Let's live-blog the debate

Tune into the presidential debate at 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, fire up your computer, and come to this site and this post.   As the debate proceeds, type your observations, reactions, profound insights, and snide remarks as comments.  I’ll do the same.  We can discuss the candidates’ performance and the tenor of the debate as it is happening.

Won’t that be fun?

Meet you here at 9:00 ET/8:00 CT/7:00 MT/6:00 PT.

UPDATE:  I’ll start a separate post for our live blog.

One Nation Conservatism

Mitt Romney seems to dismiss the 47% of Americans who will never vote for him anyway.  James P. Pinkerton, though, recounts another kind of conservatism–the tradition of Disraeli, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and others–that is oriented to the 100%.

This is the ideology of the popular conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who described his philosophy this way:

I’m a one-nation Tory. There is a duty on the part of the rich to the poor and to the needy, but you are not going to help people express that duty and satisfy it if you punish them fiscally so viciously that they leave this city and this country. I want London to be a competitive, dynamic place to come to work.

It is also the ideology of Calvin Coolidge, who said this:

The commonwealth is one. We are all members of one body. The welfare of the weakest and the welfare of the most powerful are inseparably bound together. Industry cannot flourish if labor languish. Transportation cannot prosper if manufactures decline. The general welfare cannot be provided for in any one act, but it is well to remember that the benefit of one is the benefit of all, and the neglect of one is the neglect of all. The suspension of one man’s dividends is the suspension of another man’s pay envelope.

via What Happened to the 100 Percent? | The American Conservative.

This brand of conservatism tries to create a sense of national unity, rather than setting groups off against each other, embraces patriotism, tries to reform social evils, and thus inspires voters.

Do you see any prospect for bringing this back?

Staying home vs. coming home

Rod Dreher is reading The Odyssey with his son.  He is finding that it ties right into his life.  Homer’s epic is about Odysseus coming home.  Which is not the same as staying at home.

Odysseus had to go to Troy, but after his business was concluded there, he had to go back home to Ithaca. The goddess Calypso detained him. He spent all his time in her company, enjoying all the comforts of life with a beautiful goddess, including, Homer tells us, lovemaking every night. And yet, when he wasn’t with her, he wept for home. He wanted to be home so badly that he refused immortality. Better to die at home than to live forever in wealth, comfort, and pleasure. If he stayed with Calypso, he would be untrue to himself, to his nature.

You can well imagine why this story appeals to me in a particular way. My Greek friend Dimitra told me that my moving back to my birthplace is what Greeks call a nostos, or homecoming. (That’s the root of our word “nostalgia.”) The Odyssey is a nostos epic, of course, but not everyone has the same nostos. The first four books of The Odyssey concern Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, and how he has to leave Ithaca to find his father, and in so doing find his way to manhood. His way “home” requires him to leave home for a time — to separate himself from his mother and his palace and all that he knows, and go out into the world searching. He cannot be a man unless he does this. I mean, it’s clear that if Telemachus takes the comfortable route, the route of least resistance, and stays at home, he will have failed.

I think about myself and my sister, Ruthie. I left. She stayed. Both of us were true to our natures. My having come home was not an admission of regret, but an acceptance that my own journey had in it a turn that I did not anticipate. I could have stayed with Calypso back East, so to speak, but that did not seem like the path the gods (well, God) revealed to me as my own. To be true to myself at 16, I had to leave. To be true to myself at 45, I had to return.

All of this is simply to say that it’s a wonder to me how reading this ancient poem about Greek kings, princes, and gods, connects so intimately to the life I’m living, the questions I have, the journey I’m on. I thought reading The Odyssey was just going to be about helping my 12 year old son with his homework. It turns out to be the inspiration for deep conversations between us about what it means to be a man in full.

via Place, Person, & ‘The Odyssey’ | The American Conservative.

Have any of you moved back to the place where you grew up?  How has that worked out?  Thomas Wolfe said, “you can’t go home again.”  But can you?

 

HT:  Matthew Cantirino

Pro-life without being pro-birth

That’s the position taken by the Methodist church.  From Mark Tooley:

Recently a newly appointed official with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society explained on her agency’s website that “we are a church that is pro-life, not pro-birth.”

Interesting explanation. What does it mean to be “pro-life, not pro-birth?” She describes United Methodism’s stance:

“We do not believe that abortion should be used as birth control or as a means of gender selection. We ‘call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may cause them to consider abortion,’ and we take consideration of the mother’s health. Also, we affirm ministries to both women who do and do not terminate a pregnancy. Unlike pro-birth proponents, we don’t believe in forgoing the life and safety of the mother.”

