From 52 to 48 with love

I’ll admit I’m a passionate progressive. I’ve never been ashamed to say I’m a progressive/liberal, and obviously I’ve never been shy about expressing my beliefs – or questioning the beliefs of those with whom I may not agree.

Now whether you like President-elect Obama or not – and I know there’s a fair number of my regular readers who didn’t support his candidacy – he does raise a point that the most serious problems our nation faces can’t and won’t be solved by only one party and its supporters working alone. Liberals and conservatives may not agree on many issues, and on those we do agree on, we may differ regarding the best way to address those issues, but we all need to work together if we’re going to tackle some of the most serious issues we’re facing. In that spirit, let’s all try to work together, because I know we have some common ground.

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13 thoughts on “From 52 to 48 with love

  1. Obama’s gonna have to make some cuts in social programs. The deficits we’ve sustained under Bush’s leadership… perhaps both sides can agree to cut faith-based tax-paper support and let the free market determine which charities should get our money.

  2. Forgive me if I take this with a heaping pile of salt. Progressive behavior hasn’t exactly established credibility with us over the last eight years.

    Working together will never happen. Fiscal conservatives will oppose most every Democrat proposed spending initiative, including anything Sens. Obama and McCain promised in their campaigns. Social conservatives will never yield in their defense of traditional family values. Political conservatives will condemn every policy proposal from the left on grounds that it has been tried and failed over and again throughout history.

    As to the serious issues we now face, conservatives led the charge to prevent them in the first place. With all current “solutions” (bailouts, stimulus, etc.) failing it’s becoming painfully clear that the left has no idea what even caused our problems, leave alone how to solve them.

    This is my first exposure to your blog, and you seem like a decent fellow; however, this whole unity effort demonstrates the depth of naievete conservatives find rampant among members of the left.

    I’ll happily adjust my position if future actions prove to be worth more than a passing hipster-photographry fad.

  3. And, Dr. Feelgood says it all.

    “The left has no idea what even caused our problems, leave alone how to solve them.”

    The wonderful world of finger pointing and whodunit starts now and Obama hasn’t even been sworn in.

    I hate to be this way, but…….I was around to see first hand what the right and DC insiders did to President Carter. I saw what they did to the Clintons from day one. I remember the personal attacks against McCain in 2000 from Bush. I can’t forget or forgive the personal attacks against Obama and Hillary from just this year. Shit, I watched the Watergate investigation on TV……..The tactics have not changed one iota from the right wing and until they do they get no X’s & O’s from me.

    I want the Patriot Act burned, I want the Fairness Doctrine back, I want to see the environmental protections back and better, I want health care for all, civil liberties returned_and_given_to_gays and then I’ll start thinking about holding hands and singing John Lennon songs with members of the right.

    Asking people to trust a group that has consistently lied to us, cheated us, and generally abused power over us will take more than simple words. If you don’t believe me try cheating on your wife – a whole lot – and see if she feels like you don’t have to prove your fidelity and honesty before she takes you back.

  4. Dr. Feelgood, I’m not naive. Do I hope liberals and conservatives can work together on the issues where they share common ground? Absolutely, but I fully realize that given the highly partisan nature of Washington, it may not be likely that Democrats and Republicans will be willing/able to work together.

  5. kay, I haven’t pointed any fingers. I can if you like. I know how this economic mess got started. I also know that the government can’t fix it. The solution is to allow a recession. Anything else is simply deferring inevitable pain. I hope, if I’m invited to stick around awhile, you’ll find I rarely engage in character attacks, and even then only against members of my own team when they step out of line.

    I want the Patriot Act burned. Fairness Doctrine is unconstitutional abridgement of political speech (specifcally protected free speech) and I’ll fight it until I stop breathing. I want fiscally responsible environmental regulation, backed by hard science rather than scientific consensus; e.g. Superfund = bad and easy to fix, Global Warming = inconclusive and expensive to mitigate. I want everyone to have the opportunity to succeed on their own merits, and to choose to have health care or not with their own God-given brain. Liberty, civil or otherwise, should be defended for all. That means freedom to do as you please, but not power to force government to allow it. And, no offense, but I hate John Lennon’s songs. (Except “Hey Jude”).

    I don’t care if you trust the right. Trust is irrelevant. Politics is inherently adversarial, by design. I want you to vote your conscience. I don’t expect to persuade any blue-stater to switch sides, and I guarantee you won’t change my mind. I do hope to offer reasoned defense of conservative values and political positions, as I’m somewhat expert in the field. I can’t even imagine what grounds you have for thinking conservatives have betrayed you. We’ve always been your antagonists. I fully intend to continue in that great tradition.

