I must admit that I didn’t know all that much about Irving Kristol until this week. With all the stuff written about him since his death last week at age 89, I’ve been catching up.
I definitely relate to him in one respect: Politically, I’ve done ideological 180s. I’ve spent substantial time as a fervent adherent of both the left (my 20s) and the right (my 30s). I’ve also spent a fair amount simply scratching my head (lately). I’ve been a member of all three political parties, for multiple years in each, but I could not say that I’ve been a “good” member of any of them.
As I see it, the Democrats are good at dividing up the pie, but they don’t know much about how to bake one. The Republicans can bake a good pie but there are a lot of people who ain’t gonna get a piece. So, pick your poison….er…… party. Can’t decide? Well, I’ve done the Independent thing, and that’s OK…. so long as you don’t care about winning come election time.
In his 9/22 profile of Irving Kristol (“Three Cheers for Irving”), New York Times columnist David Brooks interpreted Kristol’s world view in a way that resonates with me:
Kristol argued that this was the great seduction of modern politics — to believe that problems that were essentially moral and civic could be solved by economic means. They can’t. Political problems, even many economic problems, are, at heart, ethical and cultural problems. And improving the attitudes and virtues of a nation is, at best, a slow, halting process.
So, I return to that slow, halting process, my belief that the ethical trumps the economic bolstered, more inspired.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld