Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Middle Ground

For a while Conservatives have pretended that they are the middle ground. Even expressing liberalism was proof that you were some kind of far left whacko, way outside the mainstream. I remember good old Rush saying "You're a proud democrat? Than you're a liberal extremist." This kind of argument is really an enormous bluff, because both Conservativism and Liberalism have deep roots in American history and culture. To claim that liberalism isn't American is at best a bluff and at worst a lie.

Some Republicans know they can't run the game that way for much longer. I'll be charitable and admit that some Conservatives have been uncomfortable with Conservative Triumphalism for a while. But now that it looks like the Republicans are going to lose the House and maybe the Senate, some of these concerns have a little more cachet. Andrew Sullivan has written a book, and Bruce Bartlett has written a glowing review of it. Basically the book takes on the most triumphalist of conservatives, the Christian Conservatives. Not only do they believe that they have the majority of good Americans on their side, but they get God too. Only maybe that's not such a good thing.
Basically, Sullivan's book is a brief against fundamentalism. As fallible human beings, we simply cannot know all the things that fundamentalists are absolutely certain about, he argues. Furthermore, although fundamentalists don't explicitly reject reason, in practice they do, making rational debate impossible. How can you argue with someone who believes that he knows absolute truth because it has been given to him directly by God through prayer or a sacred text? The answer, of course, is that you cannot.
Bartlett does take a few digs at the ACLU, but his main point is that his party needs to return to the center, and abandon Fundamentalism as a governing principle. We'll see how well his party takes his advice.

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