This democratic republic has thrived through the healthy debate between the Left and the Right. During the debate over the Constitution, the Federalists argued that a strong federal government was necessary for this country to thrive, while the anti-Federalists argued that the United States needed strong state and local governments to protect our civil liberties. In the early days of the republic, Alexander Hamilton forcefully advocated for a urban vision of an America of commerce and big business while Thomas Jefferson advanced a rural vision of an America of yeoman farmers.
As American history has unfolded, liberals and conservatives have debated the most important issues of the day: slavery; imperialism; women’s suffrage; workers’ rights; civil rights; war and peace; LGBTQ rights; reproductive rights. There are some questions that a healthy democratic republic will forever debate. How do we balance majority rule while protecting minority rights? How do we create a climate where businesses can thrive while also protecting workers from being exploited? How do we address issues of economic and racial inequalities that prevent large segments of our population from enjoying the American dream? How do we balance the needs of the community with the rights of the individual?
I’m a proud liberal Democrat. But I don’t think liberals are perfect. If you look at American history, liberals have been right about some things, wrong about some things. But you can say the same thing about moderates, conservatives, radical leftists, libertarians. No one group or political philosophy has a monopoly on truth.
In a healthy democratic republic, all sides vigorously debated their points of view to try to persuade a majority of people to agree with them. But there was also a willingness to compromise and find common ground to try to address the problems of the day. One can look at the collaboration of liberal Ted Kennedy and conservative Orrin Hatch that produced the American With Disabilities Act, the Ryan White Act to help AIDS victims, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program which provided health insurance to thousands of the working poor. Liberal Paul Wellstone collaborated with conservative Pete Domenici on the Mental Health Parity Act to give mentally ill people greater access to health care insurance.
I complain a lot about the Republican Party and the cult of personality that has surrounded Donald Trump. It saddens me to see more independent minded conservatives and moderates get marginalized within the Republican Party. I’m critical of the Republican Party, but I also realize that it’s important to all Americans for the Republican Party to return to a more sane and healthy state.
For all our political differences, liberals and conservatives should have common ground on opposing racism and anti-immigrant prejudice and religious intolerance. Though they seem to be small in number, I respect those moderates and principled conservatives who are trying to fight the racism, anti-immigrant bias and religious intolerance within the Republican Party.
It is in the interests of progressives and all Americans that these principled conservatives win their fight.
In this Jubilee video, Liberals and Conservatives came together to work through differences of opinion and see if they can find middle ground by discussing Trump, voting, and partisanship.
Conservative pundit Rachel Campos-Duffy and liberal pundit Cathy Areu are total political opposites and best friends. They talk about how they teach their kids to respond when they’re challenged on their political views.
Black conservatives and liberals hash it out in this VICE video
Trump supporters and Hillary supporters talk about politics in this Buzz Feed video
In this Jubilee video, Democrats and Republicans talk about their similarities and differences.