Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« A Note from Tomas Young --- What's Your Favorite Antiwar or Protest Music? | Main | EXPOSÉ: Reporters Answer Viewer Questions »

Sorting Right From Left

(Photos by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers talked with conservative authors Mickey Edwards and Ross Douthat about the state of American conservatism and the Republican party. Edwards said that in recent years the GOP has abandoned conservative principles:

“Republicans used to believe in a certain set of basic principles about divided powers, limited government. What’s happened is with the Bush presidency, we have become the exact opposite of what we used to stand for.”

Similarly, Bill Moyers suggested that the Democratic party may have become compromised:

“I look at the [Democratic] party in Congress and realize how beholden it is to wealthy interests, corporate interests, the blue dogs, and all of that. And I think, well, maybe there’s fervor in the country but there seems to be ossification in Congress.”

The charge that both parties have drifted from their core ideological principles, and may even have become similar to each other, has become popular among outsider candidates for the presidency. Speaking with Bill Moyers in January, libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) said that the Republican Party is no longer truly conservative:

“I've been elected as a Republican for ten times, and Republicans have a platform – and had a better platform in the past... It's not like I'm completely a stranger to the Republican ideas – they talk about balanced budgets and they're strict Constitutionalists. I think the ones who are in charge right now have left the Republican Party and the platform, which makes it more difficult, because people in the party, the hard core base, which unfortunately for the Republicans is getting smaller, stick loyal to the leader. And they're loyal to maintaining power... I think I can be a good Republican and fight for these ideals, because they have been in the Republican Party in the past. And the question is, will these ideas be revived once again in the Republican Party?”

Furthermore, some critics like Ralph Nader see little difference between the parties at all. When asked by THE NEW YORK TIMES, "So you really believe that the parties are the same?", Nader responded:

“Yes, on most issues. On the most basic issues of cordoning power from people as voters, consumers and taxpayers, [the two parties are] very similar. Look at the massive mergers that went on during Clinton-Gore. GATT, Nafta, corporate crime, corporate welfare -- the same.”

What do you think?

  • Are the differences between Republicans and Democrats as clear as the differences between Conservatives and Liberals?

  • Have America’s major political parties abandoned the political philosophies they claim to represent?

  • TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:


    Corporate power and special interest has infiltrated and infected both parties.
    That is why, although a life long liberal Dem, I hope Sen Obama asks Sen Chuck Hagel to be his VP.We need help from those who have not swore their allegience to these tyrannical Imperialists.

    Hey Bill Moyers, wake up, man.
    Dr. Murray Morgan and that postman from Oklahoma City are right in asking to be guests on the Journal. You should have an "average Joe's" night.
    It is the next logical step beyond this blog. They're mad as hell, and they can't take it anymore. I'd be glad to camcorde them in their homes to save travel.

    Your economic themed show tomorrow looks really good. I know you and the staff have been hustling. I'm getting old too and I know how your breath gets short when you attempt something significant. Keep pluggin', Pardner. Give Sumatra Persimmon a kiss for me.

    Note: Bill Moyers tells only one side: Truth.

    When I heard the replay of Ronald Reagan from 1979, that "Government exists to protect us from each other not from ourselves", my first thought concerned the drug war. Mr Moyers, I would have loved for the two conservatives to articulate their thoughts on why the US locks up more citizens per capita than any nation on earth, more than half of those for nonviolent crimes. Is it the government's job to protect addicts from themselves? And if so, why incarceration?

    Dear Bill,

    I am tired of listening to the lectures of "EXPERTS" who know nothing about the subjects of the discussions. I am a real expert on Iran. Would you interview once with me; an ordinary person? I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    July 16, 2008

    Servants of people, Servant Speaker Peloci and Servant Chairman John Conyers,
    You are there to, on behalf of people to legislate and watch for the interest of people NOT to act as if you are GUARDIAN of people.

    It is not up to you to veto the will of the people. It is NOT important that there is or there is not enough vote to convict President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. It is the desire of people to proceed-with/act-on the previous and the current impeachment proposals of Congressman Kucinich; regardless of the number of supporting votes. Impeachment matter is NOT a political issue that you weigh the gains or loss viz à vis the at issue political subject matter. Constitution of the USA allows people to impeach and remove a President who has committed high crimes.

    Because, President Bush has set numerous dangerous precedents which are harmful to the Rule By People, it is imperative to impeach him regardless of the number of supporting votes in favor of the conviction. The fact that Congress has proceeded with bringing forward of the subject matter of the impeachment, would remove the implied created power/authority, as a precedence that a future President might desire/want to invoke. Power corrupts. Congress and Senate are there to, as one of the MOST important duties of legislative branch, watch for people so that the President does NOT act like as a King.

    It is UNPRECEDENTED for Congress to ignore an impeachment request coming from a legislative body. It would be terrible for Congress to break this long-established precedent. When the Florida legislature requested the impeachment of Judge Swayne, Congress acted upon it. It came to the floor of the House as a highly privileged motion. The House required a committee to report on impeachment. When the committee reported it, impeachment was passed. When the Mississippi legislature requested the impeachment of Judge Bruin, Congress acted upon it. It came to the floor of the House as a highly privileged motion. The House required a committee to report on impeachment. Shortly later, a new judge was appointed, apparently after Judge Bruin died or resigned.

    So, I, Dr. Murray M. Morgan, as the soul of the people/nation, ORDER you to, immediately, bring forward the proposals of Congressman Kucinich to vote and send it to the Senate for the trial. You are, hereby, ordered to refrain from acting as if you are the GUARDIAN of people.

    So, I, as the soul of the people, order and urge all the Congressmen, congresswomen to, for the sake of upholding the Constitution/Constitutional RULE OF LAW, support the previously introduced Articles and the Article of Impeachment introduced by Re. Dennis Kucinich on July 10. President Bush deliberately lied to Congress and to the people about the "threat" coming from Iraq because of its so-called arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. He started the to remove Saddam who had dared to put image of his father in the front yard of one of the governmental buildings/of one of the Places in Iraq for the people to walk on (shown in CBS or ABC -- it is funny that nobody talks about it). The President lied and hundreds of thousands of people have died as the result of his vengeance-seeking. The Constitution is the law of the land and not a partisan political issue.

    There is danger of starting another act of aggression against the very peaceful nation of Iran. Warmongers/Military Industrial Complex (MIC)/illegitimate desire of Israel are after destroying what Iranians, on their own, have achieved in technological advances/military industry; to keep Iran from joining the developed countries. IAEA through more than 250 thorough/intruding inspections (that we will not tolerate a second of it despite of our annual manufacturing of modern atomic bombs) has concluded that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. But illegitimate power houses/MIT and the cancerous big corporations that are after exploitation of resources of Iran, want to bombard Iran anyway to keep Iran dependant so that she is forced to buy arms and goods from them at astronomical prices until she, due to no longer having OIL to sell, becomes poor like African countries that are left on their own to fend for themselves. These power house/MIT/Corporations do not want democracy for Iran.

    Since when the burden is on the accused? Iran is not making atomic bomb.

    Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen,

    I, as the soul of the nation, order you, all, to stop bullying Iran. Who has given you the authority to pass resolution to put blockade on Iranian ships in their backyard waterways by our faraway -bully/coercing/extorting-country? You the SERVANTS of us, the people, have no right to order our forces to act as pirates for a spoiled illegitimately-created country, the Israel (that has more than 200 atomic war-heads BUT dares to lecture the peaceful nation of Iran that has a peaceful nuclear program according to the NNPT guidelines) in Persian Gulf. I order you to pass a resolution to pull out all out forces from Persian Gulf and vicinity and bring them back to home and start to make the military very small, to a size that is necessary to defend any attack on our country here in the USA.

    Who the hell you think are? Era of colonialism is passed. How dare you decide to dance to the lead of Senator Lieberman to put block Iranian’s ships and dare to inspect their cargo. We have made mocquery of the UNSC. Iran is a peaceful country. I order you to start EARNING your salary by spending your time on the issues that you have authority (according to the Constitution); on the domestic issues. Start dismantling our atomic bombs and pass law to prohibit our country to make new /or upgrade our atomic bombs. That is what you have to spend your time on.

    We all, know it very well, that Iran is not, ever, going to make atomic bomb. The "burden of proof" is on the accusers not the accused.

    Time and time again, IAEA has concluded that Iran's nuclear program has been peaceful and that they have not found any clue to point to it having had been otherwise; that is, being a weapon-geared program.

