The Ugly

There are actually many ugly things but I will comment on just one at the moment. That is the general ugliness which surrounds political discussions. Too often what passed for discussion is little more that thoughtless sound bites layered with spin and obfuscation and often descending into blatant dishonesty. This is not just a Republican or a Democratic or a Green or a Libertarian or any other party problem and it is not limited to any one movement such as liberal, conservative, libertarian, progressive or any other political philosophy. And not every member of any party does it but enough do such that we often see very uncivil discourse.

There are a variety of issues including health care, tariffs, tax rates and many others which come up and instead of having a detailed analysis often what we get is trash. Take a topic like health care; you may be for increased Federal funding and control over medicine or you may be opposed but please cut the nonsense and do not insult my intelligence when making your pitch.

What most people seem to ignore is that much of the disagreement about specific policies actually derives from a deeper disagreement on the proper role of government and what nature it should have. That discussion is necessary but often neglected. There are many ways to start the discussion; for example compare the ideas in the book by A Theory of Justice by John Rawls with the ideas in the book Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick. I had the good fortune to read both books for a political philosophy course at UCSB taught by Professor Burleigh T. Wilkins. Of course there are many other important books and ideas; these two are mentioned as examples because I am familiar with them and the works have had some impact in the world of ideas. The point is that I think we would all be better off if we approached these issues honestly and acknowledged that there are deep fundamental issues which need to be addressed.

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