Know your enemy

Insty quotes the Backseat Philosopher:

Many Democrats think that our patience and understanding are our weakness. “We don’t know how to fight like the Republicans,” we all told ourselves after Florida 2000. “We have to be more like them: tougher, meaner.” “We have to energize our base more.”

Actually, no. Our error is that we Democrats actually are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. “Well, he can’t help himself, he’s a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he’s going to think like that.” “Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. ” “Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can’t deal with their secret desires.” Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.

’tis true. I’ve encountered precisely five Democrats who have been willing to engage openly and directly on matters political in the first year of this blog, Hank, Strange, AbleArt, Ihatedashrub and one other whose name I am forgetting. This, despite the fact that I’m not even a Republican – though admittedly a right wing extremist by an reasonable definition of the political spectrum. There hasn’t exactly been a shortage of hysterical Three Monkey Republicans hurling invective and getting their panties in a bunch over my series of attacks on George Delano, but that’s been a distinct minority whereas in my experience with Democrats, that sort of behavior has been the norm.

That is the behavior of a weak idealogue who has little confidence or understanding of his own ideas, not an intellectual. But regardless, no matter how intelligent you are, bad data will sink you every single time. When someone who does not strike you as a lunatic says something that sounds whacked-out crazy to you, that should be your sign to investigate the matter more thoroughly. Sure, sometimes it will turn out to be the nonsensical blather of a high-functioning lunatic, but occasionally you’ll find out that you simply didn’t know or understand what the salient points were and your original position must be modified accordingly.