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Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Good Idea from Gary Gutting in NYT -- "Intellectuals and Politics"

Today's NYT has a nice piece by Gary Gutting called "Intellectuals and Politics."  Although intellectuals themselves might not be effective leaders, a bevy of them will likely bring to light all of the issues concerning a particular proposed course of action.  So why not, for each issue, put a bunch of them in a room with a political candidate, and help the candidate -- and the voters -- figure out what the right course of action on a given political issue is?  Here's the suggestion:

"The best evidence of how capable candidates are of fruitfully interacting with intellectuals would be to see them doing just this.  Concretely, I make the follow[ing] suggestion for the coming presidential election:  Gather small but diverse panels of eminent, politically uncommitted experts on, say, unemployment, the history of the Middle East, and climate science, and have each candidate lead an hour-long televised discussion with each panel.  The candidates would not be mere moderators but would be expected to ask questions, probe disagreements, express their own ideas or concerns, and periodically summarize the state of discussion.  Such engagements would provide some of the best information possible for judging candidates, while also enormously improving the quality of our political discourse."

I personally would like to see a candidate lead a discussion on some issue where domestic policy has already been corrupted by corporate influence.  Maybe the proper scope of domestic and international intellectual property rights. . . .

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