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Solutions Require Cooperation (Really!)

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"It is hardly possible to overstate the value, in the present low state of human improvement, of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar ... Such communication has always been, and is particularly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress," -- John Stuart Mill, The Principles of Political Economy (1848) [Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan]

Progress? What a concept!

Those who are so entrenched in ensuring that their ideologies are preserved and protected no matter what the cost (and too often, despite the fact they do not understand even a little bit about the basis/rationale/context from which the principle evolved) might want to consider where that path will lead.... Real-world behavior carries with it real-world outcomes, some not as enjoyable or beneficial as others.

But first things first.

When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike... yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends. (links in original quote)

British economist/philosopher F. A. Hayek wrote that more than fifty years ago. He either possessed a remarkable capacity to see into the future to describe the unfortunate practice of today's GOP to obstruct and deny almost every single Obama Administration initiative, or this is an ongoing flaw of conservative thinking, which is doing all of us little good. I don't gamble, but if I did, I wouldn't like the odds on the first option.

Is "my way or nothing at all" the new gold standard of negotiation? How many of these "principled" extremists on the right tolerate that attitude from business partners or family members? Refusal to cooperate is now cause for celebration in some circles.

That these tactics are making difficult problems that much more difficult for countless millions of fellow citizens is ... well, you know ... principles and beliefs and all that.

Different viewpoints don't automatically categorize that other side as Satan intent on destroying America. Many would be surprised to realize that some meaningful communication and listening and understanding establishes awareness that almost all of us simply want life, our nation, our citizens, and our government to be better.

Democrats tend to see democracy as having this moral basis: Citizens care about one another and act on that care through their government, creating a 'public' - a system of public provisions to protect and empower everybody equally. From the beginning, Americans have provided public roads and bridges, public schools, public hospitals, municipal sewers, public records, a judiciary, police, a patent office.
And since then, Americans have come to need and have provided much more - agencies to protect public health, public safety, advance scientific research for the public good, public parks and beaches, public art and so on.
These public provisions free us - it is a freedom issue - to have decent lives and start businesses that use what the Public provides.

This is a source of contention? Seriously?

Paying attention to what the "other side" is suggesting/offering might be an eye-opening experience. Americans (at least those looking to elected officials to work together by addressing the many pressing issues we all face, and then develop policies that might move all of us forward) would certainly reap untold benefits from such novel tactics--assuming progress and better opportunities for all still matters, of course.

Imagine what we might collectively achieve if those things did matter just a wee bit more than ideology....

(adapted from two recent blogs post of mine - 1. 2.]
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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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