Nostalgia liberals vs. accountability liberals

Fred Hiatt, himself a liberal, notices the rise of two different and contending kinds of liberals:  Nostalgia liberals and accountability liberals.

The priorities of nostalgia liberalism are community, social cohesion and preservation of New Deal and Great Society programs. Accountability liberals put more stock in market forces and individual empowerment. Their debate is sure to sharpen over the next four years. . . .

Accountability liberals say reform is needed to save Social Security — and that the only way to protect benefits for the poor is to scale back expected benefits for the wealthy.Nostalgia liberals worry that more means-testing will transform Social Security from broad-based social insurance into a poverty program that will gradually lose political support, and therefore funding.

Accountability liberals believe that failing city schools represent the nation’s biggest challenge, since they deprive a generation of mostly minority children the opportunity to move up. Charters, vouchers — whatever it takes to break them out of that prison is justified.Nostalgia liberals deplore those failing schools, too, but say traditional public schools are where America’s cherished melting pot comes to a bubble: the only right response is to fix them.

Accountability liberals like the idea that people who drive more should pay more. HOT lane fees will discourage driving, which is good for the environment, and keep bicyclists and transit riders from having to subsidize highways they don’t use.Nostalgia liberals agree on the need to discourage gasoline consumption, but they hate what they call “Lexus lanes.” Wealthy people shouldn’t be allowed to buy into better versions of public goods — be they parks, public safety or highway lanes with less traffic — than other citizens.

Accountability liberals favor more merit pay and less lifetime tenure for public employees. Nostalgia liberals put a higher priority on shared benefits and shared protections.

Accountability liberals would redirect the tuition subsidy that public universities give to all in-state residents to poor families who need it most. Nostalgia liberals would say that in-state tuition is part of the package that makes people feel part of their community and therefore willing to pay taxes that support higher education.

via Different liberal camps divide progressives – The Washington Post.

How do you see those playing out in the Obama administration?  The Democratic party?

Could we say that there are likewise similar divisions in conservatism, between those who emphasize social concerns and those that just emphasize the individual?

Santorum surges in the polls

Rick Santorum has become a contender:

Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP’s newest national poll. He’s at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

Part of the reason for Santorum’s surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney’s favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That’s a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

Santorum is now completely dominating with several key segments of the electorate, especially the most right leaning parts of the party. With those describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ he’s now winning a majority of voters at 53% to 20% for Gingrich and 15% for Romney. Santorum gets a majority with Tea Party voters as well at 51% to 24% for Gingrich and 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he falls just short of a majority with 45% to 21% for Gingrich and 18% for Romney.

It used to be that Gingrich was leading with all these groups and Romney was staying competitive enough with them to hold the overall lead. No more- a consensus conservative candidate finally seems to be emerging and it’s Santorum.

The best thing Romney might have going for him right now is Gingrich’s continued presence in the race. If Gingrich dropped out 58% of his supporters say they would move to Santorum, while 22% would go to Romney and 17% to Paul. Santorum gets to 50% in the Newt free field to 28% for Romney and 15% for Paul.

via Santorum surges into the lead – Public Policy Polling.

HT to Ace of Spades, who discusses the numbers and quotes a new Rasmussen poll about how Romney and Santorum would do against Obama:

President Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in a potential head-to-head contest has swelled to 10 points, with the president capturing 50% support to Mr. Romney’s 40%. Meanwhile, Rasmussen finds that Mr. Obama leads Mr. Santorum by just four points, 46% to 42%.

Santorum is  second in the delegate count:  Romney has 123; Santorum has 72; Gingrich has 32; and Paul has 19.

In other election developments, Romney won the Maine caucus, upsetting Ron Paul who was expected to win his first state.  Romney took 39%; Paul took 36%; Santorum took 18%; and Gingrich took 6%.

In other good news for Romney, he won the straw poll at CPAC, the big conservative activist convention.  He won 38% of the votes; Santorum had 31%; Gingrich had 15%; and Paul had 12%.

