As I Please

Thursday, August 10, 2006

An E-Mail Exchange with Jim Travers of the Toronto Star

[Normally I wouldn't publish e-mail correspondence with one of the Toronto Star's best columnists, but after some thought I decided the subject would be of interest to readers. What appears is unedited, other than my insertion of Mr. Travers's name into what were Blackberry messages, and my addition of relevant links.]

Dear Mr Travers,
You've written a fine assessment of the Lib leadership race as it presently stands, but what do you mean by "the outdated left-right political spectrum"? I don't get the impression that you're one of those believers in the so-called end of ideology, which I've noted tends to come from those satisfied with the status quo (no doubt you've read Mr Broadbent's remarks re Mr Rae in the Globe). It is no truer today than it was in the 1960s when it was first announced.
Gregg Hill (4/30/06)

Thanks for your note. Most parties and far more voters no longer see poltics as left or right. The parties include left and right anf only about ten per cent of votersare party specific. The result is isuue by issue positioning cheers
Jim Travers (4/30/06)

The voters and the party members may no longer use the terms 'left' and 'right' but I think that if they were asked which policies "issue by issue" they supported or opposed preserved or advanced equality or inequality socially or economically (according to the late Italian political philosopher Norberto Bobbio the criterion to distinguish between left and right "is the attitude of real people in society to the ideal of equality") they would see matters quite clearly, though the supporters of inequality social and/or economic differ from the supporters of equality in being rather less explicit in their support.
Gregg Hill (5/01/06)

But the question is so loaded in the abstract that the answer would be meaningless. Daycare poses the same question in a different context but for complex reasons, voters chose the the "right" rather than the more usual "left".....I just don't think it works well anymore...cheers
Jim Travers (5/01/06)

I don't think that particular example supports your position. That minority of voters who supported the return of family allowance over the state daycare programme did so for reasons of economic individualism (under the standard euphemism of 'choice'), or on the basis of so-called traditional values (which state daycare supposedly threatens as an interventionist egalitarian institution and a product of feminism), either stance of which is generally regarded as on the right.I will concede your point to the extent that support for state daycare doesn't necessarily translate into left-right terms (though the policy was originated by the left) but opposition to it certainly does, excepting those parents whose stated opposition is based on the ground that they would not have benefitted from the programme.
Best, GH (5/01/06)

thanks for the comments. cheers
Jim Travers (5/01/06)

[Travers may not like to use the left-right divide by name even while in various columns he recognizes its conditions, but at times despite his stated position he is unable to abandon the language. In his May 27 column for example, he wrote this: "Sometime during the depths of the winter campaign, it became clear that for much of the last decade, Liberals had been winning elections while living a lie. Instead of shrewd politics, their strategy of holding the centre by campaigning from the left and governing from the right became a transparent embarrassment."]


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