Roger Kimball has an interesting take on the Governor’s speech in New Orleans yesterday. He was struck by the passage where the Governor said that it is time for Republicans to stop trying to curry favor with people who will never agree with them and who will never like them no matter how many concessions they make.
To Roger this passage was “anti-Rousseau” and much needed.
A lot more might be said about the debt, emotional as well as philosophical, modern liberalism owes to Rousseau. But my point here is to highlight to what extent Governor Perry’s advice departs from the Rousseauvian narrative. Stand up. Challenge the “entitlement mindset.” Stop trying to curry favor with those whose view of the role of government is fundamentally different from your own. These are open-air, adult, contra-Rousseauvian prescriptions
Rick Perry is not the only candidate speaking this grown up language. But it is notable how few candidates have discerned the looming fork in the road: one way leads us further into the mirrored hall of Rousseau’s sweaty dreams. The other leads us back out into the open air. It’s easy to be dismayed by how far we’ve travelled down the path of dependence. But we should take heart from the fact that at least some aspiring politicians see that the road does have a fork and are willing to help lead us back on to the road to individual freedom, responsibility, and national greatness.
This take is interesting to me because I just had an extended conversation with my brother two weeks ago. We talked about the foundational differences in point of view between liberals and conservatives coming from John Locke’s perspective verses that of Rousseau.
I believe that the 2012 presidential election has the potential of presenting a choice between these two perspectives more clearly than it has ever been presented in U.S. politics. What do you think?