Understanding our political differences

I had an interesting conversation with a friend about the election the other evening which improved my awareness about why people see subjects like politics differently. The discussion was over Clinton losing the presidency. The person is not particularly pro-Clinton but was inclined towards the lesser evil argument during the election and that once Bernie was out of the picture the GOP had to be defeated at all costs, even if that meant a Clinton presidency.

I could never understand this person’s position on Clinton. He has always said that the GOP destroyed her over the years and that is why people where unwilling to give her a chance. I was always intrigued by this viewpoint but had never actually analysed or questioned him on it further. I was always of the view that it didn’t matter to me what the GOP had said or done to Clinton over the years, what mattered to me was my present perception of her. I didn’t need GOP instructions on that. But I decided on this occasion to probe deeper and ask him what he meant.

As it turns out his view of Clinton is that she was an unknown quantity on the domestic scene, that we really only ever saw her acting in the foreign affairs arena. He said that given a chance she may very well have been a “progressive” president. I told him that I did not believe that would be the case and that there was enough evidence pointing in the other direction that she would be more inclined to stay with Obama’s New Democrat ideas.

But the point I’m trying to make here is NOT about Clinton herself or whether she would or would not have been a good president or a “progressive” president.

The point I AM trying to make is that the reason we disagreed was not because we had different ideas about the importance of a progressive platform. It was because we disagreed about one fundamental aspect – whether we believed given a chance Clinton would have been a “progressive” president. He was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I was not.

I guess what I learnt from this is that when our views differ from one another, it may just be over one very small aspect of how we see things differently (even if it is a critical aspect). Perhaps we could all work better at understanding where our differences lie specifically, rather than assuming that our differences are far and wide.

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