How far have we come from the days when dissent was patriotic?

Back when George W. Bush was president, a certain senator from New York got herself into a shrill tantrum and said, “We should stand up and say ‘We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.’”

I don’t like to say it, but I agree with Hillary Clinton.

We’ve seen many examples of intellectual laziness over the past 19 months.

This manifests itself in the ad hominem use of race, class, gender and sexual orientation to defame conservatives rather than defend one’s own argument.

If you believe that Reps. Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are corrupt, you’re racist. If you believe in the enforcement of our nation’s borders and immigration laws, you hate Hispanics.

If you defend the traditional definition of marriage, you’re a homophobe.

If you think the price for energy taxes is too high, you hate the planet. If you get an uneasy feeling when a mosque led by a man who blames the U.S. for 9/11 is being built near ground zero, you’re an Islamophobe.

If you disagree with Obama and attended a Tea Party rally, you’re racist. If you don’t want to pay for the government’s deficit spending, you hate America’s unemployed and working poor.

The list could go on forever.

In the professed Obama age of new politics, where there “isn’t a black America or white America or Latino America or Asian America,” where there are no more “red states and blue states,” the old identity politics and the politics of personal destruction are more rampant than ever.

The basic question we as a people must face today is can you disagree without being a vile human being?

Are there legitimate arguments for conservative positions?

The obvious answer is yes, even if you’re a liberal. I can see a liberal’s argument without saying they’re evil.

I suspect the motivation for these attacks stems from a lack of popular support, lack of ideas or lack of factual arguments.
The truest sign that you don’t have anything useful to say is when you use a “card.”

If you ever hear variations of the statements listed above, you can be sure the person talking doesn’t have the facts on his side.

It comes straight out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”

In dealing with a political opponent, “pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it … one acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.”

To govern is to convince people that your view is correct and the other man’s view is wrong.

That does not include convincing people that you personally are good and the other man is evil. There is more to it than that.
Talking about issues is a lot more productive than talking personalities or motivations.

So let’s conduct this election cycle civilly and debate the merits of the positions of well-meaning Republicans and Democrats. After all, none of them are angels and none of them are demons.