Introduction

 

There is no scarcity of political and social commentary these days, but the scarcity of CIVIL political and social commentary is troublesome. I hope this blog can help fill that void. If you have grown tired of reading vitriolic commentary where people tend to shout (well, e-shout) and call each other names, this might be the blog for you.  If you have grown tired of finger pointing, blaming, scapegoating, and mindless commentary, this might be the blog for you.  If you want the opportunity to read ideas that contradict your own, but in a civil manner, this might be the blog for you.

I’m a political scientist (don’t judge) and administrator at a liberal arts college in the American Midwest, and I’ve been in academia since 1978 (you can read a brief personal bio in the Basic Information section). My liberal students think I’m conservative and my conservative students think I’m liberal.  The truth is that traditional liberal and conservative labels no longer work, but we keep holding on to them as if they are sacred.

I start from the premise that very few public policy decisions are based on objective data; most are just written on a whim to satisfy the constituent of the moment or in response to a specific event (gun control after a school shooting, environmental laws after an oil spill, etc.). It seems obvious to me that policy choices should be somewhat clear when science or data DO support a conclusion, and that could happen much more often than it currently does .

Here are the basic rules for my blog:

  • I will offer ideas, often controversial, and will cite objective data (when available) supporting an argument.  Other times I will offer a personal view and defend it.  You may then offer counter arguments or ideas.  Be assured that you may change my mind because I know I have not yet cornered the market on political truth.
  • No responses may attack an individual, use coarse language, or be otherwise belligerent or hostile.  If you cannot post a comment without using such terms as libtard, extra chromosome, stupid, snowflake, wingnut, loser, Hitlerian, moonbat, conservatard, Neanderthal, or mouth breather, please find your idea fix elsewhere. In fact, I think the discourse will be much more thoughtful if we don’t even refer to “left-wing” or “right-wing” ideas.  They are just ideas.  The question is whether the ideas bear scrutiny.
  • Uncivil posts will not be approved for publication (Sorry. I do not like censorship but I dislike discourteous conversation even more).

I do understand that these rules will eliminate a segment of society, people who enjoy being rude and who refuse to engage in civil debate, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m fairly certain most of you look forward to debate without those folks as well.

My goal is to post ideas at least twice each week, but posts may be more frequent as public events unfold. Some posts will be long (hopefully not too long), and others will be shorter. I will always provide sources when I cite statistics or other specific information, but I don’t plan to bother with formal citations unless my academic colleagues reprimand me.

I hope this endeavor will be successful because I’m weary of the current state of political discourse.  If you enjoy reading and participating I hope you will let others know so we can try to spread this radical idea of civility. If you don’t enjoy it, keep it to yourself!!

 

5 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. Great introduction. I could not agree more with your analysis of the current state of our republic. The partisan divide appears to have directed us to a place where the value of facts are based on who said it. Evidence based conclusions are equal to those conclusions supported by mere rhetoric. The appreciation for logic and reason in our discussions over legitimate national issues is minimal. At some point we must hold “the fourth estate” somewhat responsible. We also must hold ourselves, the voters, accountable for seeking out information which reaffirms our predetermined conclusions. With personal freedom comes personal responsibility and we are taking the former for granted by neglecting the latter.

    Thank you for this. I have felt like a radical for being an independent-moderate over the last year. I look forward to keeping up with this blog and sharing it with others.

  2. Great stuff David. You quote many stats and percentages but I have to say that after believing in the polls that were being published up to election day I now am rater reluctant to put mush trust in them. I do appreciate you adding these in and providing the references but I guess we’ll see over time if they hold true. I do have a question for you – why does it matter if the 1% hold the wealth? It just seems like supply and demand when it comes to executives, companies are willing to pay large salaries, people take the job and get paid for the agreement they have with the company. It just seems like this is the basic idea of capitalism. I work for a company that seems to be a revolving door of senior management but there is really nothing I can do about it and I’m not sure it matters.

    and on a final note, you do have at least one really great kid, nice parenting.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful post and comments. I understand your concern regarding polls, and to a certain extent I agree. There is some difference in results from polls tracking political candidates and those asking questions about attitude; people may be more willing tell pollsters how they feel about an issue more than which candidate they support. And in last year’s presidential election the polls were generally correct because Clinton did win the popular vote by more than two million votes, but the polls failed to identify particular states’ voters accurately.

      I plan a future post about wealth distribution, but I’ll just quickly say that wealth equals political power, and that means having greater control over elections. In fact I will mention that problem in a post within the next week or so. Wealth also gives individuals control over the companies from which we buy products, thus having an impact on our lives; when my insurance company raises my premiums to increase profits while simultaneously paying its CEO more than a 100 million dollars, I’m the one who is adversely affected.

      And thanks for the kind remarks about our kids; they are all great people. I give their mom all the credit.

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