"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Yin my Yang, please.

The cover story (Sympathy For the Devil? - Rick Perlstein) in this weekend's Chicago Reader had me riveted to today.

Every successful debater needs to use a thoughtful understanding of his opposition in order to stake a claim or position.

Perlstein recognizes the ultimate tenet of conservatism (protecting against the Tyranny of the Majority) and empathizes with it's followers, all in the service of debunking entire claim as a governing ideal.

And he makes the point:

Peanut butter’s just the beginning. From airport delays to coal mine safety to collapsing bridges, Perlstein and other bloggers have been making the case that conservatism is a failure—not because of incompetence or cronyism but because it is not and cannot be a governing philosophy.
Yet, therein lies Perstein's bias. He is of course citing what has happened during the course of an era in which our country has been ruled unilaterally under Republicanism in both the White House and Capital Hill. Without a counterbalancing force, the strongly conservative government lost focus and pushed things too far. The beneficiary's of the movements red-tape-cutting got greedy and lost sight of the public good.

Yet didn't this same thing happen throughout the 1960's? Johnson's Great Society ended in shambles. The participants of the Age of Aquarius actually lived to see a Democrat end "Welfare as we know it." Government spending on social programs run amok basically amounted to just throwing money at any and all problems. Doing as much to drive up inflation as George Bush has done throwing money into endless war in the Middle East.

Conservatism without the counterbalance of liberalism - or more correctly, socialism - leads to fascism, i.e. cutting inspectors at the FDA due to lobbying efforts by the Beef industry leading to increased outbreaks of E. coli, which is then dealt with by restricting the media's ability to report on the outbreak instead of hiring more inspectors. Or much worse, such as drafting a pliable front-man as a candidate for president, using his brother to manipulate the election results in a key swing-state, then stocking his cabinet with former oil executives and using the entire term to prosecute a war of profit in an oil-rich region.

Yet, Liberialism/socialism without the counterbalance of conservatism leads to communism, i.e. bringing to life entire bureaucracies designed to help less fortunate that suck the life and power and financial means of the nation as they are simply taken advantage of due to the fact that it's citizens no longer have any competitive incentive.

The nation is at it's healthiest when there exists opposing forces of change in equal strength. That's not to say you should quit protesting the war, or end your pro-life stance. By all means, keep it up. Just know that there will always be someone pushing you back across the line.

This is not meant to contradict myself, but it probably will. I never let myself caught up in certain political debates - most specifically the abortion/life debate. It is simply a divisive issue meant to divert attention from more important issues that will have the power to affect us - such as War, Energy Policy, and Health Care. Simply imagine if the President or Congress really did move to challenge Roe v. Wade, or the Supreme Court really did overturn it. Imagine the power of the backlash that would happen. So far with the political conversations going on at the debates, it seems we're on the right track however.

The point is, if you can’t feel what they feel, then you can’t take them seriously as political opponents. You see only the flimsy intellectual foundations and miss the motivating power of strategically harnessed resentment. From Adlai Stevenson to John Kerry, high-minded liberals have acted as if they were blind to the root feelings that feed the followers of politicians like Nixon and Bush. Instead, they alternate between expecting a fair fight on the issues (and getting swiftboated instead) and imagining that once people realize what a bad person Nixon or Bush is, the people will turn against him.

Conservatism isn’t just a temporary delusion or a wacky distraction. In Perlstein’s view, it’s a deep-seated expression of human nature. He recalls the Gilbert and Sullivan song from Iolanthe about two kinds of babies: “I often think it’s comical / How nature always does contrive / That every boy and every gal / That’s born into the world alive / Is either a little Liberal / Or else a little Conservative.” His point: “We’re not going to eliminate them. The best we can do is to win our 51 percent. What’s fascinating is that we share this country together.”

No comments: