E.J. Dionne

  • Aired:  07/19/12
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Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne thinks Americans have always been torn by deep tension between individualism and a love of community. (7:33)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) WELCOME BACK, MY GUEST TONIGHT A COLUMNIST FOR "THE

WASHINGTON POST" ALSO AN AUTHOR, HIS LATEST BOOK OUR DIVIDED POLITICAL HEART, THE

BATTLE FOR THE AMERICAN IDEA IN AN AGE OF DISCONTENT,

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM EJ DIONNE.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) HELLO, SIR.

>> NICE TO SEE YOU.

HOW ARE YOU?

>> I'M GOOD.

HAPPY TO BE HERE.

>> Jon: NICE TO SEE YOU.

THE BOOK IS OUR DIVIDED POLITICAL HEART.

YOU, YOU TALK ABOUT CONSENSUS IN THE BOOK, THAT WE AS A COUNTRY USED TO HAVE KIND OF A, YOU CALL IT

A-- ABOUT WHO WE WERE BUT THAT IS GONE.

>> YEAH, WHAT I MEAN BY OUR DIVIDED POLITICAL HEART IS THAT I THINK FROM THE

BEGINNING AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TORN BY DETENTION FROM OUR 4R06 OF INDIVIDUALISM

AND LIBERTY WHICH IS PART OF US AND OUR LOVE OF COMMUNITY AND OUR AFFECTION FOR COMMUNITY.

WE ARE STEINBECK AND JACK KEROUAC, WE'RE THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND AND MY WAY.

AND THIS TENSION IS SOMETHING THAT IF WE KEEP THINGS BALANCE RIGHT WE HAVE

DONE WELL AS A COUNTRY, WE DO WELL AS A COUNTRY.

AND I THINK OUR FRIENDS IN THE TEA PARTY LOOK BACK TO AN EXCEPTIONAL PERIOD IN OUR

HISTORY, A PERIOD OF RADICAL INDIVIDUALISM, THE GILDED AGE RIGHT AFTER THE CIVIL WAR.

AND I THINK THE PROGRESSIVES AND POPULISTS CAME AND IDEALISTS CAME ALONG SAYING

WE'RE NOT ABOUT RADICAL INDIVIDUALISM, WE'RE ABOUT THIS BALANCE.

AND OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN RUN UNDER THAT KIND OF BALANCE MORE OR LESS FOR

MORE THAN 100 YEARSMENT AND I THINK IT IS UNDER AN ATTACK NOW LIKE IT'S NEVER

BEEN UNDER ATTACK NOW.

>> Jon: SO EVEN BEFORE THAT,

YOU TALK ABOUT HAMILTON AND JEFFERSON, CERTAINLY AT LEAST ECONOMICALLY, YOU KNOW,

POPULISM VERSUS THE CENTRAL BANK, THE TYPES OF THINGS CENTRALIZED CONTROL VERSUS-- THE STATES.

>> RIGHT, EXACTLY.

THE BEGINNING OF THE REPUBLIC WE HAVE BEEN ARGUING ABOUT WHAT OUR CONSTITUTION SAYS FROM THE

VERY BEGINNING SO THAT THREE YEARS AFTER THE CONSTITUTION'S ADOPTED,

MADISON AND HAMILTON ARE ARGUING ABOUT WHETHER THE NATIONAL BANKS THAT HAMILTON WANTS TO CREATE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

I SEE ORIGINAL GUYS WHO ARE THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS ARE GOING ABOUT THE ORIGINAL

DOCUMENTS MEANING WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO MAKE OF ORIGINALISM AS A CONCEPT.

>> Jon: I THINK THE IDEA IS THE HOPE WAS SCALIA COULD BUILD A TIME MACHINE AND GO

BACK IN TIME AND EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT THEY MEANT.

>> OKAY.

