I participated in a discussion panel with several thoughtful, open minded, curious liberals who really, truly, want to have a better understanding of conservatives. It was terrific. My suspicion/hope is that there are a lot more liberals out there in the world like the folks I talked with than like the crazies who make the nightly news.
My previous post, How American Popular Culture Misunderstands Conservatism, was the “script” of the comments I made in the discussion. I described how I think the liberal and conservative versions of empathy differ, and how American Popular Culture is biased in favor of the liberal version.
A comment I received the next day from one of the liberals in the group expressed frustration with the general nature of my remarks, and hope that future discussion would get out of the abstract into practical solutions. Here’s the comment. My response to it follows:
I felt stuck last night as
From my more liberal point of view, things which might be considered the “commons” can’t move forward without us (conservatives and liberals) agree on how to handle it collectively. We need both sides to figure out how to best keep our collective health care costs down while also providing good care for everyone.
It is why climate change, for me, is such an issue right now. (I’ve been a climate activist now for 2 years). We can’t move forward until we all move forward. We need policies to insure that our common air, water, soil continues to support us. It is clear that unchecked capitalism is destroying our ability to have a sustainable future.
So, I’m thinking if this group continues, we might want to get out of the abstract where we were last night talking about empathy and get into the juicy issues sitting before us.
I get that a lot. It’s infuriating.
If you want to get out of the abstract and talk about solutions then my solution for this….
“We need both sides to figure out how to best keep our collective health care costs down while also providing good care for everyone.”
Join Medi-Share, or something like it (look it up).
In other words, get the government the hell out of the medical/insurance industries altogether. It has no business whatsoever being anywhere near those places. It’s presence there violates the spirit and intent, if not the letter, of the Constitution, which is to say, of the concepts and necessary ingredients of liberty itself.
It seems you assume fixing health care is the government’s job.
But the proper role of government is an “abstract” idea.
So let’s set it aside, focus on “real” issues, and put the government in charge of 1/6 th of the entire economy.
Look, I don’t mean to be combative.
It’s just that in my experience when people complain that the discussion is too abstract what they’re generally really doing is circumventing or leapfrogging any thought or debate about whether or not the government has any legitimate business mucking about in our every day life decisions and jumping right into the details of how it will do exactly that.
Abstract questions like the role of government or Liberal vs conservative empathy are the crux of everything. They are the whole debate. They are the “juicy issues.”
Skipping over those “abstract” questions concedes 95% of the argument to liberals and then quibbles with them over the deck chairs on the now sinking ship.
It reminds me of an old joke about marriage:
My wife wanted a cat. I did not want a cat. So we compromised. And got a cat. (And the only discussion was about which kind of cat we got.)
So if you want to talk about Obamacare then let’s flip the script. Let’s agree that the government will get completely out of anything and everything to do with health care or insurance. And let’s restrict the conversation to ONLY private, non-government approaches.
As for climate change. In my lifetime I’ve seen similar chicken little scenarios over 1) global COOLING and the coming ice age, 2) “The population bomb” that said we were going to run out of food and millions would starve to death, and 3) that we were about to run out of oil.
All three were defended by “science.”
And the left’s proposed solutions for all of those predicted catastrophes were the same as they always are: More Government control of the “threatened” industries because it has “experts” who “know better;” and less liberty and less autonomy for everyone. (Because we all know how good the government is at running things.)
The predicted doomsdays for all three of those calamities came and went long ago.
And yet here we are with global warming, plenty of food, and more oil than ever. The exact opposite of all three sky-is-falling scenarios.
Am I saying we can be careless, cavalier, and wasteful? Of course not.
What I AM saying is that the first thing the left needs if it wants its pet programs to gain any traction at all is a huge boost of its own credibility. It needs to do a lot less preaching and condescending, and a lot more listening. It needs to show a lot more respect, tolerance, openness, and inclusiveness toward diverse views than it has for the last few decades. It needs to actually practice what it preaches.