Friday, January 19, 2007

Ideological Purity

David Sirota writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that there is a real problem with people in power not owning what they said about the Iraq War, this is certainly true. He holds John Edwards up as an example of how it should be done - I made a mistake and I regret it. He goes on to note that there definitely is a massive case of CYA going on. This is where it gets sticky, why is this going on?

We all know why the President of the US would state that he never said, "Stay the course." It's politically stupid to do it, but he does have the semantic dodge of what course he was talking about, Nostradamus works well in that respect. There is however the matter of pundits and other pols who beat the warm drum enthusiastically. It is now a generally unpopular stand to take and those who take it publicly will be held to account for that stance. There is such a thing as Conservatism that isn't about god, gays, and guns; I don't subscribe to the philosophy but one of its tenets is military adventures aren't to be done. That used to be a Republican deal, but ideological purity requirements of the past decade silenced that. The political price to be paid for opposing the Iraq adventure on philosophical grounds outweighed principle. You weren't pure in the Bush ideology.

The responsibility for this falls on Parties and voters. Politicians can count. If philosophy loses to Party line the fault is not solely the Party's. This notion of ideological purity driving political discourse is harmful to Parties and to national policy and Republicans are not the only guilty party. There are, of course, issues that in voter's mind's trump ideology. Joe Lieberman is an example, his stance on Iraq cost him the Democratic Primary despite the rest of his political stances. There does, however, remain a blindness to policy and reasoning due to ideology. I will make a personal argument in this arena, I am intimately familiar with it and thus competent. During the Democratic Primary for OR 02 CD I set up policy statements and my reasoning for them, The Oregonian took those and attributed "the most conservative" of the candidates to me. As far as I can tell, there were 3 policies that contributed to that, strong support of the 2nd Amendment, opposition to illegal hiring/illegal immigration, and a stance that one size fits all environmental regulations is doomed. Now I'd be real surprised to find that conservatives exactly agree with my rationales for those stands, they are in fact based on hard left politics. Anybody that hasn't gotten the idea that I regard the 2nd as the final block against people like BushCo hasn't paid attention - and yes, I regard that bunch as exactly that dangerous. Sounds left to me. Illegal hiring crushes labor - I oppose fervently any actions to debase labor, and I don't mean just organized labor and in the 1920's that would've gotten me arrested. I'll fight the establishment of, enhancement of, and enabling of a plutocracy in this country tooth and nail and serfs are a part of that. That's damn left. Environmental policies that are created with the one size fits all philosophy are doomed, public backlash will occur and the very people you need to be partners become enemies. I want success in that arena, long term meaningful success. Left again. That is not the measure that was taken of me as a candidate. I failed the ideological purity test on the surface. Drivng drag cars fails completely.

Reasoning and motive become buried under simplistic labels, the fact that racist xenophobic nutcases oppose illegal immigration has nothing to do with the matter as far as the health and well being of labor is concerned. It certainly is not progressive politics to oppose something on the basis of race, neither is it progressive to participate in the oppression of labor. Pay attention. The fact that the NRA seems to have fallen in bed with some of the worst aspects of the Republican Party has exactly not one thing to do with owning firearms. The fact that Sen Chuck Schumer (D) sees a difference between interfering with the 2nd and interfering with the 1st does not make it progressive to do so, it is in fact absolutely oppressive to restrict liberty. It is not reasoning to ignore contradictions in the name of ideology, it is the pursuit of ideological purity that you've been told exists.

Do the Hillary Clintons pass ideological muster? Certainly on name alone, debate ceases if the surname and (D) becomes all important. The question really should fall on the balance of policy statements, their reasoning and their motives. The timing of her opposition (post mid-term) to Iraq is suspect in my eyes, her stances on gun control have shown no reasoning in light of the Constitution, in point of fact I find her very nearly the most poll driven pol I've seen. I cannot find a single iota of respect for labor in any of her stances beyond the minimum wage and that has yet to play out. Do I find Hillary's ideological purity in question? Not really, I have no idea what her ideology is by definition of action. I don't care if it doesn't look ideologically pure, I care about the outcomes and the reasons for them. Ideological purity is all about appearances and those who'll pass its muster should be deeply suspect. If you've 'stuck your foot in it' apologize for it, state why you were wrong then and why you're right now, people will take the measure of that and make an informed decision. If you're right, stand up for it, the heck with how pure it looks.

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