    IAEA should ask Europe, USA, and Israel to prove their allegation (that Iran has weapon-geared nuclear program) NOT Iran to prove is not making atomic bomb.

    It is impossible to prove/show that you do not have something that you have never had it at all? The burden is on those who make the allegations. OR, because we (the blue-blooded, arrogant, savage-beast-bullies) consider ourselves "better than them" (because they are non-Westerners, and thusly/sub-humans with less RIGHTS than us), we want to prevent them from advancing in science and technology; that when they achieve it without our permission, we treat them with "Carrot/Stick" policy!!!. Is it logical to, instead of saying hello to the shopkeeper of a shop (that has something that we want to buy), threat him/her instead? If we treat Iran with respect, they would be more than happy to sell their oil to us with enthusiasm.

    We know that, within a millisecond of daring of the use of such policy ("Carrot/Stick" policy) by others, we would respond with: "Shove them both" and would leave the room immediately. How dare you treat people like that? They are not horse or donkey. I am amazed that Iran, despite of our savage treatment of them, has been able to show such admirable degree of patience and restraint towards our insulting attitude of us against them. I, as one of the Citizens of USA, am asking you to, immediately put stop into use of such a stupid "foreign Policy".

    We should treat the nations of the world as equals; with respect. Specially, a nation like Iran, that has more than 5000 years of glorious civilization, and contribution to the world in all fields; fields of art and science (physics, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and arts).

    A fair-minded person like I, acknowledges that, despite of our rude, arrogant, and bullish behavior of West, Iranians have been more than patient with the ILLEGITIMATE/ and UNJUST, RIGHTS-DENYING demand of West from them.

    Shame on you, Mr. President. Shame on Europe and shame on us all.

    Mr. President, our past interferences against the toppled democratic governments of Iran, demonstrates how in-genuine our “pro-freedom”/”pro-democracy” claims have been/are.

    Mr. "President", Please, do not BS people. Forgot our toppling of Mossadeq and our sabotaging of Iranian's beautiful 1979 revolution which lead to toppling of President Banisadr? Please refrain from making any sort of threat, AND any sort of manipulative pseudo-uprising fabrications against Iran; so that people, who had democracy/freedom (during the three year Prime-ministership of Mossadeq and the two year Presidency of Banisadr), on their own (without any sort of interference from outside), re-establish it again from inside; through peaceful and genuine uprising against their government (that is stolen from them)..

    Without regard to the nature of the government, people of Iran tend to wrap around their government when they perceive outside-danger/threat against their country; no matter how brutal and oppressive it is. So please, refrain from making any degree and sort of threats or manipulations against Iran.

    Do not pay attention to Mojahedin-e Khalgh or ex-kicked-out blue-blooded pro-Shah individuals who, in order to continue their parasitic way of life, bark and wag their tails to us so that we throw them some money (bone). These kicked out corrupt people, who do not respect any degree of human rights for the people of Iran, are against democracy and freedom for their homeland.

    Dr. Murray M. Morgan

    the talk radio monopoly has been the biggest problem for progressives the last twenty years since reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine and republicans can thank it now for allowing the takeover of their party by it's most corrupt and reactionary elements.

    for appearing on the Moyers show Douthat and Edwards were called out by Limbaugh. his audience knows when he does that, like he has done to many journalists and media outlets and politicians he considers traitors, that it is their job to harass them.

    limbaugh and hannity and their wannabes with their often coordinated uncontested repetition to 50-70MIL, have been intimidating and managing the MSM more effectively than any other media entity and determining the flavor of America until we are in the bush disaster we are in now.

    unfortunately, without searchable daily transcripts of the man national and local loudmouths to reveal the daily and weekly migration of the oft-repeated talking points and framing into the rest of the MSM, media and political analysts still blame major elements of the disasterous rise of the bush republicans and Dem failures on large scale social movements and right wing 'geniuses' like rove instead the talk radio monopoly and the fact that a coordinated propaganda machine got hold of all the biggest soapboxes in the country.

    until progressives figure it out the roves and limbaughs will continue to decide what is and what isn't acceptable they will continue to determine the flavor of America.

    While this is not an endorsement of the Democratic Party,this whole thing is "ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.


    FEDERAL SPENDING: Republican Goal is To Lower But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1960 Republicans increased Federal Spending by 71% more than have Democrats.

    FEDERAL DEBT: Republican Goal is To Lower But Democrats
    Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1960 Republicans have increased the National debt by 100% more per year than have Democrats.

    GDP: Republican Goal is To Increase But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1921, adjusted for inflation, Democrats out-produce Republicans by 43%. Starting in 1940 the Democratic advantage is 23% better.

    PER CAPITA INCOME: Republican Goal is To Increase But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1960 Democrats have outperformed Republicans by 30%.

    INFLATION: Republican Goal is To Lower But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1960, Democrats outperform Republicans 3.13% to 3.89%.

    UNEMPLOYMENT: Republican Goal is To Lower But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1960 it decreases in an average Democratic year by 0.3% to 5.33%, and increases in average Republican year by 1.1% to 6.38%.

    JOB CREATION: Republican Goal is To Increase But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    From 1945 to 2003, Democrats produced 174,200 jobs per month, Republicans have only produced 60,600 per month. Every time a Democrat succeeds a Republican, job creation soars. Every time a Republican succeeds a Democrat job creation plummets.

    DOW JONES AVG.: Republican Goal is To Increase But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1921 the DOW has increased by 52% more under Democratic administrations.

    BOND MARKET: Republican Goal is To Increase But Democrats Achieved A Better Record

    Since 1940 the value of 10 year Treasury bonds rose 1.2% under Democrats and fell 0.5% under Republicans.

    SOURCES-Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic Policy Institute, Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angles Times - Michael Kingsley

    Note: If you do not like the time frames selected, choose your own. You will get the same result.

    I cannot think of a more relevant discussion for and about the Republican Party. There is no doubt that the conservative movement has lost it's way.

    During the Bush administration, we have expanded the size and scope of the Federal government, eroded civil liberties, and begun nation building. All of these things are contrary to the Republican party platform. I'm a life long Republican, but find myself disenchanted with the actions of our party.

    I fear that the only way to send a message to the Republican leadership about the state of the party is to vote in opposition.

    Hopefully a leader will arise from within the GOP to reclaim the party planks from the neo-con bonfire.

    Dear Mr Moyers:
    Here are a few thoughts about American Conservatism and the Republican Party from someone who is roughly of an age with you.

    When an organization or movement loses someone of stature, it takes a while to rejuvenate itself and find a replacement. William F Buckley was that person of stature to American Conservatism. Conservatism also has had a major misappropriation of its ideals and misapplication of its principles by the Republican Party. But theoretically and intellectually conservatism appears to be doing well under the circumstances and continues to challenge liberal extremes in the longstanding, healthy exchange of ideas between the two approaches to government.

    The Republican Party on the other hand is not only hard-pressed for men and women of stature, now, but has been for some time. Since anti-government rhetoric replaced anti-communist religion as the Party’s single major tenet, Republicanism has contributed only incompetence and waste (both environmental and economic) to the output of our two-party system. The Republican Party will not regain a degree of integrity and respectability until Republicans do. In our youth there were men such as Taft, Eisenhower, Warren, Rockefeller, Javits, Goldwater, Ford, and many more. There were also McCarthy’s and Nixon’s but not in such abundance as today when a McCain or Hagel stands out so prominently.

    Anti-government fervor (whether dressed up as limited and effective government or not) has generated an atmosphere where young men and women from conservative genesis see government service as a place for the mediocre and meek, the untalented and inept. Business, professions, academia, and journalism appear to offer opportunities for fame in the hall of conservative greats while government service is reserved for those who need to be led and can be led and are only capable of following the direction of their superiors. Contrast that atmosphere with the air a young liberal breathes, where government service is surpassed only by public, non-governmental-organization service (another bane of conservatives) as the opportunity for fame and a fruitful life.

    After ruthlessly winning control of the national executive and legislature, conservative leaders populated government with people who dutifully looked to their leaders in business, academia, and journalism for guidance. They could easily be led and they were, but by their own incompetence were fated to fulfill the conservative criticism of government. It has taken the degradation of the country politically, diplomatically, militarily, economically, environmentally, and structurally to get conservatives to begin asking if somewhere along the way their Republican Party has failed. Listening to your two guests seems to indicate that some are beginning to understand what has happened and some are not. Unfortunately, it appears that the older conservatives have learned and the generation about to assume leadership of conservatism and the Republican Party will have to suffer a more bruises.

