Here’s a query I got recently and thought was worth responding to:
I’d like to make a suggestion: You have a lot of insightful and important things to say. Do you think it’s constructive to engage in as much snark as you do? It seems to me like it serves to rile up people who are on your ideological side, and I suppose I could see some constructive purpose in doing that. But I would suggest we’d all be better off if political discourse was based more on humane and rational conversation and a shared commitment to building consensus about justice and finding the truth. I see your point that the right often represents entrenched power, and it may be necessary to struggle against that. But what about people like me, basically of liberal sympathies but not allied to the left per se, who are turned off by this tone of discourse? What about thoughtful and humane conservatives that might actually be convinced to change their policy positions? I guess it seems to me like your considerable talents and moral decency might be better served in a more consensus building, persuading, and a less base-riling, partisan role. I’ll keep reading your blog, but the bitterness will often leave me a bit sad, and thinking you could be doing better.
For one thing, I think this message reflects a widespread confusion about what it is to be “partisan.” Find me someone who thinks Olympia Snowe is history’s greatest monster but Ben Nelson is a great man and I’ll show you a partisan. I’m just someone with political views that are more liberal than the views of most Americans.
As for the rest, I think humane and rational conversation is important and I like to think that plenty of the posts on this blog are dedicated to it. But there are also a lot of liars and idiots in the world and subjecting them to scorn and mockery is part of what you’ve got to do in life.