This thread had begun as the reposting of a discussion with a conservative friend of mine on Facebook, whose willingness to engage in such civil discourse I respect and admire. She hadn’t intended to publish her thoughts in a forum such as this, however, and asked me to take her posts down. So, instead, I am converting this thread into an invitation to all: Let’s lay out the two (or more) sides of this debate, work together at discovering what underlying values we agree on, and what precise details are contested, and then examine that contested range of beliefs, values, and conclusions with a willingness to produce something together that is superior to what either side is capable of producing alone.
I will posit this for starters: We all value individual liberty. We all value striving to ensure that any member of our society who embraces personal responsibility, and makes an effort to succeed, benefits from that effort to the degree warranted by the combination of their effort and their ability. We all value, I presume, ensuring that we have the most robust, sustainable, and fair political economic system possible, producing adequate wealth, doing so in a sustainable way, and ensuring that anyone who works hard prospers by doing so.
Unless I’m mistaken, it would seem that the ends are not really in contention, but rather the means (though we often confuse the two). What does it take to achieve these goals? It should not be so difficult for us to use all of the empirical and theoretical tools at our disposal to address that question together, and narrow the range of disagreement to that which is legitimately disputable.
Following, in the comments, is my part in the exchange with my conservative Facebook friend. The questions we must confront, with this as a starting point are: Where is the common ground? What are the things upon which we can compromise without surrendering our deepest beliefs and values? What is the range and detail of consensus that we can arrive at, working together? How do we get past this deadlock of incompatable world views? And what elements of each really are the most functional, really do best serve the public interest?
Having lost my conservative counterpart in this debate, I need some new takers! Who can represent the position of less government in general, less federal government in particular, and more reliance on voluntary contributions to public welfare? (I sent Jon Caldara of The Independence Institute a message inviting him, or a proxy, to participate).
Please join in.