In my conversion from being libertarian (with a small L) to a progressive (because I couldn’t bring myself to calling myself liberal) has been a journey fraught with mistakes. In rejecting my old politics, I’d forgotten what was valuable from that old political belief system. Just as in rejecting Christianity (my Catholicism) I’d rejected all of it. After watching Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth with Bill Moyers I was able to reclaim and keep what was good from my Catholic upbringing. It’s time I do the same with my political leanings.
Note- I use the lowercase L because I never joined the party. The reason is they wanted me to sign an oath:
"I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political of social goals."
I agree with it in principle and I totally oppose the neocon doctrine of preemption, but why did I not sign it or take it? I can’t quite articulate why at the moment and I apologize for that but it boils down to that I think of it as an unspoken principle. No party should advocate the use of force to achieve political ends. And yet we know that our government controlled by these parties use force all the time to do so. They also use laws to achieve political and social goals that are just as detrimental as the use of force. Such as the poorly named ‘war on drugs’.
But I digress.
Although political and religious ideas can never reach the precision of a scientific theory, I believe that using the principles of science to form a better view of the world is essential in producing ideas that are workable in the real world. And so I believe in taking what is useful and figuring out what works. I rejected libertarianism because they were never going to get into power and frankly their philosophy prevented them from doing so. They want small gov’t. Well to trot out a phrase ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. I concluded that corporations would fill that power vacuum left by the gov’t. And to me libertarianism became a bait and switch philosophy. I started looking at the history of progressivism and found myself agreeing with the Teddy Roosevelt era progressive policies: break up monopolies, ending child labor are just a few of the things I agree with.
Another note: I should have also questioned whether or not progressivism is also a bait and switch philosophy.
Anyway my point is I believe in the adage of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And that we should listen to our political opponents. The problem is picking the signal from the noise. And since Obama has become President the noise level has become extremely high. So here’s a nice clean signal extracted from the noise.
Republicans and Libertarians have the right idea here. One lesson we should all take to heart.
I’m not quite sure a high signal-to-noise ratio means there’s more signal than noise or more noise than signal. Does low signal-to-noise ratio mean that’s a bad thing? Anyway if the number on the left is higher than on the right, that’s a good thing. It means there is more signal than noise. So 2:1 is good and 1:2 is bad. I’ve forgotten a lot of my radio training.
Postscript: I should probably add there are differences between liberals and progressives, but the terms have become so conflated in public discourse that it’s takes time to explain the differences. I’d recommend Wikipedia as a good starting place to get the basic definitions about the differences.