At The Current, Reihan lets his run wild:
On the domestic front, one can imagine Wright building bridges to small government conservatives by calling for sweeping decentralization, the better to empower neighborhoods and churches.
I appreciate Reihan’s experiment, and he is right that Wright would be a more “interesting” candidate, since his every public appearance would become the occasion for a new firestorm of controversy. If he ran for office, it would be a good time to be a blogger.
As completely implausible as this alliance of right-wing decentralists and Jeremiah Wright might be, there’s a lot to be said for this kind of thing generally. If I understand it correctly, Wright’s communitarianism, like a lot of left communitarianism, comes from the legacy of not expecting public authority to do much for, and to do a good deal against, your community; rightist decentralism comes out of a similar conviction borne of a similar distrust of concentrated and distant power. Where they differ is that the former has promoted self-reliance (at least to some extent) on the assumption that no one else will provide much of anything, much less the right kind of assistance, and the latter wants to go back towards a world of more or less self-supporting communities on the assumption that there are only too many people willing to offer assistance as a means of acquiring leverage and power over your community. In the end, however, I am skeptical that most minority communities will ever be fully supportive of a decentralist agenda, even though in many parts of the country it would empower them more than any arrangement under the current system would.
Reihan is making another very important point elsewhere in this short item, which is that to have a truly vigorous and serious debate there needs to be many more stark clashes of differing perspectives. This again goes to the heart of the problem with the Obama campaign: it is premised on the idea that there is too much division, when every major calamity or failure of policy has been a product of bipartisan consensus, and that we need more unity and collaboration, when we actually need more frequent and more pointed disagreement about fundamental assumptions concerning the role of government, America’s role in the world, the distribution of power and wealth, and the desirability of channeling or blocking cultural change. In the last eight years, we have had a unified government, and it has done a great deal of damage. Even when the opposition party acquires some power, it is cowed and intimidated out of using it because it is simply not permitted in “serious” circles to advance in a meaningful way policies consistent with views diametically opposed to those of the administration. The trouble is that we have not been divided enough. The variety of political views in America does not receive its proper representation, and even when we are discussing actual policy (rather than “hope”) we are instead treated to the spectacle of quibbling over the minutiae of how best to run the empire and expand the government.