Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Getting Along

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred appeal for reasoned debate in an excellent, well argued post. I'm an admitted partisan, with three thoughts from my neo-con perspective:
  1. A stable democracy demands the willingness to lose. Extremism flourishes where defeat isn't temporary; the next regularly scheduled election is another chance. In the U.S., subject to brief interruptions, Democrats controlled the House and Senate between 1933 and 1995. Republicans had sixty years to learn how to lose (plus the catastrophe named Nixon); Democrats -- especially Congressional Democrats -- still are adjusting. Until they learn, Democrats seem more desperate--and "toxic."

  2. Each side seem confused by the transformation of American political parties over the past 15 years. Since, and partly as a result of, the Civil War, each party had both liberal as well as conservative adherents. Yes, Republicans were more pro-business and WASPy, but Nelson Rockefeller and "Scoop" Jackson weren't all that odd. But, beginning with the downfall of Soviet Communism, Republicans and Democrats became more homogenous, as European political parties have been since the franchise became universal. Today, there's a much greater overlap between Democrats and liberals and Republicans and conservatives. Where much of the liberal/conservative debate formerly was resolved within each party, behind closed doors, it's all public now. This makes America appear more divided, and debate more poisonous, though I'm skeptical it's true. (Those claiming America was less divided in the late 60s and early 70s must be too young to remember.) The death of an objective press contributes to this perception.

  3. As a result of #2, both parties are in transition. Conservatives now advocate change; liberals mostly are reactionary. Dems went ballistic about Bush's second Inaugural speech, without acknowledging the similarities with JFK's luminous faith in the transforming power of freedom. Where they once revered "one man, one vote," liberals today bypass the democratic process to empower unelected judges, who are prone to false flights of fancy. Conservatives have faith in the people; Liberals assume they know what's best for Americans and Iraqis.
Conclusion: There are extremists on each side, Republican/conservative as well as Democrat/liberal. The recent shift of both political parties has pumped-up the volume. But I'm still convinced that liberals and conservative share the same goals--but disagree on how to achieve them.

That's not to say there's no distinction between left and right. The policies of Goldwater, Reagan and now "W" transformed conservatives into the heirs of Burke, Locke, Madison, Truman and Kennedy -- liberals with a capital "L" -- leaving the left unwilling to advance beyond hortatory protest and thus increasingly left behind. That's bound to be disruptive and confusing -- to both sides.

(via MaxedOutMama)


loboinok said...

Great post...very interesting.

@nooil4pacifists said...

Thanks, Jay. I read your various blogs often; I too oppose almost every ACLU position--and, I suspect, their undisclosed policies. The sole reason I haven't linked to you on my sidebar is that that the ACLU dead wrong, but I wouldn't "stop" it--in America, even liberals have the right to be wrong.