    While I’ve never been on your political side, I have always honestly and fervently defended this nation in principle, and my fellow citizens in fact. Believe it or not, I disagree with y’all from the bottom of my heart with the deepest abiding love I can muster for otherwise total strangers. For good or ill, you’re my sister (or brother, perhaps I’m hasty to assume). My fidelity to my fellow citizens is beyond reproach, and I expect to be given the benefit of the doubt in future comments regarding my character.

    Zach, forgive me if I insulted you. This is your house and I appreciate your throwing the door open to commentary from random surfers like myself. I intended to convey that the 52-48 effort was naive, and by extension perhaps its creator/sponsor. I’m interested in hearing what you might consider to be common ground among conservatives and liberals. I also want to pick a nit: conservative does not equal Republican. 75% of what the Republican controlled government enacted from 2000-2006 enraged conservatives almost as much as liberals, though for entirely different reasons. It’s not just Washington that’s partisan. The whole country is effectively split along the lines of a looming culture war (ideological, not armed conflict). As I said above, republican (little “r”) government is adversarial by design. For that reason alone I hope that Republicans and Democrats in Congress find it exceedingly difficult to work together. I’ll likely take issue with them when they do cooperate because the Republican party has a history of reaching across the aisle by selling out conservatives (I’m glaring at you, Sen. McCain).

  6. You like to use that word naive when referring to liberals. I consider that an insult. And, finger pointing.

    I’m 54 years old and of all the things I am, naive is not one of them.

    The bottom line is that not only do you identify problems with a different lens than I but you also seem to offer fixes that may seem obvious to you but seem quite off the mark to me.

    How shall we come together (do you like that Beatles song?) if you begin with casting doubt upon the abilities and intellect of liberals? How does that make me fell like you want us to behave as brother and sister?

  7. kay, I explicitly said the effort was naive. You’ve taken a specific point of contention about actions and turned it into aspersions about character. If you restrict your interpretation to what I’ve written, rather than what you think I’m trying to say (or worse, trying to infer how I feel about you) we’ll get along much better. In fewer words, I can say you do naive things without implying you’re a naive person. If you insist on reading everything as personal judgment then we’re never going to understand each other.

    I do use a different lens, so let’s talk about that. The problems we identify are going to be different because we have different values, but we can find some ovelap in areas that affect us both. For example the current economic fiasco has serious implications for our future opportunites to generate wealth. It has origins in government policy-making. The fundamental theorem of conservatism is that actions have consequences, and similar actions have similar consequences. This allows us to understand problems through the lens of history. Has anything like this happened before? What caused it? How can we solve it?

    When you apply that lens to the housing meltdown, it’s pretty easy to recognize it as a do-over of the S&L crisis, only with a different economic vector and on a more massive scale. 1989’s FIRREA that Congress passed to deal with the S&L used the housing market as a cushion for the fallout and contributed directly to the housing meltdown by loosening the GSEs (Fannie and Freddie). Now we’re dealing with the deferred pain of bank failures under S&L and adding the pain of 19-years’ mismanagement of mortgage entities. The government will attempt to deal with this by padding another economic sector to defer the inevitable (thus, the calls for another stimulus). The bottom line is that our economy has been floating on an ever mounting cushion of private debt (government debt is a whole other ball of wax, but contributes directly to the problem by devaluing the dollar) and there’s not enough productivity to cover obligations. When greedy people (borrowers and lenders alike) exploited the flaws in FIRREA and CRA and other nations began flowing cheap and easy loans in the U.S., our obligations became unsustainable and the inevitable crash began. The enormous debt cushion was always bad, but it was acceptable as long as housing prices were artificially appreciating (buyers driving prices up with free borrowing, leading to increase in the number of buyers, leading to buying panic and excessive valuing, leading to competition, leading to buyers driving prices up with more borrowing, rinse-repeat) because a gradual slowing in the market would have been manageable. But over-hyped markets don’t gradually slow, they burst. When they burst they drive the economy toward it’s real level of productivity. This is good in the long run, but it hurts in the short run.

    Now I’d be all for government management of the crash so that it’s as painless as possible. Trying to reverse the economy without understanding how it works is like taking an aspirin for a whole mouth full of abcessed teeth. You either get the proper (excruciatingly painful) care, or you’ll eventually die of the infection. The problem with a historical lens is that it shows how government management has been completely inept. In fact it has created our current problems by trying to solve earlier ones (and mandating “fixes” to social issues). Let the economy find its real value again. This is the general direction that any policy from Washington ought to follow. But legislators and executives are notoriously short-sighted (next election) and won’t risk their careers letting the people feel the pain of their mistakes. Anybody who doesn’t accept responsibility for their role in the crash is going to scream, “Fix it!” God help them, they don’t know what they’re doing.

