Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Statesmanship is Rising above Political Party Polarization

It's so ironic that our current president once characterized himself as a uniter, not a divider. The United States has not been so polarized along party lines in a very long while. With international crises like the North Korean nuclear test, our country needs to move beyond the current political posturing aimed only at convincing the electorate about who is a good guy or a bad guy in time for November elections. Being a statesman means looking at the wide picture and acting for the long term. See the New York Times piece by former President Jimmy Carter with a brief history and recommendation about meeting the North Korean challenge here.

Walter Lippman, journalist and gadfly, in “The Indispensable Opposition,” Atlantic Monthly (Boston, 1939), said of the value of listening to those on the other side of the political aisle:

The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters. For his supporters will push him to disaster unless his opponents show him where the dangers are. So if he is wise he will often pray to be delivered from his friends, because they will ruin him. But though it hurts, he ought also to pray never to be left without opponents; for they keep him on the path of reason and good sense.

Let us hope somebody in our current government is susceptible of good advice.

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