A Tale of Two Moralities By Paul Krugman, New York Times, January 13, 2011 – President Obama called on Americans to “expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.” Those were beautiful words; they spoke to our desire for reconciliation….let’s listen to each other more carefully; but what we’ll discover, I fear, is how far apart we are. For the great divide in our politics isn’t really about pragmatic issues, about which policies work best; it’s about differences in those very moral imaginations Mr. Obama urges us to expand, about divergent beliefs over what constitutes justice…One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate. The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty…There’s no middle ground between these views…This deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it….But that was then. Today’s G.O.P. sees much of what the modern federal government does as illegitimate; today’s Democratic Party does not…what we’re talking about here is a fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government.
Debating our values - ProgressiveValues e-letter, October 3, 2010
Understanding the Ideological Divide Between Liberals and Conservatives: Is it Possible for Us to Get Along? By Joshua Holland, AlterNet.org, April 10, 2012
A major difference between conservatives and progressives by Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, March 24, 2009 – “One of the linchpins of the Bush presidency, especially during the first term (and well into the second, until he became a major political liability), was the lock-step uncritical reverence – often bordering on cult-like glorification – which the “conservative” movement devoted to the “Commander-in-Chief.”…The handful of conservatives who did object were cast aside as traitors to the cause, and criticisms of the President became equated with an overt lack of patriotism…the events of the last eight years had so powerfully demonstrated and ingrained the dangers of uncritical support for political leaders that most liberals would be critical of and oppositional to a Democratic President when that President undertook actions in tension with progressive views…there is ample progressive criticism of Obama in a way that is quite healthy and that reflects a meaningful difference between the “conservative movement” and many progressives…most — of the most vocal liberal Bush critics have kept their critical faculties engaged and have been unwilling to sacrifice their political values and principles at the altar of partisan loyalty…It should be emphasized that mere criticism for its own sake is also not a virtue. A rational citizen, by definition, praises and supports political leaders only when they do the right thing (regardless of motive), and criticizes and opposes them when they don’t. It’s just that simple…Political leaders deserve support only to the extent that their actions, on a case-by-case basis, merit that support, and that has largely been the behavior of progressives towards Obama.”