Over at Commentary, Peter Wehner observes George Will’s evolution from “‘strong government conservatism’” to a much more libertarian view of things.”
Though important, this is admittedly an “inside baseball” distinction. (It’s not as if Will was once pro-life and now he’s pro-choice. The examples cited — past and present — would all fit safely within the confines of mainstream conservatism.)
Still, it is clear that, over time, Will’s opinion of the proper role of government has evolved.
He once thought that “[a] purpose of politics is to facilitate, as much as is prudent, the existence of worthy passions and the achievement of worthy aims.”
Today, however, Will believes that a “government thus limited is not in the business of imposing its opinions about what happiness or excellence the citizens should choose to pursue.”
Wehner’s point is not to criticize Will (though he does prefer his former philosophy), but to instead challenge Will to acknowledge and address his change of opinion.
“I for one would be fascinated to know why Will today holds views philosophically at odds with Will circa 1983. And I imagine others would as well,” Wehner writes.
I know I would read that column.
This is nothing to be ashamed of. People do change over time. Getting older, getting married or divorced, having kids, losing jobs and family, learning new information — all of these experiences help shape our worldviews. So there’s nothing wrong with it.
George Will should take him up on the challenge.