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This is a link to Mike Lee’s Issues page on his website. If you go there, under the heading “Illegal Immigration” you will find the following:

Mike Lee emphasizes protecting the Southern US border

Keeping the racism subtle, Mike.

Now, my question to you, dear reader, is why say “the southern border”? Why not say “the border”? Are there good reasons to emphasize that the southern border needs to be secured as opposed to other borders? Because I’ve heard that our coastal ports aren’t terribly secure. And I imagine that crossing over from Canada isn’t that difficult (heck, I imagine the border is heavily wooded for the most part without a fence). So, if security is an issue, why just the southern border?

Thoughts? (Mine are evident from the title, of course).

A Rally for our cause

I can’t get embedding to work. Please feel free to follow the link. Had I sufficient money and time, I would so be there. Wishing I lived a bit closer to the East Coast today.

This video is of Green Day’s cover of the John Lennon song “Working Class Hero.” I think this song serves as a good reminder of the social outlook that goes along with the socialist political and economic program. It is this outlook that I so very much relate to. It is probably the reason that I am comfortable with the socialist label. While Lennon’s song “Imagine” addresses a  form of a social utopia, this song addresses socialist social theory, in particular the concepts of alienation and exploitation.

Green Day covered this song as part of a Save Darfur album that was put together by Amnesty International. The best part of the above clip is that this performance was at the American Idol charity show. Like so many charity events, little mention is made about the root causes of poverty and suffering. It is more about the advantaged feeling better about themselves. Green Day brought the issue to the table.

Lyrics to Working Class Hero :

[By John Lennon]

As soon as your born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and despise a fool
Till you’re so f###### crazy you can’t follow their rules
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

When they’ve tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religon, sex and T.V.
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still f###### peasents as far as I can see
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

There’s room at the top I’m telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
Working Class Hero is something to be

Yes, A Working Class Hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me


Mitt Romney and the Evolving American Right

John Chait at The New Republic has an interesting post about Mitt Romney and his prospects in 2012.

In many ways Romney is the front-runner right now because it seems rather unclear as to who-else will be runnng. Palin and Huckabee are likely in the mix, but both are hard to take to seriously as contenders for the nomination. This is not to say that they will not be a factor in the 2012 race. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota is likely in the running, but him and Romney are very similar.

This part of Chait’s post stands out to me:

Romney is a useful marker in the frightening right-wing turn of his party. The GOP has been moving rightward for the last thirty years, but that shift has dramatically accelerated just since the fall of 2008. After Obama won the presidency, Republican officeholders and conservative pundits decided almost-unanimously was that the party’s failure had stemmed from being too moderate.

The sudden ideological isolation of Romney is a case in point. During the 2008 GOP primary battle, he took a lot of heat for his former socially liberal positions. But his health care plan in Massachusetts attracted very little controversy. It was a classic moderate Republican plan, and one could very easily imagine Romney implementing something like it — which is to say, something resembling the Obama plan — had he won the presidency. Now it’s seen as socialism, if not the end of American freedom. Likewise, the Bush administration and most Republicans favored TARP, but it, too, is now widely seen among Republicans as some dystopian attack on free enterprise ripped straight out of an Ayn Rand novel.

So what will keep Romney from getting the nomination? He is a pragmatic conservative who has shown that he can govern. This is not likely to fly during a time (at least within the GOP) of extreme anti-government sentiment. While I am no fan of the GOP, I hope that the likes of Romney can prevail over the Perrys and Palins. Not for the GOPs sake, but for the country.

Markets, Democracy, and the Human Good

Markets are not bad.

What? Is this not the same Chris Henrichsen who has proudly proclaimed to be a socialist? That is indeed me (and you must not have read those blog posts).

Markets play an important role in a healthy political economy. They promote the existence of affordable quality products and services. They disperse economic decision-making power.

However, markets cannot do certain things. The are not indicators of virtue or moral value. The are not always the best at determining good taste in art.

The primary strength of markets is determining prices. Yet, markets are not a good in and of themselves. Humanity is the only good in and of itself. To the extent that markets advance the human good, they should be sustained and promoted. However, when markets promote extreme inequality, poverty, and cruelty, there is no defense for these aspects. Note that this does not require us to abolish markets.

This is why the social contract is so important. A democratic system of government is needed to mediate the negative by-products of the market. This is also why it is important to have a just basic structure of society.

Democracy is the best means of securing the human good. Markets play a role. So do governments. But both markets and governments become social ills, as opposed to social goods, outside of a democratic setting.

Patrick Henry Caucus

The Patrick Henry Caucus is the pro-state’s right group within the Utah State Legislature. This is the right-wing of a very right-wing legislative body. They are in many ways the voice of the tea party movement and the 9/12 groups.

The choice of Patrick Henry as their symbol is an appropriate one. Henry is most famous for his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. While this speech is a rousing oration, it points in many ways to who Henry is. He is not the great revolutionary, but America’s first great demagogue.

In his great speech, Henry draws upon the image of the chains of slavery. The relationship between the American colonies and England was one of slave and master. It would be better to be dead than to be a slave.

