Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Today's Bobo


In a recent column David "Bobo" Brooks makes a stale Jewish joke before getting to his main point. First, the joke:

    "How come Christians have all these megachurches but we Jews don't have megagogues? I think the answer is that if some Jews built a megagogue, the other Jews in town would say: "That megagogue I wouldn't go to." They'd build a rival megagogue. You'd end up with 10 really big buildings, each with about 40 people inside."
Laughing yet? No? Well maybe the column's central argument will get you chuckling:
"[W]e can have a culture war in this country, or we can have a war on poverty, but we can't have both. That is to say, liberals and conservatives can go on bashing each other for being godless hedonists and primitive theocrats, or they can set those differences off to one side and work together to help the needy. The natural alliance for anti-poverty measures at home and abroad is between liberals and evangelical Christians. These are the only two groups that are really hyped up about these problems and willing to devote time and money to ameliorating them. If liberals and evangelicals don't get together on anti-poverty measures, there will be no majority for them, and they won't get done."
Though the left, certainly, would be gald to colaborate on a project like this, the religious right, just as certainly, will leave them at the alter. You see, the left is all about outcomes. They're pragmatic. If shrinking government, for example, will help people, well then super, the left is for it. The right, on the other hand, doesn't really care about results. They care about dogma. "Taxes bad," they'll grunt, forheads furrowed,without ever paying attention to the consequences of lowering taxes or refunding a surplus. To the right-winger, lowering taxes is a good, in of itself, and damn the fallout. To the right-winger, results are an afterthought.

This devotion to dogma, and the unwillingness to compromise that goes along with it, makes them bad at politics, and bad partners.

Anyway, I'm suspicious of the religious right's motives. Do any of them really want to ameliorate poverty. Or do they just want to save your soul? If you're unwilling to be saved, they're unwilling to help you. Moreover, hasn't the right already shown us, time and time again, that they value their principles over people? Abortion is bad - and we'll bomb a clinic to prove it. Taxes are bad - even if that revenue is used to help people. And the list goes on an on. I simply don't think they're capable of putting aside their absolutists (often non Jewish) views for the sake of helping people.