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November 7, 2012

2:03
P.M.

Brad Hirschfield Live: Can the nation come together after a bitter election?

Total Responses: 13

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Brad Hirschfield

Brad Hirschfield

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is an author, radio and TV talk show host, and President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. His On Faith blog, For God's Sake, explores the uses and abuses of religion in politics and pop culture. He wrote "You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism." Named as one of the nation's 50 most influential rabbis in Newsweek, and one of the top 30 "Preachers and Teachers" by Beliefnet.com, he is the creator of the popular series, Building Bridges, airing on Bridges TV, and co-host of the weekly radio show, Hirschfield and Kula: Intelligent Talk Radio. For more information see www.bradhirschfield.com.

About the topic



How do we move forward together now that the election is over?

Some may want to, but should we use the next four years to re-fight the same same fights and paralyze ourselves in the process?

Brad Hirschfield will live chat with readers at 1 p.m. ET about this topic.

Submit questions and opinions for Brad to respond to now.

Follow @OnFaith and @BradHirschfield on Twitter

For more information spirituality, ethics and related topics, visit On Faith
Q.

Brad Hirschfield :

Now that the election is over, the real work begins!  With an email box full of messages about equally divided between those decrying the "end of freedom and the dawn of socialism", and those "explaining" that Republicans lost because they are "heartless and often evil", things don't look promising.

 

What do you think?  How do we move forward and do better than we have the past four years?

 

Let's go!

Q.

Stop attacking motives

I believe both sides need to stop attacking the others motives and acknowledge both sides care. For example, we can agree on the need to reduce income inequality and help the poor while disagreeing on the best way to do it. Favoring changes in the tax rates doesn't mean one side is for socialism, or the other wants chldren to starve in the streets. Same with jsut about any issue that divides.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

You are wise.  Learnign to dsitinguish between conclusions with which we disagree (on either side), and  presuming the worst about each others motives and beliefs, is CRUCIAL.  Thank you for saying so.

 

In fact, I don not think that there is broad agreement about the need to reduce income disparity, but I also do not think it matters so much.  As you point out, I think there IS broad agreement about reducing the number of  kids who go to bed hungy each night, espeically in the world's richest nation.  If responding to THAT was our goal, there is no doubt in my mind that we could and would be successful in doing so.

– November 07, 2012 2:04 PM
Q.

A move towards concilliation

I don't mean to point fingers in a partisan way, but the question now becomes will the Congressional Republicans let us meet in the middle. The last four years saw them run away from their previous positions on issues such as the Dream Act, healthcare and cap and trade, just to spite the administration. If the GOP can take positions they believe in rather than 180 degrees from the President I think we can meet in the middle.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

I guess I don't see how one can reaonably isolate one side as the one to blame.  We ahve two houses of Congress -- one lead by Republicans and the other lead by Democrats, and neither leadership or the majority which follow them has behaved well.  In fact, the President was shot down more regularly in the Senate by his own party thyan he was by Republicans!

 

Rather than meeting in the middle, I think we need to re-establish concensus about where we want to go, and then go there together.  It needs to be less about horse-trading and more about a shared vision which is crafted by both sides.

– November 07, 2012 2:07 PM
Q.

Bill O'Reilly

One step toward coming together would be people like O'Reilly refusing to peddle hateful racist myths, where they slam minorities and women as moochers and defend the "white establishment." http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/11/liveblog-election-night/58761/#bill
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

It may feel good to have written that, and you may even be correct, at least partially so, but it's hardly an effective approach.  Do you actually think there isn't hate spewed forth on both sides?  Do you not think that even if it it not equal (itelf a debatable conclusion), we can improve things w/o cleaning our own respective houses?  Are you prepared to stop lableing people racist in order to create the context in which one could demand that "they" stop calling people moochers?

– November 07, 2012 2:10 PM
Q.

