Crossing Lines: Post-Mortem and Thoughts

OK, so my experiment of people indicating what they respect, admire or even like about their ideological counterparts was a bit messier than I anticipated. The fact that there was some friction wasn’t surprising, but I had the crazy notion that somehow people would just play along for the hell of it.

The question you might ask is, why? Why did I do this? To increase traffic on the blog? Certainly, I didn’t expect 71 comments. I would have been happy with 10.

Did I want to reach some consensus between both sides of the ideological fence? Yes, sort of, but not as a way of compromising one’s beliefs. My objective was to (hopefully) point out that despite our sometimes bitter differences, most of us are average, decent folks with similar basic human needs: security, freedom, a comfortable living, etc.

Alex thought that my question was too-ideologically centered: Like everybody else, I have “neighbor, co-worker, family member” (s) who hold opposite views than mine, and whom I either admire or respect for traits that are not ideologically-based. I totally agree that there are traits we admire and respect in others that having nothing to do with political parties or “left or right”. But the essence of who were are is based to a large extent on our ideology, whether on the individual or group-level. A properly formed personal ideology is arrived at only after much independent thought and careful consideration. In fact, I would venture to say that’s how most of us came to be liberals, conservatives, libertarians, etc. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an ideology. That doesn’t mean, however, that we give up on our common sense that we used to arrive at our core set of values. In this polarized day and age, we’ve become too entrenched in our ideologies and have forgotten how to think for ourselves.

Based on the limited sample in the comments, there’s still much bitterness, personal and ideological, to get over on both sides. Despite the near free-for-all that ensued in the comment thread, I was able to get some good stuff, even if I had to dig for it or turn a perceived negative into a positive.

Here’s what Republicans/Conservatives either liked, respected, admired or just plain tolerate about Democrats/Liberals:

- Sensitivity, creativity and artistic talents (great interior designers, make-up artists, choreographers); supportive of helping the less fortunate and rooting out discrimination.

(An aside: I wasn’t going to single anyone’s comment out, but I have to give kudos to Jorge Costales for being the only person to following my desired format and providing the most unbiased and thought-provoking response. The helping the less fortunate and rooting out discrimination comment was his.)

Here’s what Democrats/Liberals either liked, respected, admired or just plain tolerated of their counterparts:

- Personal responsibility, self-sufficiency and perseverance, civic-oriented and willing to help others; fiscal prudence and support of personal freedoms.

To me, the common theme that jumps out is one of helping/assisting others. Not surprising in the least. You could even draw a thread between personal freedom and helping the downtrodden. Or maybe perseverance and being a skilled and successful artist, for example.

A thought crossed my mind while Alex and George were jostling back and forth about the Constitution: did the Founding Father share the same ideology. I’m no expert on the Founding Fathers, but it’s unlikely that a group of highly intelligent men could share the same political and even philosophical thoughts. They did agree on one thing, however. On what the burgeoning Republic needed, not just to survive, but to prosper. Who knows? They may have even tried some version of my exercise. Is there a group of people in the early 21st century that can put aside ideological differences and concentrate on what America needs to continue our unparalleled record of prosperity? I think so, but it’s time for them to make themselves known. Perhaps we can help.

Dolphins Season Over

The Miami Dolphins finished a season which by most accounts was a disappointment today, losing 30-24 to Pittsburgh. Last year’s magical run in which they won the division, eliminating the hated Jets AND Patriots on the last day of the season was one of those things that is too “don’t-wake-me-up-if-I’m-dreaming” to happen very often. Instead, this year we have the Patriots in and the Jets pretty close to being in as of this writing, while the Dolphins watch from the sidelines this post-season.

Stats-wise, the most obvious difference between last year and this year is turnovers. Last year, the Dolphins barely turned the ball over. This year, they turned it over too much. Last year, they didn’t lose key players like Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown and Jason Ferguson with big chunks of the season left. This year, their schedule was much tougher. Last year, the secondary held up. This year, it was perhaps the team’s biggest weakness.

Still, the 2009 Dolphins had the same fight as the 2008 division-winning version. They had no business having a shot to win any of the last 3 games after falling behind by more than 2 touchdowns. Each time, however, they made a big push just to fall short. Today’s near-comeback was all the more remarkable because it was their third-string quarterback leading them back against the defending Super Bowl champs (alas, Tyler Thigpen showed us why he’s third-string with those two big interceptions late in the game). The Parcells-Sparano spunk and fight, however, should not be minimized because of the 7-9 record. The Dolphins are a tough, physical team, no longer the team perceived as “soft” throughout much of Dan Marino’s era. This is the style that wins championships. Find a few of those missing pieces to work around a developing Chad Henne, and the Dolphins could very well contend for much of the 2010’s.

Mixed Signals

The good: Miami Herald’s editorial board’s latest Sunday editorial hammers home the need for government to cut spending and budget deficits.

The bad: It proposes new taxes as a solution:

Only by spending less and getting more revenue can the government avoid new rounds of crushing debt. New taxes could hobble the economic recovery, but the government has to find ways to balance its books. It must look for savings in programs. A war surtax is worth considering, too.

Perhaps a small increase in the federal gasoline tax, which could bring in tens of billions of dollars, is warranted. A broad consumption tax, eliminating exemptions in the income tax (and cutting rates), a carbon tax — all of these are measures that may be necessary in order to get out of a very big hole.

Some ideas have more merit than others. As the year goes on, we will be examining fiscal-rescue plans and the proposals that President Obama has promised to offer in greater depth. What is beyond question at this point is that South Florida cannot hope to regain its economic strength unless the federal government puts its own fiscal house in order.

More bad news: the esteemed Herald editorial board may not realize that by fully supporting the healthcare bill in Congress, they’re undermining their own desire for control in government spending.

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