Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The progressive idea well

I threw my bucket in, and out came this article on "The Progressive Case for Military Service." Not surprisingly, much of it consists in Clinton-era national service rhetoric and arguments (which I always sort of liked), just applied to the actual military. The author can’t quite bring herself to confront in any sort of realistic way the actual security threats the nation faces--that, it would seem, isn’t progressive--so the war on terror gets short shrift and we’re offered in its place this rationale:

Although the war in Iraq dominates the headlines, today’s military is less about fighting wars and increasingly about deterring them, enforcing international protocols, peacekeeping, nation-building, democracy promotion, and a wide variety of activities, precisely the tasks that a hypothetical "progressive military" would undertake. Indeed, the range of missions and responsibilities of the U.S. military have grown steadily with globalization and great power status. As military sociologists have pointed out, in the beginning of the twentieth century, the job of the U.S. military was to manage violence; by the Cold War, the job was to manage defense; and in the new century it is to manage peace. In other words, the military is the main manager of our attempts at global security in the world today–far outnumbering, for instance, the number of diplomats we have deployed on the international scene.

While she doesn’t march all the way to blue helmets, she comes pretty doggone close.

Still, even if I object to her understanding of national security, I applaud her recognition (although she doesn’t quite put it this way) that one of the nations built by our military is our own.

Picking up on this theme in a somewhat different way is Alan Wolfe, who reviews Madeleine Albright’s book on faith and foreign policy. He finds many ways in which secular liberals and, yes, even conservative people of faith can make common cause in foreign policy (so long, presumably, as there are no guns involved).

From the other journal, I read this piece by Will Marshall and William Galston’s response to all the articles in the first issue. Not surprisingly, both agree that the Kos strategy of mobilizing the liberal base is a non-starter. Here’s Marshall:

The party’s core problem is not a pandemic of cowardice among its leaders, it is that there are not enough Democratic voters. Since the late 1990s, Democrats have been stuck at about 48 percent of the vote in national elections. Moreover, polarizing the electorate along ideological lines plays into Karl Rove’s hands because conservatives outnumber liberals three to two. Democrats need to win moderates by large margins, but moderates by definition resist strident partisanship and ideological litmus tests. The politics of polarization repels them.

Marshall offers a number of interesting suggestions, beginning with a serious attempt to address national security issues and an effort to reach out to parents who feel embattled by a culture that celebrates extreme hedonism. In a different context, he proposes school choice, but doesn’t take it out of the public sector. I’m inclined to think that for many parents, public schools that aren’t responsive to their moral and religious concerns are a kind of dangerous terrain. Unless they’re willing to loosen their alliance with a public school establishment that addresses parental concerns only when necessary, Democrats won’t effectively be able to close the "parent gap." V-chips and warning labels on records won’t cut it. Weakening ties with Hollywood and teachers’ unions will help.

That’s all I’ve had a chance to read thus far. More later, if I come across anything else interesting.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Well or cesspool?


Your post is really very good.

Actually today we all wandetr peace in our Nation and in our neighbouring countries. But I think our president has not realized this yet.

God knows when that man will realise the things. I think we need more people like Marshell who are Democrats!!

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