Looking Left and Right: Cynicism



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.



To that end [referencing, specifically, the 2013 shutdown efforts, but applicable more broadly as well]:

It would be bad enough if small-government Republicans were merely being short-sighted and committed to a losing strategy, but what makes these tactics more harmful to the cause of small-government conservatism is that they reflect no sense of prudence or consideration of unintended consequences. This is not just a question of making the right political calculation. It is also a question of matching means to ends, and making a correct assessment of the risks and costs involved. If this is how they approach the most basic responsibilities of governing, why are voters going to trust them to implement their larger policy agenda?


And as Daniel Larison noted in his piece discussing the observation above:

Making useless ‘stands’ of this kind not only make small-government conservative ideas unappealing to many other Americans and provoke backlashes against them, but they make even those that agree with many of those ideas conclude that their representatives are ill-suited to governing.


Is that a risk the conservative mindset is willing to accept? There will come a reckoning at some point, if not now, then what the accumulated damages over time make clear that tactics to oppose progress prevent needed progress … duh!




Promoting cynicism about the role of government is likewise not a consequence-free strategy. The question is: who “wins” by perpetuating fear and mistrust? If the “principled” extremist conservatives should ever succeed in reducing government to a quaint relic of the past tucked away on a closet shelf, What Happens Then?

They oppose every effort to stimulate the economy and promote job growth unless it’s a tax cut, a policy objective which America has been experimenting with unsuccessfully for almost four decades. Aren’t we close to the expiration date of that pursuit so that we can try a different set of policies which have actually worked already? Just a thought….

Improving our infrastructure, our roads, school systems, and a host of other necessities we’ve labeled as the public good—necessities most of us take for granted approximately all the time—all require funding. Surprise!

Citizens rant and rail against big corporations; the power and financial influence big banks exert on all of us; the wealthy having a substantially disproportionate effect on policies both implemented and ignored; the need for safeguards against all kinds of potential hazards which government/regulations guard against [safe water, food contamination, and countless other everyday experiences we enjoy because of those very safeguards]. The list is endless. Those protections, conveniences, necessities, and features are in place as they are because government and voters have always understood that without them, we would be no better off than most third-world countries.

We have the means to to preserve and improve those defining elements of the great attributes of American society, yet a determined faction continues to inject just enough fear and loathing directed to government efforts to make us even more productive because doing so means the few who’ve reaped great rewards might have to share their nice toys and playpens. Benefactors of those narrow-minded politicians are far more interested in protecting what’s theirs than anything else, and they keep writing checks to keep that train rolling.

As Sasha Abramsky summed up neatly [and presciently]:

This is a recipe both for political incoherence and also for an increasingly snarling, nasty culture, a culture turned in on itself and its great democratic institutions. This is a political broth out of which bubbles extremism.


Something to look forward to? Let’s hope not!


~ My Photo: Storm Brewing – 07.23.16  ©


Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows

Be the change you want in the world Gandhi

The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything Albert Einstein


~ ~ ~

As I state in the “About Me” section, I’m driven by an intense commitment to learn why those on the conservative side of the fence view so many matters of great importance to us all so differently than do those of us on the progressive side. Those contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.

If we don’t recognize and accept that bitter partisanship is not always the wisest or most beneficial strategy, the goal of a better future will forever be as far away tomorrow as it is today.

The late Senator Paul Wellstone’s observation continues to hold far more truth and power than we give it credit:

We all do better when we all do better

Why make setting up inevitable and enduring conflict the primary objective of policy and planning?


* I invite you to enjoy my two books [here and here], and to view my other   blogs–at this website website [see the link above] and also at Peak Oil Matters