Monday, November 25, 2002

The Conservative Equivalent of My Dream Job

For a while, I explored the idea of becoming an activist or having some other role with a progressive/liberal cause or organization. I backed away due to some of the problems with the left mentioned in the article linked above. Well, I was also temperamentally unsuited for the role of activist, but I could have handled some of the support roles, such as research.

Most notably, the left is organized on an issue-by-issue basis. I found out that I am not a true believer on any particular issue in the sense that I couldn't find any one cause so important that I wanted to devote my entire mental resources to it. I would find myself comparing and finding similarities and differences between various concerns.

In a way, this mirrored my thoughts on academia. I became most interested in those areas of knowledge which often fell between the academic disciplines. One area I was rather fond of was the overlap between the social science and religion.

It's clear that the Democratic leadership are trying to use duct tape to hold together the New Deal coalition ship. In parliamentary governments, interests form coalitions after the election. In our American form of government, the coalitions are more informal and formed before the elections. The Democrats need to base themselves around a new left-of-center coalition.

This is not entirely easy. The new coalition must have a certain degree of backwards compatibility with the old New Deal coalition, which is still the Democrats best hope in certain places, especially the South.

The Democratic Party have been limping along, moving towards a party casually united around a socially liberal agenda. There is no consensus within the party anymore on economic issues. But this has been an evolutionary change over time, with no clear focus. The principal groups have been feminists, blacks, and Jews. However, blacks really don't fit within a coalition based upon a socially liberal agenda. African-Americans are in fact relatively conservative on social issues and vote Democrat due more to economic reasons.

What the Democrats need is someone with a comprehensive socio-economic platform of issues and someone who is capable to creating a sense of intellectual unity between various issues. From an outsider's perspective, the Democratic party looks like disjointed vote swapping between various parts of a political coalition. Blacks get affirmative action. Feminists get abortion. Homosexuals get gay rights and funding for AIDS research. This isn't necessarily how it is, but this is how it looks to a non-Democrat. Political correction is rightfully laughed at because it has no internal consistancy with a policy of tolerance for opposing views.

What then? The left needs an understanding of how people think. The only non-conservatives who get far are those who stumble into a situation when the opposition is in dire straits (Jimmy Carter in the Watergate era) or those with an innate understanding of human nature (Bill Clinton, the guy who felt your pain). Most liberals suffer from an insufferable sense of superiority. Their sense of morality more often translates as haughtiness than as piety.

Everyone dreams at some point in their childhoold about becoming president. I realized reasonably early enough that I would not be the kind of person whose personal communication skills were conducive to electability. For a while, I thought I could still gain great influence by studying law and eventually becoming a Supreme Court justice, but then I realized that judges are just more politicians.

So what's left? Seeking out knowledge. Finding the bridge between ivory tower academic views of political science and the "political engineering" done by actual candidates out in the real world. If anyone figures out a way to make a career out of this, give me a call.

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