November 19, 2016

As we now know, Trump won a surprise victory in this election. This post provides some analysis of the Republican race, and what it means for the nation. I am saying farewell to this blog, and I explain my reasons below.

The following video was created in February 2016, just after the IA caucuses. I’m not going to say much about it. I thought William Kristol and Rich Lowry had some very keen, early observations of Trump, particularly that he’s a moderate, and that in fact the Republican Establishment decided it could live with him, but not Rubio or Cruz. A few of their conclusions were wrong, including that Trump could not win the nomination or general election, but I think it’s worth a listen

This interview with Kristol and Jonah Goldberg was done in July 2016, just before the Republican convention.

“The Trump non-sequitur” that Goldberg talked about 22 minutes in really hit home for me. I saw that constantly in this election. I had the same reaction to it as he did. It just did not make sense to me that people could go through a list of issue positions, with which I agree, and then say, “So we need to vote for Trump.” Trump for me represented none of those things. I always said he “mentions” issues when he’s talking with people about them. He doesn’t flesh them out, except when he’s given a speech to read on teleprompter, which was written for him. It usually sounds nice when he’s had a prompter (he’s gotten better at it the longer the campaign has gone on), but I don’t have confidence in that, because when he’s off prompter, he doesn’t seem to have it in his head, or he doesn’t talk about what he said in a recent speech. It’s like he’s just mouthing the words. What good is that? What it tells me is it’s not on his mind. He’s saying it because people like me might like to hear someone say it, but it doesn’t mean anything to him.

At 31 minutes, Goldberg says that it’s possible that the people who made up the Tea Party basically gave up on its core reason for being, and just went for broke. He said that there was a basic deal that the Tea Party had with itself that, “You told us that if we stuck to our principles that we would win the day. We held up our end of the bargain.” They saw Mitt Romney lose the election in 2012, and felt betrayed. Goldberg said he thought after that, people in the Tea Party just said to hell with all that “principles” stuff. They just wanted to win. I think there’s truth to that. I didn’t think Trump represented the Tea Party, but rather was using the Tea Party in a crafty way to create a sufficient coalition that would win him the presidency, and then he would continue the Establishment agenda, since he’d been part of it for so many years. I called it “running against the base,” while winning them over during the election. I’ve heard other conservatives say that there is in fact a lot of support in the Tea Party for Trump.

I didn’t make the connection at the time, but Glenn Beck talked about the same thing as Goldberg did, during the primaries. He said that “he could see it in the eyes of voters,” that they were giving up on the reform agenda. They were just going to throw their lot in with Trump, even though they knew he didn’t represent limited government principles, because they wanted to win. Beck said several years ago that it’s common in reform movements for this to happen, that just when the opportunity arrives for the movement to make some gains on its principles, the people in it give up. He said that’s what happened in this election. Republicans had the opportunity to nominate Cruz, but they didn’t trust him, and didn’t think he could win. They thought Trump was the train they could hitch their car to, and he would drive them to victory. They were right, it turns out, but I’ve asked conservatives to ponder this all along: What’s it worth to win, but not get what you want? In other words, what’s the point of winning if you’re not going to advance a principled agenda? I think many would argue that it puts a stop to the progressive agenda. I say that’s an illusion. What they’re really doing is pausing it, or slowing it down. I don’t think Trump is going to reverse it. Reversing it would mean dismantling parts of agencies (as a start), or ending them altogether, and taking out entire line items in the budget, particularly in entitlements and welfare programs (both for individuals and corporations which are dependent on them). Nothing in what Trump has talked about indicates he’s going to do that. He’s talked about repealing Obamacare, but, as an example, in 2015, after he’d been running for a few months, he said re. health insurance, “We’re going to take care of everybody,” and, “The government is going to pay for it.” That sounded like single payer, and should have raised alarm bells for everybody in the Republican Party! In fact, it didn’t. A survey showed that the moment Trump said this, Republican approval for single payer health care went from 19% to 44%! That’s the state of the Republican Party in a nutshell. It’s not very conservative. It’s Democrat-lite.