    It makes me ashamed that people as young as Mr. Douthat can find refuge and a career in "journalism" by latching onto dishonest rhetoric and trying to divert from the specific to the general and imaginary.

    Why does no one discuss the fact that all these windbag ideologues, right or left (though the right is full of them), have it written all over their faces that they are unhappy, dishonest and don't really believe what they say?

    As a fellow human being from 1979, let me say that you are a disappointment and a traitor to the country, Ross. Your silly goatee doesn't make you look like a man any more than your uptight rhetoric does.

    So according to Mr. Edwards the Democrats are responsible for the sins of the Republician Party. There are some values for you don't take any responsibility look for scapegoats. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats are responsible for Watergate, Iran Contra, Iraqgate, ect.

    My parents were members of the "greatest generation." I'm an early baby boomer. My kids have just become adults. I've had a variety of revelations recently. My conclusion is: I will NOT do as well as my parents and my kids will NOT do as well as me. I'd suggest that the "American Dream" is dead.

    Are the differences between Republicans and Democrats as clear as the differences between Conservatives and Liberals?

    No, not really.

    Have America’s major political parties abandoned the political philosophies they claim to represent?

    The Republican Party has. It sold out to a bunch of greedy Christians.

    dear bill...i call you by your first name....because i feel i know you as a friend...i remember when you left corporate news...i remember wondering why.....slowly i saw what you were doing...i cheered you on...and had so much hope that people would listen. we do not always agree but our feelings have always been close. i positivly think if we, the common man, had a chance to be would represent most of us. as i read down the page i feel such a kinship with those who write about what they see and feel and have experienced. I have a deep sadness in me about the state of america and of the world. however it is worse knowing that americans have sold out americans. that we cannot even get the news. and for the first time in my 60 years, i am frightened by the future. not only for my life but for our childrens children. i do want to say to the one person who mentioned that the christians have sold them out. i believe i am a christian. but i do not believe i am the kind this person is speaking of. anyone can call themselves anything they like. it doesn't make it so. that Jesus said folow me. so being a christian is someone who follows Jesus example. and He fed the poor, He healed the sick...If Jesus were to return to earth today...the christians this person spoke of would crucify Him again! please dear brothers and sisters...believe me when i say...there are many christians out here who feel just as you do. i weep over the pollution...i too have the wonder of the universe in my heart....and never dreamed we would leave our planet like this for our children...i don't know if you know this or not...but many christians are leaving the churches because there is little difference between it and any corporation...i'm not saying the people in them aren't christians...i'm saying they have been misled....if there wasn't power in advertisement, then the powers that be wouldn't spend there precious money investing in it...but slowly we wake...i only hope it isn't too late....connie b. in california

    Good Post Alex,
    It is a sad state of afairs when our government sells out to industry to the detrement of its citizens. That is about as unpatriotic as you can get; yet they still wear the pin and wrap themselves in the flag and get away with treason.
    When do our citizens get enough courage to call a halt to this fiasco? When do we start calling things what they are?

    Dear Bill, you may not realize that you've participated in a reuse by suggesting that the neoconservative movement failed. You can't fail at something you never attempted to do. The neocons never meant to help Americans or make America great. They've succeeded in what they set out to do: deregulate every industry possible; privatize every system they could; start and sustain two major wars that profit the most powerful corporations in the world, outsource (or "sell out") almost all of our productivity and jobs and erode as many of our civil liberties as possible.

    This is all they set out to do – just hand over as much of the world's resources to their multinational corporate buddies as they could. Even 30 years ago the military industrial complex (not a long-haired liberal conspiracy theory but actually a term coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower circa 1960) began tightening it's death grip on our national throat. All the Bush administration did was allow them to squeeze every last drop of life out of what was once a potentially great nation.

    Even if the military industrial complex fails in it's goal to create an oil rich, military outpost, puppet government in Iraq, they've still succeeded in plan B: simply to create as many opportunities for their profiteering cronies (see Haliburton) as possible.

    For the record, although President Clinton may have been different in many ways from the Bush administrations that sandwiched him, he was still instrumental in selling out America and it's neighboring nations via Nafta.

    Dear Bill,

    I’d like to comment on your program, the “Conservative Heart.”
    I have had a lifetime love affair with my planet and this human experience. I’m fascinated by the story which geology tells about our planets past. I’m humbled by the lives that American Indians experienced on the landscape of west central Florida, which I call home. I love to watch the complexities of the natural communities. The glimpsed flight of a hawk turns my head and my attention. My mind reels at the night sky, the billions of galaxies, and the magic of stare lights response on the chemistry of my eye. I delight in certain works of art. History, for me the study of cause and effect, enriches me. I am compelled by the understandings of religions and religious experience. Life is most often a rich and beautiful encounter.

    I have a family member who is totally devoted to the acquisition of riches. When we talk she always asked about the value of rocks and trees and stars and the story of our ancient people. “How much is it worth,” she asks? It’s her only focus. Of course she did very well, gaining the riches she valued. On several occasions she gained from my naivete and left my life a little more difficult for it.

    I just don’t deal with her any more. That’s the way I feel about Ross Douthat and his Republican vision. America has been swept away by a “Culture of Greed.” I always find it amazing that they talk of family values. Healthy families and healthy cultures are made up of diverse personalities, interests and desires. The question of how much something is worth in monetary terms, holds very little value in the beautiful gaze of a child, unless we wish to enslave them.

    I worked all my life, paid my taxes, and hoped they went where they should. My interest in history suggested that I keep a eye on the “Culture of Greed,” as they are very demanding. They always go on about how bad welfare is, but never mention corporate welfare or the oxymoron of tax relief for the very richest Americans. I fear that Enron and it’s relationship with the people of California was a kind of lesson for the “Culture of Greed.” It was a clear demonstration of America’s weaknesses. It turned out that most citizens are not informed, not strong, not really capable of banding together to fight back against the abuses of big business and big government. To my mind, George W. Bush is the perfect symbol of that culture. If you’re no value to him, you’re not interesting.

    I hope that the Republicans realize that family values shouldn’t exclude the scientist, the artist, the philosopher, the person who really loves farming, or the lovers of life. Their endless talk about money and greed is only one family value. I don’t think they should force their kind of greed on everyone or interpret everyone’s life by it. Like all the members of a family, each will find God or spirituality in their own way. That’s the genuine appreciation of spirituality, that personal and private realization of our own connection to the Universe. Of course it’s impossible for a person not to bring their beliefs into the public arena. The problem arises when the public arena tries to force its religious beliefs on others. The separation of church and state is a term of respect.

    If the Republicans wish to make a difference, they would be wise to realize that many of the founders who were Christians also believed in slavery, the absolute destruction of the American Indians, and that women were inferior. I’d rather hoped that we’d overcome our intolerance and prejudice. I find very few genuine family values in the Republican Party, just lots of personal greed and a willingness to use force. Good children learn to share and play together with tolerance. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There’s a couple of good family values.

    No, no, no! They are wrong on the cost of living increases. The CPI doesn't measure costs for working class households properly because it doesn't take into account the fact that basic goods and services have increased in price much more quickly than overall inflation. The cost of housing has increased so much that the government changed the standard--once upon a time households were supposed to spend no more than 25% of their income on housing--and that 25% included utilities. Now the standard is 30%, and the utility costs aren't included. The cost of medical care has increased so rapidly that, for many working class households, insurance premiums and co-pays now equal the rent. In addition, working class households now require two full-time workers to garner the same income, which means that households with children must pay for childcare, a huge cost when the children are young. Working class households just don't buy many luxury goods, so the cost of those goods is irrelevant. A good rule is to double the standard CPI to determine the inflation rate for working class households.

    No, no, no! They are wrong on the cost of living increases. The CPI doesn't measure costs for working class households properly because it doesn't take into account the fact that basic goods and services have increased in price much more quickly than overall inflation. The cost of housing has increased so much that the government changed the standard--once upon a time households were supposed to spend no more than 25% of their income on housing--and that 25% included utilities. Now the standard is 30%, and the utility costs aren't included. The cost of medical care has increased so rapidly that, for many working class households, insurance premiums and co-pays now equal the rent. In addition, working class households now require two full-time workers to garner the same income, which means that households with children must pay for childcare, a huge cost when the children are young. Working class households just don't buy many luxury goods, so the cost of those goods is irrelevant. A good rule is to double the standard CPI to determine the inflation rate for working class households.

