SC politician uses ‘communitarian’ in a sentence!

A friend brought to my attention this interview with Bob Inglis, who will be in Columbia next week to speak at the SC Clean Energy Summit. An excerpt:

Q. So you think the main thing driving the current conservative attitude toward climate science is economic anger?

A. I think that’s where the explanation starts. Yesterday, in my class [Inglis is a Visiting Energy Fellow at the Nicolas School of the Environment at Duke University], I assigned J.M. Bernstein’s great piece “The Very Angry Tea Party.” It starts with economic dislocation, but his point is, at a very deep emotional level, it shows that our self-concept as autonomous beings is inconsistent with our reality of interdependence, and to some extent dependence, on a social network of support from Medicare, Social Security, and other ways that we have formed community.

The thing where I’m obviously out of step is, I think it’s possible to be a conservative who wants to build community. That it is consistent with the ethical teachings of Jesus — to be a communitarian, to care for the sick. But right now what we have is anger and rejectionism. On energy and climate, there’s an element that just rejects action, rejects the science, rejects anything and anybody with a PhD.

I think you should respect people who have given their lives to learning about climate systems and listen to them carefully. They know a lot more than I do. But this is not where we are right now.

If you look at the history of this country, there was something called the Boston Commons. Savannah, Ga., was a planned city and has beautiful parks; Charleston has some beautiful public spaces. The idea being, we can build a community here. We’re going to care for one another. Now, there’s a big difference of opinion about how far that goes in terms of the role of the state. But you start with the notion that we’re going to build community.

Another reason for rejectionism has to do with an assumption of technological progress, that they, whoever they is, will come up with something. It’s not a strategy as far as I’m concerned. The unnamed they will come up with something faster if we set the economics right.

And some of the rejectionism is based on a sort of recoiling from the apocalyptic vision of some advocates of action on climate change. That apocalyptic vision actually hurts us because it drives the sense that, well, we’re all toast anyway. We may as well eat, drink, and be merry. If I believe that I’ve got some control over my destiny, I might rise up and exercise responsibility. But if I think it’s all predetermined and I’ve got no hope, denial is a pretty good coping mechanism.

If I accept the science, and that leads to the conclusion that something’s up, and I’m a responsible moral actor, I should change my behavior. But if I’m not willing to change my behavior, it’s better for me, not to admit that I’m selfish, but to attack the science. Attacking the science is an easier way to dispense with the question.

And here you can see, of course, why the Tea Party essentially rode the congressman out of office on a rail in 2010: He thinks too much.

Related to that is the main reason this was brought to my attention: This may mark the first time in the history of our state that a present or former South Carolina officeholder actually used the word “communitarian.” And even used it in a way that indicated he identified the concept with himself!

18 thoughts on “SC politician uses ‘communitarian’ in a sentence!

  1. Greg

    Inglis makes great points here, which could just as easily be applied to our health care debate. “…we can build a community here. We’re going to care for one another.” I am not in favor of Obamacare, especially in the form the SCOTUS left it in, BUT we have to care for each other’s health, if not trying to emulate Jesus, at least for our OWN economic well being. That may be what concerns me most about the far right’s attitude on Medicaid. (Medicaid is the least expensive way for a state to pay for our poor’s healthcare; especially since the Feds match at 3-4 to 1.)

  2. bud

    Brad, since you rail ad nasuem about the flaws in our 2 party system why don’t you get together with Mr. Inglis and form a new Communitarian Party? Not sure it would be too popular in these parts but perhaps somewhere like Alaska with it’s wierd brand of thinging might be a place to give the concept a go.

  3. Karen McLeod

    He’s gotten it right. I might disagree with him on the “how much” government should be involved, but communities do not survive unless the people in them are willing to work for the common good.

  4. Lynn T

    Unfortunately for all those who choose denial as a response, sound science remains true whether one believes it or not. The science on human-caused climate change is very sound, documented in many disciplines by many independent researchers. Sadly, the “reality-based community” has a very bad name in some quarters.

    I’m not sure that our political system and our willingness to confront reality are up to the tasks before us.

  5. Brad

    You can tell from the language he chooses that Bob Inglis is from an earlier “conservative revolution” within the Republican Party.

    In the early 90s, there were all these Christian conservatives who suddenly got active in the party, and the country-club party types were APPALLED. They wanted little to do with these values voters.

    Bob Inglis rode that wave into office, upsetting a Democratic incumbent. Nobody saw it coming. I remember hearing reporters use the excuse that the way Inglis ran was unfair because it was under the radar — he ran through CHURCHES, of all things! (The implication being that if you want to hide something from political reporters, do it in a church.) I don’t know to what extent that was true, but that was the excuse I heard. They made it sound like he had cheated.

    Bob has remained that deeply thoughtful religious conservative. If he changed at all, it was in becoming more and more thoughtful, to the point in approaching issues with greater intellectual depth, which often took him into territory that made him hard to label. That cut no ice whatsoever with the Tea Party types. There were some who glided easily from one wave to the other — such as Bob’s erstwhile friend Jim DeMint. But Bob was better at riding the first wave, and wiped out totally on the most recent one.

    And that’s because he truly was that guy whom the first wave liked, and he wasn’t one to repackage himself, except insofar as his own, honest understanding of issues naturally evolved the more he studied them.

  6. Burl Burlingame

    Ingles is the kind of Republican I’ve voted for in the past. Interested in the common good instead of crazed about corporate good.

  7. Juan Caruso

    “And here you can see, of course, why the Tea Party essentially rode the congressman out of office on a rail in 2010: He thinks too much.” – Brad

    Not because he thinks too much, because he outsmarts himself too often…

    to wit: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” -Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988) Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics 1965.