I have a different take from Goldberg on how the Tea Party felt betrayed. I think it’s possible the problem came earlier than Romney. If people will remember, the Republicans tried to pick anyone but Romney in 2012, but ultimately Romney won out, because the other candidates had some major flaws that made them unfit in some way. Romney was not the Tea Party’s first choice. He didn’t really reach out to the Tea Party, and what I was hearing was that the Tea Party was dismayed with him. He didn’t represent their principles. Romney lost in the general election, possibly because Tea Party types stayed home. It’s possible they regretted that decision, seeing what happened subsequently in the 2nd Obama term. Benghazi seems to be a particular turning point. Secondly, Obamacare came into effect after the election, driving employers away, and cancelling people’s policies that they were counting on to keep themselves and loved ones alive. Political correctness became more intense. That broke them.

So, they’ve given up on principles, and thought that being less judgmental of the candidate was their path to victory. In a shallow sense, they were right. Trump won the election, but I think all Republicans have won is a temporary reprieve from the pain they’ve experienced. They’re not solving the fundamental problems, because they either don’t want to deal with them, or don’t think they can be solved politically. They went for what I call “the morphine drip” once again, easing the pain, while they continue toward death in proverbial hospice care.

I sympathize a lot with Goldberg’s “What I got wrong” segment at 53 minutes, where he talked about how it’s been 10 years since he published “Liberal Fascism,” and he admits he gave the Right a pass in the book, basically putting all of the fascist tendencies in our country on the Left. He sees now that was a mistake. He said he made it because he thought that the Right was too dogmatic about its sense of independence from the government, and its skepticism of it to give in to authoritarian tendencies. He said he’s not afraid of an Orwellian dystopian future, as much as Huxley’s “Brave New World.” I found that very interesting, because that’s the same argument that Neil Postman made 30 years ago. Goldberg said that Trump has brought out emotional tendencies and states of mind in Republicans that he didn’t think were possible. At the end of his mea culpa, Goldberg said of his politics, “I feel homeless in a way that I have never felt in my entire life.” That really struck a chord with me, because I feel the same way. I thought of the Republican Party as “the thinking person’s party,” a place where serious intellects could advance the cause of liberty, and the interests of our nation, and that would influence policy in government. That isn’t how I see it now. The thinking man and woman is now an enemy in the Republican Party, at least until they cast their intellectualism onto a burning trash heap and support Trump. The charge against the intellects is, “You’re the ones who got us in this mess.” And since people like Kristol and Goldberg came out publicly opposing Trump, they’re seen as traitors who not only wanted to elect Hillary Clinton, but who have secretly been on the side of Democrats and their agenda the whole time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think many Republicans should be looking in the mirror on that one. This is one reason I left the Republican Party in August. I got tired of Republicans week after week telling people like me that if we didn’t support Trump, we should be ashamed of ourselves. The other reason is I watched the Republican convention, and was kind of disgusted by it. They didn’t even follow their own rules, at least not in spirit. I realized it wasn’t going to get better from here.

I thought a few years ago that the Republican Party was teachable re. conservatism, that if the two major parties chose two non-conservatives, constitutional conservatives should just vote for the Democrat, and that way Republicans would learn that going that direction doesn’t work. It doesn’t elect Republicans. This election has proved me wrong. The moderates won, defeating the argument that it’s moderates who have been losing, not the conservatives. (Past moderates who lost were just bad candidates.) I’ve also come to realize that even when evidence was put in front of Republicans, they couldn’t see it. It’s not just that people are in denial. It’s that they literally cannot see the better answer. Trump was not just a blip. The problem is structural. As the saying goes, I didn’t leave the Republican Party. It left me. If people are wondering why Sen. McConnell was siding with Democrats, passing Democratic legislation week after week, after Republicans won their majority in the Senate, this is why. That wasn’t just an aberration. This is where the party is now. Speaker Ryan, even though he had a history of being to the Right of McConnell, also threw in with the big-government Establishment, because that’s where the party is. The indications show that Trump’s election hasn’t changed that. It’s affirmed it.

In this materialistic atmosphere, where the perceived choice is between “Thing 1” and “Thing 2,” where one is on “your side,” which cannot be defined (other than in a bumper sticker that says “I love America,” with no explanation of what that means), and the other is the devil incarnate that’s not on our side, the thinking is if you’re not for one, you’re for the other. That’s the only possibility that can be seen. People like Goldberg and Kristol have become symbols of hatred, the object of scorn. Rather than defeating evil, we become perceived as evil.

