Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tommy Puts the Cart Before the Horse

Thomas Friedman thinks America needs a "second" party.   He's half right.   America does need a second party.  But not for the reason he seems to think it does.
That’s what Republican primary voters seem to be doing. They just keep going back to the pile but still coming up with only vowels that spell nothing.

There’s a reason for that: Their pile is out of date. The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.

Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions.
Tommy, those are some of the great challenges America faces today, and those ideological bases are called "constituents" in our representative government.  I am a little confused how pro-life advocates and advocates of rule of law, and opponents of government re-definition of marriage would be in conflict with each other, or in conflict with the ideals of limited government.   Our government was instituted, if I remember correctly, primarily to protect life, liberty, and property.   Pro-life advocates want the government to protect life, people who are against the government re-defining marriage for everyone want it to protect liberty, and people who are against the government confiscating money from them to do things outside of its charter are all united (and very often one and the same people) in those original founding principles.  There is no inconsistency.

This is putting the cart before the horse.  The Constitution does not say that political parties will dictate "up-to-date" policy.    It is up to We the People.  But the arguments made by the left are all a matter of choosing the semantics.  Since the media has an immense influence on the semantics that get used, it is up to us to counter with the proper semantics.  It's another way ...  an important way ... to stop echoes.

I saw a headline today -- a Rachel Maddow column entitled "War on Birth Control" is a good illustration of what's going on here.   There's no "war on birth control".  That is, nobody is using force, outside of an infinitesimally small number of extremists ... and by extremists I mean people who actually do use force - to make their argument against birth control.  And even that tiny, tiny, fraction of individuals who do aren't doing it over condoms.  The Church does not condone it.  No remotely mainstream Pro-Life organization condones it.  The war is largely a war of verbal persuasion.

Where there is much more like a war being waged is a war to force people who believe it is wrong ... to pay for it.   Because when the government forces you to pay into an insurance plan that provides coverage for it -- whether it directly requires the employer to buy insurance that covers it or if it requires insurance companies to provide the coverage so that the employer has no choice ...  the sanctioned, coercive force of government is indeed behind it whether or not anybody actually gets shot over it.  People will comply because the implied force is there, and that implied force will send people to jail if they refuse to comply (or shoot them if they resist going to jail).

Libertarians don't want government to overstep its bounds.  "Anti-Tax" people don't want government to overstep its bounds.  And Pro Life people ... don't want Government to overstep its bounds... in fact, one of their arguments is that government isn't doing enough to protect the first of those inalienable rights.

And even if you disagree on their entirely defensible definition of "life", there's that whole first amendment to deal with.  This is not trivial stuff.
The second of our great long-term challenges are our huge debt and entitlement obligations. They can’t be fixed without raising and reforming taxes and trimming entitlements and defense. We absolutely cannot just cut entitlements and defense. That would imperil the personal security and national security of every American. We must also reform taxes to raise more revenues.

But when all the Republican candidates last year said they would not accept a deal with Democrats that involved even $1 in tax increases in return for $10 in spending cuts, the G.O.P. cut itself off from reality.
So one of our, as Tommy says, three great challenges are huge debt and entitlement obligations, but the GOP balking on increasing the size of government ... and that is what raising taxes effectively does ... cuts the GOP off from reality?  Reality is, that for every dollar government decides to spend, we are spending, what, $1.40?   Pardon me, but anything to nip that bullshit in the bud sounds like sense to me!  Rather than take more property from people to fund things the government was not instituted to do, I think a big slap in the face and a "STOP IT" is entirely appropriate.
Our third great challenge is how we power our future — without dangerously polluting and warming the earth.
Stop right there, Tommy.  You've entered the realm of religious belief, and if you don't want people refusing to pay for things that go against their religious beliefs, then please don't insist that they pay for the implementation of yours.

I and most conservatives are all for keeping our water and air clean and preserving some wilderness for posterity.  But the Reverend Al Gore has failed to provide any scientific basis for the Chicken Little cry of Anthropogenic Glowobal Warmaning and it's claimed devastating effects, so pardon me if I don't worship at the altar.  It is clear that Al's "scientists" will willingly circumvent science to keep its government funding spigot wide open and feed their self-important egos.  If your prerequisite for another party is another one that follows the Democratic party line .... then you're just blowing CO2 up all of our collective arses.


Jeffmon said...

