S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Good Faith "fractured"

Legislative immigration reform and legal school desegregation lost ground yesterday. And it is in part because leaders failed to act in good faith. Fridays at this blog are usually about the Bush administration. But today it would be a contradiction in terms to write a post about our current president (OCP) and "good faith." Despite his support for the immigration bill, I do not believe Mr. Bush deeply understands the idea. His two Supreme Court appointments reflect a series of conservative decisions that signal a reversion to previous times when minorities suffered hurtful discrimination.

What do the words "good faith" mean? defines it as a noun [Used in banking, real estate, law]:

Compliance with standards of decency and honesty: bargained in good faith.
Wikipedia wants its editors to "assume good faith." They say,

Assuming good faith is about intentions, not actions. Well-meaning people make mistakes, and you should correct them when they do. You should not act like their mistake was deliberate.

"Good faith" as it applies to politics is a concept that has long fascinated me. "Acting in good faith - thoughts on advocacy" - 5/30/07 - was my most recent post on the subject. The phrase "in good faith" is one I used a total of 28 times in S/SW posts (17 in 2005, 8 in 2006, and only 3 in 2007). Why is my interest in good faith dropping? Is it because of too much news like yesterday's headlines? Is "good faith" no longer pertinent or needed? Is it now a "given?" Or is there less good faith out there about which to write? Am I becoming cynical, discouraged?

Yesterday's SCOTUS news reinforced my discouragement. The nation is inevitably going back to a worse time, an almost Orwellian time. The Supreme Court decision on school desegregation "fractured a landmark," according to the Los Angeles Times. To quote (emphasis mine),
SAVING THE WORST for last, the Supreme Court ended its 2006-07 term Thursday by rebuking two school districts that had made good-faith efforts to realize the vision of the court's landmark 1954 decision in Brown vs. Board of Education — an America in which children of different races share the same classroom.

To add insult to injury, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s opinion — two sections of which had the support of only three other justices — invoked the Brown case in holding that officials in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle violated the Constitution by trying to achieve a modicum of racial balance in their schools. In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens rightly described Roberts' reliance on Brown as "a cruel irony."

Thursday's decision could have been worse. By refusing to sign the most objectionable sections of Roberts' opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy prevented a majority of the court from endorsing the simplistic notion that using race to bring children together is just as unconstitutional as using race to keep them apart. Kennedy also made it clear that schools could promote racial integration indirectly, such as by deciding where to locate new schools.

Immigration bill defeated - I believe that part of what was behind the immigration reform bill's defeat is also thinly disguised racism. We can almost read it behind the conservative's words. Quoting from the New York Times story, for instance,

. . . The vote followed an outpouring of criticism from conservatives and others who decried it as a form of amnesty for lawbreakers.

. . . Opponents of the bill were elated. Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said: “The American people won today. They care enough for their country to get mad and to fight for it. Americans made phone calls and sent letters, and convinced the Senate to stop this bill.”

Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, a leading opponent of the bill, said that talk radio was “a big factor” in derailing the immigration bill.

. . . But Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the chief Democratic architect of the bill, said that many senators had “voted their fears, not their hopes.”

Good faith appeals to the best in us, not the worst. Politicians should also listen to their constituents who look for the best in citizen capacity towards cooperation and tolerance. They should validate progress and work for improvements in the lives of those they represent. Yesterday was a big setback in the Good Faith corner of the world.

Links -
  • Dogpile search on "in good faith"

  • Sartre originates concept of "bad faith."

  • "Bad faith" title link (above) -
    The fraudulent deception of another person; the intentional or malicious refusal to perform some duty or contractual obligation.
  • What does a politician of good faith look like? Slate Magazine's "The Real meaning of Obama's speech" is an example. To quote,

    In Good Faith -The real meaning of Barack Obama's speech on religion and politics. By Amy Sullivan. Posted Monday, July 3, 2006, at 5:02 PM ET


betmo said...

i don't believe in faith anymore. it is too closely associated with being cheated, swindled, lied to, taken advantage of, etc. hope things are ok with you.

Carol Gee said...

betmo, good to hear from you. I think what I am describing is something more along the lines of political expectations, rather than faith (blind hopefulness).
I still believe that leaders I do not know personally could "act in good faith," and I'll "believe in them" until they prove otherwise. Just call me a "cock-eyed optimist." That doesn't mean they won't be stupid or selfish at times, but those are mistakes, not venalities.
You and I, my friend, very well know "bad faith" when we see it. It has names like George, Dick, Alberto, , etc., etc.
I am doing well, thanks. E-mail to follow.