’s try that.