She further explained that “like Jesus, our denomination doesn’t seek to treat any person — male or female — as simply a means to an end.” So “to emphasize birth at any cost means treating a woman as if she were worth nothing more than her reproductive utility.” She also boasted that United Methodists “don’t believe that the church’s commitment begins and ends with the act of birth,” supporting “prenatal, postnatal and a lifetime of social and spiritual supports for all of God’s children is central to the work of the body of Christ.” She lamented that “current discussion on reproductive health has attempted to cut this conversation short, focusing only upon the act of birth and not the journey of life.”

It’s not clear who these morally numb people are who care only about the “act of birth” but lose interest in the child minutes later. Here’s one question for this “pro-life, not pro-birth” official with our church’s official lobby office: If pre-born children have no intrinsic value, dignity or protection, then how or why should society invest so much in the children after birth? If the value of human life is so fluid, then inevitably much of society will look at all children, and all vulnerable persons, through a utilitarian lens.

via United Methodists Are “Pro-Life” but “Not Pro-Birth?” « Juicy Ecumenism.

Questions for the debates

Tomorrow is the first presidential debate.  If you were one of the moderators, what questions would you ask Barack Obama and Mitt Romney?

Are the Republicans still a national party?

Daniel McCarthy,  the editor of The American Conservative, answers that question with a “no.”  He points out that Republicans have become very successful on the local and state levels, but haven’t won a plurality of votes in a national presidential race for four out of the last five elections.  McCarthy explores why this is and why Republicans keep nominating moderates who have to masquerade as conservatives, only to lose national elections.  Samples:

If the only effect in play were the strength of grassroots right-wing constituencies, you wouldn’t expect the party to consistently nominate moderates like both Bushes, Dole, McCain, and Romney. None of those nominees had impeccable conservative credentials — far from it. But once they got the nomination, they didn’t run as the moderates they were; most of them sold themselves as being at least as right as Reagan, even in the general election. At least since 2004, this is because the party has pursued a base strategy: an attempt to eke out a narrow win by getting more Republicans to the polls than Democrats, with independents — a small and difficult-to-market-to demographic — basically ignored. The party tries to leverage its regional identity and regional organization into presidential victory. It has failed four times out of five. . . .

Republicans tend to have a clear establishment front-runner going into their presidential contests, and that individual pretty much always wins the nomination, in part because he usually has far more money than his opponents. Indeed, that financial advantage allows the establishment front-runner to discourage viable semi-establishment opponents — your Mitch Daniels types — from even entering the race. That leaves the ideological groups to field their own non-viable standard-bearer — Huckabee or Santorum types. Because the eventual GOP nominee pursues a base strategy, though, he winds up embarrassing himself by trying to sound “severely conservative.” He has to get religious right and Tea Party voters to turn out for him. But even if they do, they’re not enough: those constituencies don’t add up to 50 percent of the electorate. Republicans are actually closer than Democrats to being the real 47 percent party. (Though it’s more accurate to say the GOP is the 48-49 percent party and the Democrats are the 49-50 percent party.)

This isn’t all about elections, however. The policy options that Congress and the president get to consider and the intellectual life of the nation are also warped by the GOP’s “47 percent” ideology. Because conservatives over-identify with the GOP, and the GOP’s identity is determined by factional and regional ideologies, the result is that conservatives take their definition of conservatism from the party and that definition is more regional- and interest-based than philosophical. This accounts for the spectacle of the GOP periodically getting worked up about “big government” while in fact expanding government — welfare state, warfare state, banning internet gambling, you name it — whenever it’s in power. The blue state/red state psychological divide is more fundamental to the party’s understanding of the world than is any consistent view of the proper extent and uses of government. . . .

None of this has anything to do with the historic conservatism of Edmund Burke or John Adams, Russell Kirk or Robert Nisbet. It doesn’t even look like the capacious conservatism of Ronald Reagan. It’s a scam: it does little for values in the culture as a whole because the values in question are those of an ideological minority only interested in winning through minority-organization politics; it can’t look at big-picture economics because doing so would tick off the financial interests and get anyone who broached the question read out of conservatism by Wall Street’s coalition allies. A traditionalist or consistently libertarian critic would be perceived as speaking up for lazy immoral city-dwelling welfare queens. This fanciful identity politics, and not principled economics, is what lies behind talk about “socialism,” “big government,” and the “47 percent.” If the case were otherwise, you’d see the anti-dependency case made against the Pentagon, defense contractors, churches taking government money, and red-state recipients of all kinds of largesse.

Is the GOP Still a National Party? | The American Conservative.

HT:  Todd


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