One of the great dangers in this hyper-partisan times is the increasing inability of Democrats and Republicans in finding common ground to collaborate on legislation that could address issues facing this country. Our democratic republic is premised on the idea that people of differing views are able to debate on issues, find areas of common ground and make compromises to forge legislation to help struggling Americans. No one side has the monopoly on truth. Progressives, moderates and conservatives are all right some of the time and they are all wrong some of the time. Robert F. Kennedy said in a speech in Berkeley in 1966: “…wisdom can only emerge from the clash of contending views, the passionate expression of deep and hostile beliefs. Plato said: ‘A life without criticism is not worth living.'”
This is why democracies, in the long run, are far superior than totalitarian governments. When authoritarians gain power, they try to silence, jail or kill those who dissent or disagree with them. Left wing authoritarians will try to marginalize and kill conservative voices; right wing authoritarians try to jail and kill leftists. Without those dissenting voices, authoritarian governments get trapped in a bubble of yes men afraid of expressing their true opinions and there is no one to warn them about the blind spots in their thinking and viewpoints.
I see great danger for our democracy in the way of thinking that many people have where they automatically hate people who disagree with them. Without a healthy respect for differences of opinion, it’s impossible to have the give-and-take of ideas that is the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.
Here is a video 2014 video where Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and conservative Republican John McCain talk about the legislation that they collaborated on that expanded veterans access to health care and increase accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs. During their work on the legislation, Sanders and McCain developed a friendship in spite of their vast ideological differences.