Thursday, July 14, 2005

What's up with The Reaction?

This evening, one of my long-time readers commented that, from his perspective, I've been shifting to the left and "taking too many easy shots at Bush and the right wing," with all my outrage vented in one direction. For his comments and my lengthy reply, see here.

I bring this to your attention because I think he raises some valuable points and because his comments got me thinking about what it means to come out here each and every day to post on a variety of topics, many quite controversial. Generally, what I've found, both here at The Reaction and at Centerfield, is that so much is a matter of perspective. Liberals sometimes think I'm too conservative, conservatives think I'm too liberal, moderates find inconsistencies and generally find me falling to one side or the other.

So where am I? Honestly, I don't know. I suppose, with respect to American politics and the conventional American political spectrum, I'm somewhere on the center-left. I generally side with the Democrats and I proudly call myself a liberal, but on various issues I find myself more to the left or to the right.

I suppose I call 'em as I see 'em, but one thing I don't want to do at The Reaction is to spew partisan rhetoric or otherwise to preach to an audience of sycophants. I'm here to challenge all of you who take the time to visit, but I'm also here to challenge myself. And that means that I'm also learning as I'm going, ever prepared to modify my views as I learn more and think through a given issue. Too many bloggers, I find, are just so sure of themselves, so confident that they have all the answers. I'm not so confident, and I hope that my humility manages to inform my writing.

Go have a look at my reader's comments and my lengthy reply. I don't think that I've been shifting to the left or that I've been taking too many shots at Bush, but I acknowledge that I'm here, in part, to challenge those in power -- and, right now, Bush and the Republicans are in power. One must be somewhat provocative, after all, but I hope that I don't sacrifice sound analysis and thoughtful commentary just for the sake of making a point.

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  • Michael,

    People want "their" bloggers to agree with them on everything; if they don't you are accused of being biased. I think you are fine. I don't necessarily agree with everything you say--why should I--but you make a scrupulous effort to be fair and that's more than I can say for many of the blogs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:30 AM  

  • I agree with nate. You are becoming very left-wing. I feel like your too outraged with this current administration, and it unleashes your passions, which is getting in the way of clarity. I can sympathize with some of your criticisms, for I understand this administration has its faults, but it also has its upsides. You're becoming very dogmatic and less sceptical. What happened to the straussian within you? Where is the open-minded philosopher, who knows that the truth is hard to obtain, and lies in many different places?

    I recommend you read Being and Time, so you won't forget the abyss, that we need to be aware of in order to think exposedly ;-)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:56 PM  

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    French Language

    La Citation du jour
    Daily wit and wisdom from great French and francophone thinkers

    jeudi, le 14 juillet 2005

    Une révolution est une fatale lumière qui découvre la hideuse nudité de la majeure partie des hommes.

    Gabriel SÉNAC DE MEILHAN, L'Émigré, lettre IX

    Happy Bastille Day, from a girl who sees you as a conservaliberal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:51 PM  

  • Reading your stuff, I'd have to say you come off (to me) as trying to be pretty objective. If some folks say you're leaning left lately it might be because you're trying to call 'em as you see 'em.

    By Blogger Fixer, at 4:22 PM  

  • Michael, I think you may be skewing left lately, but maybe it's because of the other blogs you've fallen in with. Take your post about "conservative activism" on the Supreme Court. You cite another blog (which identifies itself as "FED UP with Bush and the Right!") which ranks the justices in terms of how often they vote to strike down Congressional laws. Most of the justices at the top are conservatives; hence, conservative judges are more activist than liberals.

    But is this true? Is the Supreme Court supposed to be subordinate to Congress? (Um, no.) When conservatives complain about "activists judges," they're complaining about judges acting in ways that, in the conservatives' view, should be left to legislatures. Roe v. Wade and gay marriage are the obvious examples.

    Overturning a law passed by Congress is clearly not the same thing. The Supreme Court's job is to overturn unconstitutional laws; if conservative justices are more likely to see federal laws as infrining on the rights of states, I'm not sure what it means to call them "activist."

    I know you know all this, and this has been a little long-winded, but my point is that maybe this is a case of your letting another blog frame your perception of the issue too much. Similarly, with Darfur resolution, can you really name anyone else in the international arena who has been more aggressive on Darfur than the US? It was, after all, Colin Powell who called it genocide, much to the dismay of the French and Chinese, both of whom have oil contracts with the Islamo-fascists in Khartoum. And the resolution wasn't really about prayer; that was only tacked on at the end.

    I agree that no one who comes here should expect to agree with everything, but I wonder if you're not being pulled somewhat to the left by other blogs. There is, of course, not necessarily anything wrong with that. If that's who's reading you and expressing the most interest, maybe it only makes sense to give your more left-leaning sympathies and inclinations free reign.

    In any case, I don't think there's any need to say you'd be equally hard on Democrats if they were in power. Everyone occupies a particular place on the idealogical spectrum, and calls them as they see them from that perspective. If you're left of center, of course you're going to be more critical of Republicans than Democrats. I think maybe the question is the tone and the focus of some of the posts.

    But, again, I wouldn't worry too much about it. And, also again, it may be that moving to the left would put you more in tune with more of your readers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 PM  

  • Is there anything WRONG with one's leaning a bit to the "left" (whatever that even means these days) so long as he is true to his own beliefs?

    Michael has openly described himself as a little left of what is basically centre - and taken as a whole, that is right where one finds him. If one supports bodily protection for women by defending a right to choose an abortion and defends equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, he is not turning leftward nor a raging liberal nor any such nonsensical box-labeling. I think a part of the problem lies in an imprecise definition of "conservative" in the U.S. right now that has nore to do with a given vocal "moral" majority than truly conservatively American ideals like respect for the checks and balances in the government, first amendment rights, and basic concepts of interpersonal respect, right to privacy, and human decency.

    I have known Michael a very long time now and I have to say that he has become increasingly more open-minded and socially liberal with time, but he has always been a defender of social good and equal protections, neither of which is a particularly "left" concept.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 AM  

  • Michael has stated time and again that he is generally centre-left in his views and I think that his posts reflect that while at the same time, at least in my opinion, he has shown an awareness and noted counter opinions that are valid too.

    I think the principle of any good blog is to offer judgements based on reason and fact. I tend to be socially liberal but academically conservative so I think my political tendencies are similar to Michaels for the most part and so I kind of feel like a yes-man around here rarely disagreeing with any of the posts.

    So with that in mind I would say that I would like to see this conservative side that you speak of Michael come out a bit more on the blog to spice things up a bit. More than anything though just stick to your guns cause its been great reading so far!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:42 PM  

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