Friday, February 2, 2007

Another article I think needs read

The Article can Also Be Found HERE.

In Defense of Partisan Bickering,

by Michael Kinsley, Time:

So we did liberalism for about a half-century, and then we tried conservatism for a while, about three decades in fact ..., but now we're tired of that too. So what's next? ... Americans want something new. But what?

Actually, it's pretty clear what Americans want. They want an end to partisan bickering. They want pragmatic solutions, not ideological posturing. They want leaders who reject politics as usual and put the country's interests ahead of the party's. They want a government that will do the right thing, regardless of whether it is "liberal" or "conservative." They don't like labels. And, oh yes, they are tired of spin. ...

This postpartisan era everybody wants is not going to happen, and the great longing for it is childish. What Americans say they want--or even what they think they want--needs to be taken with a grain of salt. ... Do they want our health-care system fixed? Yes. Do they want Social Security and Medicare on a more solid footing? Absolutely. Will they pay for these things? Not a chance. There are no pragmatic, nonideological solutions to the big question of what the government should do and what it shouldn't. You can have your government programs and pay for them, like a good liberal, or you can have your tax cuts and forgo the programs, like a good conservative. Asking for both is the opposite of pragmatic.

Another name for the much derided "politics as usual" is democracy. Things get disagreeable because people disagree. Ideology is a good thing, not a bad one--and partisanship is at its worst when it is not about ideology. That's when it descends into trivia and slime. Ideology doesn't have to mean mindless intransigence or a refusal to accommodate new evidence or changing circumstances. It is just a framework of basic principles. A framework is more than just a list: all the pieces should fit together.

A politician ought to have an ideology. For that matter, so should a voter. Although ideology is sometimes dismissed as a substitute for thinking, it more likely is evidence that you've thought things through. Why is there a huge farm bill and no bill for struggling autoworkers? Why did we invade Iraq in search of nuclear weapons, but not North Korea? ...

Many or most of the decisions that an elected official must make on your behalf aren't even known when you must decide whether to vote for him or her. An ideology functions like a pledge or a promise, and it allows you, the voter, to judge the politicians seeking your vote in two different ways: their politics and their character. Do you share his or her political principles? And does he or she stick to them as new issues arise? Without some kind of ideology, the politician is asking voters to buy a pig in a poke.

A slightly trimmed version, but the point is there,


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