This is going to sound overly dramatic, but the ending to “The Dark Knight” comes to mind. The one who actually is evil is perceived as the hero, because we need heroes. People like Trump represent our aspirations for us, without embodying them. We take the illusion over the real thing, because it’s easier to understand. Sometimes people’s faith deserves to be rewarded. People like me are not heroes, but we are protectors of the ideas of what America is, what makes it great. We are conservatives. If the people hate those ideas, even while they chant, “USA!”, we can take it, as can America. It isn’t the first time it’s seen this hatred, and it won’t be the last, at least I hope it isn’t.

People might ask how I could call Trump “evil.” I’m going to be nuanced about this. I don’t know that Trump has evil intentions, but something about this man assuming he can be president strikes me as serving evil, rather than the good of this nation. He has not in my mind demonstrated the skill I think is necessary for the job, other than his skill at being a campaigner, which he drew from his many years as a salesman. Of course, for the good of the nation, I hope I am wrong about all of this.

This conversation with Kristol from June about “Where is the Republican Party headed?” provided what I thought were some good insights about what’s been going on in this election.

The most “down” note that Kristol made in this is that this election has looked a lot like those that have happened in the Third World. They’ve played out in Argentina, Eastern Europe, and Brazil in years past. They’ve had plenty of elections where one candidate is a socialist, one is an insider who’s gotten rich off the political system, and another is an authoritarian demagogic populist. What he didn’t address is how we’ve gotten to this state. I argue the reason is not economic. It is political. More deeply, it is epistemological. Not to say that we exist in an era where there are not economic problems, but that they’re a symptom. The cause is our ideas about how we should live together. The Obama presidency created a semi-banana republic, where the very wealthy could be looted at the whim of a dictatorial regime, but the property of most citizens was left untouched, though Obamacare is creating conditions where that’s becoming a problem for ordinary Americans as well.

This video by Bill Whittle explains that the Third World is really what “natural humans” create, humans who have not been educated morally and historically in the notions of equal rights, which include the natural rights of speech, association, religion, property/commerce, travel, among infinite others, and why we decided they should be respected, not just by us, but by our government, and that the government is there mainly to protect those rights.

Whittle said, “We’re the freaks.” We’re the ones who live unhumanly good lives compared to the rest of the world, because of our work ethic, and our understanding of freedom. I wonder if Kristol’s point is very observant. I wonder if what Whittle believes about us is a lie. If Kristol is right, we’re seeing a symptom of our decline in this election. The result isn’t going to get us out of our decline, because it is a product of our decline.

I should note that in the last couple weeks of the election, Whittle became a Trump supporter. I hope his faith in Trump is fulfilled, and Kristol is wrong. However, I don’t think that putting teleprompters in front of Trump is going to turn him into a more small-r republican executive. Habits don’t change that easily, and we should know better than that. I don’t see that level of understanding in our electorate.

Just to be clear, I would be saying the same thing if Clinton was elected. Once the Republican nomination happened as it did, the die was cast. The problem is our conception of the moral project of politics.

I’ve come to a pretty firm conclusion that I don’t understand the politics of this country anymore. I used to feel like I understood it somewhat. I saw it as a battle between progressives and semi-small-r republicans. Now, it’s progressive vs. progressive. We might as well say you can have any color you want, so long as it’s black; some dark shade of grey.

It used to be possible to have a reasonable conversation with many Republicans, at least (Democrats are largely a lost cause). Now, I think Republicans are mostly a lost cause as well. There wasn’t a strong affinity for my ideology of constitutionally limited government in the Republican Party, but there was some empathy for it. That is now gone. Limited-government Tea Party conservatives got crushed in this year’s Republican primaries. There will be fewer of them in the next session of Congress. Perhaps Republican voters thought good riddance. Less risk of another government shutdown with them out of the way, so that the public trough can be reliably full for them to feed off of. Romney’s 2012 statement about the “47%” was not off base in its basic thrust. Its criticism included Republicans as well as Democrats. I wish he had worded his statement differently, though. Not all dependents deserved to be painted with the same brush of “helplessness.”

I looked for third party candidates to support in the presidential race, but they were wanting as well. So, I didn’t vote for President in this election, and I think I will be leaving politics altogether, at least in the way I have pursued it. I want to understand better how to be influential in our culture. I have a desire to either enter education, or help educators, to help create better citizens, because what I see is that most of our citizens don’t understand what makes America great, even if many of them want greatness for our country. As a society, we don’t know what that means anymore, except for our memories of what it once was like. What I’ve been doing to help promote that understanding has utterly failed. Time to give that up, and do something that works.

