The Common Good

THE COMMON GOOD….“Common good” is the watchword of the week ? as in, “If liberals want to win elections, they need to appeal to the common good and ditch the Balkanized identity politics of the 60s and 70s.” Mike Tomasky says it here, and John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira explain at considerably greater length here, here, here, and here. I haven’t yet read all of this stuff myself, but there’s pushback already. Max Sawicky goes first:

There is something disturbing in the idea of African-Americans or women as constituencies or interest groups. It’s practically an insult. “Interest” connotes a quest for privilege or advantage or narrow benefit. It discounts claims to fundamental rights. We will always need rights, as long as people are treated as less than human.

And Matt Yglesias has a different criticism:

I think it’s indicative of the sort of problems Democrats face that in part four of the Teixeira/Halpin epic on “The Politics of Definition” ideas about defining progressive national security policy come third on the list behind ideas about defining progressive economic policy and defining progressive culture/values policy. It’s also tellingly problematic that of the five bullet points on foreign policy, one (“Transform existing global institutions to better control the downsides of globalization”) is more-or-less just an extension of liberal economic policy and another (“Create the political will and leadership to finally address global warming”) is an extension of liberal environmental policy….There’s nothing wrong with either of those ideas. But insofar as the public has doubts about Democrats as leaders of American’s national security apparatus, we all know that those aren’t the subjects the doubts are about.

I tentatively agree with Max and Matt, and I have yet another critique to add to theirs. But I’ll save it until I’ve read and digested all these pieces over the weekend. I’ll bet you can’t wait, can you?