Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
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I say, I believe you to be a social liberal, a fiscal conservative, and a political pragmatist -- nothing like multi-tasking. Actually, this is an excellent essay. I'm really impressed. In fact, I thought I should memorize some of it for future regurgitation as needed. You are one good writer and thinker.

—Your Mother

Yes, nothing like the sweet, unbiased perspective of your mother to make you feel good.

—Howard the Author

Political Balance

Read an article in an old Buddhist magazine where the author poses the question, "Isn't environmental conservation just another form of attachment?" You don't necessarily have to be a Buddhist to understand the significance of the statement, as sometimes even liberals can degenerate into dogmatic, close-minded zealots…

The article suggests that maybe we should stop using inflammatory words in an effort to better communicate. Perhaps we need to take a step back and analyze and re-evaluate our own political view-points in order to better understand our positions so that we can better figure out the best compromises to improve our world.

You may label me as a social liberal or a fiscal conservative, but more than either of those labels, I'm a political pragmatist. Let me tread some oily water with the following example…

Take abortion. I have an old friend who was raped while in college. She was obviously upset and needed the support of her family. Her father told her not to come home pregnant, and her mother found a location for a black-market abortion… The procedure (if you dare call it that) went wrong, and she drove thousands of miles from Colorado to Vermont with a chop stick embedded inside her. When she arrived home, she was immediately placed in the hospital, and barely survived the infection and the ordeal.

I'm not sure if we overturn Roe vs. Wade whether we would return to such dark ages, so to make sure, I believe in the legality of abortion, However, I also don't believe in abortion. That's right, I think it is wrong to kill a fetus, but I believe in practical politics, and accept that it is fine to choose the lesser of two evils. Hell, that is how I feel every four years at the presidential election.

I suppose that if I was much of an idealist, I would want all teenagers to be as much of a social misfit as I was, so that they wouldn't have a chance of passing a nasty disease or virulent seed, but that just isn't practical. I think it is better to get every teenager on birth control even if it sends the "wrong message" than to end up with either an abortion or a high school baby.

Sure I'll concede that there are many babies born outside of standard marriages that grow up to be wonderful people. But given how difficult it is to just grow up good, I'd like to see them given the best card deal possible.

So much for lengthy examples. Back to my original, albeit shorter, subject.

I think it is important to taint our ideals and realize that the only way to improve the world is through compromise. Sure I don't want every forest in the Northwest cut down, but I also don't want starving families. Surely there is a compromise… a middle ground. The answer is usually the balance in the middle, and the sooner you can see it, the better.

In an interview with Tony Kushner ("Why Politics and Purity Don't Mix" in the July/August 2004 issue of the Utne Reader), he sums it up very nicely:

The principle of realpolitik is that politics isn't an expression of your personal purity. Politics is about compromise. People need to understand that politics is very much a matter of the lesser of two evils, or three…

It is this sort of compromise that prompted me to become a Democrat (at least for this election). Of course I wish principles, morals, and other fuzzy, feel-good characteristics could be held by our politicians, but I don't think it is possible to maintain any idealistic purity and get very far in politics.

So compromise yourself and make the world a better place to live.

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