Political Discussions with the Future

Had a great conversation with my daughter tonight. She was frustrated by all the COVID restrictions and saying of the governor, “Doesn’t he understand the damage that he’s doing to our economy and people’s lives? Maybe if he just tried to live a regular life, he’d understand.”

Now, I’m not a big fan of our governor nor the current level of restrictions, but instead of saying, “he’s an idiot” or some other inflammatory remark, I tried saying that he’s not ignorant of the impacts, he just thinks he has a higher obligation to protect people. I could tell that she was struggling with this concept, so I asked what she thought about our Helmet Law (in Washington State, motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet). She thought that was a good idea (and bike helmets, too) because an accident could be so deadly. So then I asked what was the difference between the government saying “you have to wear this helmet for your own health and safety” and “you have to wear this mask and socially distance for your own health and safety”.

It turned into a great discussion about many nuances, including the fact that there is SOME number of deaths from COVID where she would think that it’s dangerous enough that laws should be passed to protect people; and maybe it’s just a matter of her number being much higher than the governor’s number.

Isn’t that what most political arguments really come down to? What is the right level of government involvement in our daily lives? The VAST majority of people would agree that it’s not zero (I like paved roads and indoor plumbing). And we can all agree it’s not 100%. Now it’s just a matter of degrees. We have different numbers, but we each have a number on this same scale. The guy “across the aisle” isn’t an idiot; he just has a different number. And we can have a civil discussion about why we think our number is better than the other person’s number. We can agree to disagree about it without vilifying the other person, and we can live with the results of not always getting our way.

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