Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Whither Our Good Country?

I have just discovered a fine new journal published by Houston Baptist University called The City. (The online version with blog is Civitate, now on the Principal Blogs list to your right.)

In a post-election forum entitled "Where Do We Go From Here?," Joseph Knippenberg contributes the lead article, and a very wise and insightful one. Joe is fine writer, and an equally fine political analyst informed by a thorough knowledge of the history of political philosophy.

Sadly, very few of the articles are accessible online. So I will pass along just a few quotes that will perhaps entice you to subscribe, as I certainly plan to do. Subscriptions are free.

Barack Obama and his Congressional colleagues will certainly try to capitalize on [the remarkable confluence of events favoring the electoral prospects of Democrats] to construct a "permanent" Democratic majority. But that's much harder than winning an election against an underfunded opponent identified with an exceedingly unpopular incumbent who is said to be responsible for a very unpopular was and an even more unpopular financial crisis. They won't have Bush to kick around for another four years, and from now on, everything they break, they own. ...

Obama argues that the hallmark of a judge,

...is to look out for what were once called 'discreet and insular minorities,' to correct the political process in the name of social justice, whose precepts are to be found, above all, in the compassionate heart of the judge. Law is a tool that empowers the weak, not a framework that protects all of us or a set of principles and rules that constrain everyone. ...

College and university students who take the truth seriously,

...may or may not be Republicans. The GOP will have to earn their support. How can it do so? Perhaps by returning to its roots as the party of Lincoln, a party committed to a thoughtful and self-critical engagement with our country's principles and history. ...

And this on how the GOP should engage the new President.
Republicans can challenge [Pres. Obama] by making two assertions. First, they can insist that authentic care for our neighbors is voluntary and relational. If government takes the lead, it lets us off the hook, crowding out our own efforts. In other words, it demoralizes not only the recipient but also the potential giver. Second,...they can agree with President-elect Obama (sic.) that opportunity is the name of the game, but argue that the great engine of that opportunity is the private sector, not government. This is not a celebration of greed, but rather of contagious self-reliance. ...

Reflecting on what Gingrich called "the opportunity society and on what George W. Bush called an "ownership society," Knippenberg writes,

...wealth is simple an instrument for leading a good life and that a good life is not simple a matter of consuming more and more. It is, as Aristotle recognized a long time ago, about having the capacity to judge and act for oneself and in common with others, embodying and expressing virtues that include courage, moderation, and generosity, among others. It is this moral element of the economy that I would have Republicans stress.

If, in lieu of a philosopher king, we need philosopher journalists to address our rulers and those who elect them, then Knippenberg, who is not only professor of politics at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, but also a contributor on the No Left Turns blog, is one who fulfills that role.

The City is published three times a year, and subscriptions are free of charge.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks professor for the link.

Some good ideas here about u.s. conservative renewal.