The Great Debate
MSNBC had a nice spot the other day on its Morning Joe program about the new book by Yuval Levin called The Great Debate: Edmund Burke/Thomas Paine and the Birth of Right and Left. There is an excerpt of the book on their website here for those that are interested.
As longtime readers know I have self-identified as a progressive conservative for many years, attributing my political leanings to the trinity of Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Disraeli and Dwight Eisenhower. To recap in one sentence, I basically believe that we must move forward but I like it to happen at a speed that is a bit more ‘restrained’ than my friends on the Left would probably prefer. What this position has also led me to believe is that the Left/Right dynamic is one of the things that makes our country work because quite frankly, we need each other.
Levin made a similar point during the interview and my favorite line (slightly paraphrased) was this: “Ours is not a recipe for a happy government but it IS a recipe for an effective government.” Now this will probably unleash a flood of critique but Levin backed up his statement by pointing out that the French Revolution ultimately failed because it didn’t allow for an opposition party. Our country embraced that idea and we have been (mostly) successful in making it work.
What I am thinking about now though is just what is NOT happening because of the Left/Right tension. I see a lot of liberal pet issues moving forward, albeit at a slower pace than many would like, but forward nonetheless. Gay marriage is spreading, marijuana is being legalized, government-run healthcare has gained a foothold, etc. I don’t see the Right dialing much back with the exception of abortion, but maybe I’m just not paying close enough attention.
So my question for readers is this: What would you like to see move more quickly in one direction or another and is political opposition from the other side of the aisle the only thing that is realistically stopping it? If the opposition was removed, would the public support a more aggressive approach? For my liberal friends, if you can be objective for a moment, do you think a huge leftward swing on your favorite policy would be harmless, or does it benefit from a slower rollout? To my colleagues on the Right, beyond healthcare, where else do you think liberal policies need to be rolled back and if so, can you point to a harm being caused by leaving them in place?
Mike Dwyer is a freelance writer in Louisville, KY. He writes about culture, the outdoors and whatever else strikes his fancy. His personal site can be found at www.mikedwyerwrites.com. He is also active on Facebook and Twitter. Mike is one of several Kentucky authors featured in the book This I Believe: Kentucky.