Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tribalism, Part 2

Please don’t think that I consider myself some sort of superior being in my resistance to tribal thinking in politics. I attribute that to my father, who was a rather unusual man. We had our difficulties, but there was much that I admired about the guy, who was a physician, a career Air Force officer and an Episcopal priest. These were concurrent capacities, not sequential ones, and every time the Air Force transferred us he would find a new Episcopal parish in which to function, which he did very actively.

His military environment led to him being a Republican and fiscal conservative, but he was a humanist and was socially quite liberal. That meant that political discussions when I was growing up had real depth about the impact of one policy versus another. I tended to be a little more conservative than Dad overall, which made things interesting at times, but certainly did and still do believe in the maintenance of social safety nets to the degree that we can do so without interfering with national function.

He told me I had lost my mind when I first told him I was for Barry Goldwater, but by November he was intending to vote for him as well, which I believe he did. It was the first time I ever influenced the old man’s thinking in such a fashion and was a milestone in adulthood for me.

He and I agreed entirely about “the little man in the White House” who fired MacArthur, and we continued to agree that every president subsequent to him made Truman look better and better. The last two, including the current one, have made Truman look positively statuesque.

The point is that policies have to be thought through, and cannot be merely accepted or rejected based on a distorted view through the lens of political tribalism, and seemingly contradictory policies can frequently coexist harmoniously in government.

1 comment:

bruce said...

I remember telling somebody 30 years ago we ought to dig up Truman and make him run again. And he was no "little man".. he took it by the short hairs and ran with it. He made no apologies for what he felt was the right thing to do.

That should be the first thing in the mind of the voter, politician, administrator, whatever... to do the right thing, for the good of everyone as a whole, for the long term good. Not for political expediency or ego.

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