Although a Spirited Reasoner might sometimes advocate a position that others would call “moderate” or “centrist,” a Spirited Reasoner might also–quite rightly–decide that circumstances require an extreme position. For example, Patrick Henry, in his famous “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death” speech, argued that those who were crying “Peace!” had missed their moment, since (in his view) the war had already begun. This speech is a good prototype for the proper application of “spirited reasoning,” since it so clearly, and so persuasively, balances elements of both spirit and reason. Yet no one would call Patrick Henry a “moderate” or a “centrist.”
The Declaration of Independence is another example of spirited reasoning. One could argue that its very existence was premised on the Founding Fathers’ belief that a spirited action as extreme as breaking ties with the King of England could never enjoy majority acceptance or long-term political success unless it was supported by solid, logical reasons. Jefferson’s initial paragraph says as much.
So those of us who strive to be Spirited Reasoners are not aiming at the center, or at any particular wing, of the political spectrum. We are viewing the facts with open eyes, open hearts, and open minds. We are aiming at something we can call “political wisdom,” in the spirited belief that those words do not have to constitute an oxymoron.
In future blogs, we will examine what core values are necessary to guide our advocacy.