This will be my last post. I’ve only been posting on here once a year, anyway. If I happen to see pro-liberty candidates for office, I will continue to vote for them.

I find it highly ironic that I’ve used this blog in an attempt to challenge political correctness in Boulder (and to talk about national political matters), and what’s convinced me to end my use of it is a political candidate who made running against political correctness his campaign theme. I think my departure from this blog will be for the good.

The American people have their own ideas for what they want this country to pursue, and it clearly doesn’t want people like me to be a part of the political discussion. So, I will leave the rest of you to it. Clearly, you’ve made our bed, and we’re all going to have to lie in it.

I leave you with this scene from the HBO series “Rome.” It illustrates the realization after Julius Caesar was killed that the Roman republic was dead. He was killed in the Senate, but caesarism did not die. All the people wondered afterwards was who would replace him as unquestioned ruler. In this scene, the defenders of the republic who killed Caesar are confronted by Mark Anthony, who offers a deal: Don’t call Caesar a tyrant, and you can stay as you are with no opposition from me. If you refuse, I’ll make your life a living hell, and I will do everything in my power to destroy you. Inside, the republicans debate whether to kill Anthony while they have the chance. Brutus, one of the republicans, refuses to consider it, saying basically that the reason they killed Caesar was his tyrannical acts. Anthony has done nothing wrong, and he’s offering a truce. They should agree. The others say no, Anthony is too dangerous. He was a close friend of Caesar’s, and he would betray them. In the end, Brutus speaks for all of them, and takes the deal. The republic was still dead. Nothing changed.

What Anthony got was the legitimacy of Caesar’s will, which would have been invalidated if the republicans had not taken the deal. All of Caesar’s wealth was bestowed on Octavian, but Anthony planned to use it all for himself. I see parallels with the game the country is now playing. We have the illusion of victory for “America,” but we’re dealing with power players who are playing their own game, carving up the spoils. The big question I think we should be asking ourselves is whether the republic is dead, or just in remission.

Understanding the separation of church and state

January 2, 2015

Often when we think about the separation of church and state, we think about the issues of the government wanting to restrict use of public facilities by religious groups, and not allowing them to erect religious symbols on public property at Christmastime, or forbidding a high school valedictorian from invoking God or Jesus during their graduation speech. Thinking on this lately, I’ve come to a different conclusion about it.

I’ve been talking with a group of people who are interested in an education project, a component of which is to bring back a proper education of American citizens, so they will understand something of what it means to be a citizen of the American republic, since our public education system has thrown that aside.

There is, I think, a need for philosophical, epistemological, and ethical clarity. It’s ironic to me now that we have in effect a state religion coming into effect in this country, with no officially recognized church or canon, though the church is in plain sight: the government itself. The high priesthood is the academics in our universities, with our media personalities being the lay priests. It’s invisible to most, because it doesn’t categorize itself as a religion. The only way I know of to recognize it is from an anthropological perspective (though, as I’ll attest, one doesn’t have to be a scholar of that subject to see it). The only hint we get of it out in the open is when we see certain leftists say that unless we’re willing to have the government give money to the poor–which they will say is the “charitable” thing to do–we shouldn’t call ourselves a Christian nation. Or, like Rep. Nancy Pelosi said, we should welcome the illegal immigrants who came in last year, because, “That’s the Christian thing to do, to give them shelter.”

Particularly with the gay marriage issue, I’ve told people on the Left that, “This is the reason we have a First Amendment, and separation of church (I’m referring to their church) and state, to protect freedom of conscience.” The cases of states going after Christian businesses, such as photographers and bakeries, have been ones where the Left has had an easy time, due to the principle of public accommodation, but to me it’s religious persecution by a different name. I’m not opposed to gay people entering into legally recognized relationships, but the people they’re going after mean them no harm. They should not be treated like civil rights violators.

When the Left talks about the need to have government programs to help the poor, I’ve come to the realization that they’re talking the same way that a Christian minister would to their congregation, calling on them to be charitable. When they talk about the evils of discrimination, they’re talking like a minister who calls on their congregation to recognize everyone as God’s children. If you take out references to scripture, and any religious terms, that’s what it is! I have told some on the Left that this is the sort of thing I’d expect to hear in church, not from my government, and certainly not as part of a political campaign.

