Political Tolerance, Walter Lippman, and Sundays

Contempt of Congress
political tolerance
Democracy depends on political tolerance and the ability to debate. If absolutism reigns, democracy crumbles.

My Country – Political Tolerance

Continuing off of President Jefferson‘s First Inaugural, Justice Douglas quotes Walter Lippman. Lippman wrote the book Public Opinion and was one of the founding editors of The New Republic. Lippman argued that many great nations declined and fell when the people became irreconcilably divided and the when politicians became enemies. Instead of trying to win an election, the politicians would devise schemes to destroy one another.

In the democracies that are foundering, and there are many of them, the underlying bonds have been ruptured which hold men together through all their differences in one community. The parties deny the good faith and loyalty of the opposition. Partisanship is a license to outlaw and ruin political opponents. When such a rupture of faith and confidence has occurred, democratic government and free institutions are no longer workable.

Justice Douglas concludes his thoughts on political tolerance with “There is beginning in the end of liberty when a difference of opinion becomes confused with treason or disloyalty.”

Walter Lippman

Where Are We With Political Tolerance?

Lippman’s statements about how democracy becomes no longer workable as partisanship rises may be one of the most prescient message of political tolerance we need today. It’s hard not to look at the action of Senator McConnell when President Obama became president to question if his design was to destroy the democratic systems. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Nothing in that statement looks at the good faith of politics. Instead, it is a license to ruin political opponents and see a political opponent as an enemy. His philosophy kills political tolerance.

Now, we have a President who defines opponents as evil and as enemies. Just one glance through his Twitter feed and you will see Democrats called evil, bad, losers, and many other nice expressions.

Additionally, the nation appears to have lost its faith and confidence in our system. Over 40% of millennials are neutral or worse on the concept of democracy. They have lived in a system where the political parties fight, normal people’s lives are forgotten, and they have to pick up their own pieces. At the core, community has broken and with it democracy.

How To Repair Political Tolerance?

I believe one of the most important tactics to improve political tolerance must come from the end of horse race journalism. When everything becomes defined as winners or losers, no one wants to associate with the losers. Instead of pushing ideas or concepts, journalism focuses on the percentage of likelihoods of who wins and loses. And this has a place in the dialogue. But this is not sports.

In sports, you have an opposition that you are attempting to destroy. You want to beat the opposing team. But no one believes that the other team commits treason by every action. They are playing a game.

In politics, no matter the actions, name-calling ends an argument. You can to call out the injustices or errors in someone’s approach, but in the end, compromise must exist. Otherwise, you have two stubborn children unable to talk. Political tolerance needs compromise – not absolutism.

But most of all, it needs voices – everyone’s voice.

Daily Briefing

  • This may mean the firing of Director Comey. Beginning to seem a bit Watergate-y.
  • Last time, Indian men were shot and one was killed. This time a Sikh was shot and told to leave the country. As usual, no words from the White House.
  • Alex Oronov has died. “Andrii  Artemenko conspired with Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen and Trump’s mafia connected former business associate Felix Sater to craft a plot which involved Trump blackmailing the Ukrainian president out of power and installing Artemenko in his place.” Oronov was involved in this plot. It’s like a season of The Americans.
  • Lobbyists back working for the White House. More swamp draining into the Old Executive Building.
  • The wave of antisemitism should upset everyone. Yet, I still barely hear anything about it. Help out the communities that continue to be hurt.

Daily Distraction

I read a lot today and gave the dog a bath with Brian. Enjoying the sun, reading a few comics, and chasing around a wet dog. I got nothing else.

One Sentence Story

You probably need to use only one tablespoon of batter and the rest – streusel.

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