Reflections at the End of Election Season

This note was sent today to our contributors, and we would like to share it with our readers as well.

Dear friends,

“In a revolutionary epoch, sometimes men taste every novelty, sicken of them all, and return to ancient principles so long disused that they seem refreshingly hearty when they are rediscovered.” At least that’s what Russell Kirk wrote.

The prevailing political ideas of a society come and go as if in a cycle. Those who study politics observe how difficult it is for one political party to hold the White House for more than three consecutive terms. In 1964, electing Mr. Reagan in 1980 may have seemed beyond imagination. And with the exception of Bobby Kennedy, few may have anticipated an Obama administration only 20 years after that of Reagan’s. This is not a refutation specifically of those arguments, which suggest that history progresses slowly but surely towards an endpoint. Perhaps if anything it is more similar to noticing how glasses with big rims come in and out of fashion every twenty years or so.

Democracy is about courting adherents just as feudalism may have been about capturing the loyalty of lords.

Democracy is about courting adherents just as feudalism may have been about capturing the loyalty of lords. Democracy is a political system about providing information and insights to voters to persuade them to see the issues as you do and to vote that way. That is the goal of any publication with a mission statement that seeks to uphold a fixed set of values. Unfortunately, it has become very effective to smear candidates with certain words that stick rather than to critique their policy. On our more optimistic days, we believe that the policies and positions we generally favor are so persuasive, so difficult to argue against or provide historical evidence to the contrary, that our opponents have no choice but to call us names, insult us, engage in elaborate schemes of character assassination.

Recall how politicians who favor certain policies such as an originalist interpretation of the Constitution are smeared as “against women.” Robert Bork was a particularly notable victim. Eventually, he was forced to declare: what does it mean that I am against women? Do I not like my mother, my wife, my daughter?

The editorial stance of Merion West will remain non-partisan. Ideas and issues are complicated, and sometimes the stances a party takes are more the result of calculation and political advantage than a respect for consistency of ideology.

The editorial stance of Merion West will remain non-partisan. Ideas and issues are complicated, and sometimes the stances a party takes are more the result of calculation and political advantage than a respect for consistency of ideology. This is not to say that the world is not, at times, paradoxical with seemingly-contradictory policies both having a degree of merit to them. The Left’s decision to oppose tobacco and break with its tradition of allowing people to do as they please in their private lives is one example of calculation rather than ideological change. Most voters like the idea of reducing dependence on tobacco, so that’s a position that sells.

In any election season, there are winners and losers. I hope, going forward, we can wring some lasting meaning from the campaigns waged this election cycle and engage more completely with some of the issues raised.

This is true for each side because in a healthy, functioning democracy, each political group must take its turn in the minority.

Our political system is one in which those who lose elections can still have faith that through re-shaping their message and working to persuade people to share their ideologies so that they can win at the next cycle. This is true for each side because in a healthy, functioning democracy, each political group must take its turn in the minority. At the moment, the majority party needs to continue to sell its arguments to the voters in order to have the best chance of success at the midterms.

Our purpose remains providing our readers with thoughtful, prudent commentary so as to arm them to make as informed a decision as is ever possible in our never-quite-certain world.

Thank you for your continued support of our budding project.

With best wishes,

The Editors

Articles authored or co-authored by Staff Editors.

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