I think it’s fine for politicians to invoke God, or any other supernatural being they choose in their speeches, to say things like, “God bless America,” and to talk about their personal faith, but when they admonish people to “be charitable” by agreeing to raise taxes, and have the government engaged in social spending, or subverting government policy that’s laid out in our law, excusing it as “the Christian thing to do,” or any other religious excuse, I think people should recognize that these people are stepping over a civic line. Charity is a religious and ethical concept, not a political one. If our government grants money, say, to a foreign government, or grants foreign aid, it should be recognized as a tool of foreign policy, something that advances the state’s interests in carrying out its requirements with respect to other nations. Likewise, money spent domestically by our government should be seen as a tool of domestic political policy, something that, again, advances the state’s interests, hopefully in carrying out its charter’s requirements. That’s what “separation of church and state” really means. It’s not just neutering religion by taking out any religious narrative, and any references to the supernatural, but leaving in all of the moral codes and requirements, and transferring it into politics and policy. It’s separating the ethical and moral admonishments, and requirements of religion from politics and policy. This applies equally to the Bush Administration’s “faith-based” initiatives, creating government subsidies that fund religious charities.

I think we should also be clear that it’s not about excluding religious groups from using public property, forbidding religious speech on the same, forbidding religious symbols on the same on holidays, or even forbidding religiously themed monuments on it. It is about forbidding the imposition of policies that are hostile to, or I’d even say a substitute for, the free exercise of one’s conscience. I think that no act of conscience should be forbidden, so long as it does not violate the natural rights of others, nor damage government property, nor impede the ability of the government to defend anyone’s rights. These days we forget that we have a duty to respect the right of other Americans to act according to their conscience, even if it offends us.

Separation of church and state is about keeping the qualities of religion squarely in society, and not in government policy, and likewise keeping government out of the business of religion.

Conservative speakers coming to CU Boulder

January 29, 2014

Dr. Steven Hayward, CU’s Visiting Conservative Scholar, has arranged for some conservative speakers to come to CU campus in February and March. It looks like these schedules could be tentative. Updates will be posted on the Conservative Thought and Policy blog.

Christina Hoff Somers
February 19
Atlas Rm. 100, 6:30-8:00 pm

Jonah Goldberg
February 25
HUMN Rm. 1B50, 6:30-8:00 pm

Roger Scruton
March 5
Atlas Rm. 100, 6:30-8:00 pm

Jonathan Adler
March 11
Atlas Rm. 100, 7:15-9:30 pm (tentative)

Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger
March 20
HUMN Rm. 1B50, 6:30-8:00 pm

A way forward for constitutionalists

November 21, 2013

I have not posted to this blog in almost two years. I started this 7 years ago, since I didn’t see a place to express myself politically anywhere else at the time. I’ve since found other venues for that. In this instance, I feel the need to return to this venue. I’ve been thinking of a way for constitutionalists to regain a power position in our government. It’s going to sound counter-intuitive to many, but I think it offers a way of pushing the idea forward. It’s not the only answer, and it may not apply to some, since they tend not to vote for the two major parties anyway, but I offer it for consideration.

Increasingly I’ve been coming around to the idea that the key to a return of constitutional government is not ultimately through the political process, but through education, and that includes most importantly the education of children. Most of what I’ll talk about here is not about that, but a political strategy for the meantime. However, I feel it’s important to emphasize that this cannot be the whole answer. How to go about education, I leave to others for now, as I have very little knowledge about how to educate, but nothing replaces it in the project of political reform. I am quite convinced that we got to where we are today politically because of past educational mistakes, mixed with some deliberate actions. That’s kind of a chicken and egg problem. Which came first? The intent, or the mistake?

I propose not only a takeover strategy of the Republican Party by the Tea Party, but also taking actions that goad the country to come back to conservatism. Some say that takeover is already happening, but I think something more is needed, and perhaps Tea Partiers are already doing this. I don’t know. It seems like we saw evidence of this in the 2012 election.

