Talking Points vs. Policy

June 2, 2011

You don’t hear much about bomber pilots suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the death and destruction wrought by the bombs that they dropped at 20,000 feet, or about sailors with PTSD due to the devastation caused by missles launched from far out at sea. Similarly, those who perform their military service in the rear or at the Pentagon, where many of the decisions about where to drop the bombs and launch the missles are made, don’t tend to be plagued with nightmares, flashbacks, and constant anxiety . While pilots, sailors, Pentagon staff and REMF’s (sorry, look it up) all contribute to the horrors of war, it is the front-line grunts – the soldiers and marines on the ground – who see the carnage and suffer the consequences. Generally speaking, those who plan the battle see things differently than those who actually carry it out.

The same may be said for political philosophies. Considered in the abstract, some of the writings of Karl Marx or (on the other end of the spectrum) Ayn Rand might resonate – but putting them into practice leads to disaster. Moving to less extreme examples, the talking points spouted by those on either side of the modern-day American political fence may sound good to us – who actually likes taxes or pollution, anyway? – but the consequences of converting those talking points into policy may be something else again.

All of which is an over-long introduction to this article, to which I can add little, other than a request that you read it.

I have dear friends and blood relatives who are staunch conservatives. Our neighbor down the street is a sweet lady – and a sign-carrying Tea Partier. While I don’t think much of Eric Cantor, there are conservatives who I do respect as decent and intelligent people. How can something that is so obvious to me be so invisible to them?

Or, is it me that is missing something?

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