hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Monday, November 05, 2012
Susie Madrak (Suburban Guerilla) - Occupy Sandy

Arthur Silber (Once Upon A Time...) - Against Voting: "As long as we live, we shall have to live together with ourselves"

My opinion is, I believe in voting, even in non-swing states, and even though voting makes me complicit in a system which contains great evils, because I believe there is a greater chance of a good things happening, if me and people like me vote, than if we don't. Who can deny that the Indian state is an institution of great evil, or at very least an institution with great evils? Yet Gandhi did not think it a waste of time to create such an institution. Who can deny that the Jim Crow south was a system of great evil, or at least a system with great evils? Yet MLK did not think it a waste of time to try to join the system, and fight for the right to vote in such a system.

It seems to me worth pointing out that the election is very close, and could easily turn out either way. Nate Silver has an instructive analogy:
Mr. Obama is not a sure thing, by any means. It is a close race. His chances of holding onto his Electoral College lead and converting it into another term are equivalent to the chances of an N.F.L. team winning when it leads by a field goal with three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. . .
"Leading by a field goal with 3 minutes to play" does not seem to me either a cause for celebration among Democrats, or for despair among Republicans. It's a close game, and anything could happen, depending on the free choices of free individuals.

I feel a bit guilty for my somewhat gloaty, sneering "teach rich people a badly needed lesson" line in the previous post, so let me apologize for it. The urge to gloat also caused me to abandon one of my beliefs, Roublen's Iron Law of Political Mulishness, which is that any time you set out to "teach people a lesson", the lesson they learn will not be the lesson you intended to teach. "Send a message to rich people" would have been a better phrase than "Teach a lesson to rich people".

One thought on the moderate desire for an end to bitterness and polarization: There can only be an end to polarization when there is a broad agreement on the ends, and principled disagreement on the means. For example, when both sides agree all Americans should have health care (and not just emergency room care), but Democrats want government health care, and Republicans want insurance company health care, there is room for compromise, and no need for polarization. But when you are arguing whether people deserve health care at all, you can't really compromise: you have to fight it out.

Once you have accepted the right of people to have a seat at the table, and are arguing about the quality of the chairs, you can have an end to bitterness and polarization. When people are fighting for their very right to have a seat, however, the fight must go on, though we must try to to make it a clean fight, without malice, bitterness, hatred and evil.

next post: 12/14/2012

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