The Week in Commentary
It turns out that extremism in a partisan cause is, in fact, a vice
Dave Durenberger, former Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota, looks at the disappearance of moderates from his party and traces their decline to a surprising event: Barry Goldwater's acceptance speech in 1964.
"The cancer that's killing this party has its roots not in the conservative-moderate tussles of the state and national parties in the old days. Rockefeller supporters in 1968 did more for Nixon that year than McCarthy supporters did for Humphrey. And the Ford and Bush supporters went all out for Reagan in 1980. Reagan found success in appealing to conservatives and moderates.
"What's killing us is what presidential candidate Barry Goldwater said about extremism in the defense of liberty being no vice. ...
"The Republican Party has made a virtue of extremism. It has done so with plenty of help from the old Confederacy, the religious right, the counter-culture hierarchy of the Catholic Church and [David] Brooks' 'Bobos in Paradise', who move to the exurbs seeking a world that looks just like them. The list's a long one."
"I used to think I didn't like Dave Durenberger's political beliefs. Of course, that was before the Republican Party was hijacked by the extreme right. It has now gone so far right, that Mr. Durenberger looks and sounds positively liberal." -- Gary L from Minnesota
" 'Moderate' politicians used to be able to say one thing at home and go vote another way in Washington. We need leaders with backbone to do what is needed to be done." -- J.C. Shepard from Minnesota
"Ah yes, my non-aborted comrades, the party that ended slavery is nothing but a bunch of idiots, God-freaks and such." -- Barb Olsen
If super PACs result in more speech, isn't that a benefit?
Anthony Sanders, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, comes to the defense of super PACs. He points out that they exist to educate voters, which is a good thing.
" 'Super PAC' is just a fancy term for people and groups pooling their money together and then spending that money on speech about candidates for office. Generally this speech takes the form of television ads, but it can include radio or internet ads, or even other forms of communication. The more money super PACs are able to raise, the more they are able to speak and the more voters are able to learn.
"Critics often complain that super PAC advertising is too negative. But research has demonstrated that negative ads are, in fact, more informative than positive ads. They give voters important information about candidates for office that voters can then consider for themselves in deciding whom to vote for. And for voters who don't like negative ads, there's a perfect solution: change the channel. Everyone has the right to not watch television.
"What these critics' arguments really boil down to is the belief that there needs to be less information in the political marketplace because the critics don't like the electoral choices that voters make when exposed to free and open debate. They are essentially arguing that voters can't be trusted to make the best decisions in the voting booth. But that's an argument against democracy itself, not super PACs."
"The problem with super PACs is not that their money can change the result of elections. The problem with super PACs is that their money changes the policies of officials once elected. Money doesn't buy elections, but it sure as hell buys legislators." -- Rich Schultz
"Let's be clear: A super PAC is not 'just a vehicle for educating voters.' It's a vehicle for manipulating voters, often through intentional misinformation. Super PACs have no accountability whatsoever, so they can repeatedly make any false claim they like." -- Joey I from Eugene, Ore.
Imagine prone restraint being used on your child
Haddayr Copley-Woods, mother of a child with autism, is unhappy that state legislators want more study before moving to ban the use of prone restraint on schoolchildren. She enlists her son's help in explaining why the technique is inappropriate.
"I decided to ask an autistic 10-year-old myself, and my son kindly submitted to this hold while in an already calm and agreeable state ... As I held his arms and his father held his ankles, I asked Arie how he thought he might feel if he were very upset and someone were holding him like this. He thought about it, and then spoke, his voice muffled by the floor. 'Like a lesser being,' he said. 'Like an animal.' ...
"I think those who authorize this type of restraint see the affected kids as lesser beings. Well, I'll tell you what I see: my own kid. My own tiny 10-year-old kid, crying and humiliated, furious and frightened, smashed down on his face on the floor and held there by two large adults — sometimes for as long as 20 minutes."
"Thanks for putting this issue front-and-center, and thanks to Arie for both volunteering and for providing such an insightful explanation of what it feels like to be restrained. I'm certain our society and our educational system can come up with a better solution to manage children in crisis." -- Trout Lowen, Minneapolis
"These are children with very real disabilities who are humans — not animals. These schools are getting paid money to educate, not torture, children. ... There are schools successfully teaching children with severe behaviors that DO NOT use seclusion and restraint." -- Kym Grosso, West Chester, Pa.
"While prone is not a pleasant means of restraint, restraint of any form is to be done as the last resort to maintain safety of the children and staff. ... If prone is done incorrectly, the issue should be about effective training, not removing a tool that can help keep all involved safe." -- Erin H, from Minnesota
Heroes like Gary Kubly strive through pain to accomplish great things
Bruce Kramer, a college professor who was diagnosed in 2010 with ALS, shares his thoughts about the passing of state Sen. Gary Kubly, who had been living with a similar diagnosis.
"A Lutheran pastor who served in the Minnesota State Senate, he offered to step down after his diagnosis of ALS. But his Senate colleagues urged him to stay on, saying that though his voice was softer from his dis ease, he still offered that rarity in politics — one that sought to reach across difference and find paths that bring lawmakers together. ...
"Sen. Kubly was one of my secret heroes. Dis ease has introduced me to so many people like Gary Kubly — people I have never met, yet have inspired me through my own dis ease journey."
Let's have some ground rules for debating the marriage amendment
Adam J. Copeland, a pastor in northern Minnesota, thinks the state needs some standards for the civic debate over the marriage amendment on the ballot this fall.
"As a Christian pastor myself I would be the last to say that one's religious convictions should not influence choices at the voting booth -- anything but. However, it should be noted that Christians hold varied and complex positions on the amendment. We cannot be seen as one voting bloc. ...
"I believe both those supporting and opposing the amendment have the well-being of families at the heart of their position. In this way all voters are 'pro-family;' they just deeply disagree as to what sort of families should have the legal status of marriage. ... Diversity of opinion is part of what makes our state great. We can show our Minnesota values by debating our differences with civility, humility, and kindness."
"I appreciate this article, as civility is important to this issue. To many people, marriage is a defining characteristic of how we perceive ourselves and our relationship to our world. While the outcome of the vote on the amendment will unavoidably cause some individuals to feel ostracized, civility is the key to making sure that the losers in the upcoming battle feel that they can still be contributing members of society." - R. Balling, Prior Lake