The bounds of civility

Via Mr. Sailer, I’ve read this excellent account of what the Left and Center mean by “civility”:

While the President’s words at the Tucson memorial rally were welcome, as they certainly seem to have defused – for now, at least – the unbridled anger on the left, there is nevertheless a discernible degree of disingenuousness in his message*. For nothing the President said contradicted the prevailing understanding that civility is defined for the left by how the message is delivered, but for the right it is the message itself. In other words, entire arguments on the right are out of bounds, but on the left only violent language can be uncivil.

And so this is the quandry the right finds itself in – it cannot communicate its message to voters since the message itself is verboten. And so it must rely on proxy arguments that don’t necessarily make a lot of sense. For example, proclaiming loudly and forcefully to be against illegal-immigration, but all for legal immigration. But when the left counters with “Then why not just declare them legal – problem solved” – the conservative is left sputtering about rule-of-law….

Taxation is about the only topic on which the right gets to argue with some passion – perhaps because everyone hates paying taxes. Republicans are routinely lambasted as the “party of greed” as a result, but again who isn’t greedy? Unfortunately, that results in the Republican party being essentially focused with near single-mindedness on cutting taxes, since that’s about the only issue they can really promote with gusto.

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