Sunday, January 16, 2011
I mostly agree with Krugman on this one. Yes, we do have some divides. We always have had such divides as a nation (think Jefferson & Hamilton), but they should be mostly political, on the margins. As someone brought up Republican, and having come to know it well before leaving the fold, I can say that limited government and lower taxes can be good things. It depends on what government functions you're limiting, what alternatives exist to fulfill public goods, and what you loose by lowering taxes, or conversely, what you get for your money. Active, engaged political discourse on these issues should be the lifeblood of a democracy. However, when paranoia creeps in, as it does on both left and right--although I think much more often and virulently on the right--then we have a poisoned public sphere. Thus, I think Krugman a little too pessimistic about possible reconciliation. Even on a heated topic like abortion, thoughtful discourse should agree that abortion isn't the best form of birth control, that women wanting to keep their children should have good options available to them, and if you think abortion absolutely wrong, you should act to help those in need as well as work to share your moral vision in a moral (i.e., non-violent) way. I think many do that. It's clear, however, that some few who opposed abortion as killing seem willing to kill to stop it. John Brown syndrome we might call it. But this is not true for most, and it should be so for all forms of dissent.