I haven’t had a letter published in the Daily Local for a while; its Opinion page letters do not seem to be running in a progressive or even centrist direction lately.
Since I’ve had things to say (other than on the election, on which I’m preparing something lengthy), I’ll paste in here some recent comments on DLN items. There used to be more back-and-forth in online discussions; I don’t know why interest seems to have declined.
1) Online comment on Linda Chavez, “How conservatives can defeat liberalism,” 11/15/12:
Linda Chavez makes sense on some subjects, particularly immigration, but not here. She is right to raise the question of justice, but Bill Moyers put it better when he said that “The opposite of poverty is not wealth; it is justice.” American progressives have not said that justice required “equal outcomes” as Chavez asserts, nor that “everyone have the same level of health care.” Progressives believe that members of our society should have a chance at good outcomes (through, e.g,, a valid education) and a minimum level of health care required to sustain life in decent conditions. Chavez is talking about communism, not progressivism.
2) Online comment on Susan Estrich, “Gen. Petraeus loses big time … but so does the nation,” 11/15/12:
As befits a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Susan Estrich doesn’t want to see a connection between personal behavior and national reputation. Petraeus has made the US and the CIA look bad, and may or not have revealed intelligence secrets to unauthorized people. It’s nice he’s a gentleman, but I doubt that is on the job description for general or CIA director. Neither is being a playboy a great background for elective office, as he could have intuited from the fall of president Nicholas Sarkozy of France and president Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. These references are not random, since Petraeus was rumored to be planning to run for US president.
3) unpublished letter to the Editor, 11/15/12:
The Daily Local’s Nov. 15 Opinion page neatly sums up three big issues that have long faced our country.
The editorial “Election held many victories for equality” points out that voters just elected the first female PA attorney general, a record 81 women to the U.S. House, and a record 20 women to the U.S. Senate, including its first openly lesbian senator, and that three states approved same-sex marriage.
The editorial concludes: “…these are victories for all Americans because they have come a few steps closer to living in the nation the Founding Fathers had envisioned 236 years ago, where all citizens are created equal.”
On the same page, John Stossel’s column “Freedom big loser in the election” sets up the other side of the equation, lamenting: “government will continue to grow. Individual freedom will yield.” For him, the good news is that two states legalized marijuana (as long as the feds don’t interfere) and three states “said yes to gay marriage.” But he stresses more the bad news: big taxes, deficits, and government, “crony capitalism,” and more rules. His solution: “Let’s have some gridlock” (could we really have more?).
If Americans are free, can we do whatever we want? Should the most wealthy let the poor shift for themselves? If some people see society going against their sacred books, should anyone else care?
Susan Estrich, in “Obama’s mandate: Unite a divided country,” favors Obamacare, contraception, environmental regulation, local schools, and ending wars. She wants Washington to play nice about economic issues because “the real mandate of this election … is to bring us together” (as long as upper-income people like her, she specifies, don’t have to pay more taxes).
How much are we willing to pay and do for equality, for freedom, for unity? All political discussion should include those three concepts and the dilemma that if we get more of one, we will likely get less of one or both of the others.
And let’s not forget the other big player in the history of American ideology: justice. Now there’s the really expensive one, because the others flow from it.