“For” and “Against” Approach Stifles Essential Debate!
The fastest way to stifle real debate on important issues is to just dig in our heels and take stands “for” or “against” —
right at the front end. Never mind exploring the facts! Slap on the labels!

Well, most issues are more complex than simply “for or against.” And, labeling your perceived opponent too early in the
game is just too simple, really insults the intelligence, and boy! Can it backfire!

Case in point—global trade agreements. A label “against” can tag you as isolationist—when you might really be wanting
better legislation and fairer tariffs on American goods to be sold abroad! You might think that the corporate race for the
lowest possible wages abroad doesn't exactly look out for Middle America, in America! And that there might be more
alternatives with a slower pace resolving the points and much more creative argument in Congress. So, go ahead. Call
me isolationist—but tags stifle debate, and we should want to know our adversaries reasoning.

Security. Oh, yeah. Border security, to be specific. If you’re in favor of tight border security—Well, you’re “anti-

Well. We are a nation of laws, and in my opinion, tighter border security can exist quite comfortably with legal immigration,
effectively managed. We need much more serious respect for the meaning and privileges of earned—not stolen—U.S.
Citizenship. Call me crazy…

Electronic surveillance; that’s a personal favorite. An American president spying on American citizens without the
mandated warrants? Who would not be “against” that? Unfettered power wielded by a president of our United States?  
That’s serious. Not simple! Not OK! It doesn't qualify for accusations (labels) of “weak on defense” or “aiding an enemy”!

It’s even more serious when the “enemy” is a tactic (terrorism) being passed off as an entity!

A little (or a lot of) legitimate debate could sort out and shed light on all the grey areas of such huge, serious issues.

And, one of the biggest is a president who would presume to act, with his administration, outside our laws, and believe
they could get away with it! (That part would be our fault.)

It’s not weak on defense to defend our framework of laws, and demand the president act within it when tempted to spy on

As long as our two major parties continue with epithets and labels of “for” and “against,” our most critical problems aren’t
getting appropriately resolved.

Like—War. One can be against it (or for it) and still totally support our troops in the field. I wore the uniform; and like all
citizens have the right to disagree with a president who initiated the first preempted strike against another sovereign
country—in our entire history!

War? In defense of America? Yes! Preemptive war to patronize self-serving corporate ambition, or pump up political
capital? No!

It’s our responsibility as citizens to get a lot better at holding our leaders accountable.

The flag belongs to all of us. It’s a powerful symbol. It is no one citizen’s exclusive property to soil with compromises of
what it stands for.

Fred Flanagan
Copyright © -2006

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