I thought we might take the opportunity to take the president up on a challenge he posed in his speech in Tucson:
Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.
—President Barack Obama
It would be great to get some liberals and conservatives — and others are welcome of course too — to do this. And it may not change whether you want the health reform law or the Bush tax cuts, but maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it makes us a better country anyway just to say out loud some common values.
So can we do that, just as a way of contributing to a national deep breath?
This can be hard, I admit. We can be so locked into believing that we know what is right and the other political side is somewhere between wrong and evil. But let’s avoid the temptation to slip in that backhanded diss. Let’s just see if we can articulate, as the president asked, some of the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together. Maybe, as he says, that will expand our moral imaginations.
I’ll start by saying liberal and conservative Americans dreams are bound together in wanting safe streets for our children. Liberal and conservative dreams are bound together in wanting every person to have enough basics to live on. Liberal and conservative dreams are bound together in wanting freedom and in wanting justice, and in wanting to live in a world governed by the rule of law, not the rule of might.
And some of you might be getting cynical even at those words. But I believe that the large majority of Americans are united by all those things. I think as people with different politics, we believe in achieving them in very different ways — often very different ways. But maybe the president is right that we gain something today just by articulating our common ideals and common aspirations.
For one day, we don’t have to ask how and get into the usual disagreements about how. I’m only asking — how about you?