Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Seek wisdom, not victory

Following up on yesterday's post about civility and politics, I want to point to William Saletan's overview of the current bloggy allegation that conservatives have closed their minds, slammed all the windows and doors, and nailed them shut. (AKA "epistemic closure.") Saletan offers 10 ways to crawl out of group think, including this one.
5. Seek wisdom, not just victory. Some conservative bloggers, responding to Sanchez and his sympathizers on the right, dismiss conversation with the liberal enemy as a political trap. Creative policy ideas won't bring Republicans to power, argues Jonah Goldberg, and "political reality" dictates that "when liberals control all of the policy-making apparatus, being the party of no is a perfectly rational stance." Hogan, a blogger at Redstate, takes this argument further, reasoning that it's OK to "distill" complex facts to propaganda "when you are at war" with the left. Such ruthlessness might be the surest path to power. But what's the point of power if you haven't learned how to govern? "An open mind seeks wisdom, first and last," writes Millman. I can't put it better than that.
I second Millman and humbly amend Saletan's wording. Let's delete the word "just" from his statement and revise it to: Seek wisdom, not victory.

How are we ever going to solve our problems if we've focused on victory and not solutions? And I do equate wisdom with solutions.

I got into politics because I wanted to solve problems. Isn't that the point? Or, am I being too terribly naive here?


Will Saletan said...

I like your amendment, Diane. I included the "just" because I was starting the list with points that a victory-oriented person might listen to, before advancing to points that required a more enlightened perspective. In your case, the "just" isn't necessary, and for that, I salute you.

Diane Silver said...

Will, thanks so much for your delightful piece in Slate and for your salute. (I salute you back.)

In my not-so-distant past, I led communications for issues and candidate campaigns, and I clearly remember the overwhelming need to win. Sometimes that need felt desperate, sometimes exhilarating as we contemplated what we could do if we won power. I suspect that's why I'm so adamant about one little word.