Once it was liberals who rhapsodized about progress. Even stoic Woodrow Wilson once exulted: "Progress! No word comes more often or more naturally to the lips of modern man, as if the things it stands for were almost synonymous with life itself." But since Reagan's time, it sometimes appears that liberals and conservatives have traded places.
Now Democrats often accuse Republicans of recklessness and utopianism while Republicans accuse Democrats of being the timorous defenders of the status quo. Democrats are more likely to emphasize fiscal prudence, foreign policy caution and economic security.
But it's all really about American exceptionalism. Reagan embraced America as a permanent revolutionary force. His critics came to fear exactly that sort of zeal.
Brooks captures some of the internal tumult I now experience. Once active in Democratic politics, I now have no interest. Not terribly impressed with John Kerry – I preferred John Edwards optimistic, upbeat message. I find myself disenchanted with the Democrats who appear quite dour – I believe one writer recently said that John Kerry looked as if he was sucking lemons – taking our bitter medicine. On the other hand, I cannot embrace Republicans: Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz seem just plain mean, as do many of the party faithful. I also do not share their mistrust of Government. I see Government as an agent of “good”. It is not inherently good, but it is certainly not inherently evil. It can be slow and bureaucratic, and it can inhibit personal freedoms from time-to-time, but its role as a safety net must be preserved.
Something has changed my focus. Maybe it’s my MBA classes, or my 10 years in private business? I certainly pay more attention to business news – politics is almost like entertainment news to me.
Those in government think the world revolves around them. It certainly seems that way; given the intense media coverage they receive. But I actually think the business world has a greater impact on our well being than government. Sure government imposes taxes and regulations that impact business decisions, but nothing really drives our day-to-day lives as much as business decisions. Millions of small (and large) business decisions are made every day: Do I hire one more employee? Can I open a branch office there? Do I dare place that big order next quarter? These decisions impact expansion or contraction of business resulting in a certain quality of life – or lack thereof.