Research in social psychology as well as a reading of human history indicate that competition breeds incivility between groups, while cooperation breeds the opposite. One of the hallmarks of current hyper-partisanship is the permanent campaign, which effectively means that politicians are always in a state of competition, as opposed to cooperation. However, in times of crisis when decisions of great importance need to be made, politicians, and the nation, have historically been able to cooperate. We see some of that in the current rhetoric about Syria as Bill O'Reilly and others have implored conservatives not to let politics prevent them from doing whatever they feel is the right thing.
It is beyond the scope of this site to judge whether military action in Syria is correct and there are principled reasons to believe that it is the right thing to do, as well as many principled reasons to believe that it is the wrong thing to do. However, we would urge politicians to vote their conscience on this issue, and not their politics. With such important decisions, the least of our politicians concerns should be whether "if you vote for a military strike you lose the ability to complain about whatever stupid thing Obama, Kerry, and Hagel come up with." Sometimes getting the policy right is more important than the next election, something which is sometimes lost in the current hyper-partisan climate.
- Ravi Iyer