Today’s column by HuffPost Business Editor Peter Goodman is both inspiring and a breath of fresh air. His blog is aimed at the role of journalists today, and how media today has contributed to the false notion that the important issues of the day can be divided into Left and Right. It’s an intelligent look at not only how journalists should cover these issues, but really, how Americans should approach them as well.
In short, Goodman is saying it’s not about a bogus Left/Right framing. What’s more, it’s also not saying that all issues have a common center where the “answer” lies. It’s about our objectivity. We, like our nation’s journalists, have a responsibility to not rely on those sources with staked out ideological positions to think for us. Each of us can and should make our OWN ideological position.
There are so many examples, many cited in his column, where the issues of our day are ridiculous to frame as Left or Right. And it’s just as ridiculous to say there is a safe middle for many of these issues. Here at PurpleGround, we are saying that our issues usually start with most Americans in agreement: The need to reduce the deficit, lower health care costs, reduce dependency on oil, secure our borders, reform education, generate job growth, etc. Goodman’s point is that we are doing ourselves a severe disservice to try and answer these issues in black and white, left or right terms – and it’s a cop-out to say the answer is always half-way between each position.
Rather, by starting on the common ground on the importance of an issue, it should lead to a respectful dialog on the different approaches to the solution. And ultimately, it should mean an individual – be it an everyday American, a journalist/blogger, and especially an elected representative of the people – should make their OWN position based on what they have learned and gathered.
When you fall into the ideological trap, you get backed into corners of believing your side has the absolute truth, and by adopting that truth as your own, you close yourself to alternatives. It is just as ridiculous for any liberal to say we can ignore the deficit, as it is for any conservative to say we should kick out all illegal immigrants. You debase the argument if you maintain that everything labor unions want is fair and necessary, as much as if you maintain that there should be a removal of all business regulations.
I’ll close by quoting directly from Goodman’s closing thoughts: “Left and right are the props of the cynical class who use them to convey a sense of sophistication in place of the messy, difficult work of finding things out, uncovering truths and reckoning with social problems in their fullest human dimensions. We need to aim for better.”
I loved this Common Sense approach to dialog. Thanks Chris!! How about we get all the liberals and conservatives together who believe in dialog and start a 3rd group. (Not necessarily middle of the road, just open to honest discussion!) And it won’t be called Congress because we won’t be trying to say the junk that gets us re-elected!
Great article Chris! I like Goodman’s perspective, especially coming from the Huffpost.