The ugly party

A brief follow up to yesterday's post on Michael Gerson.  He laments the harsh words used in private correspodence for (ugly) people.  If that wasn't dumb enough already (and hypocritical, as Aaron in comments points out–see here) what's funny is his vision of the alternative.  Here is how he describes it:

The alternative to the Ugly Party is the Grown-Up Party — less edgy and less hip. It is sometimes depicted on the left and on the right as an all-powerful media establishment, stifling creativity, freedom and dissent. The Grown-Up Party, in my experience, is more like a seminar at the Aspen Institute — presentation by David Broder, responses from E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Brooks — on the electoral implications of the energy debate. I am more comfortable in this party for a few reasons: because it is more responsible, more reliable and less likely to wish its opponents would die.

The grown up party isn't engaged in the same kind of discussion as the "ugly party."  For all its faults, the ugly party is at least doing what one ought to be doing in politics–i.e., arguing about stuff.  Some of them may be doing it badly, and I suppose that this is the point of our whole web empire here at TheNonSequitur, but at least they're doing it.  By contrast, by Gerson's description, the grown up party isn't really doing argument–they're doing analysis.  The electoral implications of the engery policy debate might be interesting, but they don't resolve what the policy ought to be.  As Gerson has it, that is a question for the Ugly party, and I say, therefore, I think I want to be a member of the Ugly party. 

One thought on “The ugly party”

  1. Yeah, tone matters.  And ugly can distort good argument exchange.  But Gerson's alternative sounds less like exchanging reasons with someone with whom you disagree than bullshitting (ahem, exchanging analyses) with people with whom you antecedently know won't challenge you.  He calls it 'more responsible,' but such insular models for argument (the Aspen Institute, for Chrissakes!) is a recipe for irresponsibility.  Give me an occasional "Go Fuck Yourself" or the accusation of "Liar" in the heated exchange between people who disagree and care about addressing each other's cases to the well-mannered exchanges between the like-minded.

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