One thing I’m thankfully aware of (and have sadly not mentioned often enough) is the lack of interference from The Reader. Freedom of expression is shared among Reader, writer, and reader and is essential for free society.

I appreciate that freedom especially after sticking neck out and being snapped at by those unhappy with a comment on their candidate. Nothing in free expression or free society says we won’t be annoyed or offended. If and when our personal views are assailed and challenged we have the opportunity to defend and explain. If we cannot do so then perhaps it is time to examine or modify what we support. The attack / challenge side of free expression helps tune thinking and policies to more solid and practical ends. I have a long standing (from the Kennedy days) bias for the left, but as a citizen my duty is to do more than simply satisfy my own inclinations. Challenge to my views is necessary if they are to prove robust enough to be of use in the larger society. Personal bias is inescapable, but it does not have to set the limit of the individual’s freedom of inquiry. Examine what angers and upsets our views. Learn from it. See its strong and weak points. In politics a nice or attractive candidate has that advantage, but as the stakes are higher than a pretty pageant we need to bash deeper to get under the skin where tissue lives and bile might hide.

Whether you care to say it or not, the candidate you dislike has as good intentions for the US as the one you favor. The main differences are essentially in expression as neither suggests a re-do or discard of the Constitution. But on particulars either can be quite loopy: for instance letting in waves of immigrants or building wall to prevent them. Immigration and border security are legit concerns to both. How the parties address those things is the difference. On security do you want too trusting or too careful to prevail? In most situations we unconsciously observe unspoken social contracts or agreements. A host admits guests to their house based on the understanding the guest will not defecate on the living room rug or punch the children. In cases where the guest refuses the contract or follows a different order there is conflict. At base, however, the guest has responsibility to the host as host does for guest. These roles and responsibilities are different but no less essential. In a charity situation the responsibilities run between giver and receiver. The receiver is expected to use the gift or aid prudently. Of the giver we expect both generosity and judgement. Judgement, do I mean judge the guest? No, I mean judgement of the sort that says the assistance will go to a worthwhile end and not help perpetuate more chemical, spousal, or family abuse. Charity without oversight is apt to turn into enabling.

I expect both sides would agree on elements of what I’ve said. The dividing lines come on the messy details of how we achieve a worthy goal of helping the truly needy and deserving. Against more big government program the right will balk at adding people to conduct oversight. Wanting to be more governmentally generous the left will add benefits without sufficient system to supervise them. Both versions make a worthy goal less effective, more wasteful, more open to abuse, and more disappointing to everyone involved. But how we get the politics of left and right to talk without quickly placing political advantage ahead of national interest is the big question when it is so easy and politically profitable to label an opposing view with something derogatory such as L word or racist. How shabby and appallingly disappointing we so often turn to naming and blaming when supposedly representing national interests. You’ll find cleaner elections in sixth grade before money and politics has a chance to poison ideals.

I sometimes think, sitting here on the autumn loving North Shore, we’ve become too damn high and fancy for our own good. We’re so good, wonderful, and advanced we can look with sneering disdain at old fashioned things like Scouts with their antiquated Scout Law. Superior beings are above thinking we’d suggest value in repeating simple virtues in trying to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. It does not take much to find something in the list to quibble over. Reverent is good. Why be reverent, about what? Well, how about being reverent toward each other’s ideas, listening and responding with care. That does not mean you or I will then agree. I may still think a philosophy is supremacist, falsely premised, or nutty, but I’ll have heard the other side out before deciding. When we or others fail in this the contract between free people is rent.

Along with not heeding the contract between free people the other devil in our national and political lives is going along with absurd simplification because it’s easier. My favorite is “We all believe in the same god.” I know a lot of people who have good cause to not believe in any god. Don’t they count? They certainly don’t matter in the silly assertion nor does much other fact seem to creep in when daft tin foil propositions are put out as sterling. If I stay on the god or belief angle with this a person would have to try very hard to not see the difference between serving a god through acts of group communion versus through collective submission. Those, communion and submission, are quite different acts. A body of communicants is not the same as a body of subservients. If a god required subservience instead of communion it would not be the same deity unless it saw no distinction in its worship. For those still content to think all gods the same, here’s a deal. I give you a pretty new Twenty Dollar bill. You give me an old Twenty Dollar American Eagle. We call it even because money is money, right?