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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tolerating Dissent

As Robert Reich notes, if Lieberman loses tomorrow, "expect the Republican message machine to say his defeat in Tuesday's primary means that the Democratic Party can't tolerate dissent." For example, here's Fox News:

The defeat of Lieberman, among the Democrats most conservative senators, would again raise the specter of a Democratic Party dominated by a liberal wing unwilling to tolerate dissent.

Let's see how tolerant Republicans are. Remember that Bruce Bartlett was fired from the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank, for dissenting on Bush policy -- he had the gall to say Bush policy deviated from core conservative principles. There have also been attempts more recently to undermine his credibility. And he's not alone. Here's the latest demonstration that dissent is not tolerated among Rebublicans:

Think Tank Fires Fellow For Criticizing Bush, by Payson, Think Progress: Last month the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, fired John Hulsman. Heritage refuses to say exactly why they let him go, but the New Republic reports the "reasons for Hulsman’s departure" are "perfectly evident"; he criticized the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Hulsman previously had kept his dissent to himself, but "years of insurgency, civil war, and general chaos" in Iraq led him to speak out. In an essay last year for The National Interest, Hulsman took issue with Bush’s policy in Iraq:

[N]eoconservatives, through their policies of expending blood and treasure for problematic gains such as Iraq, are significantly retarding America’s ability to act against the true barbarians at the gate - Al-Qaeda and Islamist extremists.

And Hulsman criticized the Bush administration’s refusal to talk to regimes it dislikes, specifically Iran:

America, on the other hand, having determined the mullahs in Iran were evil, disdained to engage them. But we cannot only conduct diplomatic relations with Canada; I have always naively thought a major reason for diplomacy was talking to those one didn’t agree with, in an effort to modify their behavior to suit one’s own national interests.

These critiques may seem mild, but as Chris Preble of the Cato Institute explains: "At Heritage, anything that smacks of criticism of Bush will not be tolerated."

Here's my own view. I wrote this Letter to the Editor of the Register Guard just after the 2004 election and it appeared on 11/29/2004:

As the deaths mount and the national treasury dwindles, our respect in the world fades even further.

When you begin to wonder how you will pay for your child's college education in the face of rising tuition and cuts in student loan programs, an education that represents the best hope for avoiding rising competition from cheap foreign labor; when the forests are falling and the fish can't be eaten; when you realize no child's future has been left unmortgaged; when health care costs continue to soar and Social Security diminishes; when you notice the government is unwilling to invest in retraining and other programs to help the unemployed; when you are finished fixing gays and cussing and you realize how many other important societal issues have been neglected; when the air you breathe and the water you drink are further fouled; when your freedoms are curtailed and government's eyes begin to intrude; when deep cuts in federal spending accelerate the erosion of the infrastructure so vital to our economy, as payments for classroom materials, fees to visit parks and so on increase; when state and local taxes rise to combat deficits made far worse by falling federal support; when big business comes to town putting your own small-business job at risk and you begin to wonder if you are truly better off overall - as you begin to realize how seriously you were misled on these and so many other issues, the Democratic Party will welcome you with open arms.

As far as I'm concerned, you are welcome in the Democratic Party. And, while I may or may not agree, I will listen to what you have to say.

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 8, 2006 at 12:09 AM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (19)

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