Trying to find intelligent discourse in politics is harder than understanding the derivative exposure in your 401k money market fund.
The proliferation of news channels, talk radio, blogs, and twitters have served to obscure rather than illuminate; close rather than open dialogue; and divide us more than ever.
We like to pride ourselves as rational creatures, but we are not. We tend to make up our mind emotionally, and only then rationalize our emotional decisions. I like to call this emotional rationalism.
We used to all get our news and information from the local paper and a handful of national television stations. It may have been biased but we at least got our information from the same source. Now we have so many sources that we have no trouble finding information that will quickly confirm whatever bias and emotional judgment we render.
Do you want to hear how evil George Bush and his henchmen were? Just listen to Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, Rachel Maddow, and their sycophants. Do you want to hear how terrible Obama, Pelosi , and Harry Reid are? Tune in to Ann Coulter, Rush, Hannity, or Glenn Beck.
We have no trouble finding sources to confirm how right we are and how wrong everyone else is. You can select from your choice of pompous windbags or sarcastic cynics.
When someone asks for advice, they usually already know the answer and just do not like it. They rarely want advice, they want a confirmation for a decision they have already made. The news sources find confirmation far more profitable than advice.
It is so rare to find a speaker get to articulate a well thought out idea. There has to be an opposition interrupting and shouting out over the voice. The point has to be made in minutes because of the station break.
With few exceptions I do not think I have heard a civil discourse aired since Dick Cavett. Even liberal Phil Donahue was civil to Milton Friedman when talking about the role of economic self interest vs political self interest (YouTube it). No one raised their voice and no one interrupted. Friedman quietly with a smile conveyed his free market ideas that were the result of years of research and thought. Whether you agreed or not, you learned something.
It is good to have ideas and principles, but it is better to have thought through them and have them challenged and discussed. But the utter lack of civility discourages such discourse and breeds intolerance for ideas in general.