Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rosenberg is wrong, life can be good

Matt Rosenberg is correct in his assessment of politics (in relation to a wiki-politics site like moreperfect.org): "people need a little bit of blood and guts to really become engaged in politics," he said. "Politics is a contact sport."

What he is wrong about is that he seems to assume that it is supposed to be this way. Politics, and our democracy, I've heard recently described (pdf file) "how any given society functions to achieve ends transcending social tensions." (emphasis mine). Transcending social tensions, not becoming social tensions.

According to Morris Fiorina politics are a contact sport because the 20 percent who care a lot, and aren't worried about compromise, control the conversation. They are the loudest, they are the most eager, and they hardly ever listen.

Better put by him:
Republican and Democratic elites unquestionably have polarized. But it is a mistake to assume that such elite polarization is equally present in the broader public. It is not. However much they may claim that they are responding to the public, political elites do not take extreme positions because voters make them. Rather, by presenting them with polarizing alternatives, elites make voters appear polarized, but the reality shows through clearly when voters have a choice of more moderate alternatives...
Democracy isn't just about being heard, it is also about listening and compromising.

We all compromise in our daily lives. We compromise with our families, our children, friends, and especially at work. We don't see this as a failure, but rather as a good way of getting things done. Its effective, and in the end everyone gets close to what they want. Only the most selfish person would ever go through life never compromising.

And democracy is just life with people you don't know, but you still should listen. So, yes, something like moreperfect.org can and should work.

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