Re Progressives, What Would the Founders Do?
As we gear up for another week of politics-as-usual, it’s helpful to keep our eyes on what we’re arguing for and how we do it. In a splendid little essay about civil discourse rightly understood, political scientists Matt Parks and David Corbin explain how to keep one’s dignity when defending our republic.
What’s a critic of Progressivism to do? Follow the example of Publius: argue vigorously about the common good while judging with charity the aims of one’s opponents. Respect friends of the rights and liberties of the people wherever you find them and seek to correct them when their means don’t match their ends.
Lies should be called lies and there’s no need to assume that well-intentioned plans and proposals will end well, but a healthy measure of forbearance joined with an openness to self-criticism will do more for the cause of republican government than a conservative equivalent of the Big Smathers Lie. The result will either be to reopen the public square to civil discourse by enlivening a debate over the common good or by showing Progressives, in their intransigence, to be both cynical and unserious about the most important political questions.
In other words, we honor the public square when we assume the best of our opponents’ intentions, even if we are compelled by logic and evidence to criticize their ideas.
It’s a high bar to clear, but worth the struggle.