the price we pay for not being born mud-turtles

“However, American conservatives are caught in the web of their careless antigovernment rhetoric. They are partially immobilized by their uneasy consciences about government power. This uneasiness derives from their libertarian tendency–from an economic predisposition pressed into service as political philosophy. This question must be asked: If conservatives do not want to use government power in behalf of their values, why do they waste their time running for office? Have they no other value than hostility to government? Or do they value “change” and want to get government out of the way of society”s autonomous dynamic of change? Certainly there is a long pedigree to the idea that society’s dynamic is necessarily beneficient–“progressive.” But it is rash to risk, in advance, a blanket congratulation to society on what this process of change will bring. Certainly conservatives should be specially eager to find occasions for using the power of government to demonstrate that membership in the American polity involves broadly shared values and dispositions. This is an exacting task, but it is the price we pay for not being born mud-turtles or trout or oysters.”

George Will, “Statecraft as Soulcraft,” p. 152

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2 responses to “the price we pay for not being born mud-turtles

  1. I love George Will. But my response would be, why must we use government power to choose “broadly shared values and dispositions?” Can’t that process lead to alienation of minority ideas?

    • I recommend you read it. You make a valid point. However, there is a fallacy in your reasoning: all laws are the results of values and dispositions. If the values on which they are based are not broad, then it is not according to the majority. And not all ideas are equal.

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