Not exactly an apology: on ideology, debate, and patriots

Over the weekend, Rick Lowe and I had an email exchange that didn't end as well as our private exchanges usually do. I won't go into details, but it boiled down to the question of whether I dismissed him in the discussion following the last post or not. He certainly felt dismissed. Not what I intended, but there it is.The matter in question was health insurance, which I declined to discuss. The bigger question, though, was the idea of debate and discussion and whether or not, by not discussing it, and by referring to ideology as my reason for not discussing it, I dismissed Rick and his point.That was not my intention, as I said before. And yet I didn't want to engage with the topic, and I still do not want to for reasons that are very personal. Part of the reason is that Rick and I have discussed health care at some length elsewhere on this blog, and I'm not at all sure that either of us has changed our position. But part of the reason is also, fundamentally, our disagreements are predictable. He is a libertarian; I tend towards socialism. Our positions on any issue are liable to be diametrically opposed, and usually are. Though sometimes a lot can be gained from the discussion, the best debates are those that are supported and/or supportable by evidence. In the case that I avoided, Rick has most of it; I don't have all that much. What I do have is a weight of personal experience, which makes my bias emotional and fundamental, and which skews the discussion in such a way that it is liable to deteriorate.But our private exchange raised the question for me. What is the role of ideology in debates? Speaking for myself, I don't have a whole lot of time for prepackaged ideologies, not even the kinds that makes sense to me, which usually (but not always) fall to the left of the centre. Most ideological stances were developed by dead white men in countries far, far away from here, in times far removed from ours, holding assumptions that do not fully apply to our realities; most ideological stances are only vaguely relevant to our country and our reality.But Rick and I are both patriotic Bahamians. Where I find discussions between us to be most interesting are in the spaces where we agree. Libertarians and socialists usually don't; where we do are in places that touch our shared Bahamian experience. Where we do should be a bright flag for whoever reads our blogs regularly. As for the rest, for me the value is in the debate itself. Conclusions are boring; they're probably going to find us on our sides of the issue in the end, and we'll be joined, predictably, by people who share our positions. But it's the journey that's the fun part.And so Rick, maybe one day I'll engage about health insurance. But not right now. Right now, I'm more interested in the general economy -- and not in how we're spending our money (or not) today, but where we're going to get it in the future. I could be wrong; but I see the current economic time as a symptom of a far greater change in global economics, not an end in itself. Where we're moving I can't say. But what I am pretty sure about is that our country and our government are stuck in a reality that is fast becoming obsolete, and we'd better get all hands on deck, and light every torch around, to figure out what we're going to do when it's over.