In the past, the Republican establishment has been able to keep conservatives at bay with moderate politicians. The scenario goes like this. Middle-of-the-road types (often called “moderates,” but I’ll use the term MOTRs) claim during the primaries that their conservative opponents are too extreme and cannot get elected. MOTRs win these primaries, successfully convincing Republican voters of this (and by virtue of the fact that many Republican voters, and independents who are allowed in open primaries, like moderates). Then, in the general election, conservatives complain that their moderate candidates don’t represent them. The same answer always comes, “Where are you going to go?” Conservatives feel compelled to vote for MOTRs, because it’s better to get “half a loaf” than nothing at all, but I think we should question whether we’re even getting “half a loaf” anymore. The presidency of George W. Bush I think did away with that notion. Bush gained office by creating a program of “big government conservatism.” He grew the government way more than prior Democratic presidents had. He knew the public wanted larger government, but he thought he could steer the country with larger government in a conservative direction with higher public spending on causes to which conservatives are agreeable. In the final analysis, I think this failed. With the election of Obama in 2008, all I see is that Bush handed the Democrats a loaded weapon, which they’ve used to attack liberty-loving Americans, and encourage more government dependency to a degree they had not dreamed of previously.

What I propose is a political strategy whose aim is to teach the people that their desire for bigger government is misguided, such that it will open an opportunity for Americans to search for an alternative. The strategy is simple. Absent monetary influence, I think it’s all we have. It will involve taking many losses, and bearing them with resolve. It will involve experiencing the burdens of big government, and suffering its predations. It may not work, but I do not see an alternative. I think we must be firm about what we prefer. I think we must tilt our votes towards those candidates for office whom we can surmise have skills in governing, and who have our priorities of constitutionally limited government at heart, and in mind. If we do not have such a candidate to support, we must not vote for MOTR Republicans. Instead vote for Democrats, no matter whether they’re moderates or extremists, or vote for an existing third party, if some prefer. As I heard one Tea Partier say (I think Sen. Ted Cruz of TX), in order to take back the country we must first take back the Republican Party. To do that, there must be an accommodation between constitutionalist voters and the party establishment. If the Establishment continues to offer up milquetoast candidates, we must be willing to accept party defeat for the time being to teach the party apparatus that their choices are not acceptable, and to teach the people, to the extent possible, what their desire for bigger government (with the Democrats) really means. This means of course that we will continue to suffer the predations of government, if the public’s desire for that continues, but it’s an unfortunate truth about humanity that people often do not change until they experience pain. They must feel the overbearing character of big government to seek an alternative, and we must be willing to bear it with them until they learn that this is not the way forward.

Some will feel alarmed at this proposal: Vote for Democrats?? Yes, if no suitable Republican candidate is available. The reason for my “madness” is simple. If the public indicates it wants bigger government, I suggest we give it to them, full on. What I want us to turn away from is the “frog in the slowly warming pot,” that ultimately “cooks” it alive. I think we will be able to make our point most effectively with stark contrasts in the political process. Rather than give big government slowly, give it quickly with gusto. People will feel the impact of it more quickly. If it comes on slowly, people will become inured to its effects–they’ll get used to it. Expectations will be lowered, and people will not aspire to anything better.

Some will point to my stance and say that this is asking for dysfunction, because we are displaying an unwillingness to compromise. That is not true. I recognize the need for compromise in our government, but there are some compromises that are not worth taking. In fact what many are calling “compromise” today–continuing to overspend at an alarming rate, and continuing to destroy constitutional government–is downright crazy. We all know it. All the traditional motions towards compromise by Republicans have gotten us is a larger, more oppressive federal state that is repressing small private enterprise, creating more government dependence to a point where nearly half the country is in such a state, and where the government is borrowing 40% of what it spends, increasing the debt to proportions not seen since WW II, with no end to it in sight. Many in the Democratic establishment have convinced themselves that this is not dangerous. They can continue growing the state, creating a larger and larger financial burden on the country. Money is no object. Absent full Democratic control of the presidency and Congress, they prefer dealing with moderate Republicans, who will vote along with them to continue growing the size of government, with their feckless protests, indefinitely. The Democrats, as far as I’m concerned, are a lost cause for the time being, but if this country is going to have a chance in the future, we must not see this as acceptable behavior on the part of Republicans. We must have a conservative party, with some power, to go to.