It appears that Romney is gradually winning over  conservatives but that Santorum has emerged as the main Romney alternative, displacing Newt Gingrich.  (He only got 15% at CPAC?)  Newt may come back on Super Tuesday since he has lots of fans in the South.  But so far he hasn’t done that well despite getting lots of attention.

 

Politics & Vocation

It’s interesting to see Roman Catholics appropriating Luther’s doctrine of vocation.  Traditionally, Catholics have used the term to refer only to the calling to be a priest, a monk, or a nun.  Matthew Cantirino here discusses a prominent Catholic thinker who says that we have a “baptismal vocation” to participate in the political process. It’s not quite as clear as Luther’s point that we have a vocation as citizens.  Still, at a time when many Christians are giving up on civic engagement and many others are misinterpreting what that means (NOT to take over so as to Christianize the government), the doctrine of vocation can help sort out our responsibilities, namely, to love and serve our neighbors in our civic life and political duties.

Harvard Law professor (and longtime First Things contributor and supporter) Mary Ann Glendon offers advice to young Christians inclined to politics in a recent interview with the National Catholic Register. Her main point is one especially worth noting in an election year: that while an obsession with the contemporary political scene can often distract us from more enduring truths, it still must be taken seriously and engaged thoughtfully. Glendon even goes as far as asserting that:

“Nearly everyone who takes his or her baptismal vocation seriously has some form of calling to participate in that process [ie, politics broadly understood], as he or she is able. If we Christians truly believe we are called to be a transformative presence in the world — to be salt, light and leaven — we have to do our best to improve the conditions under which we live, work and raise our children. Even our cloistered contemplatives are not merely meditating on the mystery of the universe — they are praying for the world.”

This is helpful advice for Christians in the public square today, where a sense of defeat can become overwhelming. Indeed, in recent years, there has been a movement among some on the ‘religious right’ towards shunning—even disdaining—politics altogether. This attitude has enjoyed a resurgence as something of a reaction to the previous decades of alliance between Christian leaders and partisan figures, especially in more fundamentalist circles. And, and Glendon notes with concern, many of today’s brightest and most devout students scarcely consider a political career at all, often believing it to be a certain path to corruption.

Ultimately, however, as Glendon points out, this retreat impulse is misguided, overwrought, and even dangerous, as it allows others very hostile to religious faith to step in and have free reign. It is, as the ironic title of her lecture and interview alludes to, an implicit agreement with Max Weber’s thesis that “he who lets himself in for politics … contracts with diabolical powers.” So, she concedes, while “culture” may indeed more important than “politics” narrowly construed, there is a larger sense in which the latter is a constitutive element in the former. Referencing the example of Vaclav Havel, she calls the two part of a “two-way street” and notes that the two are, to a significant extent, inseparable. Especially in today’s America, where (national) politics occupies an admittedly bloated position, Christians really don’t have much of a choice in the matter.

via First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.  Here is a link to Glendon’s interview.

The conventional approach to politics is that everyone should follow his or her own rational self-interests.  The vocational approach says that we must deny our selves in love and service to our neighbor.  How might that latter emphasis manifest itself in a Christian’s political engagement?

Pro-abortionists have the money and the power

Russell D. Moore at Christianity Today on the Susan G. Komen foundation’s caving to Planned Parenthood:

This is an important victory for Planned Parenthood and the abortion rights lobby. First of all, the association with Komen is a key piece in Planned Parenthood’s effort to present itself as a “women’s health provider” rather than simply as an abortion provider. Beyond that, the surrender of the nation’s leading breast cancer awareness group to this kind of political pressure proves the clout of Planned Parenthood and their allies.

Evangelical and Catholic Christians, and our pro-life allies of all faiths, might be tempted to draw some wrong conclusions from this tragic affair. After all our years of trumpeting opinion polls showing a “pro-life majority” in the United States, this demonstrates that, when it comes to money and power, the pro-choice forces aren’t sustained simply by the penumbra and emanations of an old Supreme Court decision.

