Monday, December 8, 2008

Political Thought and the Holidays

Recently I had the opportunity to revisit Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  It struck me that at this time of bailouts, the Big Three, and record job losses that greed and American individualism still plague the American social climate.  Even during this holiday season, there seems to be no lack of Scrooges and misers whose greed prevails over all opportunities to contribute to societal ills.  Such issues of greed and rampant individualism inform my politics.  There is a lack of understanding that we are all in this together.  Employer and employee.  Doctor and patient. Stock holder and retiree.  You cannot just make it on your own. The government is not meant to give hand-outs or a free pass, yet it should vigilant and active in the protections and assurances of opportunity.  People cannot lift themselves up if there is nowhere to go.  There is nothing new to what I am writing, yet there has always been an argument between those who look out for the Scrooges and those you look out for the Cratchits.  It is a tired argument, yet it should be remembered that active government can function and defend the prosperity of all Americans.  Compassionate Conservative does not exist. It can never exist.  For the title of this ideology is inherently contradictory.  It suggests that a small government, fiscally conservative, and with limited capacity is able to be as compassionate as liberalism aspires to be.  Yet, there will come a time when the needs of a few or even many persons might endanger the size and scope of the Compassionate Conservative scheme and the leaders of such a government will turn those persons away.  This is not to say, that conservative people are not compassionate. I know many politically conservative people that are more charitable than I am.   Yet, I am not convinced that  a small government will be able to enact the legislation or evoke the civil action required for those in need.  The struggle for civil rights continue for the  LGBT community and other minority communities.  There are still illiterate people and persons sick with addiction and mental illness that  crowd our prisons and other institutions.  The very person who introduced Compassionate Conservatism as a slogan, President George W. Bush has not done enough for our homeless veterans.  Since the New Deal, it has been the Democrats who have demanded social innovation and service from the people of America.  It has been the Democrats who have been willing to ask what they can do to aid every one under the capacity of governmental service.  Another Dickens' tale, A Tale of Two Cities is often mentioned in regards to class strife societal division.  It provided the title for Mario Cuomo's speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.  It is a rallying cry for contemporary liberalism to create a truly compassionate government able to change the circumstances of so many in need and unite all of America under a cause of common purpose. Pragmatic Idealism means that the ideals we hold can be achieved in pragmatic politics.  In this economic crisis there is a possibility to change the focus of our governance.  What policies can we create that can make a substantial difference that are not just political responses to one incident or another.  Pragmatic Idealism asks "What Can We Do To Affect The Ills Of Our Time?" It does not disregard ideals as lofty false positives.  It strives for the ideals to make progress a reality.  Pragmatic Idealism is my politics. 

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