The politics of Ta-Nehisi

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I got to thinking about this yesterday after I was on a panel discussing the Left and Barack Obama. It was a great panel, with a great crowd (lots of young people). And yet I had the same feeling as I did circa 1994 when I realized, "Oh, maybe I'm not a black nationalist." I still think I'm a lefty, maybe just a pragmatic one. Anyway, I thought about it again when I saw a guy below attack Megan McArdle for having "bad politics." And I thought, hmm what are my politics? Maybe I'm an Obamacon!!! I did vote for MIke Bloomberg and if he ran against David Paterson, I'd have to think long and hard.

Anyway I got to thinking about arguments that I will and won't entertain. There are very few things I've completely made my mind up about. Most of the ones that I have, are social issues.  I can't listen to anyone make a case against gay marriage--I just don't think there is one that doesn't involve prejudice. To me, this is the most disappointing aspect of the Obama campaign. I can't listen to anyone make a case for the government prohibitions in regards to women's health. I understand being pro-life, to the extent that you think that abortion is wrong, but not to the extent that you think the state should outlaw it.

Don't ever say the words "intelligent" and "design" in that order around me.  My eyes will glaze over, and I will stop paying attention. Don't talk to me about how black people--all 30 million of us--have a "culture of failure" or anything like that, as I'm likely to assume that you're either a racist or someone who keeps the company of racists. I think I want drugs legalized--maybe all of them, I'm not sure. I think I want aggressive prosecution of violent criminals--a couple weeks ago some punk rolled up and down Lenox Ave. spraying fools. That dude is out of his mind, and is a danger to my son. I want him treated as such.

I didn't think the guys who killed Sean Bell should have gone to prison. I just didn't buy the idea that they set out to murder him, and prison for negligence horrifies me, especially for people who are trying to be good guys. I did think they had no reason to be on the force anymore, and I hope that comes to past. I looked at it like someone botching a major surgery, and letting a patient die. You probably aren't fit for the job, and we need to instituite some reforms to make sure people like you aren't on the job. But I don't think those cops--minus thier badges--are a danger to society. I generally hate jail, across the board. It strikes me as wrong to argue for leniency for first-offenders, and drug dealers, but not for public servants doing a job that would scare me silly.I think government should do something to help poor people--but I want that help to be premised on a partnership that enrolls poor people in the possibility of one day not needing help. I'm prepared for the possibility that there will be some people who will always need some help.

Outside of that, I'll basically listen to anything, mostly because I just don't know enough yet--even at the old age of 32--to draw many conclusions.. I try to stay up on my reading, but there is such a deluge of info out there. It's one of the reasons I'm considering quitting blogging at some point. I talk way too much. I want to go back to just listening for a while.

UPDATE: I didn't expound much on race, and that's because it's an area I'm fairly open on. I don't really want to talk to people who are convinced they know black people because, as I've said, they get BET in their cable package, or see black kids acting a fool on the train. That said, I'm "meh" on race-based Affirmative Action, not out of any great sympathy for those who yell "Unfair!", but because  I'm not convinced it does much for those amongst us who need it most. I'm not convinced that black kids in Cali or Florida are any worse off because of Ward Connerly. I'm sorry, I'm just not gonna fight for your right to go to Berkley--so many more never even get a sniff of college. I kinda like class-based Affirmative Action--plenty of poor white folks who need help. I don't like it as a cheap Sista Souljah move, but as a matter of policy. More to the point, I want college period to be more accessible. I think color often functions as a lazy proxy for very specific issues that need to be addressed--por ejemplo, the problems of coming from a family with little or no wealth.

Anyway, I'd love to hear you guys chime in on your own politics, and those things which you just can't compromise on.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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