Civil liberty issues like abortion and marriage were divisive topics for Democrats and Republicans in the 2012 election and are two topics that continue to drive the two American political camps apart. At the Conference on World Affairs Tuesday, a political analyst, political journalist, humanitarian and historian talked about reaching across the aisle, a few of the more prominent issues, and the two-party system. Their abbreviated remarks appear, in order, below.
On party labels: “Labels are continually important to how we live our lives. There have to be shortcuts, we do it all the time. But I think we should do less assuming that because someone identifies with a label that they identify with every position. Keep the labels, but lose the stereotypes. Don’t assume you know someone because you probably don’t.”
The two sides disagree on the use of drones for superficial reasons: “People are more supportive of a policy when their guy is running the show. [With Bush] we had waterboarding … now we’re killing people summarily. It’s cleaner. So on one side you have Bush, history’s biggest monster, and on the other side you have Obama, Nobel Laureate.”
“Dissent is essential — left, right, middle — because it is the fission. It is the serendipitous outcome of debate that leads to solutions. Dissent is essential to doing something.”
On each party’s definition of protecting civil liberties: “It is very difficult as a foreigner to look at [the two-party dichotomy] and wonder where people get their ideas. Is having liberty freedom from oppression? Or freedom from responsibility?”
On the Second Amendment: “If the founders said [the Constitution] needed to be revisited every generation, how come [over 200] years later we can’t change a comma?”
“Disagreement keeps both sides in line and brings us to a golden mean. In the middle is where longevity lies. We’re not perfect but not bad. I’d argue that attempting to find the moderate middle has kept us alive for so long.”
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Stephanie Riesco at Stephanie.firstname.lastname@example.org.