    Right Melani,
    Instead of Christians being know by their love; they are known by they accumulation of things.
    For those who are not Christians; love is still an essential element of social behavior and is more important than the accumulation of "stuff".
    Everyone has basic needs to make life a good experience and these basic needs should be met by the society as a matter of course of course.

    Not only was the show with Ross and Mickey fascinating, but so are the comments. It's amazing to read so many intelligent comments from across the board.

    I consider myself either both a conservative and a liberal or neither a conservative nor a liberal. In reality, I am a pragmatist. And that's the fundamental problem with politics today - no one is practical, pragmatic.

    Both liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, have ideas to solve the problems we face. But they all get trapped in ideology or mired by corporatist interests.

    What Moyers guests truly missed was that the founding fathers were pragmatists. They set up a system to meet the practical needs of the newly free colonies. We can apply pragmatism to the world today.

    For example, it is pragmatic to track down terrorists. It is pragmatic to create diversity in energy production and distribution. It is pragmatic to balance the budget (or at least attempt to do so). Forget ideology - we need solutions and those solutions can come from different places.

    A couple other comments about the Moyers' conversation with these gentlemen: Ross said charitable giving is much higher in the US than in Europe. Likely true, though he did not define the parameters. But the reason, I think, is simple: European governments provide the majority of social services so European citizens don't need to donate to cover gaps in the social fabric.

    Finally, Edwards' comments about right to privacy and Patrick Henry were spot on: it is absurd to think that the Bill of Rights is a list of the ONLY rights left to states or citizens. If strict constructionists want to think that there is no right to privacy (and theoretically many other intrinsic rights implied but not stated) and they try to limit individuals to only the stated rights, then it's time to move to China, for at least there you know you have no rights.

    Mr. Douthat's comments near the end of this week's program exposed the calous myth embedded in the statistical models we use in this country to track the cost of living, namely, that the falling cost
    of cheap consumer goods manufactured in sweatshops oversees and sold by big box retailers who skimp on employee wages and benefits somehow makes up for the rising costs of health care, energy, education, and food. It might on some economists' balance sheets, but in real life, having more stuff is not the same as having one's basic needs met.

    Interesting, isn't it, when folks forget that if they can't buy things at Wal-Mart, chances are they can't afford to buy them anywhere.

    Interesting, too, that it takes a Wal-Mart to drive DOWN the cost of all sorts of merchandise (filled a prescription lately?) before the "competition" will even attempt to lower their prices.

    No one said Wal-Mart walks on water - Not Even Wal-Mart, but they sure get blamed for a lot, don't they?

    You can bitch and moan all you want about the world's biggest retailer, folks, but they got that way because they deliver what they say they will and at prices most people can afford, as opposed to the elite retailers who pander to those who prefer to go broke acting like they own Ft. Knox.

    Now, you can shop at a union shop and pay 4 times more for the same product, if you can afford the price tag. Bought a vehicle lately?

    While I agree unions had their time and place, I think it is in the past. Today unions need dues to keep afloat, something that is apparent in the way they try every method possible to get sympathy and support.

    Not popular POV, is it? Neither is the reality of trying to survive on a single income in a society that seems to think that $$$ is the solution to everything.

    As far as the American Dream goes, IMNSHO, I think it died a while back. Probably around the time when the $ became more important than the idea that a person had value.

    One thing I did take away from the interview was the thought that both Democrat and Republican seem to have abandoned their core principles.

    I strongly agree with that.

    My dream right out of high school (81) was to make enough money to survive on doing something that reduced our dependence on fossil fuels. Having no money to attend college I trained at a Job Corps Center to install solar powered domestic hot water systems and received some basic information on photo-voltaic systems for electricity generation. I was very close to finishing up the program and the Reagan revolutionaries managed to get the tax breaks cut for people wishing to invest in these systems. The bottom fell out of the industry. My American dream? Need I say more?

    I occasionally have antiwar friends ask me, "Why is it that we can see our government has been lying to us and that this war is horrible?" And I think, "What was your response when I made the same complaints about Clinton's bombing of Serbia, thereby causing the ethnic cleansing he was claiming to prevent (just as the Iraq War is creating the terrorists the Bush Administration claims it is fighting)? How about when I railed against the Clinton enforced sanctions in Iraq, leading to the deaths of 575,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 years, according to the UN? What about the Clinton administration's continuous bombing of Iraq - isn't that war? Then there were the Clinton Administration’s prevarications about WMD and Iraq's alleged non-cooperation with the weapons inspectors? – we know what lessons the Bush Administration took from that. What about the horrendous, genocidal policies of Indonesia toward East Timor (carried out with Clinton Administration military aid) and the Administrations' support of Indonesian dictator Suharto, until his rule became untenable due to a democracy movement back home never supported by the Clinton Administration?"

    How much better are these policies than what the Republicans do? Don't they show the Republicans what they can get away with once they get into office? Many Democrats apparently believe that if such policies can be demonstrated to be one iota better than what the Republicans do, then they are worthy of their support?

    The Democratic political leaders apparently feel the same way. It appears we may very well get a Democrat in the White House soon. If so, I can count on again becoming a near lone voice in opposition to my country's monstrous foreign policy (don't get my started on domestic policy). I will leave it to the pundits to argue about how far apart the Democrats and Republicans are. I say oppose your government’s rogue, lawless tyranny regardless of who is in power.

    Good post Andrew B,
    It is true that the only time the government does anything for the working people is when the politician's election is threatened. Now they can jump on the Lobbyist band wagon and make a fortune.
    Liberal, Conservative, Republican and Democratic titles have become meaningless because they have multiple meanings.
    The Republicans do not know what a Republic entails and the Democrats do not know what are the requirements of a Democracy.
    Some conservatives are fiscal conservatives (stingy) while other consevatives are religious conservatives (Zealots). Some Liberals are (Humanists) and some liberals are Libertarians
    (Free will).
    We need to forgo electing Politicians and elect Statesman who work for the people not for mindless institutions.

    No matter how repentant some of them may now seem, the primary driving force behind the conservative movement (both Republicans and Democrats) has always been, and will always be, to protect business interests from the desires and dreams of working people. The only values the authoritarians at the top of the conservative structure really care about have dollar signs in front of them. The authoritarian followers--gullible working people prone to irrational allegiance--who line up behind them have simply been duped into voting and working against their own financial interests.

    Maybe it's nice to have these type discussions. But until conservatives finally admit that Ronald Reagan was a corporate con-man who hated working people because they were a drag on the profit side of the equation, we're wasting our time believing they have anything new or important to say.

    Look at their policies. The policies were/are designed to make the workforce insecure and to transfer wealth upwards. That wealth transfer has now grown to at least a trillion dollar wealth shift annually (Jack Rasmus). If non-supervisory workers were receiving the same share of the financial pie they were getting in 1973, they'd be making on average about $12,000 more per year. That wealth moved up the corporate and social food chain.

    81% now think we're headed the wrong direction. But I'd bet that not 5% could really tell you how we've gotten here and whose fault it is. If you still think that the conservative movement is about family values--whatever that really means--but wonder how we've gotten so far off track and would like to know who to blame, you might just need to take a look in the mirror. Unfortunately, as citizens and voters, we will probably continue to behave like a slightly addled 3 year old who keeps shoving a fork into an electrical socket believing the outcome will somehow be different this time.

    Too many of the entries here are confrontational testimonies to the sorely divided nature of America. I value difference and I value frank and open exchange, but too many of the comments seem solely intended to blame or accuse.

    Today's guests were a welcome challenge to my own personal form of ignorance: the assertion that "intellegent conservative" is an oxymoron. Thanks to The Journal.

    I liked the point that what America needs more than a dream is humility. At its founding, America sought to be a model for the world by creating the new form of government embodied in its constitution. In many ways, America succeeded, but those successes are now far behind her and I think she now needs to honestly accept that many nations now have democracies that rival America's own. Rather than promote "American exceptionality" or assert the need for a "New American Century," Americans should celebrate this turn of events and turn their attention to the way forward, which I would argue requires at least two important changes:

    • recognition that the constitution is an old document and that the time is ripe for a constituional convention to create visions and structures better suited for the century ahead, and

    • abolition of the electoral college (as part of the above or independently) so that citizens might reasonably find that more than two parties are needed to represent their political perspectives.

