Looking Left and Right: Progress & Opportunity

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Many of the functions of the modern-day federal government, including Social Security and other social-service programs, were not envisioned by the framers, nor did the enumerated powers of the Congress specifically comprehend such programs. But neither do these federal roles violate a principle of our system or run counter to the prescient mindset of the founders. The federalist founders created and interpreted a constitutional system that allowed for the emergence of modern America, one in which the federal government would be strong enough to shape global events and to guarantee a minimal provision for the poor, ill, and elderly. Such federal roles may require examination and reform, but they are not inherently illegitimate.

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Looking Left and Right: Going Back To Where?

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Most conservatives, if pressed on these matters, would concede the propriety of some government role in helping create the conditions necessary for individuals and institutions to succeed. For too many in the libertarian and Tea Party wings of the GOP, however, such concessions are at best made grudgingly. These conservatives, if left to their own devices, would say almost nothing about these matters. And so crucial realities — the fact of increasing inequality and decreasing social mobility — tend to be swept under the rug. For too many, government’s obligation to protect individual liberty comes first, second, and last, while concepts such as the common good, despite bearing their own conservative pedigree, are regarded as so much liberal claptrap.
Protecting individual liberty is indeed an indispensable role of government. But it is not the only role.

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Looking Left and Right: Pointless Abstractions

 

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Today’s sharply polarized and strategically focused political parties fit poorly with a constitutional system that anticipates collaboration as well as competition within and across separated institutions. As we initially wrote, parliamentary-style parties in a separation-of-powers government are a formula for willful obstruction and policy irresolution. The continuation of divided party government and the promiscuous use of the filibuster after the 2012 election have largely frustrated the policy direction affirmed by majority electorates and supported in polls of voters taken since the election.

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Looking Left and Right: Recriminations & Regrets

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The decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments.

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Looking Left and Right: Cynicism

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Last week’s post concluded with some inquiries about the apparent lack of awareness that the actions of “no-government conservatives” have consequences. Destructive actions have an annoying tendency of making things worse.

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Looking Left and Right: Fighting The Inevitable

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The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society
The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike.

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Looking Left and Right: “Unending Incompetence”

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To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one’s concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.

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Looking Left and Right: Remember When Governing Mattered?

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In a world whose 21st Century inter-connectedness and complexity are no doubt entirely beyond the visions of even the most imaginative among those of prior generations [and surely beyond the capacity of our Founding Fathers], insistence on narrowing our focus and policies in honor of the earliest conservative interpretations of “limited government” is to disrespect the greater principles upon which our nation was formed.

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Looking Left and Right: Just Oppose, Dammit!

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Our political system is set up in a way in which it’s very hard for an opposition party to be open to participating in any solutions to that because that would legitimize the party in power, which would keep them from getting there. And so they are engaged now in an ever more permanent campaign to obstruct, defeat, discredit, repeal anything that is done by – usually defined as – the president’s party….
But I think just as importantly, it’s [the Republican Party] become a party that believes it’s essential to stick to your principles and not engage in any kind of collaboration with – negotiating or compromise with – the enemy, which is defined as the other party. That’s unusual. And then you put that together with simply no respect for facts, for evidence, for science, and add to that the willingness to simply reject the legitimacy of the other side….
The peaceful transfer of power, the respect for the office of the presidency, the willingness to say, ‘We have our differences, it’s important to discuss those but in the end we’re all Americans,’ and so on, that’s rejected by a whole lot of Republicans right now.

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Looking Left and Right: The “Art” of Opposition Pt 1

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Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind. Perhaps the question now before the public may, in its consequences, afford melancholy proofs of the effects of this despicable frailty, or rather detestable vice, in the human character.

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