Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Maddow & Henke: Cronkite's heir highlights next Buckley?

Bleeding Heart Libertarian hat
I had pretty much given up on finding a sane conservative perspective for my blogroll. Hell, I'd pretty much given up on the idea of calling myself what I am, an ethical anti-authoritarian, centrist pragmatist who's policy stance is always in favor of enhancing the practical freedoms and opportunities of the individual or that is to say, an actual Libertarian.

I have strong principles, but to paraphrase Issac Asimov, I try never to let my morality get in the way of doing the right thing. Indeed, I've considerably revised my moral views over the years based on the frequency of collisions between Morality and Reality.

One of the greatest problems of the Right (at this point in history) is a smugly moralistic worldview that tends to sharply restrict their ability to even notice, much less recognize situations in which there might be some complexity involved.

I've battled clinical depression my entire life, and I'm here to tell you (remarkably enough) that that degree of black and white thinking I've come to recognize as symptomatic is no virtue. It makes it quite impossible to make rational, reasonable or even sane decisions. When the medication takes effect and that mental state lifts - it can be embarrassing to look back at what one thought, said and did. Suddenly the color returns and one's life may well be seen as an offensive composition. It rather depends on who's been handing you the crayons, you see.

Now, that's a picture that speaks 10,000 words - and not one of them is worth listening to. And yet - and this is a non-partisan failing - we do. We give these people oxygen, when the only appropriate response is shunning. It's certainly tempting to point, laugh and mock - and I've done more than my share of it. It has it's place, should someone who's viewpoints are generally within the boundries of "arguable" and "sane" commit a correctable lapse. But when we get in the range of Glenn Beck Stupid, the only appropriate response is to stop listening and supporting such speech. Pointedly. En Masse.

That's not "censorship," it's self-preservation. That degree of paranoid stupidity can be contagious. To refer to Papa Heinlein, it's like strong drink; it can cause you to shoot at tax-collectors - and miss.

Refreshingly enough, this is what Jon Henke is saying as a public Conservative, on Rachel Maddow's show. Maddow is a proud left-progressive. I rather think she'd vote NDP up here.

So, two people with philosophies that are about as distinct from each other as can be imagined, having a civil, intelligent and informative conversation.

Entirely refreshing. And it led me to read more of Henke. One bit seemed worth sharing immediately, as an exemplar.

Jon Henke writes at The Next Right.

Megan McArdle has previously postulated Jane's Law.

Jane's Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

I think it's a good generalization about very broad political dynamics. Thinking about that this weekend, I came up with the following psychological spectrum. People tend towards the left side of the spectrum when it comes to allies; towards the right side of the spectrum when it comes to opponents.

Cognitive biases are a natural human tendency and none of us (including me) are immune to them. It is useful to be aware of the problem.

Two things I like about this. First, he is unashamed of being seen using intellectual tools in public, and second, he's capable of writing short. The second impresses me in particular, I am envious, and I shall be including him in my missing Conservative blogroll.

You may have noticed a complete absence of any links to Conservative sources. The reason for that is, I've been disappointed by the public voices of the Right. If I rely on them for information, references, facts or insights, I run the stark risk of being publicly embarrassed for having said something absurd, untrue, or both. So, over the years, I've dropped them, one by one.

You might wonder why that risk doesn't occur from the Left. It does, of course - but it's possible to avoid, because while there are sites you have to be careful of, there are plenty of sites that present the raw facts first and draw their conclusions from there. And sadly, there's very little need for the left to misrepresent the positions, policies, character or criminality of much of the Right. The plain truth is damnation enough.

It's depressing, but currently, there is far more concern on the Left for the mechanics of getting things Right. And those who are not, or who prefer to hear what they want rather than what is - I treat them exactly the same as I treat their counterparts on the Right. I ignore them.

We are extremely fortunate that the wingnuttery of the Right has not been met with equal fanaticism on the left - for if that had been the case, the United States might well be the midst of a literal, armed civil war.

But as of this moment, the sane people of the left are the ones articulating the issues, and for want of an alternate, also serving (rather badly) in Opposition to themselves.

Sadly, what sane people who remain on the Right are very, very lonely. They must be encouraged, for without the voices of traditional, prudent, sane conservatism, we are impoverished of an extremely valuable perspective on life and politics.

Bleeding Heart Libertarian by webcarve

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