Cory Leonard

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Where Did You Go Moderate Voter?

In politics on February 28, 2012 at 6:42 am

As Bob Schieffer said to Rudy Giulani, “Are there moderate Republicans out there anymore?”  Moderates are in decline in the US House of Representatives and among Republican voters, as well. Mitt Romney’s father, Governor George Romney was a key player in efforts to strengthen moderate party members. Why?  A new book by Geoffrey Kabaservice shows the critical role they played:

Romney wrote a lengthy reply to Goldwater, warning against European-style polarization. “Dogmatic ideological parties tend to splinter the political and social fabric of a nation,” Romney wrote. Worse, he added, political parties with fixed ideological programs “lead to governmental crises and deadlocks, and stymie the compromises so often necessary to preserve freedom and achieve progress.”

Romney’s words seem particularly prescient today, as polarized politics have caused the U.S. government to seize up. But what would the elder Romney, who died in 1995, have made of his own son’s embrace of a more orthodox conservatism — the very kind of politics the elder Romney feared would damage the country?

via The Missing Middle in American Politics | Foreign Affairs.

Catch an excerpt in Bloomberg Businessweek and a review in TNR that reminds us how Republicans “had a better record on civil rights than Democrats” and other intriguing tidbits.


Jonathan Haidt Decodes the Tribal Psychology of Politics – The Chronicle Review

In politics on February 16, 2012 at 6:10 am

An explainer of culture wars, partisanship, and the political brain–social psychologist Jonathan Haidt developed a model that may not (yet) work as a touchstone for politicos, but it can help us better understand why we hold the views that we do, and how to engage with others more effectively.

Now Haidt wants to change how people think about the culture wars. He first plunged into political research out of frustration with John Kerry’s failure to connect with voters in 2004. A partisan liberal, the University of Virginia professor hoped a better grasp of moral psychology could help Democrats sharpen their knives. But a funny thing happened. Haidt, now a visiting professor at New York University, emerged as a centrist who believes that “conservatives have a more accurate understanding of human nature than do liberals.”

In March, Haidt will publish The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (Pantheon). By laying out the science of morality—how it binds people into “groupish righteousness” and blinds them to their own biases—he hopes to drain some vitriol from public debate and enable conversations across ideological divides.

via Jonathan Haidt Decodes the Tribal Psychology of Politics – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Liberal Arts as Guideposts in the 21st Century – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In Uncategorized on February 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm

A great restatement of four basic arguments defending the liberal arts from Nannerl O. Keohane, former president of Wellesley College and Duke University.


Virginia Woolf used a different spatial image to make a similar point in her book Three Guineas, when she talked about the importance of cultivating taste and the knowledge of the arts and literature and music. She argues that people who are so caught up in their professions or business that they never have time to listen to music or look at pictures lose the sense of sight, the sense of sound, the sense of proportion. And she concludes: “What then remains of a human being who has lost sight, and sound, and a sense of proportion? Only a cripple in a cave.” So my fourth argument for a liberal-arts education is that it allows you to furnish the back room of your mind, preparing you for both society and solitude.

via The Liberal Arts as Guideposts in the 21st Century – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Brooks on How to Fight the Man –

In politics on February 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Brooks waxes anarchic, advising next gen muckrakers to get a foundation in the classics:

My own theory revolves around a single bad idea. For generations people have been told: Think for yourself; come up with your own independent worldview. Unless your name is Nietzsche, that’s probably a bad idea. Very few people have the genius or time to come up with a comprehensive and rigorous worldview.

If you go out there armed only with your own observations and sentiments, you will surely find yourself on very weak ground. You’ll lack the arguments, convictions and the coherent view of reality that you’ll need when challenged by a self-confident opposition. This is more or less what happened to Jefferson Bethke.

The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.

The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.

via How to Fight the Man –