One of the worst things to happen to American political rhetoric is the polarization of ideas.
In many conservative circles, the word liberal is used at least four times in every sentence. In liberal circles, any idea that is considered conservative automatically becomes synonymous with racism, sexism and greed. The reason for this is hardly a mystery -“news” shows like Crossfire and Hardball pit left against right as though they were polar opposites.
That would be bad enough, but the liberal and conservative representatives on those shows are much more informed than the average viewer. Most Americans – who have plenty of other things to think about besides politics – see well-dressed, ostensibly informed people arguing in the context of Republican vs. Democrat every single night.
That may be the practice of networks that wish to enhance their ratings by providing drama and conflict, but it isn’t really the way of things. Ideas are good or bad based on their merits, not because of the side of the aisle from which they originate. It’s a real problem, especially when the issue at hand is complicated and has both logistical and moral concerns attached to it.
Innovation can potentially transcend the problem. Take stem cells, for instance. The biotech company Advanced Cell Technology has announced it has discovered a way to create stem cells from human embryos without destroying the potential for life. A similar procedure has been used for years in the diagnosis of diseases such as Down syndrome.
Even if this new procedure is adopted around the country, those who oppose the use of stem cells may or may not change their position. To be fair, the moral issue has not entirely been transcended. It’s possible that the removal of even one cell may harm an embryo. Many groups oppose any creation of human life outside of the human body at all.
At the same time, stem cells may offer a high hope for the treatment of catastrophic diseases like Alzheimer’s.
But this issue, like most others, is too complex and too important to be decided upon based solely on which political philosophy a person identifies with. How a person views life and science isn’t based on political affiliation.
Ideas shouldn’t be, either.