Republican Paradoxes and Liberal Anxieties

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On the environment, the lesson is equally clear: the country is proud of its achievement in cleaning up our air, water, and land. The Republicans were not wrong in thinking that the country might support more efficient approaches to ensuring a cleaner environment.

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Conservatives ought to welcome more efficient and less intrusive government. Liberals should welcome efforts to make the federal government, whose role they rightly defend, more effective.


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On education, a useful debate is possible only if some mistaken ideas that are held to as a matter of high principle are abandoned. Republicans are stuck on the notion that national education standards are a grave threat to local control of education. They have thus been wary of national action on an issue that is so clearly of national urgency. National standards are essential both for equal opportunity and for excellence.

This should be the starting point of the debate, which then needs to take into account two insights, one from liberals, the other from conservatives. The liberal insight is that there is a grave inequality between the educational resources available to poor children and wealthy children—and that children from inner cities often need more help from the schools.

The conservative insight is that many of our big city school systems are failing and that experimental and private schools are often doing better. Conservatives will make a better case for experimentation if they acknowledge the problem of inequality. Liberals will make a better case for providing more resources to poor children if they are more open to experimentation, including vouchers. It failed because the idea was not nearly as popular as conservatives hoped it would be. True, individuals usually like cuts in their own taxes. Ronald Reagan won the tax cut because the country felt it was in the midst of an economic catastrophe and was willing to try anything, including supply side tax cuts.

But Republicans spent so much energy in convincing the country that the budget deficit was the most important thing that they succeeded. Republicans will be for tax cuts as far into the future as we can now imagine. But they need a less theological, and less expansive, approach. And what of President Clinton? He, too, can usefully learn from the campaign, particularly from his own. Big government was over, but smaller government would do a whole lot of stuff. The paradox is this: Clinton moved the political dialogue slightly to the left of where it was in by seeming to move and in some cases moving to the right.

How can this be? He did so, first, by taking issues that had traditionally been the province of the right and transforming them. Nowhere is this clearer than on family values. Until recently, family values had been a Republican issue because it was discussed primarily in terms of publicly declared moral positions. Clinton and the Democrats turned the question of family values into a matter of what government could do to assist families whose values were not in question, but who felt under pressure because of a new division of labor outside the home.

With both fathers and mothers working more, they feel an acute lack of time to raise their children properly and worry that they are botching the job. Clinton used seemingly small but symbolically powerful issues—school uniforms, teen curfews, v-chips—as a simple declaration that he felt the anxieties of these families. On a larger front, he touted the family and medical leave law and proposed a modest expansion.

Clinton moved with similar skill in taking the crime issue away from the Republicans and turning gun control from a losing issue into a winner. This made the campaign an argument dominated not by attacks on profligate, deficit-ridden government, but by a defense of the basic outlines of the social insurance state.

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Profligacy and deficits are not popular, but the social insurance state still is. Similarly, Clinton endorsed tax cuts, but cuts with—as some Republicans pointed out—specific social purposes. Offering fresh interpretations of republicans such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Rousseau, and liberals such as Locke, Smith, and Mill, Terchek persuasively argues that these 'strong' republicans and 'anxious' liberals share certain fundamental principles and ideals, despite their conflicting beliefs about the primacy of community, rights, citizenship, moral development, and the roots of human behavior.

This critical analysis of the modern state of political theory challenges political theorists to avoid contentious debates and to abandon the apolitical and inflexible construction of the liberal-communitarian paradigm.

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This is important reading for anyone interested in political philosophy and theory. Ron Terchek has made a major contribution to the liberal-communitarian debate. Tercheck's work should move the contemporary debate onto new ground. Jacobitti, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Ronald Tercheck is a thoughtful and knowledgeable interpreter of the liberal and Republican traditions in political theory.

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In arguing that both contemporary liberals and communitarians have neglected important parts of their own traditions. Tercheck journeys back to what he calls strong republicans Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Rousseau and anxious liberals Locke, Smith, and J. In doing this, Terchek has written an insightful book that is a good warning to all of us not to simplify classical and early modern thinkers in the European tradition.

This is a doubly admirable book. The scholarship is first rate, and the presentation is remarkably even handed and open minded. Damico, University of Iowa By inviting us to return to the past, Terchek has done us a service. This study offers solutions to the intellectual rigidity and theoretical fragmentation that characterize much contemporary debate in political philosophy.

It offers interpretations of republicans such as Aristotle, Machiavelli and Rousseau, and liberals such as Locke, Smith and Mill. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Seller Inventory zk The fourth, House Speaker John Boehner, was always a wingnut. Nelson Rockefeller, you will recall, was vice-president under Gerald Ford and governor of New York from to But his significance in national politics was that he led the liberal wing of the Republican party throughout the s. Sometime during the s liberal Republicans became mostly extinct and the few Republicans who weren't conservative got rechristened "moderate" Republicans, a species that today is mostly extinct, too.

Romney is the son of George Romney, a liberal, Rockefeller-style Republican and Michigan governor who in posed a serious threat to Richard Nixon's quest for the Republican presidential nomination until Romney famously said that the reason he'd initially supported the war in Vietnam by then he opposed it was that he'd allowed American generals to "brainwash" him.

The comment was foolish but innocuous to opponents of the war, but to the war's supporters it was a treasonous implicit comparison of the U.

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In fact, what the Chinese used was straight-up torture , which elicited many false confessions. The rueful "brainwash" crack finished George Romney off. Mitt Romney, who was devoted to his father, spent his pre-presidential political life in Massachusetts, where he worked hard to establish his bona fides as a moderate. Gingrich began his political career as a Rockefeller Republican, and even as he moved rightward he maintained enough moderate positions to draw suspicion from his fellow conservatives. McConnell also started out a moderate Republican in the Rockefeller mold, though in his case no ideological trace of that period in his life remains.

Even Rockefeller wasn't really a Rockefeller Republican by the time he got to the White House, because the political spectrum had already shifted rightward.