Effective Conversation Requires Rational Thought

Effective Conversation Requires Rational Thought

This letter is in response to the OGB article “Appreciating the Value of Open Conversation” by Ethan Bahar. In it he writes that President Hatch told us that a theme this academic year, especially for the class of 2021, has been “rethinking community.” And Ethan goes on, “According to him [Hatch], next year’s theme will be a “call to conversation.” More specifically, he would like to see our campus become more of a “model of conversation in a world that is so deeply polarized.”

Is it possible to have a conversation about politics without invective? Can we discuss topics without polarization, only rational thought? Here is a test.

Are these conservative positions?

1. Trade. Tariffs have not been used by the US since the 1930s.  Are tariffs conservative?

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2. Deficits. The US has tried large tax cuts as a means of stimulating an economy in recession. Many economists say it is inefficient. It has been tried by two previous presidents with at best mixed results. Not even Keynes promotes stimulating an economy that is not in recession with deficit spending. Is this conservative?

3. Foreign Policy.  Ike strongly supported NATO. Reagan, with strong support from Thatcher, was willing to put tactical nuclear weapons in Europe to safeguard our European allies.  George W. Bush promoted rapid growth of NATO while Putin was the boss in Moscow.  What is the conservative view on NATO?

4. Freedom of the press. Thomas Jefferson wrote “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”  President Jefferson had a press that attacked his policies and him personally far more than modern presidents. Is “the press is the enemy of the people” a conservative view?

Let the model of rational conversation begin.


Tom Daly ‘69

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