Race you to the bottom

The difficult political problems that the U.S. faces are unlike any in recent history. Yet the response to these problems has been not new approaches, but reliance on familiar ideologies. This has had the effect of cutting political discourse off from the real world and making it more and more partisan.
To take one example, the response by the left and right to the threat of Islamic-fundamentalist terrorism against the West:
• The right (and the current administration) has tried to solve the problem by treating the threat as if it were the geopolitics of the cold war; the projection of American power and culture as the answer. But this has only made more real the claims of the terrorists, that the U.S. is an imperialist bully. Bizzarely, it is claimed that our war on Iraq protects our freedom, but no military victory is possible against a culture of terror.
[11/20: George Will himself provides a example of this thinking in a speech to the Manhattan Institute (as reported by Mickey Kaus); “In the Q & A session following his talk, he said his solution [to the threat of terrorists possessing weapons of mass distruction] was to restore the traditional monopoly of sovereign nations over the means of violence, and then to respect those sovereign nations.”]
• The left, uncomfortable with the application of power, has come up empty, besides vague hopes of addressing root causes of terror. It seems to believe that principled opposition is enough, and has no plan that will ensure the security of Americans. The left is certainly very well meaning and would be unlikely to make the mistakes of the current administration, but it presents no alternative plan for addressing the treacherous situations that the U.S. alone faces.
Reading the newspapers and watching the TV, partisans for either side ignore either the failure of the Iraq war to make us safer (and call any such claim ‘treason’) or the emptiness of Democratic politics, which seems to boil down to hoping that things go badly in Iraq and in the U.S. economy, then complaining about it (that, and calling the president a ‘terrorist’). The rhetoric on both sides has become so strident because it no longer needs to be connected to facts or solutions, only to perceived tactical advantage. Partisans can yell and scream and call each other liars, because pretty much everything that is said is not going to solve any actual problems anyway.
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