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Tom argues there are too many weak arguments in politics these days

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My liberal pedigree goes back decades, having been carefully molded on all sides. Born into poverty; both sides of my family new to America; brought up in the inner city during the Civil Rights struggles; and my dad a union man. You can pretty much check off all of the boxes. And while my old style of liberalism doesn't exactly jibe with what passes for liberalism these days, on most issues, I'm still to the left of most and way to the left of some.

However, sometimes an issue (or even a part of an issue) will arise that sends everybody scurrying for righteous cover under the leftist umbrella and I realize that I'm not inclined to blindly join them. There's something a little bit off (or maybe a whole lot off) and I'm not going to contort myself just to conform to what others believe a liberal (or a leftist or a Democrat or a progressive) should adhere to. I am as suspicious of a legislator who gets an A-plus grade from a liberal watchdog group as I am disturbed by somebody who gets the Teacher's Pet Award from the NRA.

I'm old enough to remember a time when the United States government mostly worked. But that was a long time ago, back when actual adults walked the halls of Congress and when citizens made themselves knowledgeable through the consumption of news and analysis rather than tweets and sound bites. People sought and found middle ground, upon which progress could sprout and grow.

That's the essence of compromise. You give something to get something. Then you give some more and get some more. You finally meet at or near the middle and then everybody can go away disappointed. Unfortunately, both sides have become so ridiculously hard-headed (and hard-hearted) that they have retreated to diametrically opposite sides of the room, eyeing each other warily like sixth-graders at a school dance, afraid to make the first move lest they be labeled a traitor to the cause and/or end up infested with cooties.

It has gotten so bad that even when they know that the other side is at least partly right, a lot of people don't want to say it out loud for fear of diluting their philosophical purity. How will we ever make any progress on gun violence when one side views the other as wild-eyed survivalists who are stockpiling arsenals, while the other side sees the opposition as gun-grabbers hell-bent on destroying the Second Amendment?

To be sure, there will always be people out on the fringe who believe that the Second Amendment is an absolute. (None of our constitutional rights are absolute—not speech or the press, and certainly not gun ownership.) That doesn't mean that people can't find some common ground. We just have to stop yelling at each other and one side or another has to be willing to take the first step toward that common ground. (I'm guessing that it won't be the NRA that will be taking that step.)

The calcification of political stances often involves self-delusion to reach that aforementioned point of purity. Either falsehoods have to be mixed into the weak arguments to provide artificial substance or significant (albeit inconvenient) facts have to be intentionally left out to make the argument simpler and more easily stated.

The latter has become an all-too-common practice among the people on the opposite side of Donald Trump in the immigration debate. It wasn't that long ago that the argument was, "Yes, they broke the law and are living in the country illegally, but they've been here a long time, they work and pay taxes, and they deserve the opportunity to stay here and have a path to citizenship."

That was the core of a compassionate argument, but nowadays, in the interest of stridency and an unwillingness to give even an inch to the other side, the mantra has been truncated and, in the process, falsified. The new saying is, "They've been here a long time, they work and pay taxes, and they deserve the opportunity to stay here and have a path to citizenship."

That absolutely drives me nuts. They did break the law and they are living here illegally. What's wrong with admitting that? Are people afraid that stipulating to one of the points made by the other side totally invalidates their own movement?

I don't want to deport anybody. I don't want people living in the shadows. I do want people to have a path not just to legal status, but to citizenship. But I also believe that people broke the law coming here and are living here illegally. Those are facts; they may be uncomfortable or inconvenient, but they're facts. There's no way that ignoring facts can strengthen one's position.

Now, if you want to argue that the current immigration law is an ass, knock yourself out. (However, if you think that there should be no national borders whatsoever, you should have somebody else knock you out because you're stupid.)

The complete truth is a political unicorn these days. Hillary Clinton is widely viewed as being dishonest and her opponent, Liar L. McLiar-Liar lies so fast and furiously, fact checkers suffer from exhaustion. It would be nice if our side stuck to the truth, even when it doesn't serve the main objective.

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