Monday, November 24, 2008

Basic principles

I've been reading Ross Douthat recently, adding in some new (to me) conservative thoughts to my daily dish. Today two things caught my attention.

1. Talking about the need for the Right to engage in debates it has historically avoided, Ross says:
This problem is not, repeat not, a matter of conservatives needing to abandon their core convictions in order to win elections, as right-of-center reformers are often accused of doing. Rather, it's a matter of conservatives needing to apply their core convictions to questions like "how do we mitigate the worst effects of climate change?" and "how do we modernize our infrastructure?" and "how do we encourage excellence and competition within our public school bureaucracy?" instead of just letting liberals completely monopolize these debates, while the Right talks about porkbusting and not much else.
I'm all for conservatives "applying their core convictions" to climate change and education. But I'd prefer not to limit climate change discussion to "the worst effects," and I'd like a discussion of the merits of competition in public schools specifically rather than just a blanket assumption that it would be a positive thing.

2. On Christina Romer, Barack Obama's choice to head his Council on Economic Advisers, Ross says:
[She's the appointee] who should give Americans the most hope that Obama won't be significantly hiking their taxes any time soon.
Would it be so hard to acknowledge which subset of Americans--the wealthiest--are the ones facing potential tax hikes under Obama?

Ross is a smart, eloquent, and reasonable dude. But he starts from a set of basic assumptions about the world, and I think they are really pretty different from mine. It's those assumptions that keep us from agreeing, so it's those that I want to talk about. Hey, you conservatives out there, let's talk first principles! I'm all ears.

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