High-minded in the high country
Most encouraging is the commitment by Mr. Paul Andersen (“More Light! More Light!”, commentary, Feb. 6, 2017, The Aspen Times) and Mr. Walter Isaacson to conduct “totally civil, high-minded discussion on all issues based on shared values, etc.” This is a noble step for the Aspen Institute.
It probably would serve this purpose better, however, if the proposal did not begin with the vitriolic criticism of both the policies and the person of President Trump, e.g., “bellicose global posturing,” “divisive bluster,” “slamming doors,” ”perverted forms of government,” etc. This doesn’t seem the right approach to dialogue, and seems more conducive to monologue.
A Paepcke audience that snickers and guffaws with the mere mention of President Bush (under Mr. Isaacson’s chair) is a hostile environment for any alternative ideas. The rarified atmosphere of Aspen (as well as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Portland) overlooks that there are many lawmakers and citizens in between that may share different viewpoints. A new, more receptive approach would be refreshing.
Mr. Andersen furthermore states, unattributed: “Philosophical dialogue is the apogee of human achievement, the best and highest use of human facilities.” Surely, the eradication of smallpox and polio are very close seconds.