Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson is my favorite Republican (my dad prefers David Brooks). I thought highly of Gerson long before he denounced Trump (I even liked the speeches he wrote for Bush). I have long wondered how a nice guy like Gerson could end up in a party like that. I assumed that it was single issue pro-life punditry (I was wrong). Second hypothesis devout Protestant identity politics (getting there). But now he explains (with great integrity he described how he actually came to his current views back when he was young and uh non-expert).
But my political identification had begun to shift by 1984, and I cast my first presidential vote for Ronald Reagan. For me, exposure to economics had an ideologically sobering effect. (A young liberal can’t be too careful in his or her reading.) In addition, Walter Mondale and his running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, had turned conservative religious people into a rhetorical skeet target. And Reagan himself — who had demonstrated personal courage and a capacity to govern — seemed to embody something hopeful and decent about the country.
Even now, I am shocked by the second sentence. I have been exposed to economics and it sure hasn't convinced me to support Reagan or Reaganism. I think that liberalism (unlike Conservatism, GOP support, Marxism & most world views) stands up well in the face of wide reading. I would be interested in reading more about Gerson's exposure to economics. I am willing to bet it is to microeconomics 101 (first semester only - second semester gets to explaining how the implications of the models of complete information and perfect competition taught 1st semester really depend on clearly false assumptions) not say, Friedman's critique of the Phillips curve. The third sentence declares that conservative denomination identity politics was very important. Notably, it is clear that Gerson was not a single issue anti abortion kid -- Carter was pro choice. Note also that Walter Mondale was a minister's son and stressed that fact. I think this was clearly sectarian conflict -- an echo 30 years ago of the 30 years war. I have no idea what Gerson has in mind. I read it as saying "I decided to be loyal to my tribe". Then there is Reagan. There is no hint of any evidence that he had demonstrated ability to govern. Obviously "hopeful" is important. But look at "personal courage". Gerson seems to be saying he might never have gotten involved with the GOP if it weren't for John Hinckley. I think it is immensely admirable to admit the emotional basis of political views. It is very rare -- usually people describe reasons for their votes not causes. I'm sure my decision to vote for Democrats has an even less mature basis. However, since I have been a Democrat since before I was 3, I can't explain how I became one.

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