For 145 years, these core principles have informed and animated The Nation‘s thinking and work: passionate support for civil rights and civil liberties, opposition to corruption and abuse of power, a belief in non-military solutions to conflict, and a commitment to strengthening our democracy. But that hasn’t stopped spirited–often fractious–disagreements, divisions and debates from breaking out in our big tent community of liberals, radicals, progressives, new left, old left, new old left–even conservatives with a conscience.
There’s great value (and fun) in providing a forum for a broad spectrum of left/progressive views and engaging in vigorous debate. But these are times which also test our willingness to work together towards larger goals, even if we don’t agree on everything or how to get there in the short-term.
This next year, and moving forward, will demand that we work together–either side-by-side or in some kind of meaningful coalition–to create a more fair and just and peaceful world. How do radicals and pragmatists work in constructive ways that don’t lead to anger, despair, or breakdown over an array of issues? How do we navigate between radical visions and pragmatic possibilities?
In his rollicking memoir A Matter of Opinion, publisher emeritus and former editor of The Nation, Victor Navasky, describes the struggle within the magazine to respect and articulate conflicting views during its long and storied history. In a fascinating passage, he describes splits among The Nation‘s editors, writers, and contributors over issues like intervention in Haiti, the war in Bosnia, and President Clinton’s healthcare proposal. Victor recalls how no one felt Clinton’s proposal was adequate, but half the staff supported it as a step towards universal healthcare, while the other half felt it undermined that goal.
"Rather than march in lockstep, our contributors and staffers have disagreed, argued, feuded, and debated, among themselves and in our pages, on matters of principle, practicality, politics, policy, and morality," Victor writes.
In some ways, history now repeats itself as we encounter similar divisions among our staffers, editors, and contributors over the current healthcare legislation–though as of this moment, I’d wager a lot that a majority supports passing the bill as a step towards broader reform.
Anyone who believes the progressive left has ever been a monolith is, well, clueless! And just as progressives around the country are finding their footing in the Obama Era, so too are the editors, thinkers, activists, and contributors that make up The Nation community. It’s a community that now extends well beyond the magazine, with a vibrant web presence that leads people to groups and ideas and opportunities for action. It also includes our Nation Associates, and over 70 discussion groups in cities and towns across America, including Madison, WI; Grand Ledge, MI; Atlanta, GA; Boulder, CO; Burlington, VT; Wheeling, WV; and Albuquerque, NM.