    Molly Ivins always said that campaign finance was the cornerstone issue and I think she is right. Because campaigns have become long, drawn out feeding frenzies for BIG MEDIA everyone comes out beholden to big dollar corporate donors and they play kissy-kissy with the media, which is of course just another big corporate player in America these days.

    While I don't expect perfection in candidates, there are no real differences in candidates. Obama's walking away from his promises on retro-active immunity to telecoms on the FISA re-write deeply disillusioned me.

    I am unsure if I should not vote, vote for OBama or vote only for non-incumbents and then hold everyone's feet to the fire. I'm not sure it matters and that is worrisome to me.

    Once again, Moyers pulls together an interesting panel to show how there are common ground issues for people who are Americans first. I have to admit that Mickey Edwards resonated a lot more with me because he reflects concern about constitutional erosion which I think is an American issue and one we will have to join together on. Mr. Douthat seems young and a little out of touch but he brought another perspective to the show. I just think that what Moyers is trying to do here with his guest selection is a profound moment of hope.

    We have to reach across party divides to defend the constituion.

    Interesting story until Douthat implied that cheaper imported sneakers is the long awaited payout to the middle class for enduring NAFTA.

    What good is having sneakers that are $5 or $10 cheaper when the college educated guy buying them is no longer able to make the money he used to earn because he must now compete with India on salary and is now making 20-25K a year less? Turns out those are some damn expensive sneakers.

    Yes, its true, the price of goods does come down, but the middle class is NOT better off even with them.

    Conservatives like Douthat need to wake up and stop selling that.

    it is ridiculous to talk to people about conservatism while hardly mentioning the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM - IMMIGRATION. Honestly done polls find that 60-70% of Americans (including LEGAL immigrants) oppose opening the borders. The conservative grassroots are on fire but the establishment conservatives like Edwards and Douthat who are beholden to business interests pretend like Americans have a problem with basic conservative principles. Why not talk to Pat Buchanan or someone like him about how people REALLY feel?

    Jane Jane Jane.

    The Surge is a complete and utter failure. It's goal was NOT simply to "quell violence", it was to give the Iraqi government the breathing room for political reconciliation. That's not happening. And please check out the number of casualties in Iraq against the dates of the Mahdi Army cease-fire.

    You said, "the levees in New Orleans were a serious problem before Bush came into office". so then why did the Bush Administration cut funding for them by $10 million dollars?

    But none of this has anything to do with my initial post. I never addressed specific "policies" like "the Surge" or "the levees".

    You ask, "What is evil about defending America and encouraging people to be responsilbe for their own lifes???"

    "Defending America"... are you talking about Iraq or Afghanistan? Iraq was not a threat to us, and Afghanistan, which harbored al Qaeda, was. Yet, this Administration withdrew troops from Afg in favor of pursuing a non-threat in Iraq, and now, seven years later, Afg is worse than ever.

    Conservatives don't "encourage" people to be "responsible for their own lives", they cut the legs out from under them then tell them to "stand on their own two feet", but then hand those "legs" to corporations and the wealthy without demanding the same of them.

    Again, NONE of your reply addresses a single point I made in my initial post.

    Thank you once again for a very insightful and informative program. As for Democrat vs Republican in our elected officials, I don't see much difference in the attitudes toward the lowly citizens. They are totally disconnected from the reality of working America. To allow BushCo to get away with the disasters in foreign policy, economic policy, corruption, etc. without action to impeach put my continued support in money and time off the table. If this election and result does not sweep away the corruption of our government then I will notify any person who will listen that a website has already been established by me -

    Thanks Bill, for another insightful program.

    What I took from the program was that it isn't so much about the differences between right and left that has brought America to this perilous point, but rather the difference between right and wrong. It seems to me the only way the ship will be righted is when all the people's elected representatives start to worry less about being re-elected and more about fullfilling their oath of office and upholding the Constituation. When their endeavours are for their constituents instead of big business. When they understand their duty and alligiance is not to their party, nor the President, nor to themselves, but rather to the Consitution and the American people.

    The rights have been wrong many times over the last eight years, and if the lefts don't change the way they do business, the wrongs will go on, no matter who wins in November.

    ..."the problem with the American dream is, ya gotta be sleepin'"... George thousand military bases worldwide is the problem...what was the question?

    This fantastic interview about the nuanced differences between two political parties speaks loudly as to how deeply we are in denial.The ugly word "Corporatism" was whispered not once.

    I occasionally have antiwar friends ask me, "Why is it that we can see our government has been lying to us and that this war is horrible?" And I think, "What was your response when I made the same complaints about Clinton's bombing of Serbia, thereby causing the ethnic cleansing he was claiming to prevent (just as the Iraq War is creating the terrorists the Bush Administration claims it is fighting)? How about when I railed against the sanctions in Iraq, leading to the deaths of 575,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 years, according to the UN? What about the Clinton administration's continuous bombing of Iraq - isn't that war? Then there were the Clinton Adminstrations' prevarications about WMD and Iraq's alleged non-cooperation with the weapons inspectors? What about the horrendous, genocidal policies Indonesia toward East Timor (carried out with Clinton Administration military aid) and the Administrations' support of Indonesian dictator Suharto, until his rule became untenable?"

    How much better are these policies than what the Republicans do? Don't they show the Republicans what they can get away with once they get into office? Many Democrats apparently believe that if such policies can be demonstrated to be one iota better than what the Republicans do, then they are worthy of support?

    The Democratic political leaders apparently feel the same way. It appears we may very well get a Democrat in the White House soon. If so, I can count on again becoming a near lone voice in opposition to my country's monstrous foreign policy (don't get my started on domestic policy). I will leave it to the pundits to argue about how far apart the Democrats and Republicans are.

    Tom, Tom,Tom The surge is working and the levees in New Orleans were a serious problem before Bush came into office.Conservatives do not believe all are evil. A lot of what comes out of the mouths of Libs to me, is extremely evil. What is evil about defending America and encouraging people to be responsilbe for their own lifes???

    I am a libertarian minded woman and always was of the Goldwater 'conservative' mode and even the early Reagan years Republican mode. But I almost whisper when someone asks what party if any I am registered with. In 2008 I see so little difference between the Republicans and Democrats, and am shocked at the debt this country has, under a Republican administration. The Republican President and administration are scarily Machiavellian in how they rule.

    And as the one guest noted, when it comes to No Child Left Behind both parties dislike it for different reasons, one because they don't think enough money is being spent and the other because they don't think any should be spent. One party wants in my life in some areas, and the other wants in my life, in other areas. In the end I lose either way. Its almost as if we have become a socialist government bit by bit, while places like Russia and even China are becoming more democratic.

    Few American leaders are building bridges, but walls, even is small ones. I don't give a fig fart if some woman has an abortion, or if two people of the same sex want to make their union legal like male/female couples do. What I do want is less taxes, my Constitutional rights back, and a no debt federal government. Freedom of religion, which means I don't push mine on others and they leave me alone to howl at the moon if I want to.

    What I want to hear more of is how many Americans will be willing to fight to take this country back? Or are most to lazy or scared?

    To Jane,

    I never said "Conservatives are evil". I said "Conservatives think *ALL* people are basically evil", then you accuse me of having evil intent... because, AS I STATED... Conservatives believe all people are "evil".

    Thank you for illustrating my point so nicely.

    Re the American Dream: A dream is an event unbased in reality. We need to stop dreaming and face the problems that our long-term addiction to consumption have caused.

    If we don't do it on our own, we will have to go cold-turkey, which is what the great depression was all about.

    It is time to stop dreaming and wake up, America!

    Just for the record, it is not liberals who "hate" gays, and it is not liberals who called Iraq a member of the axis of "evil." And exactly who called the military "blood thirsty monsters"?

    I think the people who have zero smarts are the ones who think they can make an argument without any evidence to back it up. The ones who can say Bill Moyers has "sunk to a new level" without backing up their claim.

    Bill Moyers' patient interview of Mickey Edwards and Ross Douthat was amazing. The following comments relate to last night's interview.

    First, as bright a man as Douthat is, his answers and comments demonstrate his lack of clear thinking. Anyone who has been through college Philosophy 101 will pick out his generalizations from specifics, among other cognitive disconnects. For example, he frames his entire viewpoint on his own life time from 1979 on, without giving credence to the previous 200 years of America's history. What gives him the right to assume his point of view is totally correct?

    My underlying question is: How has the American educational system produced such college graduates who don't think clearly?

    On the other hand, Mickey Edwards' answers were generally clear and thoughtful.

    Both men, however, were very quick to blame the Democrats for all the present Republican Party problems. Interesting how responsibility for our own actions has fallen into disrespect.

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for your courageous Journal interviews!

    Bill's interviewing style graciously allows his guests the opportunity to explain their points of view and provide their arguments to justify their beliefs. Unfortunately for Ross Douthat, the right-wing ideology is best summed up in sliced and diced sound bites perfect for Mainstream Media Land (democrats are no better).

    It was part frustrating/part funny to watch Douthat give right-wing sound bite answers throughout the interview (e.g. "the cost of living for Americans has never been lower"), then see the beads of sweat form on his brow when asked elaborate on his point ("well, Americans can buy a lot of cheap stuff..."). Thanks for that analysis Ross, very helpful; but you forgot to mention that cheap stuff hurts everyone except WalMart (no need to explain further to a Bill Moyers audience, you guys already get it).

    Unfortunately for Americans, guys like Ross get the book deals, write for prestigious newspapers, and hit all the Pundit shows where they are regarded as deep political thinkers that are the future Republican party. Pretty scary, but you know what always happens with these guys...some scandal will get him.

    The fact that free trade originated under liberalism and that trust busting was most effective under a Republican administration, or that Abe Lincoln, a Republican, abolished slavery is irrelevant today. Ralph Nader comes closest to the truth when he depicts the two parties as ad agencies competing only in their eagerness to serve the prerogatives of wealth.

    The ship of state is now like a boat with the wheelhouse blown off. The people will have to collectively operate the rudder from the stern, because all the officers have mutinied to corruption. Also, the environmental crisis means we have a big gash in the bow.
    Maybe we can't save this tub and ought to head for shore (direct citizen's government via internet plebecite). It was a good old ship but now needs recycling. We could put up a plaque if a majority agree.

    Sorry Bill, I no longer believe in an American Dream. I believe in a dream for the earth, a dream for humanity, and a dream for all living things. Our American language no longer serves the truth, it no longer represents it. There is little portrayal of the average American working person in politics, in the media, in the intellectual elites, in the ruling monetary class. While I love the Journal, there is again, no representation of working people. Just talk about them. As if, there are no articulate, clear-headed, often oppressed citizens who are worthy of not just representation, but who are treated as real stakeholders in this country. Where are the voices of those who struggle to get by? Real honest Americans, Walmart workers and others, who make less than $20,000 a year, and who aren't better off than their parents and grandparents, despite the fact that they followed the rules and worked hard. We have become a country of winners and losers. The winners get to speak, have their way and make the laws. The rest of us are forced to comment from the sidelines and fight for the scraps. The American Dream, from its inception, to the present, has done little to truly support and reward those who produce the things that improve all of our lives. If equality is not just an overused word, when in our history have we ever really had it, or aspired to it? When have we really shared OUR wealth? Even the most illustrious and educated of your guests fail to get it. The statistics make clear; be it the growing disparity between rich and poor, our increase in productivity vs. a living wage, the decimation of our natural capital base, that we are in terrible shape. Not just as Americans, but as humans. What is working? Americans have been subject to the grandest psychological experiment ever performed on humankind. Capitalism has been the God that has filled every waking moment of every American citizen. Our institutions of higher learning perpetuate the myths, as do those who have made it, so to speak, in this cutthroat Capitalist world. Victors tend to believe that their cause is right, no matter the way in which they won. Isn't religion wonderful? This is not reason, or justice, or fairness. It is a human failing. What is it that is actually working with regard to fairness and equality in our country? Those in power, politically and economically, exhibit no particular human genius. Well, we are supposed to believe that Alan Greenspan, Jeffrey Skilling, Ken Lay, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, et al. are bright people. But, are they? They merely enthusiastically champion a system that works for them and those who follow them unquestioning, and the masters they serve. It is a failing system, as is evident to most working Americans and Most of the citizens of our world. Taken holistically, we are all members of a losing team. Words like Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives mean little in the scheme of global climate disruption, collapsing fisheries, eroding topsoil, polluted drinking water, a rapid and irreversible loss of our biological heritage, poverty and starvation, cluster bombs, the Enron ripoff, Monsanto's owning the world's food supplies, media consolidation, Apartheid allies, a powerful country that has a village idiot Decider, a military gone wild, innocent civilian deaths, torture and indefinite detention. How have Americans been led to think so small in this country, in this day and age? Yes, this system has worked; for a handful of the unenlightened, albeit often well-meaning undereducated elites. American political and social discourse has become a joke. And a cruel one at that. Maybe it's time to throw out the baby with the bath water, since the baby is already dead. Don't get me wrong Bill, I have hope. It just no longer lies in America.

    Ross's argument that the working people benefited from neo-liberalism because they can buy more stuff overlooks the fact that poverty is always a relative phenomenon. Granted, many people can now buy iPod and camcorder with their credit cards, but these gains pail in comparison with the rising cost of health care and higher education -- which was supposed to provide one with a venue for social mobility. And what about the dignity of the working families who are finding themselves more and more in low paid service sector and chain stores?

    I have always called myself a conservative. I bought in to Reaganomics, and the free market, trickle down theory. But today, I agree that just as with the New Deal, Reaganomics has been taken too far. Un restrained capitalism is not working. With the current corporate paradigms that build lakes of wealth with “dams of greed” constructed with corporate loopholes and tell the common folk to be happy with the dribble they let through the spillway.

    Ross’s comments are the reason that the Republican Party no longer represent me. I am 53 and I have never voted for a Democrat for president. Mr. Douthat needs to wake up to reality.

    “…thanks to policies that Republicans have championed, the cost of living, has fallen dramatically across the board for Americans.

    …the goods that the poor and working class buy today are vastly cheaper than they used to be.”

    What Planet is Ross Douthat from?
    Is he aware of the current value of the dollar?
    Is he aware that access to technology with the push to electronic transactions is fast becoming a necessity?
    Has he been to a gas pump lately?
    Has he bought a gallon of milk?
    Does he pay his own electric bill?

    Take communication cost: with home phones, internet access, cell phone, hardware and software, digital TV service, text messaging, etc, etc. -- instead of costing hundreds of dollars a year for a phone, now add up to thousands of dollars a year. All needed for everything from checking your bank balance to staying informed.

    Then there is Electricity cost -- since privatization my electric cost have increased 80%.

    And, as the cost of living increases in China, as it will, what will will US citizens do when cheap Wal-Mart prices are no longer sustainable? Even Wal-Mart is seeing the writing on the wall, why would they be getting rid of the slogan "Always Low Prices"?

    When I was growing up, I remember the stories from the former Soviet Union, of streets with beautiful stores selling luxury goods that only the elete could buy. And, common people standing in lines to buy the few loves of bread available on the shelves.

    It seems similar in principal when in the US today the average person can only window shop at the Norstums and Macy’s and are forced to shop at Wal-Mart and BigLots because that’s all they can afford?

    “I think the biggest thing Republicans could do to win them over is to marry the language of family values as being the pro-family party”

    WAKE UP, we do not live in a “Father Knows Best World.”

    It takes two incomes and thousands of dollars of consumer debt to even make ends meet not only for lower income but even for the upper middle class.

    I am one of the 50 percent of women of this country who are single. Try living the American Dream of pursuing happiness on a single income.

    As a liberal, I found last night's conversation fascinating, though like many others here I found Mickey Edwards' comments and perspectives much more compelling than those of Ross Douthat.

    In particular, there were two points made by Ross that I think could have been challenged. First, Ross incoherently argued that the decline in real wages was irrelevant because free trade had made many goods cheaper. While this is true of many high-end consumer goods, it is no longer true of food/commodities, which comprise a greater portion of the working-class budget. But this isn't even the fundamental flaw. Measures of real wages are already adjusted to account for changes in prices--that is their whole purpose. Thus, any decline in real wages is, by definition, a decline in purchasing power.

    My deeper issue with Ross's case was his equation of conservatism with a commitment to American exceptionalism. First, Ross's definition of exceptionalism was not very exceptional. Apart from getting there first, how are we unique in having a representative government, a trait shared by Australia, Canada, Britain (the impotent monarch aside), and the whole of Western Europe? More philosophically, is the idea of American exceptionalism one the founders revered by conservatives could embrace? They viewed America as a city on the hill that would illuminate universal values to the rest of the world. We were exceptional as a model only, but the values themselves were self-evident and universal. In this light, I believe any true conservatism would highlight not the ways America is unique, but the ways American values are founded on principles that apply equally to all of humanity.

    The replys I just read on your blog are of a higher intelligence than I'd expect of a random selection from the population. Most were very thoughtful. Your blog would be misleading if its sorted. But then I did read ones critical of you. Those could of been plants however. I trust your motives and agree with you and thank God there is a PBS and your show to remind me there is a good reason for television. As for the two Republicans on your show. I've for a long time tried to look at things from the Republican perspective by looking for Republicans that I think are intelligent. Your two guests were worth listening to. However, the talk they and you were making about the GOP making a comeback is premature. They (GOP)haven't left yet. I would of never believed that John Kerry could of lost the election but he did. Even if it was stolen it should of never been so close. The American people got what they deserved. I would of liked to of seen where the two on your show were standing when Bush was popular. Its hard to imagine they weren't loyalists to Bush in the beginning. To blame the Democrats for Bush is like claiming the Devil made them do it. Even if it had any merit it would be like claiming I hit him because he hit me. Do two wrongs make a right? I as a parent and an individual of 56 years can tell you exactly the most two important things America needs first and foremost. First America needs good parenting. "That means parents that care more about their offspring than materialism." Set the example. I tell my son that money is the root of all evil and he reminds me that the saying is the "love of money" is the root of all evil. How can the love of something be evil and yet that something not be inherently evil. Money is a necessary evil but evil never the less. Money doesn't do good ,people do good. Same argument as guns not killing people but people killing people. Money can't buy you love or happiness. The second need of America is adults must have living wage jobs. Globalization is occuring way too fast and instead of bringing the world to our level we're being pulled to their level. Our politicians are selling our country down the river at the expense of the working man for the politicians materialistic/greed reasons. Big business only cares about the bottom line and if it keeps up they're going to find they are living in a country more divided than it is today. Its not to hard to see the class struggles Marx predicted coming to pass. Hopefully the American people will put their children before greed and materialism.

    Like others, I enjoyed the interview on Friday. It was an intelligent, cool-headed dialogue about conservatism. As a liberal, I found it helpful.

    On the other hand, two observations. First, did everyone see how these two conservative thinkers are moving to the center--or are they? They seem to be saying, "We didn't start the fire. It was those big, bad Newt Gingriches." Could we really be seeing a move to the center among some conservatives?

    The other observation is--did you see how lame their responses were to questions about the middle income family losing buying power over the last 30 years, under deregulation and conservative economic policy? Sorry, Ross, as a middle income wage-earner, I don't buy for a minute your argument--"See, things are cheaper, so don't pay any attention to the fact that your paycheck buys only about 70% of what it bought 30 years ago." Those of us who live with this every day don't buy the "don't pay attention to the real problem..." argument. Did you notice how few ideas either of these guys had for helping the middle class, and how lame the ideas were?

    One example. Ross says we should adopt new tax policies to help the middle class. Baloney! What improvement might be realized by lower taxes would be swiftly wiped out by increasing prices for basic goods--like gas. We've heard all this before--with the Bush tax-giveaways to the rich. What finally happens is, the millionaires get the big tax cuts, and the middle class gets nothing.

    We need strong protection for unions, we need union jobs to rebuild our infrastructure, and we need to add a tax bracket at the top of the scale--and get the budget out of deficit. We need to increase aid to higher education and increase funds for aid to college students, so they can educate themselves out of the lower class. We need to finally adopt a national energy independence policy, and back it up with projects, worked by Americans, to make independence real--wind farms, swtich grass conversion plants, etc. Then we'll really have a stronger middle class.

    The American Dream - ice cream on a hot afternoon down on Maple St. under Miller's Drug Store awning; wading in a creek searching for crawdads, minnows and salamanders to feed the amphibians at the Natureside Trail Museum in Springfield MA.; sitting in the large white rockers at 31Ocean - Virginia Beach at 8:30P, listening to the ocean and Butter's version of grunge-rock; basically, enjoying the sights and sounds of those around us in nature without fear of violence, fear from visual discrimination, thought discrimination and with spiritual freedoms we can all share.

    I want my nation 'tis of thee to be thou's nation as well, whatever religion, race or creed that crawleth upon the face of it.

    The interviews last night showed up a very interesting issue that has bothered me but was only clarified this morning.

    I liked Mickey, I trusted Mickey, I may not always agree with Mickey, but I trusted him. I did not feel that way about Ross. Why?

    What I became clear about was that the issue we are grappling with as a country is NOT conservative versus liberal, but about integrity.

    In my perception Mickey is clear on his values and he uses his mind to follow the logic that those values indicate.

    Ross, however uses his mind to validate the direction of power he wishes to achieve. That direction is connected to his values in most cases, but when there is a discrepancy, he follows power and not his values.

    Ross does NOT see this discrepancy, but I felt you did, Bill when you engaged him at one point late in the conversation and asked him deeper questions about his comments.

    When we are not sensitive to this shift, this discrepancy, in our own thinking or that of others, we get caught up in the words, but react from an emotional place that does recognize that dissonance and flounder around in unsatisfactory disagreement.

    This interview will make me ponder how we can begin teaching ourselves to think with integrity. We no longer teach critical thinking, but we have become good at logic. I think this is what George Lakoff is pointing it in his work. He has, however confused mechanics with integrity.

    Power is corrupting - very subtly corrupting. When we think we are right it is very difficult to "lose" even if it means we keep to our values and principles. It is maintaining this kind of integrity, however that allows us to listen with respect to folks we disagree with and learn from them. To do so, we have to trust in each others integrity and not get caught up in our own power needs. When we do this, discourse becomes exciting.

    Tonights show was very interesting. Mickey Edwards seemed very intelligent and had a lot of good points. However Ross Douthat is out of touch with the reality that middle class americans face today. it doesn't matter if you can buy something cheap at wall-mart when, because of the minimum wage and no benefits they offer, you find you can't afford to drive there. It was interesting that of all the things he said, not once did he mention how a living wage is necessary.

    This Ross Douthat guy seems to be slightly retarded...he'll probably become a Republican Congressman in a few years. The guy has a lame excuse for every criminal thing the Reps have done in the last decade. He's a perfect politician.

    Not that the dems are gonna fix anything, throw all the bums out (we'll should keep Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and Robert Byrd though).

    Quick fix for our political system: Don't let Americans vote for President...All the poor people from Third World countries should vote for President since they are the ones that bear the burden of who is selected.

    Bill Moyers is my hero

    Moyers seemed clueless as usual when dealing with those who do not share his far left view of the world.

    Conservatives did not start the `culture wars'.The merging of political conservatism with religion was a reaction to the secular leftism of the 60's that took over traditional liberalism.

    It is true that liberals believe that people are basically good (and therefore when bad things happen it must be someone else's fault requiring a new law or lawsuit to change the behavior of OTHER people).

    Conservatives believe not that people are born evil, but that people are born neither good nor evil. They must be taught the difference. Throughout history it has been the role of families and religion to do this teaching. That is why the undermining of family and religion by liberals since the 1960's has produced the type of conservatism that irks folks like Moyers so much.

    It is no longer Republican versus Democrat, it is Constitutionalists versus Globalists. The power grab by the President is a red herring. The real power grab is by the Federal Reserve, who appeared before Congress July 10 and presented their "Blueprint" for saving the mortgage crisis which is tantamount to complete financial control of this country. For a stunning review of this situation read the article "The Mother of all Inside Trades" by Ellen Brown, J.D., author of "Web of Debt." Her website:

    It is no longer Republican versus Democrat, it is Constitutionalists versus Globalists. The power grab by the President is a red herring. The real power grab is by the Federal Reserve, who appeared before Congress July 10 and presented their "Blueprint" for saving the mortgage crisis which is tantamount to complete financial control of this country. For a stunning review of this situation read the article "The Mother of all Inside Trades" by Ellen Brown, J.D., author of "Web of Debt." Her website:

    During tonight's broadcast, once again No Child Left Behind was mentioned. Based upon the comments made it is clear that politicians don't get it. They don't understand the problems they have created with this program and why it doesn't work. It isn't about state vs. federal power or money. It is not about fear of accountability but rather fairness is evaluating the effectiveness of our schools in educating today's youth. With many schools having mobility rates in the 70-80% range, how can a school be expected to show improvement from one year to another? Please get some educators on the program along with politicians to get to the heart of the problem and point out ways that government can help school officials and parents improve education and support the educators trying (without thanks or adequate pay) who continue to try to educate the diverse population in public schools today.

    My american Dream is that we can come to realize that we all have a right to our own religious beliefs or lack of them but we don't have a right to legislate that others foloow those beliefs. Also that we become aware that individuals are more important to the country than corporations. Lastly I feel yhat Your program 'The Journal' is one of the best insentives for my Dream coming to fruition.

    Conservatives are not evil people as stated by some blogger here. To write that shows you have zero smarts on what the conservative party represents. Most Libs, as yourself, throw the hate and evil word around just to represent yourself as an arrogant and very selfish person. Conservatives believe the Gov. is not there to bail them out of every facid of their lives. They believe in employment, taking care of their own children,including paying for health-care and education and their many needs in life too be as self sufficiant as possible.How many conservative congress men and women refer to the military as blood thirsty monsters,and the American people as gun tooten bible banging preahers? Those words come from Libs,not conservatives. So, might I ask, who is evil??

    Bill, Bill, Bill…

    You enthusiastically shook hands with the likes of James Cohn and Jeremiah Wright but not Douthat or Edwards. Are they really that distasteful to you? While Cohn and Wright are not? Strange allegiance.

    The American Dream,as you so deftly explored with two conservatives, is not about the things that either of them expressed. For example, the youngster reacted most noticably when you broached the subject of separation of religion from politics. He was quite adamant that religion is historically bound up in our nation's politics and should remain so.

    While the elder conservative insists that we need to remember and return to the core principles around which the United States was created. Although, speaking from very different perspectives, they both repeatedly extolled the so-called conservative principles of self-reliance, strong family structure, limitations on government intrusion, and the people, through their elected representatives, exercising control over our government.

    Throughout your entire conversation there was not one mention of the human factor. By that I mean humane considerations, humanness. And equality was only brought up once. The entire discussion centered exclusively on conservative vs liberal, Republican vs Democrat. Therin lies America's greatest problem and the most obvious and destructive failure of you, your guests, and our government policy.

    Mr. Edwards revealed his truly sincere but profound ignorance of American history. He does not seem to know what the objective of the United States Constitution was, nor why it was constructed in the manner it was.

    On the other hand, Mr Douthat displayed all the blissful ignorance of youth plus a severe disconnection with reality in his comments regarding America being created to protect the strong communities and strong families devoted to churches. And when he insisted that working people have indeed benefited from so-called "free markets," that the working man can buy goods similar to those of the wealthy, that working people's money goes farther and buys more than it use too, Mr. Douthat showed that he has no understanding of life for common citizens in America.

    Now, as to my concept of the American Dream. The American Dream, as you pointed out, is as diverse as our population, it is different for every person. I submit that all these many different American Dreams will only be realized when we remove our current bad government and replace it with Humanistic Equalism: Philosophy for Ethical Government. This philosophy, system, and process for government is based on human value, human dignity, prosperity and happiness; it is premised upon absoultely equal status, privileges, and rights for ALL citizens. When we can create a government that is neither conservative or liberal, neither Republican or Democrat, but instead Humanistic, that is, concerned first and foremost with improving the condition of citizens' lives by establishing and maintaining absolutely equal status, privileges, and rights for ALL citizens.When our government promotes human progress over property, profit, power and position and interacts with ALL citizens equally it will in fact and practice be an ethical one. And only then will 300 million American Dreams be within the realm of possibility.

    Government, like religion is a creation a product of people. Both were invented by people and both have, from their inception enslaved and brutalized people.

    So, my Amwerican Dream is a government that is invoiable to any overt or covert codification or consideration of religious dogma, doctrine or creed. My American Dream is a Government that deals with ALL citizens equally. Finally, my American Dream is a nation in which ALL who qualify to pay taxes pays them; a nation in which EVERY physically capable citizen gives two years of service to their fellow citizens; a nation that provides FREE health care to ALL citizens from conception to coffin; and a nation that provides FREE unlimited lifetime education for EVERY citizen. That is my idea of the American Dream.
    James B. Tinsley, B.A.

    I have written once before when Bill Moyers was so biased as to lose all journalistic credibility. Now, he has sunk to a new level, surpassing that of the worst tabloid paparazzi.

    I have lost a hero to me and my father. Bill Moyers lacks any objective standard desired by any true journalist. He is yet another reason why we are truly lost as Americans. I can only hope for an abrupt end to this brand of trash journalism.

    Bill, I believe you permitted Ross Douthat to get away with stating an attitude as though it was a matter of fact. And I was disappointed that you didn't challenge the remark.

    Specifically, he said the Democratic politicians caused the conservatives great frustration because they would not permit conservative amendments to pending legislation.

    As Mickey Edwards observed, conservatives are often ignorant of what to do in the national government because they view it with disdain and don't think deeply enough about what should be done.

    I realize your show is only an hour long, but I would have made Mr. Douthat give concrete examples to demonstrate that the frustrations he mentioned did not arise out of the ineptitude of conservatives. It is too easy to blame one's lack of success on others rather than one's own shortcomings.

    So the solution to Republicans capturing the working class vote will be to attract "family values" voters? 50% of all births to white women are out-of-wedlock now. 80% for blacks, 70% for Hispanics. Just exactly what "family friendly" policies could Republicans come up with that would counteract this demographic tsunami? The working class has apparently given up on marriage and its institutions so completely and thoroughly that who would the Republican Party appeal to with this political propaganda?

    The 1979 comment of Ronald Reagan that "Government exists to protect us from each other" and the Bork discussion where judge Bork believed "the only rights Americans have are those spelled out in the Constitution" are both dramatic examples of my definition of "Conservatism", which I attach to the end of every e-mail:

    Liberal – (adj) Generous, open-minded. Not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy or intolerance; (noun) Person who supports economic regulation to promote social justice and takes a progressive stance toward moral or cultural issues.

    Liberals believe that all people are basically good and when given the opportunity, will do what they believe is best for their family/community. The role of government therefore is to ensure the freedom of people to be able to make those choices. Liberals tend to thrive on "details" and aren't afraid to defy "conventional wisdom" when seeking an answer. Colleges don't "convert" students to Liberalism, educated people gravitate towards Liberalism, delving deeper into issues, taking a more intellectual approach to solving problems. This is also why Liberals tend to be less seeped in Religion. Religion demands pure faith, unquestioned devotion and condemns critical thinking. Ideology over logic. Liberals that consider themselves "religious" take a more "holistic" view of religion, tending not to subscribe to the tenants of any one faith but instead, a generalized belief in doing good.

    Conservative - (adj) Restrictive. Frugal. Giving or revealing no more than is absolutely needed. (see Parsimonious); (noun) Person who believes in regulating people to promote autonomous corporate interests in the belief that a business' survival depends on serving the public good.

    Conservatives believe all people are basically "evil", and trust only in automated "systems", like "the free market", that produce the desired outcome no matter what people do, because people can't be trusted. Left unchecked, they believe people will always do what's in their own selfish self-interests first. And judging by their fellow Republicans, it's no wonder they think that way.

    This also explains why "religion" plays such a major role in the Republican Party. People, being "evil", need a system free of human frailties to force them do the right thing. A perfect God is always watching (has you under surveillance?) and knows what you do even when no one is looking, thus keeping you in-line. The only way religion works as a system of behavioral control is if everyone knows they are being watched, and watched all the time. Sound familiar?

    Conservatives are markedly stubborn. As ideologues, the very idea of something not turning out as expected is unfathomable. As such, the worse things get, the more likely they are to dig in their heels, sink ever deeper into denial, and "stay the course", blaming "outside factors" for preventing their policies from ever being fully implemented, "otherwise, it would have worked" (the "If only" syndrome). Because of their absolute faith in their ideology, Conservatives refuse to look beyond two steps down the road to consider the consequences of their policies. Likewise, they routinely fail to take precautionary measures to prepare for the unexpected (Iraq's insurgency, the failure of the levies in New Orleans, etc) so that they can later scapegoat those "outside factors" when their plan fails, or point to them later as an "obstacle their plan overcame" in order to succeed, making their "achievement" appear that much greater.

    Both parties are primarily devoted to maintaining their own power, and they only serve the people as much as they need to in order to get re-elected. I support the work of the Center for Voting and Democracy to spread instant runoff voting, so third parties can have a chance of getting elected (which isn't viable under our first-past-the-post voting system). Politicians talk about the glory of free markets, but our nation is governed by a two-party cartel.

    Post a comment

    THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

    A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

    Your Comments


    THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

    Click to subscribe in iTunes

    Subscribe with another reader

    Get the vodcast (help)

    For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

    © Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