Opening Thoughts

First, let me echo my co-blogger Paul’s opening post to this blog by welcoming you all to this page.  Second, I wish to extend a personal thanks to him for carrying the water this first week plus, while my day job has kept me away from any personal tasks.

For me the purpose of this blog is to think about the issues of the day from a more fundamental point of view.  In my opinion, virtually all discussion of politics and current events is in terms of personal politics.  Do I like the politician speaking personally or not?  If I do, then I’m apt to agree more readily, even if the statement is inconsistent with other views a person may hold.  When we do get past these base personality issues, most political discussion seems to turn on political party—is something a Democrat or Republican idea.  In other words, I support the ideas of my party’s politicians and despise the ideas of the other party’s, plain and simple.  There no longer seems to even be a discussion of current events through any other lens than either personal or partisan politics.  I, and, I think, my friends at this blog, believe that is wrong and want to try and change that.

Are we naïve?  Maybe, but we aren’t crazy.  We know that there are other ways of discussing and debating politics, the Constitution, and current events.  How do we know this?  Because we’ve been doing it amongst ourselves for years.  As Paul says below, we share a similar philosophical starting point, but we each apply it to events differently.  We come from different backgrounds, have had very different life experiences, have different personal and religious beliefs, and often reach fundamentality different conclusions about political and policy issues.  However, even when we disagree, which happens frequently and passionately, we remember that shared core philosophy and that allows us to respect each other and realize that these disagreements are built into that philosophic system and are not detrimental in any way, but rather healthy byproducts.

With the above in mind, allow me to provide a very brief introduction and a small insight to why I agreed with Paul to start this very small corner of the internet.  As you can tell, I’ve opted to blog under a pseudonym or nom de plume; specifically, Glaucon.  For those unfamiliar with the reference, Glaucon was an Athenian and the older brother of the famed Greek philosopher Plato.  He was a major conversant with Socrates in the Republic, and the interlocutor during my personal favorite book (Book VII) the Allegory of the Cave.

Yes, my choice of pseudonym is indicative of my personal philosophic leanings, which begin with the ideas espoused by Plato.  With respect to my personal political philosophy, well, that starts with Plato as well, then marches through the social contract thinkers (Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau)—the same thinkers who heavily influenced Madison, Mason, Hamilton, and others at the Constitutional Convention in 1787—then in the modern era is shaped by thinkers such as John Rawls, Thomas Nagel, Ronald Dworkin, and others.

I am an unashamed, unabashed classical philosophical liberal.  My preferred version of classical liberalism—sometimes referred to as small “l” liberalism (as opposed to big “L” political Liberalism) or egalitarianism liberalism—has four immutable tenants:  (1) individual rights not collective rights; (2) government is to be neutral regarding ideas of the “good;” (3) preservation of the distinction between procedural and substantive justice; and (4) inequality is justified only so long as it benefits the least advantaged in society.

In addition to these tenants, I maintain a few other fundamental political/philosophical beliefs.  First, I have a deep unwavering faith in the republican form of government, which is to say the system whereby people elect representatives to collective bodies to govern them.  I believe that collective bodies, like Congress, State Legislatures, and even local city councils, if functioning properly, are far and away the best (and the most frustrating) way to govern.  While I also believe in the role of an Executive and a Judiciary, I think that most policy decisions should be made via a well-defined legislative process.  Second, I am an institutionalist.  I believe in all our governing institutions and that they each need to function separately, independently, and in tension for our system of government to thrive.  Finally, whether it’s in Congress, the Courts, or the Executive, I think that process matters almost as much as (and sometimes more than) results.  A result obtained via a faulty process (even one I agree with) is far more damaging than any result reached via a fair and just process (even when I disagree with the outcome).

With that I welcome everyone and look forwards to reading, thinking about, and adding comments to what you all have to say!


2 thoughts on “Opening Thoughts

  1. One of the things that we share is a preference for consistent, grounded procedure. Speaking just for myself, I am highly suspicious of systems, particularly those of government, which count on the good will of Man. In my experience good will is a poor substitute for the constraints of effective systems, both because of our deep flaws in knowledge and our capacity to confuse self-interest for right and good.

    Is a good system, such as I think the US Constitution has shown herself to be, a complete answer? Probably not but it seems preferable to the whims which make up the majority of politics in written history.


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