Some might also ask if this is just asking for ultimate defeat. If the country does not learn to reject big government, and continues going back to the same “well” for solutions, despite its failures, won’t this strategy ultimately lead us to a one-party state, and perhaps the end of the country itself? I say we are on that path already. Voting for Republicans, without regard for their inclinations for smaller or bigger government, will not stop it. It will only slow it down, but not change course. That I find unacceptable as well. I’ve had this sense since 2011 that the country needs to make a stark choice about which way it is going to go. If it is determined to keep going down the same path, voting for MOTR Republicans will not change our fate. It will only delay the inevitable. It will seem like we have made an alternate choice, but we will, in fact, have chosen a slight modification of the status quo, which still leads in the same direction. That’s not the kind of decision I’m talking about.

There have been increasing calls for constitutional conservatives to break away from the Republican Party and create a third party, but I caution against this. Creating a third party will not change the political landscape one iota. It will not instantly create a new majority. What people need to do is change their minds. That can happen within the existing system of two major parties. Being a part of the Republican Party creates an opportunity for engagement, to change the minds of people who we need to convert to our side of the argument. It also lets them know that we are not their enemy. We agree with them on many principles, but we have a different approach towards achieving them. They may say it doesn’t look like a strategy for success, and on that they have a point. The Tea Party is a minor, though somewhat successful, movement within the Republican Party. Success for our goals will only come when the American public learns that big government doesn’t work, and we learn to communicate, and educate, the public to that fact effectively. Part of what will help with that will be the public experiencing the downsides of big government.

The one scenario where I could see a break-away third party working is where the Republican Party apparatus actively suppresses our voice, but there’s an increasing public support with momentum for our views. In addition, a funding coalition would be needed. Simply having different ideas will not suffice. They must be ideas that people are willing to commit to with their cash, and, living with the practical realities of electoral engagement, it must be an agenda that attracts donations to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Such fundraising can be done online in today’s world, but it might be necessary for such an agenda to attract large financial backers, rather than counting on a swarm of public excitement, and a large number of small donations.

The Tea Party has its enemies within the GOP, but I don’t see a large movement to actively suppress it just yet. I hope that does not develop. In the meantime I advocate taking the actions I’ve outlined to shape the Republican Party to our ends.

Edit 1/10/14: Glenn Beck did an excellent piece on this subject back in October. He didn’t say what I’ve said, but I think it dovetails. Where we agree is that we must do what we can to defeat what are commonly called “moderate” (or what Glenn calls Progressive) candidates in the party, in preference to pro-freedom, pro-Constitution, pro-market (I would add pro-federalism) candidates.

Great analysis on local government

December 10, 2010

This is an excellent article on how our municipal governments have evolved over time, and how the incident in Bell, CA. was a kind of “canary in the coal mine” moment:

“How the Road to Bell Was Paved”, by William Voegeli, City Journal

I think this explains a lot about how Boulder city government and the local school board operate. I don’t know this for fact, but I don’t think we have the sort of overpaid salary problems that Bell had. That’s not the reason I’m recommending you read it. What’s important is the history that led to this incident, because it affects many, if not all cities across the country.

The liberal/conservative divide explained, Part 2

July 25, 2010

This is a follow up to an earlier post, “The liberal/conservative divide explained”.

I happened to catch the Eagle Forum College Student Summit this weekend on C-SPAN (it occurred on July 16). One speech in particular that caught my attention was on a book called, “Rescuing A Broken America”, by Michael Coffman. Coffman contrasted the philosophies of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Locke advocated for limited government. Rousseau advocated for unlimited government. Coffman said that both had the goal of freeing humanity from oppression, but they had very different approaches for doing it. Locke’s philosophy was one of the main ones used for founding the United States (another philosophical source was Voltaire). Rousseau’s philosophy was used in the French Revolution, and was the basis for the philosophies of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. These became the bases for socialism, fascism, and communism.

I am embarrassed to say that I have only studied Locke a little, his philosophy of Natural Law. Though I had heard of Rousseau, I didn’t study him in any depth. Locke believed that humans are flawed creatures, but that freedom is our natural state of being. Government is necessary, but because (flawed) humans run government, it has to be restrained, because the state’s natural inclination is to grab power at the expense of the people’s natural rights that are in its jurisdiction. From what I can surmise from Coffman’s talk, Rousseau seems to have believed in a democratic government, but one where the majority always ruled–“the will of the people”. Coffman made a point of mentioning that we are a republic, not a democracy, because, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what they’re going to have for dinner.” Rousseau believed that the state was sovereign, not the individual (the individual is sovereign in a republic). Rousseau seemed to believe that since “the people” (the populace at large) know what they need, they can decide through government how everything should be arranged, who should get what, and what should be regulated and what shouldn’t. The public’s will is exercised through raw government power. As Thomas Sowell said, Rousseau also likely believed that everything would be fine so long as “the right people” were installed in power. He assumed that the vast majority would always be able to agree on “what is right”, and that anyone who didn’t agree with “the public will” should be marginalized. As Coffman noted, the result of carrying out this philosophy in revolutionary France was bloody. It was not a pretty picture. The legacy of Rousseau’s ideas have been fraught with mass murder and oppression. The most benign form of his ideas (so far) have been the social democracies of Europe.

