October 20, 2010 by esarsea
I read an interesting Op Ed piece this morning by Peter Berkowitz in the (online) Wall Street Journal. The full text of the article is available here.
“Our universities haven’t taught much political history for decades. No wonder so many progressives have disdain for the principles that animated the Federalist debates.”
“To be sure, the tea party sports its share of clowns, kooks and creeps. And some of its favored candidates and loudest voices have made embarrassing statements and embraced reckless policies. This, however, does not distinguish the tea party movement from the competition.
Born in response to President Obama’s self-declared desire to fundamentally change America, the tea party movement has made its central goals abundantly clear. Activists and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy, and block the expansion of the state into citizens’ lives.
In other words, the tea party movement is inspired above all by a commitment to limited government. And that does distinguish it from the competition.”
“Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.
Then there are the proliferating classes in practical ethics and moral reasoning. These expose students to hypothetical conundrums involving individuals in surreal circumstances suddenly facing life and death decisions, or present contentious public policy questions and explore the range of respectable progressive opinions for resolving them. Such exercises may sharpen students’ ability to argue. They do little to teach about self-government.
They certainly do not teach about the virtues, or qualities of mind and character, that enable citizens to shoulder their political responsibilities and prosper amidst the opportunities and uncertainties that freedom brings. Nor do they teach the beliefs, practices and associations that foster such virtues and those that endanger them.”
I posted this simply because I know we’ve had some discussions here wondering what the TP was about, what their “platform” was, etc. It’s not my intent to argue either side of the movement, for or against. I’m still listening, learning, and sorting through my own thoughts. I was however intrigued by the author’s theories regarding higher education…