Yet, Henry seems to be completely uninterested in the plight of actual slaves. He in fact owns some. How can one be so passionate about figurative slavery, but seem unaware of the morality of actual slavery? How can one use the imagery of the chains of slavery, while at the same time binding people as slaves with his own chains? Continue reading

Constitutional Changes

When I teach the Constitutional Convention, I like to ask students what they would do differently from the original U.S. Constitution. They cannot choose slavery provisions or other aspects we have already been changed.

The most popular response is the Electoral College. It is an easy aspect of the Constitution to throw under the bus. Yet, there are usually some strong Constitutionalists who will defend every aspect of the Constitution, including the Electoral College. Afterall, God must have instituted the Electoral College to protect us from having Al Gore is president.

If we were to have a new Constitutional Convention, what would you change about the Constitutional order? I will be addressing my proposed changes in the coming weeks.

This is what I do.

What do political philosophers do? Well, I talk about things in the way that Martha Nussbaum does in the video:

Doesn’t everyone bring the social contract into all of their discussions? What? It is just me? Oh, well.

The video is from the documentary Examined Life. Watch the clip. It is very well done. I do not agree totally with Nussbaum, but I am intrigued by her approach.

My Favorite U.S. Presidents

This is not meant to be a list of the five best presidents. It is not the five most effective presidents. They are my five favorites.

Abraham Lincoln:

 This may be an easy one for many. For me, as a political theorist, Lincoln is the most interesting. I love following how his views on slavery, always thoughtful and complex, changes over time. Most importantly, Lincoln asserted the primacy of the U.S. Constitution and insisted that it be viewed as a document which represented Enlightenment principles and not just an agreement of political expediency.

Lyndon Baines Johnson:

 LBJ is not likely on the favorite list of many. Johnson represents some of the best and the worst of the American Presidency. It was Johnson that achieved landmark Civil Rights legislation in 1964, 1965, and 1968. The War on Poverty and the Great Society represent my dream domestic agenda. The Great Society aimed to bring about social change by empowering and organizing the poor. Education and social action. Political empowering those in poverty, particularly the black poor, led to a backlash against the Great Society. While many still whine about the Great Society, it was never allowed to get off the ground.

The thing which ultimately killed the Great Society, and destroyed both Johnson and the image of Johnson, was the Vietnam War.  What a sad waste on so many levels.

John Adams:

Much of the greatness of Adams has little to do with his Presidency. If we were to list the five greatest political figures in American politics we would have to include Jefferson and Madison. However, I will be leaving them off this list.

Adams was the first president of the partisan-era. Like Johnson, he made horrible mistakes like the Alien and Sedition Acts. Yet he resisted, at the cost of most political capital, the calls for war with France. In the end, Adams failed at the political games which Jefferson would master.

Woodrow Wilson:

I do not think that I would have actually gotten along with President Wilson. Yet, I have to claim him. He is the political scientist as President. As a result, I am not sure if political scientists are meant to govern. Despite his flaws (segregation, the imprisonment of Debs and others during the war), Wilson was driven by his commitment to democracy. We have ruined Wilsonianism over the last 50 years, but it was a noble dream.

Wilson also successfully brought about much of the progressive agenda. This laid the groundwork for the progressive agenda of today. Much of that agenda is part of the bipartisan consensus of today.

Barack Obama:

This may bring about considerable eye-rolling. This is “my” President. I supported him from the beginning of the primary season. This is the first-time my candidate made it out of the primaries. I had rooted for Howard Dean in 2004, Bill Bradley in 2000, Steve Forbes in 1996, and Bob Dole in 1988. It is also the first time that I voted for the winner in the general election.

Mostly importantly, this is the president that I most identify with. He is mock for being too much like a professor. He is considered to be the most liberal President. He drive the right crazy. For all of these things, I am proud.

Share with us, your five favorites.

On the Meaning of Radical Moderation

The name of our blog is the creation of John C., but I like it. A lot.

I am not a moderate. Well. I am not a moderate in terms of holding a middle of the road political view.  I have spent much of my blogging career (over 4 years now) explaining my form of leftist politics. Being a socialist liberal in the United States makes me a radical in terms of my policy positions. I am pro-choice. I am not impressed by capitalism. I think that we should revise the U.S. Constitution to make it more democratic.

However, I am, in a way, a moderate. Or at least, I am an advocate of moderation. The English Conservative political philosopher Michael Oakeshott describes conservatism as a disposition. He explains”

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.

In a sense, my political outlook is best described as a disposition. This drives people crazy. It is not a list of programs. It is not a hard and absolute ideology. In fact, I reject demands for ideological purity (the one thing that seems to connect Marxists and 21st century American Conservatives).

 I do not oppose partisanship (we too often equate being ideological with being partisan). Instead, I lament to demise of a healthy party system.  What I oppose is foaming at the mouth. I am a moderate because I do not like anger and hate in politics.

Calm down. Try some moderation. Now, let’s discuss socialism.