So at this point, people have heard of what's going on with the Cato Institute, and have been blogging and tweeting about it.
I think it's worth reviewing now, some of the things the Cato Institute has been against. They are against corporate subsidies; they even opposed the bank bailouts; they've cautioned against the intrusive TSA screenings. And you don't have to take it from me. You can read about in the NYTimes piece, a newspaper which arguably bookends one end of the American Left.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/us/cato-institute-and-koch-in-rift-over-independence.html
The Cato Institute is a think tank that analyses data, and uses that data to argue for its viewpoints. "Data." That's an important detail, because it means that they are not the self-purported "bible-thumpers" that we are looking for. As much as we may hate them for it-
maybe because they support ideas repulsive to us, like school vouchers-
, Cato, and the people who stand behind it, are effectively our intellectual equals, no matter how you define "us." We may not agree with what they say, and we may think they're kind of blind to the fact that we live in "civilization," where no man stands alone, but that's ok. We can produce some studies showing the beneficial effects of government-run education, for example, if we want to debate with them. More importantly than all that, they have principles.
I think that's a really important word, the word "principles." There's people who believe in the ability of free markets to optimally allocate resources, and that's an idea, a principle. Then there's people who exploit the language of the legal system, the imperfections in the election system, and the psychological impulses of the voting populace as a whole. What's troubling then, is that we on the American Left have had a habit of lumping these groups of people together, when from a cultural-studies point-of-view, one group represents the corruption or regression from Western economic liberalism, whereas the other is a pointed interpretation of a subset of those values. The American Left has been confusing criminals with people who have an opinion.
Cato, and the people that align with them are the conservatives "we" want
to be fighting. They have underlying principles, and they argue from reason. If we can't respect them, who will we respect? Having looked at the comments I've seen in the twitterverse and the blogosphere, I begin to wonder that the struggle the Cato Institute is going through is not merely a watershed for the libertarian movement, but one for the American Left. Any of us who have even the slightest "socialist" sympathies need to think about who we want to fight, who want to hold a dialogue with, who those adversaries would be, who should command our respect.