It's still all about money

Can we come together? Doubtful. Unless the people that bankrolled this election decide that their money should be used to improve this country, instead of improving themselves, nothing - NOTHING - will change. The last two years have left me feeling extremely cynical about the way our country is run. We talk a lot about "special interests" - and that's the real problem. Average citizens have absolutely no say in anything. It doesn't matter who is president. Nothing will change for you and me - unless we happen to fit into whatever program those with the money support. It's very depressing...
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

I certainly appreciate your feelings, and even feel them myself -- from time to time -- but in truth we have ENORMOUS power. 

 

Let's start by admitting that pretty much all people vote their own self-interest, even if they define it in different ways.  Then let's ask what interests we have that need to be better served and argue for them.  If, as you say, the mjority of avg. folks are left out, that represents a huge number of people -- people who need to stop being depressed about how things are, and focus on making them how they could be.

– November 07, 2012 2:14 PM
Q.

The nation is fine; the parties are not

As someone who lost yesterday (I voted for Romney, but wouldn't have for any of the other Republican primary candidates), I blame for yesterday's terrible showing -- Grover Norquist, for drawing a line in the sand on taxes for those who can afford them. For the last two years, Boehner, Cantor and Ryan believed that if they just obstructed for two years, the American people would hand them the keys to the government to make it permanent. This was neither effective governance nor winning political strategy. The Republicans' conservative wing turned out coalition builders like Richard Lugar, to replace him with an ideological nutjob who embarassed the party. They thought the American people hated Obama so much, that they could ask for the moon and expect it delivered. It's up to the Republican House leadership now to commit to being part of effective government, not ineffective stonewalling. BUT -- both parties still have a problem with lack of internal breadth, and elections will continue to focus on why the other side is worse.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

The dangers of lines drawn in the sand, as you point out, cannot be underestimated.  Instead of the sort of pragmatic suppleness which the President promises (forget whether you agree its how he governs or is good at creating it even when he wants to), Republicans have dug in, re-trenched, and stiffened their necks.  N ot a recipe for success in a culture that celebrates dynamism.  Until Republicans figure out how to integrate conservatism and more fluid/dynmaic responses to the problems we face as a nation, they are likely to keep losing elections.

– November 07, 2012 2:18 PM
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

The dangers of lines drawn in the sand, as you point out, cannot be underestimated.  Instead of the sort of pragmatic suppleness which the President promises (forget whether you agree its how he governs or is good at creating it even when he wants to), Republicans have dug in, re-trenched, and stiffened their necks.  N ot a recipe for success in a culture that celebrates dynamism.  Until Republicans figure out how to integrate conservatism and more fluid/dynmaic responses to the problems we face as a nation, they are likely to keep losing elections.

– November 07, 2012 2:18 PM
Q.

Missing the Point

As an independent who strongly leans Democrat, I generally agree with Obama on the role of government, but I also see a role for a party that serves as a brake to the Democrats' accelerator. There's nothing wrong with one party asking questions and urging caution whenever the other proposes expanding the role of government. But we haven't had that from the GOP at least 40 years - the party has basically been about preserving the privilege of wealthy straight white Christian men. I see the burden on Republicans to define a role for government that doesn't favor the wealthy at the expense of everyone else, a role that doesn't treat the market as though it's a deity who rewards and punishes. Would you agree?
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

I totally agree about the role for both brakes and accelerators on any vehicle, including the engines of government.  And I think that were politicians able to think of it that way, they would appreciate the necessity, yes necessity, of even those in the opposition with whom they most deeply disagree.

 

Both sides tend to reward those political players who present themselves as messiah-like figures who possess all the wisdom and policies with which the nation can be saved from whatever ills it suffers.  That is the definition of a snale oil salesman, and it doesnt matter if he or she if republican or democrat.

 

We need each other, and as soon as we have leaders who not only appreciate that, but talk about it and govern accordingly, we can get moving again.  The challenge today is that the last time thigns were this bad, it took an external enemy to mobilize us in that regard, and that is a rather dangerous way to build unity and efficacy.

– November 07, 2012 2:24 PM
Q.

