1.10.2005

Politics of Delusion?

In a new article from Sojourner's Magazine, Jim Wallis has done a much better job of characterizing the liberal/conservative dilemma than any of my feeble attempts over the past few months (including my most recent HaloScan exchange with Cap'n Pete). Here are a few excerpts:


The competing ideological options, from which we are forced to choose, are perhaps at their lowest ebb in compelling the involvement of ordinary citizens in public life. It is not that people just don’t care, but that they feel un-represented and unable to vote for anything that expresses their best values. That is a serious political crisis, and we need better options. . . .

Simply put, the two traditional options in America (Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative) have failed to capture the imagination, commitment, and trust of a majority of people in this country. Neither has found ways to solve our deepest and most entrenched social problems. . . . The political Right and Left continue at war with each other, but the truth is that these false ideological choices themselves have run their course and become dysfunctional. . . .

To move away from the bifurcating politics of liberal and conservative, Left and Right, would be an enormously positive change and would open up a new "politics of solutions." Right now, Washington responds to a problem or crisis in two ways. First, politicians try to make us afraid of the problem, and, second, they look for somebody to blame for it. Then they watch to see whose political spin succeeded, either in the next poll or the next election. But they seldom get around to actually solving the problem. The media make everything worse by assuming that every political issue has only two sides instead of multiple angles to view and solve the problem. Addicted to conflict as their methodology, the media always seem to want to pitch a fight between polarized views instead of convening a public discussion to find serious
answers.

As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing. Wallis has done a nice job of describing the problem, but I wonder if his "politics of solution" is merely a pipe dream. His "fourth option" sounds almost utopian:

It is "traditional" or "conservative" on issues of family values, sexual integrity and personal responsibility, while being very "progressive," "populist," or even "radical" on issues like poverty and racial justice. It affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and is more internationally minded than nationalist - looking first to peacemaking and conflict resolution when it come to foreign policy questions. The people it appeals to (many religious, but others not) are very strong on issues such as marriage, raising kids, and individual ethics, but without being "right-wing," reactionary, mean-spirited, or scapegoating against any group of people, including gays and lesbians. They can be pro-life, pro-family and pro-feminist, all at the same time. They think issues of "moral character" are very important, both in a politician’s personal life and in his or her policy choices. Yet they are decidedly pro-poor, pro-racial reconciliation, critical of purely military solutions, and defenders of the environment.

Uh, sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?

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