Our democratic republic is based on the idea that people of differing views can debate the issues, compromise when the debate reaches an impasse, and find common ground to reach some consensus. No group or ideology has a monopoly on truth. Progressives, moderates, conservatives, democratic socialists, libertarians all are right some of the time, and they are all wrong some of the time. It’s important to have a diversity of views to point out the blind spots in all of our thinking and viewpoints. 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.
In this 1998 interview from the Hoover Institute, leftist Christopher Hitchens and conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. discuss their perspectives on the cultural and political upheavals of the 1960s. Though they had wide ideological disagreements, Hitchens and Buckley were both willing to engage with their ideological opponents on a debate on ideas.
One of things that I noticed in this particular interview was the willingness of both Hitchens and Buckley to admit their regrets and the errors of their side during the 1960s. Buckley wished the United States never fought the Vietnam War, he wished he was more critical of the overly optimistic projections of the American generals. and he regretted his opposition to Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights legislation. Hitchens regretted the indulgent hedonism of the 1960s cultural Left and his own underestimation of the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. in comparison to more radical black groups like the Black Panthers.