The US Supreme Court had two significant rulings this week that bolstered the spirits of the country’s traditional establishment. The first was the Hobby Lobby case in which the court ruled 5-4 that small companies, where the owner and the company are nearly indistinguishable, do not have to offer contraceptive coverage (especially the so-called morning after pills) if it goes against the owner’s religious views. The second ruling, also 5-4, was that a home-health care worker who takes care of her disabled son in her own home is not required to join a union of health care workers if she doesn’t want to.

Note how both rulings were 5-4. This led the blog-o-sphere rhetoric to ratchet up to new heights. The left ranted on how outrageous these rulings are and said the typical normal things about how horrible the conservative justices on the court are. One person called it “a kangaroo court”. The right had their own things to say how it was a huge victory for traditional Americans and how they couldn’t imagine what the four dissenting justices were thinking.

Political discourse in America has unfortunately fallen into the deep dark gutter with little or no hope of recovery. Civil discourse is in a long recession – actually, it’s already descended into depression. Mud-slinging is the norm of the day. Dialogue, debate, and mutual respect are a thing of the past.

If everyone would step back and release the cloud of bias that they have been standing in, it might still be possible to see that there are two (if not more) legitimate points of view about everything. Legitimate – as in can be defended with logical arguments. And here’s a news flash, one can respect a point of view without agreeing with it.

America is in the worst case scenario surrounding political discourse – either you agree with the media machine and the talking heads or you are branded as a fool, a bigot, or an uncaring idiot. But the fact of the matter is that none of that is true. Not even remotely true.

What are the two main points of view contending for supremacy in America? Big government vs. traditional America.

The big government view contends several important things. First, that traditional values infringe on people’s rights and therefore need to be curtailed in certain areas (birth control, gay rights, etc…) Second, the government is the logical choice and the only way to right the wrongs of society and to give everyone an equal chance to succeed. Third, the government needs to provide healthcare, education, work training, regulations, etc… which will make America more fair. There’s a lot more here but you get the picture.

The traditional America viewpoint is that government is actually the culprit in infringing on the rights of the individual. Rugged individualism is espoused concerning all things such as religious freedom, gun rights, immigration, etc… They want a smaller federal government. They clamor on how the constitution has been hi-jacked by the federal government and states’ rights have been superseded.

Granted, it is extremely unfair to pigeon-hole everyone into both of these viewpoints. There is plenty of crossover and people are certainly individualistic about what they personally believe about these issues.

But the point of all of this is this: neither one is right or wrong. These are two ways of viewing America. There are extremely intelligent people sitting on the Supreme Court who look across the bench at other extremely intelligent people who vehemently disagree with them. Thus the 5-4 decisions.

Both sides have valid and logical arguments which they can and should espouse passionately. But when one side begins to say that they alone hold the spoils of truth in their hands then they are being disingenuous.

Everyone should form their own opinions, but while doing so respect the opinions of others. Everyone should feel free to defend their own opinions without being branded as a bigot or an ignoramus.

Civil political discourse is beneficial. It’s instructive. It helps people hear both sides and make up their own minds.

Unfortunately, there are too many people in America who want to stifle debate and simply throw verbal bombs at the other side because they know the media will eat it up and run wild with it.

So here is a simple plea to all fair-minded people out there. Use these 5-4 Supreme Court decisions to help a younger person in your life understand the two sides to both of these issues. Teach them to research and come to their own conclusions. Challenge their assumptions and play devil’s advocate to make sure their arguments are logical. And then teach them to show respect for those who believe differently. Perhaps the only way we will ever turn this around is to teach our kids the kind of respect for others that our government and media no longer has.

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