I spent many hours waiting around for doctors yesterday (just my mother's quarterly check-up; but I have a miserable cold, if anyone is interested!) and I had two things with me to read (aside from my Kindle): Mark Blitz's Plato's Political Philosophy
and the Lowry/Ponnuru "The Bender is Over." I read into Blitz and finished Lowry, and agree with Roger
that this is a worthy read. I also think that this allows us an opportunity to try something both good and useful and just (hence the new category, "Refine and Enlarge,") for our country. The vote next week, details aside, will be a Republican victory, at least as a protest vote against the injustice of the last two years. But we must not let this victory of our outrage stay merely as protest, merely as anger. It must lead to sound political thinking. The Tea Partiers have reminded us of the spirit of the Founding against that of the Progressives and the New Deal/Great Society. And yet, it must be said, especially before the upcoming electoral victories, that this critical election (as some are now calling it) will not be so critical after all if a real choice
will not be presented to the electorate over the next many years (and I don't mean just for 2012, but also beyond), a choice that is based on sound constitutional principles and sound thinking. This political thinking must be persuasive
to both ourselves and to those who are not yet persuaded. This new thinking must attempt to win over an enduring majority
that will be based on the new ground of political consensus
that must be built, one that should last for the next couple of generations. We should attempt to become grand partisans
, nothing less than partisans of constitutional government, partisans of self-government. If this is not done with both courage and clarity, then the merely electoral gains of next week will be overturned as quickly as that of Obama's, and there will be no chance of a fundamental realignment
in American politics. This is the oppportunity some of us have been looking for (think of the elections of 1980 and 1994), and this is a much better opportunity than any I have witnessed in my lifetime (I started in politics with Goldwater in 1964). We now have a chance to give new life to the fundamental political questions, the question of justice that animated the American Revolution. The original questions to which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution addressed themselves are given new life: What is the purpose of government? What is the relationship between government and society? What is the relationship between government and the individual?
Hence, I propose that under this category (Refine and Enlarge) we attempt just this: we note only those things that are especially useful toward this end, and we say only those things we think will add to the public conversation toward that good. Let all our thinking, and disputations be toward that end, and let our advice be good. As far as I'm concerned Roger's note on the Lowry piece is our start. Thanks.