The whole Religious Liberty thing lately really sticks in my craw. It implies that there are certain recognized ideologies whose principles are to be more protected than other, less organized ideologies.

Yup, I'm arguing with the right-wing's bleating about Obama requiring the Catholic church provide insurance to its employees that contradicts its teachings. Why is it so wrong to infringe on the Catholics' liberty, but it's less egregious to infringe on an individual's liberty? It all comes down to the smallest minority. Any infringement on liberty must be fought with equal vigor.

Missouri law requires that a tissue sample be taken from any baby born in the state for genetic testing (at the parents' expense), ostensibly to facilitate state services for the child if they find something. Never mind that only a minute fraction of the tests turn anything up. There is an exemption if the parents have a religious objection. Why should a parent with a simple moral objection to the state's do-goodery have to convince the bureaucracy that his objection rises to a level acceptable to the state to warrant an exception?

I often hear people say this law or that law "doesn't really affect me." I think that often the case is that they haven't really run up against it yet. When you are chained, it doesn't really hurt until you pull on them. The chains are put on gradually, and you learn not to get too near the boundaries, so you never feel them.

Long story short, the onslaught on Liberty continues unabated. What are we going to do about it?

(...and yes, I realized I wandered off-topic a bit.)

philmon said...

I would say that in this case, somebody felt them, and it's not wrong to fight back when you feel them just because you didn't fight back when you didn't.

On the other hand, it should make one more senstitive to the same kinds of infringements on others' individual rights, and you are right, this does not always happen. In fact, it rather rarely happens, but it's happening more and more as religious Tea Partiers mix with their more libertarian co-partiers. This all takes time.

My main point here is that it's gone so far that the Federal Govermnent not only thinks nothing of forcing you to pay into something so outside of the government's charter AND it goes directly against your moral beliefs -- but -- if you dare to object you're just a backward hick-ass neanderthal and they'll probably find a way to throw "racist" in there, too and you should just shut up. (Never mind that using "Neanderthal" in a negative light would presumably be racist as well).

The fact that the Federal Government (or more to the point, those who happen to be abusing the levers of power at the time) are willing to go bold face against a belief that is, frankly, still quite widely held should be a wakeup call even to those who don't share the belief. And yes, I'm talking about the left-wing bleating about theocracies and wars on birth control when -- on this particular subject -- the war has been pretty much a government-backed rout in the other direction.

It's just one more ... no, it's not just one more, it is a big, important reason the Government shouldn't be involved in Health Care. Or defining marriage. Or telling us who we must hire, what we must pay them, and a whole host of other things it does that it shouldn't.

On that note, when is my drivers licence renewal due? ;-)

Unfortunately, not at the same time as my CCW. :-D :-D

Severian said...

The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases

He's talking about the Democrats, right? Whatever on earth do abortions for all, "green" crap, gay marriage, union thuggery, welfare, and unfettered illegal immigration have in common?

Ok, . Still, as you point out, this just shows --as if we needed any more reminders -- that liberals don't really get this whole "representative democracy" thing. Being conformists and joiners by nature, they're once again confusing a political party -- small "p" -- with The Party.

Parties, small p, are the framework within which the horsetrading of democracy gets done. I personally find hardcore evangelicals creepy, but they're in my "party" because they're politically useful. They no doubt find me creepy, but ditto. We're all "Republicans of convenience" in some senses, because that happens to be the administrative structure within which we can most efficiently advance our interests. The political party that was 100% consistent with my beliefs and attitudes would get exactly one vote. You make do with what you have, unfortunately (the thought of pulling the lever for either Romney or Santorum makes me throw up in my mouth a little).

The Party, though, is 100% consistent on all things. The Party enables all the complex mental gymnastics believers have to go through every day in order to square their ludicrously incompatible beliefs. It's the ultimate argument from authority -- two plus two is five today, even though it was three yesterday, because The Party says so, and The Party is always right.

[Incidentally, that's why they assume that "the Right" is so much better organized, willing to play dirty pool, etc. They assume that the Republican Politburo decrees the Party line from on high, and then the evangelical vanguard spreads out to whip the workers into line. They assume this, because that's what they long to do. They crave a vozhd or a fuhrer or a Big Man or a Chairman (and Thomas Friedman is one of the worst offenders). As always, you spell "liberal" P-R-O-J-E-C-T-I-O-N).