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Sender: millershed@EARTHLINK.NET
Subject: Re: Conservatives
Date: Sun, Apr 27, 2014
Msg: 100953

I think we also have to talk about responsibilities, but I'm not sure we can do so without talking about freedoms, since the two must strike a balance.

Atomistic individualism feels like a more right wing, libertarian thing, while subjective values individualism feels like more of a scientific materialist/moral relativistic (and therefore more left wing) thing to me. Am I understanding these properly? I agree with you, Michael, that both feel destructive--because they hinder our ability to find agreement on what is helpful and what is harmful in our society and to work together on strengthening the former and alleviating the latter. If I am right, and each end of the spectrum owns a piece of this dysfunction, might that suggest any promising basis for reevaluation of these ideas and for forging a relationship to--as Stephen says--define and assume together our mutual responsibilities?

John Miller
Green Tea Party

-----Original Message-----
From: Steven H Johnson
Sent: Apr 25, 2014 4:49 PM
Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] Conservatives

Hi Michael, everyone -

So - if I have an impassioned sense of civic identity - then a conversation about government is also a conversation about personal identity.  "My sense of identity leads me to favor limited government."  "My sense of identity leads me to favor an activist government."  When we put those two ideas on the table, are we really talking about government?  Or - indirectly - are we actually talking about the personal identities we prefer?  

Let me suggest a different starting point.  What if we start with "the question of shared responsibilities"?  "As  citizens, do we have shared responsibilities?  Do we have shared responsibilities for the well-being of our communities?  Of our society?  Of our nation?"

This approach leads directly to questions of corruption and integrity.  Do we have shared responsibilities for the integrity of commerce?  Do we have shared responsibilities for the integrity of politics?  For the integrity of government?  I think the shared responsibility question has real potential as a starting point for transpartisan conversation.. 

And - once we've opened that door - then we might find ourselves weighing two approaches to individualism.  How do we feel about individualism at the expense of responsibility?  How do we feel about individualism from within a framework of accepting responsibility?  

I think "shared responsibility" is a promising place to start.

To switch to a self-introduction (well, an indirect one), I offer today's Washington Post online story about my wife Martha Johnson and her exit from running the General Services Administration two years ago.


Steve Johnson

On Apr 25, 2014, at 4:13 PM, Michael Briand wrote:

Rick and Michael S. have directed our attention to "limiting government" as a point of contention between left and right.  I would like to probe this observation a little more deeply.  In this recent blog piece (!page3/cee5), I try to surface problems with the concept of individualism as one source of this conflict.  Whether or not you find the piece illuminating, or even accurate, I'd like to suggest that it serves as an example of how transpartisanship requires that we begin to peel back the many layers of our disagreements to get at what's underneath, and at each level to practice the "mutual comprehension" (empathy) without which we will never accomplish more than mutually unsatisfactory compromise.
Michael Briand
Chico, CA

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