Friday, January 11, 2008

Knee-jerking Political Responses

I just read Joe Conason's piece in Salon on the press and Hillary-bashing (thanks Blurbomat for linking it)--and I immediately wanted to take up the cudgels for Clinton again. That I'm not going to is testimony to my not wanting to be the old Kettle calling out the Pot. Or, to put it plain, my jumping to Hillary's defense is as much as kneejerk as is those who rant against her based on ad hominem attacks and, thus, is equally dangerous (not to mention stupid, etc. etc. etc.).

I've spent the past couple of days posing the question to myself: What is it about the political scene that makes me foam at the mouth, screech at my friends and generally turn into a harpy?

Is it when people disagree with me? Am I that narcissistic that I cannot bear dissent among my ranks? I don't think so. I have friends, people I truly care about, across the political-age- gender-yadayadayada spectrum, and I have friends whose political-age-gender-yadayadayada I don't know. Certainly I would prefer that we all, as the immortal Rodney King put it, "just get along," but I recognize that we can do that while disagreeing, vehemently even, about issues.

No, what drives me nuts is sloppy thinking. Kneejerk responses, quoting the pundits as gospel, refusing to think a thing through because...why should I when it's all laid out for me in the news/press/community conversation. I despair particularly when such thinking comes from educated folk, who were taught the basics of critical thinking as part of their general undergraduate eduction.

Critical thinking--that is what's missing from the discourse. The willingness to examine a topic from all sides, to unpack the arguments, to decide for ones self with whom one agrees--that's what is lost with knee jerk responses. I quoted Aristotle a couple of days ago because he set the bar for critical thinking. I'm going to go scare up my old texts, see what he says, lay it out here for all and sundry to use. It's what I'll do this election, rather than pushing for a particular candidate.

Because--what hope is there for all of us when the best of us refuse to participate in a thoughtful way?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Evidently Public Radio is in your corner. In an attempt to get people to look beyond the candidate and delve into the issues at hand they have this on their website....

    Food for thought for those set in stone friends...


So--whaddaya think?