I QUOTE A LEGAL SCHOLAR IN THE BOOK WITHOUT SAID THAT JUSTICE SCALIA OPPOSED TO

ORIGINALISM IS I KNEW THE FOUNDERS.

THE FOUNDERS WERE FRIENDS OF MINE.

I KNOW HOW THEY THINK.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE, SO YOU FEEL THAT THE TENSION NO LONGER EXISTS FOR THAT-- IS THIS PURELY ABOUT ONE

POLITICAL MOVEMENT THAT YOU FEEL HAS SKEWED THE ARGUMENT?

>> PRIMARILY TLARX IS WHAT I ARGUE.

I ARGUE THAT CONSERVATISM HISTORICALLY HAS HAD A REALLY STRONG COMMUNITARIAN ELEMENT IN IT.

BILL BUCKLEY, SOMEBODY I ADMIRE EVEN THOUGH I DISAGREE WITH HIM, ONE OF THE LAST BOOKS HE WROTE IN

HIS LIFE WAS A BOOK CALLED GRATITUDE WHERE HE ARGUED THAT WE ALL OWE SOMETHING

BACK TO THE COUNTRY THAT NURTURED US AND GAVE US THESE OPPORTUNITIESMENT BUCKLEY RAN IN THE

REPUBLICAN PRIMARY IN THE BASIS OF-- WE LOSE THE ELECTION.

I THINK CONSERVATIVES HAVE GIVEN UP THIS SIDE AND THEY HAVE GOT TO FIND IT BACK.

THEY HAVE TO FIND IT.

>> Jon: I WOULD IMAGINE A TEA PARTY VERSION WOULD SAY NO, WE BELIEVE VERY MUCH IN

COMMUNITY THROUGH CHURCHES AND CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS,

JUST NOT GOVERNMENT, THE IDEA IS SOMEHOW WE THE PEOPLE HAS BECOME A MORE ALIEN CONCEPT TO THEM.

>> RIGHT, YOU'RE EXACTLY QUITE RIGHT THAT IS WHAT THEY SAY.

THE BOOK I KNOW SAY I'M SURE THERE ARE LOTS OF TEA PARTY PEOPLE WHO BELONG TO ROTARY

CLUBS AND PTAs AND DO ALL KINDS OF GOOD COMMUNITY STUFF BUT WHAT THEY HAVE ADOPTED AS A KIND OF

INDIVIDUALISM IT SAYS WE'RE KIND OF ON OUR OWN.

SOME OF THEIR OWN BEHAVIOR IS AT ODDS WITH IDEOLOGY.

AND I ALSO ARGUE THAT GOVERNMENT ITSELF SHOULDN'T BE VIEWED AS SOME ALIEN

CREATURE IT SHOULDN'T BE VIEWED AS BEING APART FROM COMMUNITY.

FIRST WORD IN OUR CONSTITUTION IS THE WORD "WE" AS IN WE THE PEOPLE OF THE

UNITED STATES AND LISTS ALL THESE THINGS THAT IT IS FOR INCLUDING PROTECT-- PROMOTE

THE GENERAL WELFARE, THE WELFARE IS IN THE FIRST LINE OF THE CONSTITUTION.

>> THEY WERE VERY WISE.

>> Jon: THEY FELT THAT WAS --

>> YEAH, RIGHT.

>> Jon: YOU KNOW, IT STRIKES ME AS VERY INTERESTING, MITT ROMNEY CAME OUT TODAY AND HE

SAID I WILL NOT CUT THE DEFENSE BUDGET.

AND I FIND IT INTERESTING THAT IN A TIME OF THE GOVERNMENT IS BLOAT, THEY

SPEND TOO MUCH, THEY TRY AND DO TOO MUCH, WHY HAS THE MILITARY AND DEFENSE IN THIS

IDEA OF COMMUNITY VERSUS INDIVIDUALISM, WHY IS A MILITARY NOT ON THE BLOCK

FOR THAT POLITICAL MOVEMENT?

