April 30, 2012

Does Congress Need a More Anglican Approach?

Even Worse Than It Looks
Morning Edition interviewed Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, today. Ornstein, along with Thomas Mann, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, has written It's Even Worse Than It Looks, a book arguing that American democracy is threatened by the extremism of the Republican Party.

In their book, the authors declare
One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
In the interview, Ornstein described the Republicans as “pretending the last hundred years of history didn’t happen.” He also said
I don’t believe in a golden mean; I don’t believe you find policy wisdom between two polar points. I don’t dismiss that possibility, but I look at the platform that’s so ideologically based, that’s so dismissive of facts, of evidence, of science, and it’s frankly hard to take seriously.

We’re not against conservatives. Some of our heroes are very, very strong conservatives here. We're not against strong liberals, either. … The problem is not one that is resolved by just turning it over to one side to do simplistic solutions that are based on more wishful thinking than reality. It's finding that hard reality.
Perhaps we need more Episcopalians in Congress. (We once had many more Episcopalians in Congress.) An Anglican approach, after all, seems to be what Ornstein and Mann are calling for.

Congress is properly guided by scripture, tradition, and reason. For the United States, “scripture” is the U.S. Constitution, which, for better or worse, is as subject to interpretation as the Bible. Tradition requires that we do pay attention to the last hundred years and do not, as Ornstein suggested the Republicans want to do, return to the Gilded Age. And reason requires that we use real facts, not made-up ones, and have respect for the conclusions of science. And, of course, Anglicans do not believe in the golden mean, either. The Anglican via media tradition adopts the best from disparate positions.

So, when you cast your vote for Senators and Representatives this November, whenever you can, vote for the Episcopalian.

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