Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sullivan on Moving Left

Andrew Sullivan responds to Tom Ricks on moving left on The Daily Dish.

But I am now regarded as a leftist by much of the right and to some extent, they’re right. In today’s polarized political climate, I have few qualms in backing president Obama over almost anyone in the opposition, and am genuinely insulted these days when some people call me a Republican. Tom laid out several critical issues which have now placed him on the left rather than the right in today’s environment. They’re well worth reading through. Here are my critical reasons, as of now, for wanting the Republicans defeated in any forthcoming elections.

The defense of torture. As disturbing as the deployment of torture by the Bush-Cheney administration was, the continuing refusal of anyone on the right to cop to it and make amends for it is a clear and present danger to our core decency. Calling it something else doesn’t cut it. Violating the sacred honor of the United States and a founding principle of Western civilization because of one man’s panic and extremism cannot be put aside.

Political brinksmanship. The conduct of the GOP during the Obama administration has been a nihilist disgrace. In 2009, Obama inherited crises on every front: an economy in terrifying free-fall, a bankrupted Treasury, an even more morally bankrupt foreign policy, and two failed wars. He deserved some measure of cooperation in that hour of extreme national peril and need. He got none. From the get-go, they were clearly prepared to destroy the country if it also meant they could destroy him.

Ideological blindness. Any party that can respond to the fact of yawning economic inequality in the 21st Century by blaming the 99 percent for not working hard enough has put ideology before reality. Any party that even now thinks slashing taxes below their current historically low levels will cure our economic ills is utterly delusional. Any party that is unconcerned with the social dangers of an economic system that increasingly rewards only the very, very rich cannot be trusted with government.

Race, gender, sexual orientation. Yes, it’s hard to support a political party that harbors deep discomfort with racial and sexual minorities and many women. Listening to Republicans on race has also made me feel sick. The anger, the loathing, the condescension and the frustration are not things I want to associate with in any way, even though, for example, I’m sympathetic to many right-of-center positions – such as opposition to hate crimes or affirmative action. And the way in which women’s lives and sexuality are treated by the current right – the tone as much as the substance – repels me.

Anti-Intellectualism. I came of age when the right was bristling with new ideas and the left was pretty much exhausted. But it’s a long, long way from the heady days of Policy Review to the fulminations of the Daily Caller, a steep slope from Allan Bloom to Mark Levin, and a free-fall from the John McCain of the 1990s to the nomination of Sarah Palin as vice-presidential timber. Skepticism of a kind of liberal intellectual rationalism is one thing; scorn for the entire intellectual and academic exercise is quite another.

The party of Lincoln, of Eisenhower and of Reagan still appeals. Which is why the party of Cheney, of Hannity and of Adelson so appalls.

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