What’s More Important: Liberty or Nonpartisanship?

I had an interesting discussion with Doug Mataconis and Brian Lehman on Twitter last night about partisanship and polarization in American politics. It was, of course, initiated over the death of Andrew Breitbart, conservative “journalist” extraordinaire, who infuriated many on the left and whose death brought out a number of deplorable comments that were akin to dancing on his grave. As Brian wrote:

And as Doug Mataconis tweeted later:

Yet we do this all the time. American discourse today is defined by which political-ideological camp we find ourselves in, and everyone outside of that camp is an inhuman barbarian with a brain the size of a peanut and a sexual organ smaller than that. It takes an insane amount of effort to befriend anyone who disagrees with you, because any conversation rapidly descends into who butchered the poor/babies first. We all know the comments that are received, the heated passions that are inflamed, especially online, and the utter impossibility of anything approaching compromise, a reasonable conversation, or sanity. A conservative cannot sit down with a progressive without subconsciously reaching for the fork to poke someone’s eye out.

This. Has. Got. To. Stop.

This is no way for a country to work. We cannot be the most free and prosperous nation on Earth when we’re incapable of dealing with each other, when we’re incapable of trusting each other. A house divided cannot stand.

Readers who see the title of this post may think I’m crazy to even put forth such a question. “Well, of course liberty is more important,” they say, “It’s the highest value of mankind!” I agree completely. “And individual liberty will eliminate partisanship as there will be less to fight over!” Again, agreed completely.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if we can move forward with liberty unless we cut the crap. If you can’t sit down with a person and explain to them how a free market and individual liberty helps everyone, that it is the highest value to pursue, that it is better for people to live their own lives rather than being managed—if you can’t say these things without being decried as a baby-killer and someone who wants to let corporations rape the planet and the people, then I don’t know how successful you can be.

And as Doug said, dividing the people up like this only empowers the incumbents. It’s a classic divide-and-conquer strategy, keeping us unaware of the real problems going on while we focus on the idiotic surface details…but its working.

I’ll be honest: I don’t really have a solution to this. I could say that we need to be more open-minded, need to be less quick to anger, and most importantly, need to be able to compromise and recognize that you can’t always get what you want, but that’s just lame and vague. That doesn’t help anyone.

So I’m turning to you instead, my dear readers. What do you think? How do you think we can end partisanship rancor in this country and return this nation to some semblance of sanity? And in the end, which is more important for our country now: liberty or nonpartisanship?

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