Letter to the Editor: Letter writer has missed the point

In his critique of my commentary titled “The Culture of Dogma,” Richard Hoover missed the point. He thinks it inappropriate for me to bring in old history, rather than talking only about the contemporary scene, in talking about today’s Republican Party.

The point he misses is that “The Culture of Dogma” is about a political culture, and like other cultures, it has characteristics that tend to persist through time, even through generations. Contrary to Mr. Hoover’s characterizing my linking the pattern from the Old South to the pattern of today’s Republican Party as “nonsensical,” I say we cannot really make sense of today’s political scene without comprehending these persistent patterns of political culture.

And seeing these patterns requires that we follow them through history–in this case, a pattern of a political culture in which there is no real debate within the group on the vital issues, in which everyone toes the line on dogmatic positions that history has shown are often morally wrong.

So, while I do often deal here with the major issues of our time – as Mr. Hoover well knows – I believe that the core of the political deterioration we see in America today involves the re-emergence of a force that is the enemy of a healthy democracy — a force that prevents our coming to good solutions to the problems facing the nation. That “culture of dogma” is a part of that anti-democratic force.  This is why I’ve written a book with the title “What We’re Up Against — The Destructive Force at Work in Our World — and How We Can Defeat It.”

A final point: Mr. Hoover implies that it’s relevant that the South of old aligned with the Democratic Party. My piece is about a political culture. That culture, which itself persists, can change its party allegiance as the parties change. Today’s Republican Party is surely no longer “the Party of Lincoln.”

Andy Schmookler, Shenandoah County

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