I've said many of these it seems like a million times, but it seems we always need to be reminded. Some of these are going to hit rather close to home and some will even punch me in the gut. We are all guilty of at least one or two of these general rules. I will try to come up with ten, but I can't make any promises.
1. We all want what is best for America.
This is the golden rule of political discourse. If you stumble over any of the next set of rules then just come back to this. People have mentioned narcissism here and it fits, but we are all narcissists in some form or fashion. In general, we all believe that if WE get what WE want then everyone will be better off. The same is true of our opponents. This is why we talk so much about people voting THEIR interests. If everyone did then America probably would be better off.
2. Isms are generally not helpful
This goes in both directions. If I am called an ist (as in socialist, capitalist, communist, fascists) it generally will not describe me. The use of the ism is an attempt to put people in a box. It violates rule number one because it assumes that anyone that is a particular ism does not want what is best for America. This becomes more problematic when people do not know what an ism is.
3. All opinions are valid even if they are not accurate
I admit that I am guilty of this one on both sides. Most people go with the general philosophy that they should follow their lying eyes over facts and figures. Most of political thought exist in the feeling realm. Someone might say I feel that welfare is a problem or I feel that illegal immigration is a problem. Whether the facts say these are true or not is largely irrelevant. When people accuse progressives of not being patriots it normally turns progressives off. When people accuse tea parties of being ignorant or uninformed it turns them off as well. It's tough to reach out to people that can't back an opinion up with facts, but we have to try.
4. Free speech isn't free
We have been talking about violence and violence has no place in politics or expression, but free speech is not free. So many people think free speech means they can say anything they want without a rebuttal. I call it the Dixie Chicks syndrome. You can say what you want, but people have the right to respond. There are so many misunderstandings that arise from this single point.
5. People are not an ideology
This closely refers to point number two but extends to the terms conservative and liberal (or progressive). I spend absolutely zero time labeling myself. I do it for two reasons. First, I don't want a label because it immediately limits the discussion on any particular issue. Secondly, I don't know if progressives (or liberals) even want me calling myself one. Discussions would go a lot further if we worried about the issue and not the ideology of the people attacking the issue. I represent me and not any group. We should respond to all in the same manner.
6. Leave emotion where it is
We cannot and should not take emotion out of politics, but we also should not play on it to get what we want. Pitting us against them does not accomplish what we want. I know this will largely fall on deaf ears, but it needs to be said.
7. Imagine America like a beer
It looks like I will stop at seven, but I think this is a good one. A lot has been made of Barack Obama's sharing of beer to gloss over big issues. Maybe gloss over isn't the right phrase, but I'm sick and delirious. Most of us like beer. Most of us like America. Some people like what I would affectionately call "cheap ass beer". This would be Miller Light, Bud Light, Natural Light, Lonestar, or any other cheap beer. Cheap beer has its place. Think of a cheap beer like taxes. Some of us want to pay less, but we understand that the quality may not be great. Yet, if I can drink three of those for the price of an expensive beer then I can get three times the buzz. I prefer premium beer. Most of it is German in nature, but hey, we do what we can. This might mean higher taxes yet I enjoy more for the higher rate. Quality or quantity. Heck, maybe I'm not making sense, but the point is why having a pissing match when at the end of the day we are all drinking beer?