>> ACTUALLY, THAT POLITICAL MOVEMENT IS IN FAIRNESS TO THEM IS DIVIDED ON IT.

RON PAUL WOULD CUT THE MILITARY AS MUCH AS HE WOULD CUT MEDICARE.

BUT I THINK THAT YOU KNOW THEY ARE NOT FULLY CONSISTENT IN THEIR VIEW OF

WHAT THEY'RE AGAINST IN GOVERNMENT.

AND THERE ARE A LOT OF INTERESTS INVOLVED.

AND SO WHAT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IS THAT THE MILITARY ITSELF IS IN SOME WAYS ONE OF THE MOST

SOCIALIST INSTITUTIONS IN OUR COUNTRY.

>> Jon: THE MOST SOCIALIST.

>> SOME GOOD WAYS TOO, IF YOU LOOK AT THE LIVES OF OUR SOLDIERS AND THE BENEFITS

THEY GET, WHICH I'M SERVE BECAUSE THEY ARE SERVING THE COUNTRY.

>> Jon: EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, ALL KINDS OF THINGS.

THEY LIVE IN BARRACKS AND ALL WEAR THE SAME UNIFORM.

>> I HAVE A CONSERVATIVE FRIEND IN THE MILITARY AND WE LOVE TALKING 308

PARTICULARS AND HE'S HONEST ENOUGH TO SAY, HE BEGINS ARGUMENTS BY SAYING I GREW

UP IN A SOCIALIST INSTITUTION, I LOVED IT.

NOW LET'S GO ON TO THE ARGUMENT.

AND SO IT IS A VERY STRANGE INCONSISTENCY THAT THEY'VE GOT.

>> Jon: DO YOU THINK IF THE IDEA THAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS WOULD BE HORRIFIED

AT THE SENSE OF THE POWER OF THIS GOVERNMENT, IS THE IDEA THAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO TAKE

IT INTO THIS GILDED AGE,

THAT THESE GOVERNMENT COUNTERVEILING PROGRAMS THAT THEY PUT INTO PLACE WERE

DONE TO GARNER POWER OR WERE DONE BASED ON CONDITIONS AT THE TIME THAT DEMANDED INTERVENTION.

>> WELL, IF YOU GO BACK TO THE FOUNDERS, THEY DID A LOT MORE INTERVENTION THAN THE

CONVENTIONAL STORY ACCOUNTS FOR.

9 HEALTH-CARE PROGRAM IN AMERICA, I WRITE ABOUT IN THE BOOK WAS THE FEDERAL

MARINE HOSPITAL SYSTEM WHICH IS BASICALLY SOCIALIZED MEDICINE FOR SEMEN.

THEY MUST HAVE HAD A VERY POWERFUL-- (LAUGHTER)

>> Jon: I DON'T KNOW WHO CAME UP WITH THAT ONE.

IT'S GOT TO BE BEN FRANKLIN BECAUSE THAT GUY WAS OUT THERE.

>> YOU KNOW, BUT IT WAS SIGNED BY A GOOD CONSERVATIVES CALLED JOHN ADAMS AND THERE

WERE NO MASS DEMONSTRATIONS ABOUT ADAM'S CARE BACK THERE 1798 BACK AS FAR AS I CAN TELL.

>> Jon: THE TEA PARTY ITSELF WAS A SOMEWHAT OF AN OCCUPY WALL STREET MOVEMENT.

IT WAS A BUNCH OF RADICAL WAS TOOK OVER GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND THREW A BUNCH

OF CRAP INTO THE WATER.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: SO IN ESSENCE YOU'RE NAMED AFTER THIS NEW MOVEMENT THAT YOU ABHOR BUT

DOW HAVE FIVE MINUTES, WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO GO, IT'S NEW YORK, RIGHT.

OUR DIVIDED POLITICAL HEART,

ON THE BOOK SHELVES NOW.

EJ DION, WE'RE JUST GOING TO TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ON THE WEBBIE.

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