Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Response to Andrew Sullivan

Yesterday David Brooks wrote a column [$] arguing that conservatives would do well to leave behind the philosophies of Goldwater and Reagan. Andrew Sullivan responded with some outrage. I wrote Andrew in an uncharateristic defense of David Brooks.

He quoted my email and responded to it in a post yesterday, amplifying on his conservative beliefs and the difference between him and David Brooks.

Here is my response to him:

I'm flattered that you quoted my email to you today on your blog. I want to defend my point, but I will be fair to David Brooks and not presume to speak for him anymore. These are solely my views.

There is a large difference between a vision of government that takes care of its citizens like they were children -- the "redistributive machine" you describe -- and a government that seeks to offer all its people the opportunity to fulfill their human potential. One is equality for its own sake; the other is equality of opportunity as an unachievable ideal. Both over-expansive government and unfettered market forces can squelch human possibilities; the trick is to contain each to their appropriate sphere. You speak of liberty, but a free man without the reasonable means to achieve his potential is not free at all, and all of us lose in this waste of human resources.

You worry about David's definition of "security" as being too open-ended. Well, any of the words we're hoisting about could be abused (and have been): freedom, security, opportunity, equality. The latitude of interpretation of these terms is wide; I'm sure David Brooks doesn't understand opportunity the same way I do. But principles matter, and as a matter of principle, giving a man freedom should not mean that he be left naked of means.

- W.

No comments: