Tuesday, September 20, 2005

From Germany Back to the U.S.A.

The German national election, which I wrote about in my last post, is now over. The inconclusive result, with both of the largest parties losing votes and neither capable of forming an obvious coalition government, will have to be sorted out in the coming days and weeks. Personally, I can't understand why the Social Democrats don't just accept the Links/Left party representatives into their coalition and form a government with them and the Greens. Yes, some of them are former Communists from East Germany, but they will constitute only a small fraction of the coalition. It might even improve government by slowing down "centrist" pro-market reform efforts somewhat. For some reason, everyone seems to view the Links-partei as untouchable. I prefer to see them as a balancing force against the powerful German business community, perhaps leading Germany to steer a happy medium course between markets and social welfare.

But now let me turn to my home country, the U.S.A. Several days ago, I read a fine essay by one of my favorite op-ed columnists, Robert Jensen of Austin, Texas. I just can't get the piece out of my head. With his usual piercing moral clarity, Jensen reflects on the four years since the September 11th attacks. I know that many sympathizers will find Jensen's views unpalatable because they seem to be strategically problematic, at least in the short term--in other words, that most Americans will find Jensen's words so alienating that they will reject them out of hand. But I also think that over the long run, we need people like Jensen to remind us about what a moral commitment to the equality of all people in the world entails.

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