The overwhelming consensus is that President Obama hit all the right notes in his Tucson speech earlier this week. I know I was moved and inspired by it.
On the one hand the President said, “let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not,” but at the same time he implored:
Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.
That balancing act–not casting blame while also urging a civic soul-searching was underscored by this passage:
If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate — as it should — let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.
Which brings me to today’s mishmash of a column by David Brooks, who appears to attribute our political polarization to American society’s increasingly narcissistic streak. To me, the reason for our entrenched political divisions is better explained by Paul Krugman’s column today.
But one sentence near the end of Brooks’ column jumped out at me:
President Obama’s speech in Tucson was a good step, but there will have to be a bipartisan project like comprehensive tax reform to get people conversing again.
This would seem to apply to many of our polarized debates mired in antagonism and suspicion, especially climate change.
So this got me thinking: what if there was a bloggy bipartisan project on climate change and energy issues, which brought together varied voices under one roof? Right now, all we have are mostly blog silos (I’m referring to the popular sites), where the opposing camps go for comfort food and confirmation of their views, notwithstanding the comment threads where people sometimes duke it out.
The point of a Bipartisan Climate Project on the web is that it would be a civil platform for strong and varied voices across the spectrum to co-exist and converse with one another. Given that we have a lull in the political/policy sphere regarding climate and energy issues, such a project might also help to re-energize and sharpen debate.
I have some ideas on who I would want to participate in this project. But first I’d like to hear your nominations, or if you even think this is a good idea.
Are the fever dreams of the right worse than the fever dreams of the left? I’d say they obviously are, but that’s a matter for evidence and argument, not listicles. But nobody on the right is ever going to acknowledge this anyway. They really do think of carbon taxes as tantamount to Stalinism and they really do think of national healthcare as a socialist experiment in starting up death panels for old people. I’m not even sure how you have a conversation about this stuff.