The utility of having an American presidential administration that unites a astonishingly wide spectrum of vices –on a scale ranging from high crimes to misdemeanors, and in genres including xenophobia, crudeness, venality and basic incompetence –is that it opens the door for the rest of us to come together in unprecedented unity around what is best in human nature and civilization; a best thrown into high relief against a backdrop rapidly descending towards the worst.
2018 is the year! I’d like to see someone new running everywhere, in every district, rural or urban, red or blue, and at every level of government, from countywide to countrywide. In districts where there’s already someone decent in place, let’s run someone against them anyway, just to keep them honest, and nudge them forward a little. Everywhere else, let’s kick the bums out!
I don’t care if the new people call themselves Republicans, or Democrats, or if they represent an existing third party, or something entirely new. What does matter to me is that they represent a new and higher moral standard and set of ideals than the current leaders on the right or the left.
Things Liberals Get Right
- Environmental Conservation – Regardless of whether or not you’re ready to accept the science on climate change, we should all be able to agree that the wasteful exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources isn’t sustainable. Once upon a time, conservatives believed in conservation. Nowadays, they act like they’ve never even heard of the concept. The push to open up every natural area in the world to unfettered despoilage enriches a few at the price of impoverishing us all (and quite likely endangering our homes and livelihoods as well).
- Diversity and Inclusion – The last time North America was home to a mono-racial nation was back before the arrival of Europeans. The United States’ strength and prosperity has always stemmed from its embrace of immigrants and a willingness to integrate the best of other cultures into its own, as built on top of the foundational bedrock of a unique fusion of African, European and Native American traditions, values, and cultural artifacts. However, to move forward, we need to concentrate on a positive diversity, that emphasizes how inclusivity and mutual respect works to all of our benefit; rather than a negative diversity, that focuses more on people’s wrongs than their rights.
- Peace and Disarmament – More and more powerful weapons won’t make us safer, either at a personal or a national level. We need to focus on learning how to be at peace with one another, rather than on how to defeat one another.
Things (Real) Conservatives Get Right
- Respect for Religion – It’s arguably the case that the modern backlash against religion owes more to ostentatious displays of hypocrisy and the other abuses of religion as a weapon of intolerance, conformity and judgementalism by some of religion’s most visible advocates than to efforts by religion’s opponents. Be that as it may, religion as an institution deserves our respect. Now that the remnants of the old evangelical right has shown its true colors (by rejecting a churchgoing husband in a faithful marriage, but embracing, on the flimsiest of pretexts, an irreligious vulgarian and serial philander), it clears the way for a new revival of an activist faith that advocates for the poor and oppressed.
- Refinement and Civility – There was a time, back before the “Conservative” movement became synonymous with the lowest common denominator, when conservatives had a reputation for erudition, refinement, intellectual achievement and cultural accomplishments. Those days are clearly well behind us. However, that does leave room for a new conservative, new liberal, or new third party to take up the mantle of civilization and rise to represent the best in human achievement and cultural appreciation –only this time, as conceived more inclusively than the old outdated boundaries built around the Western European cultural canon.
Things No-one Gets Right
- Abortion – It must be said: Abortion is the biggest moral blind spot on the left, justifiable, sometimes, as the lesser of two evils, or as a sad necessity, but indefensible as the intrinsic moral good it is sometimes made out to be. The enshrinement of abortion-on-demand as a central and unquestionable orthodoxy of the Democratic Party has driven generations of otherwise progressive activists out of the party and into the embrace of the right. On the other hand, the right is no less culpable, having routinely used the abortion issue as a cover for a regressive agenda promoting gender inequality, sexism, and a moralistic ideology that has less to do with preventing abortions, and more to do with punishing people for having sex. The truth is, the vast majority of the stated goals of both sides –to reduce the number of abortions, and to protect the health, independence and sexual freedom of women, while still avoiding the sad occasion of people becoming parents who are unready or unfit to do the job of raising children –could be better filled by universal sexual education and the promotion and widespread use of preventative birth control. Modern preventative birth control is safe, effective and affordable, and stops unwanted pregnancies before they even start –that’s something we should all be able to get behind.
- Poverty – Both the Democrats and the Republicans claim to have the best interests of the poor at heart, but both just exploit the poor shamelessly, without actually making their lives better. The Democrats have lavished the lion’s share of their attention to improving the lot of the middle class, while the Republicans have paid lip service to the poor while robbing them blind to the benefit of the rich. Under Democrats and Republicans alike, the wealth gap has grown, year after year, with the poorest of the poor living lives unrecognizably different from the lives of the richest of the rich –or even the poorest of the rich. It’s time we devote our time and efforts to actually helping those who need it the most –if we do that, the middle class and the rich are bound to be okay.
Moral victory in 2018! Anyone who can master these six principles will get my vote –and, dare I imagine, the vote of many others, under any party affiliation, and in any district anywhere across this great nation.