All of the pundits made their predictions

The trouble with pundit predictions is that they are being made by people who are not neutral. They see things they want to see and ignore stuff they don't. That is why is was so bizarre to have both sides say that the polls supported their campaign and not the other sides. Now that we know that not to be the case, will the George Will's, Charles Krauthamers, Bill O'Reillys & Ann Coulters of the world admit they were wrong or will they become conspiracy theorists about how the election results are really somehow invalid (but that Romney chose not to fight back.) I think how those that spew crap on TV (under the guise of being journalists) accept the results will be a very telling sign for how the rest of the nation reacts.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

So your argument is that pundits are not equal, but as long as they are proven right by the results they predicted, they ARE constructive?  Would you have made the same case had Mitt Romney won?

 

Pundits are not meant to be neutral, so I am not sure what bothers you.  We agree that they should be honest about their lack of neutrality, but the people you mentioned certainly are -- sometimes to the point of obnoxiousness to the "other" side, in my opinion.  and for the record that is exactly how I feel about their counter-parts on the left.

 

The things that troubles me is when pundits, or just regular people, are so attached to electoral victory, or having suffered defeat, they choose to keep re-fighting the same ideological battles, instead of figuring our how their views can contribute to creating shared solutions in light of emergent political realities.

– November 07, 2012 2:31 PM
Q.

How is this different?

We have been a bitterly divided country in our politics since 2000 - over a decade. Moving forward together seems like a pipe dream, if my Facebook feed is any indication. Apparently many of my friends will be moving to Canada , which is an ironic choice. Attempts to reach across the aisle to get things done are loudly denounced by both sides, to keep from having a *gasp* reasonable sound bite come back to haunt them in an election cycle. Romney would have stood a better chance of winning if he had been allowed to win a republican primary with his centrism intact. The party itself would not elect anyone not playing to the far right. How can we move forward when the extreme corner sof our political system need to be kowtowed to, in order to move to a general election? I don't have a lot of love for either party but what has happened to the Republican Party since the Dixiecrats moved in is disgusting.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

I am not sure that the change in Republican posture can be attributed to Dixiecrats, though I appreciate how it elegantly answers a bunch of questions.  Nor do I think the issues date to 2000.  In fact, they go back much further -- at least to the anger created among Democrats by ronald Reagan's victory.  And in truth, much of it goes back to the anger and disappointment created by teh war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal.

 

Politcs lost it's enchanting qualities many years ago, and in the face of such disenchantment, we have not figured out how to re-enchant it.  How do we raise the bar on politcs when it is all so public and when pretty much anyone who wants to be heard can find an outlet for their views, however angry or mean-spirited they may be, let alone based on no factual information? 

 

Both sides have this problem and neither has figured out how best to respond by doing anything other than playing to their rerspective bases, which become more base with each passing year.  How we recover a sense of politics as sacred, w/o limiting participation -- that's the real challenge you describe.

– November 07, 2012 2:38 PM
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

I am not sure that the change in Republican posture can be attributed to Dixiecrats, though I appreciate how it elegantly answers a bunch of questions.  Nor do I think the issues date to 2000.  In fact, they go back much further -- at least to the anger created among Democrats by ronald Reagan's victory.  And in truth, much of it goes back to the anger and disappointment created by teh war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal.

 

Politcs lost it's enchanting qualities many years ago, and in the face of such disenchantment, we have not figured out how to re-enchant it.  How do we raise the bar on politcs when it is all so public and when pretty much anyone who wants to be heard can find an outlet for their views, however angry or mean-spirited they may be, let alone based on no factual information? 

 

Both sides have this problem and neither has figured out how best to respond by doing anything other than playing to their rerspective bases, which become more base with each passing year.  How we recover a sense of politics as sacred, w/o limiting participation -- that's the real challenge you describe.

– November 07, 2012 2:39 PM
Q.

