Being an old man from a small Republican town in Idaho, I find Damon Linker fascinating. A couple of years ago, I found a love for The Week magazine. The magazine brought me into contact with the writings of Damon Linker, Pascal-Emanuel Gobry, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig and others. They argue world events, politics and life using quotes and philosophical arguments that force me to google in order to follow along. They write of societal mores and, most interesting, they even dare broach the subject of religion. As I read their musings I have often felt my understanding broaden.
While I don’t know Damon Linker personally, I have come to appreciate his logical construction, historical knowledge and mastery of philosophy. His writings have caused me to see a new, more complex world grounded in logical thought rather than a principle based politic as found in conservatism. As I struggle to follow his arguments, I even find myself agreeing with him, about half the time. Fortunately, Pascal’s writings are always there to remind me that Conservatism has a logic of its own. Damon Linker was my motivation to reach out and gain an understanding of neo-liberal and progressive politics. For a small town boy from rural Idaho, it is an education.
With my newly broadening perspective and independence from either political party, I have boldly set out to debate and influence one and all from the perspective of The Moral Middle. It doesn’t seem to be working for anyone but me. I have discovered individual politics are frequently not based on reason or even on a person’s best interests. For the rank and file voter, it has nothing to do with well thought out and persuasive arguments.
Perhaps it is similar to why we like a particular style of music. Do you listen to the music you like or do you learn to like what you listen to? We like the Politics that we have inherited or sometimes we choose a political platform based on what is fashionable within our circle of influence. Our reading and discussing is then merely a search for arguments that reinforce what we have already chosen to believe. Wrong or right, most do not want to understand the other perspective. Seldom do we change the channel from CNN to Fox news to hear what the other “side” is up to. As a result of all media becoming more and more biased and politicized and our tendency to mono-political reinforcement, our perspectives have become more divisive. We listen to opinions that reinforce what we already believe and thus become even more entrenched.
In my search to understand the political left, I have been flipping the channel a lot lately, let me share with you what I have learned.
Both parties, the Democrats and the Republican’s, are basically the same, self-serving, they just cater to different demographics. They pick out a group of voters who seem to be vulnerable and patronize them with hyperbole, snarky remarks for those who oppose and promised financial rewards. Seldom are the logical positions of great writers used to define positon but called forth only when it helps to cater to target groups. Republicans patronize Christians, white males, etc., Democrats patronize blacks, women, etc. Both parties are engaged in this competition for votes.
Both parties are ill-suited to lead. Let me share some imperfect generalities to explain why I think such a statement is true.
Republicans have become inept. The current state of affairs in the Republican Party has the appearance of an old black and white Keystone Cop movie. Who is leading this charade anyway? They can’t seem to accomplish anything. The reason of course is the split in the party. It has previously been run by the old guard. Good solid party patriots with back room deals and money (capitalism) as the quintessential goal; War has often been a tool used to achieve it. The status quo is being challenged by ultra-conservative or Tea Party ideology where right and wrong are more important than actual governance; principles based politics. Like the Skeksis and the Mystics in the children’s movie “The Chrystal Shard,” it will be some time before these two facets of the Republican Party join together and reunite. I am hopeful the conflict will eventually result in a political party with some relevance. If America is lucky, the melding of these two approaches will be synergistic and result in a party that could actually govern well. We will know it has been successful when the Republicans step up and take action to solve our immigration problem instead of spending years talking hate. Meanwhile great writers like Pascal argue well the conservative principles, yet the Republican masses continue to apply simplified core beliefs to very complex problems without total understanding of the issues. It must be very frustrating.
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is often more dishonest and immoral. A current example is their acceptance of Hillary Clinton who is obviously a crook and a traitor having sold her country’s interests for personal wealth. Now, she wishes to serve that same country as its president. Why is she still in the running instead of in prison? The answer is because many Democrats don’t really care about her lack of honesty. They just care about appearing to be “liberal” because it is trendy. After all, to be a liberal is to lay a false claim to the “superior intellect.” Another example is abortion. While totally reprehensible, the morality of the practice is not pertinent to the Democratic Party. Rather, the religion of science is invoked to assuage the conscience and make clean the hypocrisy and barbarism in denying life. Thus convenience is allowed to become paramount and death is relegated to the right of “women’s choice.” Similar to the Republicans, the Democratic Party is being tugged away from the center. In this case it is to the left by the newer, can I say younger, constituency. The party, in its attempt to buy votes, is now indistinguishable from democratic socialism. Enter Bernie Sanders.
Having thus argued neither party is currently capable of good solid leadership, let me say that there are good patriotic Americans in both. Indeed, there are great ideas emanating from members of both parties. This is evidenced in the writings of Damon Linker and Pascal-Emanuel Gobry. Both men are writers for the same magazine, one leans a little more left, and the other right. Both creating good analysis and ideas and I would assume they are respectful of each other.
So what have I learned by flipping the channel and reading articles I disagree with? We should base our politics on faith in leadership, not party. We need to take the good from both parties and eschew the evil. For example: from the Democrats, let’s embrace the belief of extending a hand to those who do need it and drop the social liberalism that has us falling into a libertine “mire of greed, crime, and promiscuity.” From the Republicans we can embrace a responsible fiscal policy which allows for a secure future and shun the often intertwined war mongery and false belief in national superiority. Starting from there, we can use the same concept of pick and choose politics to work out some middle ground on other issues that are trending; issues like climate change, the rise in violence and immigration. With such an approach, we should be able to work together to accomplish government for the good of all citizens and provide for the future.
So, what has my flirtation with the progressive left taught me? It has taught me:
“We all need to be independents.”
Samuel Waen Jensen