Has America shifted to the left?

The recent elections herald a political shift in America to the left.  So says liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., citing the overall defeat of Tea Party candidates, the victory of the pro-gun control, pro-abortion Terry McAuliffe in once-conservative Virginia, the “new progressivism” of New York’s newly-elected mayor Bill Blasio, and the victory of Republican Chris Christie who repudiated his party’s right wing. [Read more...]

What the crises in health care and higher education have in common

Patrick J. Deneen writes about the similarities between the current crises in health care and education.  He argues that the solutions put forward by both the left and the right will not work.   Since both spheres had their origin in the work of the Church, he calls for a rediscovery of the Christian concept of charity that is grounded in  (wait for it) the doctrine of vocation–that is, offices of  love and service to one’s neighbor.

The essay after the jump. [Read more...]

Punitive Liberalism

If you watch old movies, read books from the first half of the 20th century, and are old enough to remember the early 1960s, you will recall that New Deal liberalism was a cheerful, optimistic creed, pro-American and working for economic prosperity.  After all, liberals from Franklin Roosevelt through Hubert Humphrey were progressives, which gave them confidence that things were getting better and better.  But after a certain point, liberals began to be filled with gloom and doom.  America must be punished for its sins; our neglect of the environment will incur apocalyptic judgment; economic prosperity weakens our moral fiber.  Conservatives used to sound that way, and did, before the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan.

George Will discusses the shift to a “punitive liberalism” in a discussion of a book that sees the tipping point as  the assassination of John F. Kennedy, even though Lee Harvey Oswald was a Communist.  (I think the tipping point was the Vietnam War, but still. . . .) [Read more...]

Self-interest vs. ideology

Is it better in the realm of politics to stand on principle or to pursue self-interest?  Most of us would probably say the former.  But Robert J. Samuelson argues that self-interest is superior, even morally, to following an ideology, which breeds conflict, governmental paralysis, and the demonization of opponents.

Mr. Samuelson shows that the left and the right are both fixated on ideology and that their rhetoric and tactics are pretty much identical to each other.  After the jump, you can see how he makes his case. [Read more...]

Good liberal theology vs. bad liberal theology?

British theologian Theo Hobson has a paradigm-scrambling article in the Christian Century, the magazine of record of mainline liberal Protestantism.  He says that liberal theology has suffered a “huge collapse,” particularly in its intellectual credibility in academic theology.   The “bad” liberal theology is faulted for being little more than a vague, rationalistic humanism, cut off from historical Christian doctrines and rituals (meaningful worship, the Sacraments). There is, however, a “good” liberal theology, he says, one that supports the “liberal state.”  By that he means a state characterized by freedom  (religious liberty as opposed to established churches, individual freedom of conscience, civil liberties).

Now, of course,in this country, the cause of political and religious liberty is championed by conservatives.  Theological conservatives would no doubt have a broader conception of liberal theology than Hobson does, finding other “academic theologies”–he mentions that of Barth and the radically orthodox Milibank–equally “liberal” insofar as they take a critical stance on the truth and authority of the Bible.  Still, you’ve got to read this, after the jump.  What do you make of all this? [Read more...]

The two paths for Democrats

We talked about the two paths for Republicans.  Apparently there are also two paths opening up for Democrats.  Two columns in the Washington Post cite a growing schism in the Democratic Party between old-line pro-union economic liberals and big business Democrats who favor Wall Street.  What the two factions have in common is social liberalism (pro-abortion, pro-feminist, pro-gay, etc.), but the party’s former solidarity on economic issues is coming apart.  (Which may be the opposite of what is happening among Republicans, with the big business faction and the populists agreeing on economics but differing on social issues.) [Read more...]


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