Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jon Stewart's Interview with Rick Santorum

Jon Stewart said that his interview with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was "illuminating." Stewart and even Santorum deserve credit for daring to be out of their element for the interview. Stewart, unlike a Fox News anchor appeared to truly be interested in why someone who disagrees with him believes what he does and in trying to probe the reason for their differences. The interview was civil, but, for the amount of time Stewart had, I believe he challenged Santorum enough.

Given this collegial and inquisitive atmosphere, Santorum should have brought more to the table. His declarations about the importance of "character," "virtue," and "family," came without any suggestion of how these priorities are to be achieved. Santorum had very little to offer in this regard (and I wish Stewart had grilled him more rather than just focusing on Santorum's anti-gay sentiments). In my opinion, character and virtue are built upon the ethical theory of conduct to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and building character and virtue should thus be advanced with this goal in mind. Santorum seemed only to find worth in pointing fingers at groups who he believes lack these things. The best way to realize one's beliefs is to act, and as a representative of the people, it would be great if Santorum would act by supporting such things as family planning programs to encourage potential parents to be prepared to have children and to foster a loving environment. (Santorum is against family planning, for the record).

1 comment:

william t nelson said...

I was reading some stuff late last night that I think help explains what is the conservative movement. It is essentially the backlash against the antielitist movements of middle class college students and minorities. Challenging sexual and moral norms were important parts of their movement, and people are still fighting each other about it today, even though we have more or less found a wider range of what is considered socially acceptable.

A lot of things people disagree on can only be explained by personal association with a movement, which takes positions mirroring the countermovement. Most everything the one side supported, the other side denounced. This is why the debate over abortion has been far louder and long-lasting than it should be if it were merely a public policy question.

The legality or illegality of abortion is an important symbol of which movement controls the power of the state. For conservatives, it is an emotional issue because their vision of society is challenged by rejection of religion/morality and acceptance of sex. For women it is an issue of civil liberties being violated, and repression of them as a group. Seriously, I can't get very emotional about the issue, and if I was part of or witnessed a rally, I would feel somewhat embarrassed about the way people argue about it. However the whole thing makes sense on a rational level.

Overall I guess the concept of a "culture war" is meaningful, although I would guess that the debate is going to shift to new issues soon [over the next years]. However, there is not much sense on arguing because the opposition will always rationalize a counterargument. The Democratic party will almost always have the most egalitarian position and I will support them, although they haven't been that successful in actually making society more egalitarian in the last 30 years.