As readers of this site have no doubt noticed, I’m not one who is greatly troubled by hostile criticism.
On the other hand, sometimes the critics make a valid point. When they do, I’m not too obstinate to concede.
For years, I’ve shared the Marketplace airwaves with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. We recorded commentaries, point counter-point, alternate weeks on business and economic issues. The intent was for Bob to represent the left, and for me to represent the right.
Over the past three years, this format has put me into some awkward positions.
So long as the topic is “green jobs” or NLRB regulations or immigration, my thinking aligns reasonably congruently with the current conservative consensus.
But on the issues that today most passionately divide Americans – healthcare reform, monetary policy, social spending to aid the unemployed, and – soon – the American response to the euro crisis, I have to recognize that my views are not very representative of the conservative mainstream.
When speaking wholly and declaredly for myself, I can shrug off (admittedly – with some regret) the distance I have drifted from old comrades. When I’m called on to do point-counterpoint, I can’t deny that there is something false about the situation. The many listeners to Marketplace who share the consensus conservative view are entitled to hear somebody articulate that view as well as it can be articulated. The listeners who do not share the consensus conservative view would benefit even more from a strong presentation of that alternative opinion.
If I can’t or won’t do that job, then I should make way for somebody who can and will.
Accordingly, I have resigned my role on the Marketplace program, nominating potential replacements from closer to the present GOP consensus. I may not agree with that consensus, but I cannot deny its existence and importance.
Marketplace very generously invited me today onto its airwaves for a farewell interview with host Kai Ryssdal. It will be broadcast later today. When a link becomes available, I’ll post it here.
I’ll miss the amazing Marketplace audience, so vast and so well-informed. And who knows? Perhaps future events will bring either the conservative movement to me or changes that would justify a return to the chair I just vacated. One can at least hope.