The recent debate over the political intrigue over the tax deal Obama made with the Republicans made me think about the Glenn Beck Rally some months ago and the Harvey Mansfield article on that rally. Beck purports to be non-partisan. Is that really possible? Politics is about justice, or about the meaning of what is just and unjust. Beck tried to get above it:
Glenn Beck is a kind of libertarian, and he has made a fair amount of money. But he rejects the private life that libertarians seem to recommend. He goes public with his distrust of everything public and thus requires libertarians to march behind patriotism, religion, and honor—all things not in your immediate self-interest. Though not an educated man, he seems quick-witted: When he discovered that in choosing the date of his rally he had stumbled upon the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s great speech, he quickly adopted the coincidence as if he had intended all along to celebrate King for restoring honor to blacks in America.
A partisan tries to make himself consistent, and thereby exposes himself to the charge of inconsistency. But the centrist—for whom I have no great admiration—merely picks what he likes. He cannot decide between low taxes and more programs, and votes for both. His centrism is nonpartisan without any paparrtisanship behind it; it lacks the public-spirited anger of a partisan and reveals the weakness of a neutral. His vote may decide a contest, but others will decide its meaning.
The aspiration for consistency makes politics both partisan and nonpartisan, and our self-government depends on it. Glenn Beck—like President Obama—is unafraid of calling attention to himself, but—again like President Obama—he does us all a favor when he seeks to bring others to live as he does.
Politics, Aristotle reminds us, includes speech that is a reasoning over the good and bad actions we as a people want to achieve. In other words, politics is really a division over the good and bad. Those who proclaim to be above this partisan divide are either being disingenuous about their understanding of politics, or they really do not understand this basic political fact. Picking up on the meaning of government, Publius write in Federalist #51 that,
Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been, and ever will be pursued, untill it be obtained, or untill liberty be lost in the pursuit.
Politics, or the regime, is about fostering the political organization that is most conducive to the fulfillment of justice. Anyone who says they have no labels is, in itself, a statement of justice in some way.