The Rules of Engagement

I have agreed to become a more regular contributor to Bearing Drift, and I intend to write on a  range of topics. Some posts will address a specific event of the day, others will explore a broader philosophical issue and the position that I think the Republican Party and its leaders should adopt vis a vis that issue, and yet others will be designed not to provide a solution to a problem but to posit an idea that will hopefully promote a constructive discussion and debate.

However, before I begin my musings, I thought it might be helpful to identify and explain how I will try to approach things, and what will serve as my guide posts. They are, in no particular order:

  1. I was a philosophy major. I value intellectual honesty and try, with varying degrees of success, to avoid common philosophical fallacies. Chief among them is the ad hominem fallacy. The validity of an argument does not depend on who espouses it but on the merits of the argument itself. When someone’s argument largely rests upon attacking the character of another, I assume that the person has little meaningful to say about the proposition being debated.
  2. I remain vigilant against cognitive dissonance. I come from a center right perspective. If I am considering what a leader in my Republican Party has said or done, I ask myself how I would react if a Democratic leader had said or done the same thing. It is amazing how helpful that exercise can be in clarifying my thoughts and position.
  3. I suffer from many faults ( just ask those who know me), but thankfully I do not suffer from the hubris of believing that I am always right. I appreciate thoughtful responses to the arguments I advance, and meaningful discussions can sometimes refine or even change my position. Conversely, sarcastic one liners are of no moment to me.
  4. I tend to adopt an Immanuel Kant perspective. I do not believe that the ends justify the means.
  5. I believe that competition  in the market place—and the political arena— is healthy and over time improves the human condition. In turn, competition requires that the rules be fair and apply to all evenly, regardless who may be in power. If people believe the system is rigged, then over time our institutions, and political parties, lose their moral authority, which would bode ill for our republic.
  6. I believe in free trade, a strong national defense, and that we should work with and show respect for our allies that share our commitment to liberty and democracy.
  7. I believe that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I am a proponent of limited government, although I recognize that government does play a necessary role in promoting and protecting our general welfare. I appreciate the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who established a system of checks and balances.
  8. I avoid treating those with whom I disagree with contempt. I want to try to understand why they hold the positions that they do. Often I find that we may share the same goals although we may disagree on how to achieve those goals.
  9. I do not believe that compromise is a dirty word. It is the glue that holds a republic together. Take a good look at the United States Constitution. It is a document born of compromises.
  10. I try to fully understand the other side’s best arguments and avoid taking on a “straw man.” While you may find fleeting satisfaction in beating the stuffing out of a scarecrow, the exercise accomplishes nothing of value, and it also sends a message that the other side must be right because you avoided addressing their real argument.

With these rules of engagement in mind, I look forward to contributing to Bearing Drift, and perhaps in some small way, to the greater debate about where the Republican Party, this Commonwealth, and our country are right now, and where they, and we, should be headed to achieve a more perfect union.

Previous posts from Will Shewmake:
Speaker Kirk Cox, a True Conservative
Wisconsin Republicans’ Power Grab is a Disgrace to the Grand Old Party

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