September 11, 2012

Is there some value to Facebook? Turns out that it could be a good forum for the sharing of social and political ideas and real debate on social and political issues. And it’s not likely that the debate will degenerate into state of crass and rancorous argument because posts are friend-to-friend. A case in point:

After posting this on Facebook in response to a post touting President Obama’s environmental initiatives,

I don’t understand why anyone would want another 4 years with Obama as president, or why anyone would want Romney as president. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are corrupt and bad for America, and if we want to survive as a nation going forward, we had better realize that this 2-party paradigm no longer works. If you are left wing or right wing, there are other parties that you can work to elevate. If you are a centrist or libertarian, I suggest you work to elevate the Libertarian Party. At some point, people will come to the realization that the system as it is doesn’t work, and begin to shift their votes to alternative parties or movements. Whomever you vote for, you can save the country temporarily by voting in congressmen and senators of the opposite party of the president. As long as the government is deadlocked, neither the president nor congress can do harm. But I suggest working for the long-term salvation of America and breaking out of the 2-party paradigm.

I received this response post from a friend:

…I have equal problems with Libertarians. Most of them seem to forget that this country was founded on two principles, liberty AND justice. Liberty has to be tempered by justice. The French had even more clarity on principles: Liberty, Fraternity (community) and Equality (justice). Community keeps justice from being rigid, and justice keeps liberty from being anarchic. Sorry, I think we are in this nation together, not as a collection of individuals, and I could never vote for a libertarian.

I have no argument with what my friend said in regard to the principles of liberty and justice; in fact, they are the ideals to which we should aspire, and some think that either the Democratic or Republican party advances those ideals. But I think that the Democratic and Republican parties both spurn those ideals, in spite of their attempts to convince us otherwise. Just look at the record–the real record, not campaign propaganda–for God’s sake! With that in mind, I responded as follows:

Justice? Where is the justice in Bush lying to start wars? Where is the justice in Obama deciding that he can kill American citizens without providing them their 5th and 6th-amendment rights? Because of these and other cynical and illegal acts by both Republicans and Democrats, I will not vote for a candidate of either party again. And your characterization of libertarians is off base. Libertarians want justice and liberty for all; that doesn’t make them uncaring individualists. To the contrary, libertarians understand that people in this country must work together for the good of all, but they don’t think that the juggernaut of a massive government bureaucracy advances that goal. Nor does it protect liberty; rather, it threatens it. Nor does it dispense justice; rather, it perverts it. Government must have effective limitations if we are to remain free. That is perhaps the principle relied upon most by the founders of this nation. I am a libertarian–not a Libertarian–and I think that I and other libertarians are more invested in our founding principles, and more caring of the whole community of our countrymen than are officials and candidates of the two major parties.

My friend hasn’t yet responded, but if there is a response, I’m sure it will be one that is well thought out, well delivered, and devoid of rancor.

Although it’s not seen on Facebook as often as it could be, dialogue like this is needed among people. It helps us to more carefully focus on what we believe, and to formulate our responses to questions and assertions. And, in some cases, we may find that respondents have better arguments. I’m humble enough to know when I’m wrong and admit it, and I know that most of my friends are that way too. Now if we could just get the politicians to use Facebook to calmly debate issues instead of relying on character attacks and hyperbole, then we’d be better off, wouldn’t we?