In any case, it’s important for us as Americans to understand these distinctions so that we can understand what we’re really talking about, and not just debate short-sighted goals.

Some reality in what we are facing in health care

June 27, 2010

Back before the recent “health care reform bill” was passed progressives in Boulder were campaigning for a single-payer health care system. Conservatives tried to raise the specter of socialized health care in Canada and in the UK. Progressives knocked both down by saying that the horror stories in the UK were selective cherry picking, that you could find similar stories in our health care system in the U.S., and that the health care system in Canada was fine. Some wrote op-eds in the local paper saying that they had been to Canada, or some country in Europe, had used the clinics for free, or for a very low government regulated fee, and they got prompt and proper treatment. No problems. The conservatives came back with, “Yeah, but that’s for routine care. If you have cancer your chances of survival are not good in countries with socialized medicine.”

Dick Morris wrote a column earlier this month on what’s happening in Canada. They now have a two-tier health care system: One private, for the wealthy, and one public for the poor and middle class. Canadians found a loophole in the law that allows for private clinics so long as those clinics do not charge a fee for a service. Instead they charge for a yearly membership, and during that year patients get whatever care is within the capacity of the clinic to offer, with no fee-for-service. As usual the socialists are blaming the private sector for the problems that the public sector created. It sounds just like the debate over vouchers: “The private clinics are ‘stealing’ doctors that are needed in the public system.” No one’s taking these doctors at gunpoint. They are going to the private clinics of their own free will. It’s what they want. Better yet, it’s what their patients want (well, the service, anyway, not the cost. But they like the service)! It’s that damn free trade again! Doctors like the money. Their patients like the service. Both benefit, but all the socialists can see is the private doctors getting more money, and denying their services to the “needy” (their friends). Those greedy bastards!

You see, socialism doesn’t like self-interested providers of a service or product. Their motivation is supposed to be driven by the dictates of the political powers that be, preferably those who supposedly represent “the people”. That is the way they see the world. The health care system is too big and powerful to be trusted with its own motivations. It creates a negative effect on society, and it exploits patients who are too weak to have a say. Well yeah, in a controlled, restricted system where the government interferes too heavily in the private market, that’s true. Lighten the controls on competition, and they wouldn’t be so big and powerful anymore.

The socialists see every major trend as being directed by some set of big powerful interests that are of like mind and collude with each other to grab all that they can for their own greed. So socialists might as well be doing the directing, since they see themselves as smarter and morally superior to everyone else. They hate it when a bunch of “peons” try to take the initiative for themselves. They’re seen as trying to build their own power base by exploiting their patients, because they demand to set their own pay level. Oh the horror! Oy, how they miss the point! It’s all about power and money to socialists. The free market can’t be trusted to distribute resources, because it creates “injustice” and chaos–it creates inequality. They, the “wise ones”, must be able to control resources so that those who need them the most (their friends and their constituents, that is) can benefit, and of course only they know what will benefit their friends, because those people are too powerless to take care of themselves. It’s the societal equivalent of the dysfunctional co-dependent relationship!

Steven Crowder did another great video on the realities of the Canadian health care system, its quality of care and its wider effects.

Crowder asks that interested viewers “leave comments below”. Well that’s on the YouTube page for this video, which is here. I have no association with Steven Crowder or PJTV. So leave comments here about what I said, and leave comments for Steven at his YouTube page.

It’s good to keep abreast of stuff like this, because conservatives see the recent so-called health care reform as just single-payer in a different form. I think they’re right. Some say that the current set-up will inevitably fail, at which time the progressives will be ready to offer fully government-run health care as the only viable option. We need to recognize what we’re getting into so we can reject it and take a different course.