    The fixes don’t seem obvious. They require an understanding of how things work. It’s not about intuition, which is what the vast majority of people rely on. Understanding comes from studying cause and effect through the historical lens. While I’m personally obligated to your feelings (in that I won’t offend you if I can avoid it), they don’t have any role in deciding what to do–bet that going forward in discourse or setting government policy.

    Which obliquely touches on my greatest confusion about liberals: do you believe it’s the government’s purpose to make you happy?

  8. “do you believe it’s the government’s purpose to make you happy?”

    Obviously this is just my personal opinion, but I say no. Happiness can only come from within, and not from the government.

  9. “actions have consequences” is not a conservative theory. I do believe it’s a well proven fact regardless of political viewpoints.

    I regret that I ever responded to this. I have no wish to have a dialog with you, Dr. Feelgood. I don’t care to be talked down to and I don’t care to turn this into an extremely lengthy exchange where we throw economic theories back and forth ad nauseum.

  10. are you kidding me? all the rants from the 52 that i have tolerantly listened to for 8 years will not be forgotten….. ever.

  11. “Obviously this is just my personal opinion, but I say no. Happiness can only come from within, and not from the government.”

    Why, then, do liberals constantly petition the government to recognize thier private social agendas? What is driving the need to have government involvement in or recognition of every single aspect of daily living?

    I can’t understand the apparent regress to emotions as justification for making policy; nor do I accept intuition, regardless how magnanimous the intent, as rational grounds for action. My objection to these avenues increases exponentially when the government is the one doing it.

    But back to what interested me in your post in the first place: what do you see as common ground between progressives and conservatives?

  12. Feelgood, you ask why liberals constantly petition the government to recognize their private social agendas as if conservatives aren’t guilty of the same behavior. To say that’s behavior exclusive to liberals is far from accurate.

    As for what I see as common ground between liberals and conservatives, I see common ground on issues like national security, education, crime, and taxes, just to name a few issues. For example, I think it’s safe to say all of us – regardless of political affiliation or persuasion – want our kids to get a first-class education, and I think it’s safe to say liberals and conservatives all want to keep our nation safe; however, what liberals and conservatives don’t share is a common idea on how best to address those issues.

  13. “Feelgood, you ask why liberals constantly petition the government to recognize their private social agendas as if conservatives aren’t guilty of the same behavior. To say that’s behavior exclusive to liberals is far from accurate.”

    Well, I didn’t say that, you did. All I asked was why behavior seems inconsistent with principles. That’s still a valid question. If happiness comes from within, then how come live-and-let-live is not a viable liberal policy point?

    On the contention that conservatives engage in the same behavior, I can provide clarity. Social conservatives who advocate government control on behalf of their social agenda are not actually conservatives. They’re pseudo-theological totalitarians, who use people as a means to an end. I happen to agree with many of their moral judgments, but disagree fundamentally with how they’d see them implemented. In that respect, they’re a lot like liberals: much of what you want to see happen is just dandy, but how you propose to go about it is dangerously wrong. Both groups, to my mind, are unwilling to accept imperfection in their conception of society. Utopianism is morally and intellectually immature. Incidentally this is a major deterrent to cooperating with the administration-elect.

    “…however, what liberals and conservatives don’t share is a common idea on how best to address those issues.”

    This goes back to the issue I was elucidating for kay. The lens you use to interpret data influences your interpretation. Conservatives, by definition, look through objective history to advocate policies that have been proven to preserve freedom. Liberals seemingly look through subjective intuition to push theories that have failed everywhere they’ve been implemented. When an idea that seems right consistently turns out wrong in practice, simple common sense demands reassessment of your methodology.

    This is the common view of liberals from our side of the aisle. My experience has shown that it has merit as a useful model for predicting the actions and reactions of liberals in making policy, insofar as it’s possible to predict a subjective system, anyway. If I’m wrong, please tell me. One of the reasons I’m antagonizing you (a bit) is that I’d like to know what lens you use to interpret data so that I can better understand where you’re coming from.

    Looking through your lens, then, what are the characteristics of a first-rate education? of a secure nation? If we want to come to agreement on how to get there, let’s first agree on where we’re going.

    BTW I’m interested in continuing this discussion (in the spirit of 52-48), and I’m willing to opt for an email exchange if you’d rather not clog your site with a series of point-counterpoint comments.

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