    “Ingles is the kind of Republican I’ve voted for in the past. Interested in the common good instead of crazed about corporate good.” – Burl

    Yeah, Burl, like Brad you voted for him because he was a lawyer (there are NO conservative lawyers in politics.) This is why liberals and the network of lawyers like KF always support lawyers (er, RINOs).

  8. Brad

    Actually, I never had the chance to vote for Inglis…

    Wait. Did I vote for him when he ran against Fritz in ’98? I can’t remember. I may have. Weird that I can’t remember that…

  9. Kathy

    Hey, Juan. The people y’all call RINOs are Republicans. The people y’all call Republicans are libertarians. Why not be honest about that?

    Here in good old asylum SC, it will be interesting to see which faction prevails. I don’t believe that most of the tea party people are really libertarians. I think they just want the federal government to back off. We’ll see.

  10. Steve Gordy

    I met Inglis in ’08 in Washington, one a trip where I also got to meet with DeMint, Joe Wilson, Gresham Barrett, and Paul Broun. Inglis was the only one who didn’t speak in platitudes.

  11. Brad

    OK, it turns out that we did NOT endorse Inglis against Fritz. But it was a tough call, and we had a lot of nice things to say about him:

    State, The (Columbia, SC) – Sunday, October 18, 1998
    There are several contests in this year’s elections that offer no appealing choices. Such circumstances are enough to sour even the most civic-minded on the whole democratic process.

    The U.S. Senate race offers a refreshing change from that pattern. Although it’s sometimes hard to see it beyond some of the awful television commercials, we are blessed with two excellent candidates.

    Either Democrat Fritz Hollings or Republican Bob Inglis would make South Carolina a fine senator for the next six years. This is not to say that there are no significant differences between the two men. In fact, they provide the observant voter with a fascinating study in contrasts.

    Sen. Hollings is so much younger than Strom Thurmond that it is easy to forget that he is one of the longest-serving members of Congress. At 76, he is one of the few remaining members of that generation of titans forged in the hardships of the Depression, victors in the greatest conflict in human history, builders of the world’s one superpower. The generation that rose to prominence with John Kennedy and Richard Nixon and sadly began to fade away with Bob Dole’s failed presidential candidacy.

    After getting South Carolina’s technical education system off the ground, Fritz Hollings went to Washington with the same aim he had had as governor – to do what he could to build up a state that had been too poor for too long. At every turn, he did everything humanly possible to help this state, from sending federal dollars back home to protecting Palmetto State industries.

    Never one to sweep problems under a rug, he went out of his way to force state and national leaders to confront the reality of what poverty had done to our least fortunate citizens. Then he rolled up his sleeves and worked to make things better.

    Does that mean he favored unrestrained federal spending? Hardly. An author of the Gramm-Rudman- Hollings legislation, he is one of the nation’s longest-standing deficit fighters. And as an unrepentant teller of unpleasant truths, he is one of the few in Washington who dares to speak up and say that the present “budget surplus” is a lie.

    Until he turned 39 last week, Rep. Inglis was exactly half the age of Sen. Hollings . He is bright, articulate and energetic. His ideas are those of a younger generation as well. With the nation no longer so dependent upon the federal government to defend us from the Soviet Union or to help ensure economic equity among the states, Mr. Inglis and his contemporaries look for ways to reduce federal power and influence.

    We admire the political courage that Rep. Inglis displays, from speaking truth about the Republican Party’s record on race relations to voting against such popular boondoggles as the recent highway bill. He’s absolutely right when he says it makes little sense to finance roads – or teachers, or police officers – by sending our tax dollars to Washington, where bureaucrats skim off part before deigning to send some of it back down to the states. It would be far more logical simply to keep the money here and eliminate the federal middleman.

    Of course, that principled stand overlooks one practical problem – our tax money is in Washington, so for the time being it will take such devices as the highway bill to bring it back home. If we’re going to start funding our physical and social infrastructure more from the state level, we’re going to have to cut federal taxes first (and raise state taxes). But we can’t do that until we’ve shored up Social Security and reduced the national debt.

    Nevertheless, we like most of Mr. Inglis ‘ ideas (except his advocacy of term limits). He looks forward with creativity. But in the here and now, we have a decision to make as voters. The choice isn’t easy, but in the end we choose achievement over mere good ideas. Mr. Inglis looks good in the abstract, but his achievements are not worth mentioning alongside what Sen. Hollings has done for the state and the nation.

    We’d like to see Rep. Inglis run for the Senate at a later time, when the seat is not already occupied by one of the state’s greatest statesmen of this century. He would make a good senator – or governor – at some point.

    Our great regret is that South Carolina will no longer benefit from his service in the House. But that’s his fault; he promised to serve only six years. We’ve tried to tell him time and time again that term limits are a terrible idea because they deprive the people of good public servants such as himself.

    As good as Bob Inglis is, he’s not worth turning Fritz Hollings out to pasture. We hope to enjoy the benefits of having Sen. Hollings up there fighting for South Carolina for another six years.

  12. Brad

    It’s been so long that I can’t say for sure, but that reads like something I probably wrote myself. Although there are a couple of passages that sound like Cindi. And there are a lot of things that I Cindi wrote after I essentially dictated the arguments to her. She was good at taking an outline from me and essentially writing it the way I would have.

    So I don’t know.

  13. Kathryn Fenner

    A network of lawyers like KF support RINOs? I doubt there are enough lawyers “like” me to form a “network” and I think the idea that I support RINOs in any meaningful way is ludicrous, Juan. I, and most liberals, prefer who you would call RINOs to other Republicans for the reason that you call them RINOs, but we prefer Democrats over RINOs. In general….

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