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.
Those on the Right assume—fear—a continuing cultural shift to the left, with those fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy the more ardently they battle against the inevitability of a more open society easily tolerating lifestyles far-removed from the days of Leave It To Beaver. Those on the Left are dismayed by the incessant march of the far-Right states even farther to the Right, destroying voter protections, workers rights, and health protections from women among other causes near and dear.
The apparent inclination of extremists on the Right to “take back America” and/or to return to the good ‘ol days skips over an important observation: if the nation was to prosper and succeed in acting upon our founding principles, change and adaptation would be vital components along the way. What was good for an America in 1837, our forebears understood, was quite likely not so good in 1913, nor do the guiding notions from a century ago serve us now.
MORE OF THE SAME?
We can continue to talk past one another, allowing our ideology-by-flash card dialogue to continue widening the partisan divides with the expected outcomes and ongoing gridlock in Congress. There’s certainly some psychological comfort in knowing your beliefs and certainties about the inane and decidedly wrong policy positions of those on the “other side” are shared by countless brothers and sisters just like you.
How much benefit those assurances offer beyond this afternoon is another question.
The stronger aversion by far-Right voters to compromise under any circumstances, coupled with the shedding of democratic norms and governing principles by the far-Right faction of GOP leadership, makes it all but impossible for this country to do much more than tread water. That’s a definition of American exceptionalism with which most of us are entirely unfamiliar. Those proclaiming their fervent patriotism are either unwilling or unable to recognize that doing all they can to obstruct and oppose what the majority of voters have chosen as guiding principles and legislative priorities is anything and everything but patriotic.
ROOM FOR TRUTH?
Manufactured fears and anxieties have taken them far from the truths about progressives policy, and their unwillingness to engage in any dialogue or explore the complexities of modern society compound the problems. Facts still matter—at least in theory. It might be worthwhile to offer more room for reality and truths at the table.
Our nation is not so great that it can afford to stand still and rely on the good-will earned and accomplishments of the past. Change and progress will move at their own pace, unencumbered by respect for what the United States once was. If leadership and citizens cannot embrace the need for progress even at the expense of cherished ideological principles—most better-suited to days long past us—then we will soon enough find ourselves looking up at other nations not quite so troubled by the need to negotiate and compromise. We will also find ourselves neck-deep in problems and challenges a more cooperative and open-minded GOP would have helped us avoid.
Protecting a system against an internal threat is much more difficult. Not only do those on the inside have much better access, they also know the rules, know the bottlenecks, know how to exploit weak points to cripple functionality much more effectively than any outside entity. It’s this access and understanding that makes the most trivial internal mole much more frightening to intelligence agencies than the greatest super-spy batting for the other team. It’s what makes betting against your own team the greatest sin in sports. It’s the sort of attack that can permanently damage a system to the point where recovery is difficult or impossible.
It’s what is crippling our nation.
That’s not comforting….
If we keep doing more of the same instead—battling by whatever means available to prove our side completely correct and the other side completely incorrect—about everything, we’ll continue to get more of the same. Those concerned about our future might want to pause and consider how that plays out.
~ My Photo: Gentle Waves at Good Harbor Beach, MA – 01.11.16 ©
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?