Monday, 26 September 2005

Satirical "Lost" Bush Speech

If conservatives were consistently this brilliant in expounding their ideas, then they certainly would be quite formidable, but then they would also be less frightening. Unless, of course, you subscribe to the notion that the underpinnings of conservatism are ethically bereft, and all eloquence in defense of its policies is tantamount to cynical trickery.

As a liberal (usually) who is most annoyed by the dogged conflation by the right of liberalism with moral decay, one of my fundamental liberal notions is that sound values based on concern for our fellow humans can honestly lead people to different conclusions. It would be hypocritical of me to not acknowledge that some conservative values have merit, when my most scathing rebuke of many right-wingers is their refusal to acknowledge any merit to either the underpinnings of liberal thought, or an occasional success borne of liberal policy.

ScrappleFace consistently publishes intelligent satire from a pretty far right perspective. His attacks of the Bush administration are pretty consistently delivered from Bush's right. But while I would often vehemently disagree with author Scott Ott's prosriptions for an improved public policy, he strikes me as being in touch with the nobler underpinnings of conservatism, so much of his commentary rings true in spite of my disagreement.

Many on the left would dismiss Ott's frequent quotations of MLK's oratory as disningenuous because he clearly opposes many of the left's proscriptions for equal opportunity. But I see no reason to believe that his implied belief in equal opportunity is not genuine, simply because he mocks systems which he sees as fostering dependency and removing incentives for positive living and contribution to society. In fact I agree that any liberal system for promoting diversity and opportunity for the less advantaged needs to avoid those potential maladies, while I suspect that Ott would agree that any conservative system which demands responsibility and accountability should implement checks to prevent the exploitation of the vulnerable by the powerful.

In the current political climate, I find myself unambiguously allied with "the left" because I see the rise of corporatism as a real threat to the egalitarian ideal which has been advanced in fits and starts over the last two centuries. The current leadership of the Republican party is marching us toward an ever increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor which is in dire need of reversal. Many leaders of the opposition rightly point to the importance of framing in the right's success in gaining currency for their ideas in the national dialogue. They will point also to the technique of smearing the ideas associated with liberalism in changing the tenor of the debate. The implication is that progressives need to wage a similar campaign in reverse to compensate for the current imbalance. They may be right.

My fear is that when all the focus is put into winning the argument for one's "side" we lose sight of the values that were the underpinning of our ideology, and we contribute to the poisoning of the dialogue for those of good intent on both sides of the debate. But we don't need to lose sight of those values. The liberal values of generosity, enablement, fairness, openness, and freedom of thought can remain central to our discussion of the issues. We can agree with conservatives that personal responsibilty, accountability, temperance, and caution are worthy values to keep in drafting a way forward, without compromising our own ideals.

This is why I find no inconsistency in declaring myself to be both liberal and conservative, even though I supported the supposedly "far-left" candidacy of Dennis Kucinich in the last election. It's why I never stop looking for signs of reason from some in the Republican party, because ultimately we need a synthesis of ideas rather than a one-sided solution. Too often compromises are tactical rather than principled and we get a muddled centrism which brings some of the worst from both parties together. But not always. There are success stories out there. We must find them and model them if we are to choose hope for our future.

1 comment:

Mike said...

The ScrappleFace post reminded me of a classic Onion post I just resaw recently: Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over. That post was written January 17, 2001 and it is really scary how predictable the Bush administration has been.