Some pro-life persons might wish that the Christian churches had as much influence in the public arena as Planned Parenthood, that we were able to mobilize as many callers and threaten as many boycotts. Some might see this as a sign that we need more money and respect. After all, if some Christian foundation had more financial firepower than Planned Parenthood, Komen might have stood firm.

In all of this, though, we can gain an opportunity to see what the abortion culture is all about: cash. Planned Parenthood and their allies use the thoroughly American language of freedom of choice and women’s empowerment, but what’s at stake, as seen here, are billions of dollars. That’s why, despite their talk about adoption as a “choice,” Planned Parenthood and others hardly ever lead women through an adoption process relative to how often they promise them the “fix” of a “terminated pregnancy.” There’s a profit motive involved in every abortion.

Christians shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. Money and power, abstracted from the lordship of Christ, always lead to violence. Pharaoh ordered the execution of the Hebrew children because they threatened his position in “the 1 percent” of ancient Egypt. Herod carried out the same decree because he wanted to protect his kingship, a kingship that carried with it the financial support of the Roman Empire.

No one, Jesus told us, can serve both God and Mammon. In saying this, Jesus personalized money in a disturbing way. When capital becomes God it, somehow, is no longer something, but someone. The demonic force of rapaciousness so distorts the soul that, when it’s threatened, someone is going to die.

The answer for those of us who cherish the lives of women and their children, regardless of stage of development, isn’t to long to compete with Planned Parenthood in the influence that comes with massive amounts of wealth. It’s instead to see, first of all, how our own captivity to Mammon devolves us in the same way.

via The Pink Ribbon and the Dollar Sign | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

The author goes on to exhort Christians to stop their emphasis on money and power.

He is surely right to criticize the worldliness of contemporary churches–manifested especially in those that proclaim the “prosperity gospel,” but also in the general deference we tend to pay to wealth and power.

And yet, if we are to battle legalized abortion, don’t Christians have to pursue the power to change the laws?  Don’t pro-life organizations need more money?  Might we become so spiritual that we withdraw from the world’s concerns and thus become complicit in the institutionalized slaughter that is the abortion industry? Don’t the world’s battles require the world’s weapons, and isn’t this legitimate in our vocation as citizens in God’s kingdom of the left?

By the way, I like Dr. Moore’s phrase” Evangelical and Catholic Christians, and our pro-life allies of all faiths.”  This is not just a Catholic issue!  All conservative Christian organizations will be put into the position of having to pay for not just birth control pills but also abortion pills.

UPDATE:  See also Mollie Hemingway’s more hopeful article in Christianity Today entitled “The Komen Fiasco’s Silver Lining.”   She points out how at least the affair unveils (1) that the Komen foundation funds abortions (2) that Planned Parenthood, contrary to the common assumption, does NOT provide mammograms  (3) that the media is flagrantly biased in favor of abortion (4) that Planned Parenthood practices extortion.

Wouldn’t you rather have Santorum?

Rick Santorum has won the Missouri. Colorado, and Minnesota delegate battles last night.   I know we’ve talked about his faults.  But all things being equal and leaving Ron Paul and electability out of the equation, wouldn’t you rather have him than Newt Gingrich?  Wouldn’t you rather have him than Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney wins Nevada caucuses

Romney 49.0%

Gingrich 21.7%

Paul 18.8%

Santorum 10.6%

via Mitt Romney wins overwhelming victory in Nevada caucuses – The Washington Post.

Next up on Tuesday:  caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, with a non-binding primary in  Missouri.

It looks like Romney’s way is pretty clear to the nomination, does it not?  Can he be stopped?  If so, how likely is that?

It seems to me that a lot of Republicans who at first couldn’t stand him are getting reconciled to the idea of Romney as the nominee.  Does that apply to any of you?


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