Paul Krugman says that our political divisions won’t be easily resolved because they’re based on two different moralities:
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.
Kate Lovelady, the leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis, spoke about that same division in regards to Social Security. At a December workshop sponsored by the Alliance for Retired Americans, she calmly laid out her arguments, with a measure of empathy we’d do well to match … those of us who have the patience.
I hope you’ll enjoy (or else excuse) what I’ve added to reinforce Lovelady’s ideas.
Both Krugman and Lovelady stress what we Lefties need to emphasize in every conversation we have with independents and right wingers as well: the moral imperatives that underlie our political opinions. A society that pulls together so that the largest possible number reap the benefits is morally superior to, as well as more economically stable than, one that adheres to the idea that everybody is out for himself and may the Devil take the hindmost.
Lovelady said it well:
Although it can be tempting to be angry with people who want to privatize or to do away with Social Security, it might be more helpful to have pity on them. Most of them are deluded by a fantasy that they can gamble and win big.
So we need to care enough to save the privatizers from themselves, as well as to make sure that they don’t hurt the rest of us.
She speaks in the spirit of those prophets of social unity, Gandhi and King.