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.
While very few ardent “no-government” conservatives would be willing to even consider the Michael Gerson-Peter Wehner observation above, the truth is undeniable. It also extends to today and tomorrow.
To think/hope/believe/insist that there will be no further progress of any kind—at least progress as defined within the very narrow parameters of those same “no-government” conservatives—is at best, delusional. There are too many forces, too many issues, too many citizens, groups, and various other entities seeing advancement of one kind or another to pretend change can be managed.
What can be managed as part of change’s inevitability is the input and cooperation of all parties. Managing by doing nothing at best, and obstructing/opposing at worst, simply leaves those resistant to change that much less prepared for what ensues. Their resistance also ratchets up the level of animosityy and conflict.
Is there a point when that stops being an objective?
OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL?
The Gerson-Wehner essay cited above contains another critically important truth:
Many conservatives fail to see the extent to which equal opportunity itself, a central principle of our national self-understanding, is becoming harder to achieve. It is a well-documented fact that, in recent years, economic mobility has stalled for many poorer Americans, resulting in persistent intergenerational inequality. This phenomenon is more complex than an income gap. It involves wide disparities in parental time and investment, in religious and community involvement, and in academic accomplishment. These are traceable to a number of factors, including the collapse of working-class families, the flight of blue-collar jobs, and the decay of neighborhoods that once offered stronger networks of mentorship outside the home.
Dysfunctional institutions routinely betray children and young adults. Children raised in communities filled with chaos and disorder — where the schools are broken and the streets are violent and drug use is prevalent — face enormously difficult odds. The consequences for children who come from failing communities are all the more severe now that advances in technology have moved us toward an economy that favors skilled over unskilled labor. Tremendous effort and creative policy will be required to fix the institutions that can restore such communities and with them the level playing field of equal opportunity.
Why so much opposition to creating more opportunities for more of us, which will do nothing but ripple outwards and extend even more advantages to more of us? Conservatives cannot pick and choose the pathways of change. They can influence the direction by their participation and willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue, and join others at the adult table by realizing they will not and cannot call all of the shots. Every other participant at that same table wishes no less, but those already willing to compromise for purposes of progress have accepted that reality. It may not always be pleasant, but they do understand that taking one step forward as part of the evolution of change is better than watching it pass them by.
I’ll end this series with more words of wisdom from those two conservative writers:
A truly conservative response to the advance of a liberal or progressive ideology, however, would not involve the adoption of an opposite and equally narrow ideology. Just as the breakdown of family structures does not prove the illegitimacy of family life but instead points to the urgency of its revitalization, the alternative to government overreach is not the dogmatic disparagement of government but the restoration of government to its proper and honored place in American life….
All this leads us to a final reason why conservatives should be engaged in the reform of government. The reputation of government is an important national asset — and an irreplaceable source of national pride. Government overreach by the left has degraded that asset. Today’s hemorrhaging of trust in public institutions, if left to run its course, will only further degrade it. Skepticism toward government is one thing; outright hostility is injurious to the health of American democracy itself. How can citizens be expected to love their country if they are encouraged to hold its government in utter contempt?
Appreciating and understanding different perspectives does not require we abandon our own values and beliefs.
Let’s hope that 2017 brings us at least one step closer to a more cooperative and mutually respectful environment than what we’ve been witnessing for too many years….
NOTE: This is the final scheduled Looking Left and Right post of 2016. I’ll post if/as needed until I’m back later in January with more discussions on these Left v. Right conflicts, Peak Oil, Religion & Politics, and the continuing examination of what Life Will Answer means.
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Enjoy the holidays & Happy New Year
~ My Photo: dusk at Good Harbor Beach, MA – 09.16.13 ©
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?