Friday, September 26, 2003


Crescat Sententia's Will Baude begs to differ with Begging to Differ's Steve on the necessity of taking sides between the creaking, carping monoliths known as The Left and The Right. Steve says you gotta ("You can't just hang there in the middle like a philosophical scrotum," a simile about which the less said the better), and proposes this test for determining which side you're "really" on: "between liberals and conservatives, which group annoys you more? Which group do you find it most satisfying to ridicule?"

Will calls bullshit on that:
The simple fact is that a lot of us don't fall neatly on either side of the line. When I'm with liberal friends, I'm conservative (most of the time). With conservative friends, I'm liberal. With moderates, I'm an extremist. On any given issue, of course, I can almost always pick a side (except when I really don't care). Between any pair of people, I can almost always pick the one that most annoys me. But what if I were faced with the entire party platforms of both "the right" and "the left" (whoever Steve thinks they are)?

I'd abstain.

[Incidentally, for somebody who hopes to get involved in politics of one sort or another (the judiciary, one dreams?), this might seem dispiriting. It's not; it's sort of liberating. If I get associated with some party or another it will be because on some issue I've decided to care deeply about, there's a chance to make a difference, ceterus
[sic] paribus--whether that's protecting fake child pornography or attacking wine shipment bans.]

Which is to say that while the rest of Steve's post is very good and highly worth reading, I think he's simply wrong about how one has to take a side in the larger war. In the individual battles, yes, push often comes to shove. But on the broader question of which fundamentally flawed program for society to accept, I see no reason to take sides.
Amen, brother. This line of thinking, incidentally, is a big part of why I vote for the Libertarian Party whenever I can. Their brand of suit is the closest thing to an off-the-rack fit for me, and nobody has ever given me a good argument for why I should abandon it for another brand that's baggy or uncomfortable just because that's what everybody else wears. Back in 2000 I drove lots of people I know into fits of apoplexy over this, and I'm sure it will happen all over again in 2004. I can't wait.

Right now, however, I need some shut-eye.