Racist Republicans should be shunned and excluded

Republicans embrace racism as a virtue, proclaiming that Barack Obama soils the sacred White House with his black skin. As they saying goes, "you can't fix stupid", and decent Americans should not waste one second of their lives attempting to do so. Republicans have earned their place in oblivion, and there they should stay.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

That's about as accurate, fair and constructive as those who decry Democrats as socialists bent on destroying private wealth, who hate white people.  Both you and those who make such claims about Democrats are the ones who are soiling our shared politcal landscape and you owe us all an apology.

sorry to be so tough on you, but the rage you are pedaling has no place in constructive politcal engagement.  But as you yourself said, you have no interest in constructing anything,  You simply want to relelage Republicans to Oblvion,  How sadly ironic that that is what you imagine them saying about you. 

– November 07, 2012 2:43 PM
Q.

No more purity pledges

My suggestion is that both parties acknowledge that politics is a sausage making business and that they will not sign any purity pledges (Grover Norquist, etc...). They would also recognize that their opponents are gentlemen (and women) who are trying to do what they think is right for the country.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

Sausage indeed, but sacred sausage it is.  In fact, no apologies shousl be offered for taking all of the otherwise difficult to use "nasty bits" of an animal and turning them into tasty and noutricious foods.  In fact that IS the gaol of good politcs:  take what you have, however disagreeable it may be, and turn into something productive!

 

And yes, 100 times yes, to the dangerous of absolutist/purists arguments.  They are NEVER in anybody's long-term best interest.

– November 07, 2012 2:45 PM
Q.

Quick answer: we don't

It's not going to happen, for one simple reason: this election wasn't about an issue, it was about those who pay vs. those who take. I have no interest in becoming part of the machine, and the winners have no interest in taking personal responsibility. The real question is: Why should we even try to come together?
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

It's a little weird to describe this as being about people who have no interest in taking personal responsibility, when the election was won by two guys, each of whose lives has been about doing just that!  One need not like or agree with either the President of the VP to acknowledge that.

 

Rather than pretend about the facts, as an excuse for not bringing the valuable insights of conservative thinking to today's political reality, why not ask where given what you believe, you could actually make a positive difference.  You choose to jeer when you could be playing the game!  I know that it's more fun to stand on teh side lines and heckle, but it kind of blows your committment ot taking responsibility out of the water. 

– November 07, 2012 2:50 PM
Q.

47%

No, we can't all just get along when GOP orthodoxy holds that anyone who votes Democratic is a shiftless moocher with no sense of personal responsibility. Romney apologized for saying that, but he believes it.
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

No, we can get along when we continue to insist on presuming the worst about each other, as you do, nor when we presume to know another person's mind.

And to be clear, this is NOT about just getting along. It's about addressing the poliitcal paralysis which will harm us all.  Just as some presume that a rising tide will lift all boats, not only in teh water, but in an economy, we should all appreciate that continuing to do business as usual will sink us all.  Your righteous indignation from the left, will not spare you any more than it will those on the right who engage in teh same kind of thinking.

– November 07, 2012 2:54 PM
Q.

Could you please rephrase the question?

We overcame a Civil War that caused more than half a million Americans dead and an assassinated president shortly afterwards. After more than two centuries or dozens of presidential elections, our republic still stands. What's to make this election so special?
A.
Brad Hirschfield :

It took a hundred years to overcome many of the wounds created by the Civil War, and in our much more fast-paced and increasingly globalized world, that's not something we can afford.  But you are correct that this is not a unique moment .  It is however uniquely ripe with potential.  Why?  Because it is our moment -- our  moment to make a difference, to pull away from polarization and the cliffs (fsical and otherwise) from which we will plunge if we fail to do so.

– November 07, 2012 2:57 PM
Q.

Brad Hirschfield :

I wish we could go on, but the hour is at hand, and my hands are tired!

 

As always, thank you for so many wonderful questions and comments.  And don't forget that we can continue the conversation if you find me on facebook and follow me on twitter @bradhirschfield.

 

"Til next week,

Peace

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