A Good Reason is partly a response to the current level of political discussion in the US. As I write, the Clinton-Trump election is staggering to its conclusion. As Samuel Johnson said about John Milton’s Paradise Lost, “None ever wished it longer.” But the most discouraging aspect of this modern gladiator event was how rarely an important issue was actually discussed. Can you think of an occasion when one side stated a position, backing it up with reasons, and the other side explained, with reasons, why that position was wrong? I can’t recall that happening.
Picture liberals and conservatives as being on opposite sides of a river. On one side of the river, liberals discuss their liberal ideas, occasionally disagreeing on methods and plans, but being largely in accord on basic principles. Across the river, conservatives are doing the same thing. Each side shouts and argues across the river at the other side, but nobody can hear much of what the other side is saying. The river is too wide here.
This extended essay is like a bridge, a place to meet that spans the river. I want to look at some difficult issues, but without the acrimony. Let’s see whether certain positions are founded on good reasons or not.
I think I speak the language found on each side of the river, which I hope makes me a good bridge-keeper. I grew up liberal, part of a liberal family. Consequently, I saw politics as a battle between two groups: liberals, defined as those who cared about others and wanted to make the world a better place; and conservatives, who were selfish and/or bigoted, and wanted to stop such change. Then in my 20s I started reading about the value of freedom and free markets. I read Paul Johnson’s Modern Times, and Frederick Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. I read Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman. I became a libertarian-oriented conservative.
I am going to write about issues that I want to write about (I am the bridge-keeper after all) but if my reasons are faulty, please let me know. But remember the rules on this bridge: No topic is off limits. But you have to make your points using good reasons.
Welcome to A Good Reason. You are going to agree with me sometimes, and disagree with me sometimes. But maybe the way we discuss issues on the bridge will help each side of the river understand the other side a little better, and talk with each other a little more clearly and productively. It’s a good reason to try, anyway.