Thursday, December 15, 2011

ReasonTV on civility

In probably their greatest short video ever, ReasonTV captures the absurdity of ahistorical claims about how "uncivil" modern political rhetoric has become. Take a look:

Everyone who gets tired of "negative campaigning" needs to remember how terrible bipartisanship is. Seriously. What do we get when both sides of the aisle work together? Let's see, how about

  • more government spending
  • more military intervention in foreign countries
  • more government intervention in our lives
  • more executive powers granted to the president.
In other words, when Republicans and Democrats work together, there's no limit to how much damage they can do to our freedom.

There is a good explanation for this, I think. The spirit of cooperativeness stems from a spirit of nationalism, a sense of solidarity with one another as "Americans." When we apply this name to ourselves for the sake of political solidarity, it unfortunately means that we begin to embrace American exceptionalism: the idea that we are the chosen people of the world and we can do anything. This may sound radical, but I'm really troubled by nationalism, and sometimes I even question this whole nation-state idea that everyone in the whole world embraces in our day.

All that aside, even if you think that politicians should be nice and civil to each other all the time, maybe it at least puts things into perspective to know that our politicians have always taken jabs at one another. I personally think that spirit of competition between politicians is a good thing. Never trust politicians who like each other. That only makes it easier for them to get away with cheating you.

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