• Political Criticism ≠ Partisan

    A comment on a prior post reminded me to return to an idea that has been on my mind for some time.

    Readers cannot fail to have noticed that a few of my recent posts have been critical of Republican senators’ tactics with respect to health reform. At the time I wrote those posts I was aware that some might choose to interpret them as partisan attacks. They are not. There is a difference between political criticism and partisan rhetoric. It is possible to critique the conduct of Republican senators in their participation, or lack thereof, in the health reform debate without condemning all things Republican.

    Of course, there is no way to prove that one is free of bias, even to oneself. Perhaps the closest thing to observable evidence is some kind of balance in one’s writing. Long-time readers will know that I’ve commented favorably on  some elements of Medicare Part D legislation (passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Republican president), and I have also been critical certain elements of Democratic health reform legislation, just to give a few examples.

    Moreover, I’ve been writing about a weakness in Democrats’ health reform approach that Republicans are likely to exploit. By design it does not disrupt the employer-based insurance system upon which most middle class, fully-employed individuals rely. As such, most of the ways it might improve the health care system will not be immediately apparent to middle class voters. In fact, were I to consider my own narrow interests I might not support health reform or those who championed it. If health insurance premiums do not stabilize for the working middle class it will be hard for most of them to appreciate its benefits. This is a weakness of the legislation and a source of political risk for Democrats.

    Nevertheless, I do support this reform because I do not focus on my own narrow interests. My morality is of the Rawlsian persuasion. I imagine, as Rawls did, a society in which

    no one knows his place …, his class position or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like… The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance.

    Thus, I view the reforms we’re likely to get as favorable, despite their imperfect origins. Though it relies on an understanding of politics, this is neither a political statement nor a partisan perspective. It stems from my personal philosophy. That it shines a more favorable light on Democrats than Republicans at the moment is merely a consequence, not a motivation.

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