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1. A move to the extreme of one ideology or another seems to be the most effective way to influence politics.
…More authentic media is a hearkening back to our origins – this republic was not founded so only one would speak, or that only conservatives or centrists would listen as rebellion rises in front of them…
The DailyKos model is perfect in a sense: assemble the grassroots Democrats who feel unempowered, and get them to fundraise for/donate to the candidates they care for via the Internet.
Ideology and activism meet in a daily news and commentary feed that by virtue of its magnitude draws in dollars and therefore direct influence in the Democratic party. This model is being appropriated by more libertarian elements on the Right – a DailyKos for Paulians should emerge sooner or later.
2. So far, a DailyKos has not emerged on the Right – most conservatives claim this is because conservatives have “jobs.” Nor has anything emerged as genuinely centrist. The best argument for why this has not happened is the reactionary nature of conservativism and the similarly more passive nature of centrism. Both begin with someone else being “active” or positing something: they are efforts to slowly incorporate change into existing traditions, reject harmful changes, and – if push comes to shove – merely delay or avoid the costs of change.
Contrary to ZZ, I think Senator Biden’s proposal for partition exemplifies the last point in the worst way: he would destroy what other Iraqis have died for in order to say he’s producing political concord through a self-imposed “self-determination” (for my full take on this, see here, here and esp. here. ZZ’s position is very respectable in that he wants candidates to have an actual plan for Iraq; would that Senator Biden respected his wishes and gave him a decent one). Partition is most certainly an avoidance of the cost of change, and an example generally of why conservatives and centrists haven’t brought about a truly effective approach to politics, while the liberals and libertarians are working – ala DailyKos – to destroy any conversation we can have as a nation completely. The cultishness of the Paulians should scare us: they can only conceive of freedom as individuals having, and any other concern is not welcome to their thought, let alone our deliberation.
3. The concept of partition, of course, is in a way in our very Constitution (preserved especially in the populist rhetoric of “states’ rights” and federalism) – we are a nation of factions (cf. Federalist 10) that must find a way to work together through our institutions to advance the common good. Factions assume the same logic as above: they’re the consequence of liberty, and therefore a good thing – that we have factions must mean we’re happy, right? No one could possibly have a faction that makes Americans dumber and more prone to conspiracy theories of the worst sort.
We have a virtue as conservatives and centrists – we listen. We react instead of pushing our agenda first. And this means we have blogs that do an excellent job of critiquing media bias and stupid policies.
But it’s obvious we need something more: the floodgates are open. Bush bashing is just the tip of the iceberg: Does anyone seriously think the next President is going to be treated any more kindly? Does anyone seriously think that we, who are very mature in the conduct of our private lives, are showing anything like grace and decorum when it comes to our conduct politically?
4. We need the Internet to be educative, not merely a diversion for bored teenagers or angry Leftists and libertarians. In education, listening is an activity, and a type of faction arises which not only tolerates disagreement but creates an environment where more thoughtful disagreement can occur. We need to set things up so we always make each other better, and not tear each other down.
…some things matter more than our personal freedom at any given moment – we need to lead by example, be the people we think are the best people worth being. Parents know this when they give up their freedom to raise children; soldiers know it when they take bullets for all the rest of us to have a chance. The Left and the libertarians are winning here because their ideology is seductive and easy: moral and economic libertarianism is the default set of thoughts we’re raised with – “don’t judge,”…
I think the education where we support each other and help each other know more gently occurs through several means:
Firstly, it relies on more authentic media, not merely responding to the MSM. Encouraging others to speak out and speak well is a good thing – everyone has stories to share, and in learning how to speak and be responsive to an audience, they’re actually learning how to be political in the most fundamental way. The art of rhetoric is all but gone now – all we get are people, old and young, rambling. But without rhetoric, there’s no Gettysburg Address, no Declaration, no initial cry for liberty.
More authentic media is a hearkening back to our origins – this republic was not founded so only one would speak, or that only conservatives or centrists would listen as rebellion rises in front of them.
Secondly, we need to get away from the news and use the fact that we have so many richer sources online to our advantage. Everything Shakespeare and Plato and Aristotle and Augustine and Alfarabi and Baudelaire and Nietzsche and goodness gracious the list goes on wrote is online; I wish comprehensive study versions of the Bible that commented on what the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek meant were online, so we could appreciate our heritage all the more. The Federalist is online, Jefferson is online – this place is a treasure trove! Instead of reading that stuff we sit and watch the news ticker update, just like we do watching cable. I most certainly advocate using our newly independent voices to talk about older things, than merely focusing on the present and dreaming vainly about the future.
5. Thirdly – and certainly not least – is the spirit with which we conduct ourselves online. We can most certainly curse and argue and yell at each other. I’m all for that, I’m working on the quality of my insults right now, actually. One does have to stand strong against the total jackasses that dominate forums and comment threads and who think they have the right to insult you on your blog.
But I think a spirit of inquiry and fraternity is the only way America is going to stay great. Forget the Internet for a second, and think about how we can convince people families are good, and that a 50% divorce rate is a bad thing, and that respecting religion – even if one doesn’t agree with it – is far more noble than being a loud and obnoxious atheist? The only solution to the problem in a free society is to show that some things matter more than our personal freedom at any given moment – we need to lead by example, be the people we think are the best people worth being. Parents know this when they give up their freedom to raise children; soldiers know it when they take bullets for all the rest of us to have a chance. The Left and the libertarians are winning here because their ideology is seductive and easy: moral and economic libertarianism is the default set of thoughts we’re raised with – “don’t judge,” “let people spend however.” The harder set of thoughts – that which preserves freedom – means seeing each other as citizens, and seeing some citizens as better because they want others to be truly equal.