Winning the Healthcare Debate
Gene Lyons has written a column headlined “You won’t win the healthcare debate by calling people stupid racists.”
The piece isn’t worth reading, I’m afraid, after the headline — which Lyons probably didn’t write. But the title is right on. It’s a truism of public debate that you will never persuade those who disagree with you by dismissing them as stupid or venal. Yet that’s become the standard first move on both sides of the aisle.
It’s likely true that, as Barney Frank’s ethnic heritage compelled him to point out, that arguing with some of the specific people who show up to rant and scream at the town hall debates is like arguing with a dining room table. Some people are simply beyond reasoning with.
But — and this is the point Lyons is getting at — they represent the honest fears of a lot of decent folk who are amenable to persuasion. And President Obama himself is taking the right tack in treating them as such. The Democratic leadership in Congress and many liberal commentators, though, are lumping them in with the Birthers and LaRouchites.