Where Right and Left Collide: A Zeek Debate, p.3

between Jay Michaelson and Evan Sayet
Moderated by Dan Friedman

3. General Political Outlook

ES: You quote Dick Cheney but he never said what you wrote. You say Bush "lied" about 9/11 but the Nine Eleven commission says that the only LIE was that of the Democrat Joe Wilson. The [Republican leadership] are only out of step with the New York leftists who wish to redistribute wealth. Most Americans believe that if someone works hard and saves their money they should be allowed to do with it as they please, even give it to their children.

JM: The Estate Tax benefits only those families with upward of $1 million in their wills. It used to be a modest tax of the ultra-rich. Now it's another reward for them.

ES: I don't have a problem with people who succeed being rewarded. This goes back to my opening point about a difference in philosophies. the left believes that success should be punished and failure should be rewarded. It's just deep in their philosophy.

JM: Do you honestly, in your heart, believe that a smart adult believes that, that 'success should be punished'? No one believes that - on the left, right, or anywhere.

ES: The one and ONLY constant of Modern Liberalism is that it sides with evil over good, wrong over right, worse over better and failure over success. It's not because the left is evil but rather because of their philosphy that success is never earned but is always the result of chicanery.

JM: Where are you getting this from? I am a liberal with many years of education in liberal thought, and have never read this ever anywhere.

ES: It is an inevitable result of their philosophy. The key to understanding Modern Liberal philosophy is that it seeks to remove all judgment from their social and political calculus. As Professor Allan Bloom wrote in The Closing of the American Mind: "in order to eliminate discrimination the Modern Liberal has opted to become utterly indiscriminate." Because they don't discriminate -- thoughtfully choose the better of the available options as in "she's a discriminating shopper" -- the left has no explanation as to why some things succeed and some things fail. To them, then, success is at the very least unfair (which is why they always try to soak the successful) and failure by definition the victim of some evil visited upon them,.

DF: Surely though, the point of the legislation (which you say the Left is always in favor of) is made made for choices that are moral rather than successful and for success rather than failure?

ES: Quite the opposite. Modern Liberal POLICY (legislation) is designed to remove from the stupid people the power (just as taking their money is) and putting it in the hands of elite who share their socialist visions (both monetary and intellectual). Thus "affirmative action" seeks to punish those groups that most clearly prepare their children for a higher education while rewarding those groups that most clearly fail to do so. Onerous and unfair double and triple taxes on the successful are the rule of the leftist agenda.

JM: This is, again, the same moral infancy: no one could possibly see it differently from how I see it. Example: Abortion must be murder, therefore defending it must be evil. Well, no, actually, some thinking people think it's not murder, and want to leave it up to the woman in question to decide. This is not siding with evil. This is a different articulation of the good.

It is, in fact, precisely the 'judgment' politicians should make, if they are mature enough to see that there are multiple views about some subjects: that reasonable people will differ about what's evil and what's good. There are many different opinions about the Good, as Allan Bloom well knew. George Bush's, which I see as infantile, is not the same as my own. And a good conservative should not like power being used to enforce it.

In fact, if there's evil in politics, it's in a far right wing government that lies to the people, terrifies them, and, yes, incrementally removes their freedoms. It's in destroying the natural environment, propping up our greed (since, let's be honest, that's why the Right wants to drill for more oil and cut more trees: to make money) with phony rationales and bogus science. That's out of step with basic American values, and it's wrong. Success is fair, and wonderful, and I've had a bunch of it. I am not in favor of socialism. I am in favor of compassion, and the Golden Rule. Last week we heard in synagogue:
"This is the fast I esteem:
Share your food with the hungry,
take the poor to your home,
Clothe the naked when you see them,
Never turn from your fellow."

Is that socialism? Or the Bible?

ES: That's all terrific. But it says YOU should share, not have a government take your money and then have THEM decide which charities to give to. Once again the notion is that the people are bad and stupid and greedy and government is good. That unless the elitists take my money I won't give to charity. I need Big Brother to decide aspects of my life including what I consider to be good art work (without the elitists I'd have no idea that the Virgin Mary dipped in urine is bea-u-tiful...).

JM: Government is not the solution. But as between two policies, one which rewards the most powerful and another which follows the path of Isaiah, I choose Isaiah.

ES: But it doesn't follow Isaiah. Isaiah didn't call for huge taxes. He called for PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

JM:: Where does he say that? Not in the text I have here in front of me. He doesn't specify what form the solution should take. If the "thousand points of light" really worked as well as the structure of our society, then great. But it doesn't. This myth that personal responsibility is somehow the opposite of compassionate government - that's what's not in the Bible. We live in a large, structured society in which the flow of wealth is set by large structures. Those structures, not giving some money to church, are the ways in which we best express our compassion or cruelty.

ES: It's worked to make America the greatest, most charitable nation in the history of the world. Consider the alternative such as when the French allowed 15000 elderly people to die in the heat because, well, it's the government's job to look after mom and dad, not mine! Big government is against our own constitution and heritage. Say it with me...people good, government bad. People good, government bad.

JM: Government is the tool of the people - except when it is hijacked by the most elite and powerful. "We the people" establish the government, last I checked.

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October 2004

Empowering Jewish Progressives
Leah Koenig

Deconstructing Zell Miller (and Reconstructing Kerry)
Jay Michaelson

A Demonstration in Words
Hila Ratzabi

Where Left and Right Collide
a debate
moderated by
Dan Friedman

Art at War
Bara Sapir

Jews and Bush
An Online Resource Guide

Belly of the Beast
Cullen Goldblatt

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From previous issues:

Everybody wants to play with a bigger train set
Dan Friedman

Red Dragon: Light but no Heat
Matt Huntington

The Desert and the City and the Mall
Jay Michaelson