Friends and Enemies
Does politics have to be a bloodsport?
I have only become more impressed with Wayne Hoffman since I started work at Idaho Freedom Foundation. His knowledge and experience with Idaho politics is unmatched, but I especially respect how he is able to sit down and have conversations with almost anyone. News media calls him an extremist, but he is willing and able to engage in discourse with people from the far right to the far left, without compromising his own principles.
That has been my goal as well ever since I started this foray into the world of political discourse. I want to be able to have productive dialogue with people who run the gamut of political opinions, keeping an open mind yet never straying from my beliefs. For the most part it has worked out.
This path is not without peril. Every time I say anything remotely kind about so-called establishment figures I hear scorn from my right. They tell me we’re at war.
On the other side, I recently got dogpiled because I disagreed with how one of my legislators voted on a particular issue. It wasn’t merely spirited debate, rather it brought all sorts of people out of the woodwork - many of whom do not follow the issues at all - who were offended I would dare disagree with their guy.
It’s okay to disagree in politics. I will do my best to always play it straight when I’m engaging with people on the issues. If my representatives vote contrary to what I believe is right, I will say so. On the other hand, when they vote in a way I agree with, I will say so too. I don’t want to get caught up in this paradigm where I’m not allowed to say good things about one person or bad things about another.
However, one thing I have been learning recently is that there are some people who are not worth engaging with: Sophists who play word games rather than engaging in good faith. Midwits who still smugly bring up my tweet from six weeks ago as if it were damning. Self-proclaimed Republicans who follow me on Twitter in hopes that I’ll say something they can take out of context and try to cancel me. These people are not worth my time, nor yours.
Basically, if you’re willing to engage in good faith, then I will reciprocate.
The friend/enemy distinction is important to keep in mind. I’ve seen too many conservatives sucked into the corrupting vortex of power rather than stand their ground. On the other hand, marginalizing yourself doesn’t help anything either. I wrote about that tension over a year ago. If you want to get things done in politics you need to find a way to work with a wide spectrum of people while never compromising your core values. Or, to put it a way a friend explained it, build bridges, but make sure they’re on a solid foundation.
One thing I’ve learned is that politics is less Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and more Mean Girls. Personalities and egos often drive the agenda more than good policy. I don’t care much for interpersonal drama but it would be unwise to ignore it and pretend it does not exist. I will continue doing my best to write about the news, not the drama, and to remain above the fray. I will not always succeed, but that’s my goal.
In any case, I need to go get ready for tonight’s Canyon County Lincoln Day Dinner. Maybe I’ll see you you there!
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