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December 05, 2009


Has written arguably the smartest thing I've read in 6 years of blogging.

And I'm not just saying that because I agree with him. I've been thinking a lot lately that a lot of folks on the right, regardless of where they stand on ideological and political compromise, are way too close to what's going on. We've lost our perspective. Ace's essay puts the whole RINO/extremism brouhaha back on solid ground and supports his points with common sense and calm, dispassionate insight.

Anyway, after reading it I've got nothin'. Via Attila.

Posted by Cassandra at December 5, 2009 08:18 AM

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The thing is, after all is said and done, politics is empirical. Totally.

There is no magic formula for "winning", whether it be mayor of a town like mine, State Representative, or President of these United States.
In January of 2007, most of the "smart" people would have given odds that Hilary! Clinton would be the Democrat nominee for President and probably win. How did that turn out?

I've made snarky comments in the past about the dreaded RINO, but the reality is there are not 51% of the voting public that are orthodox Republicans (note: where I live, the majority of the voters probably are, but that's an exception), let alone orthodox conservatives, (whatever that definition is), so to win big statewide or national elections, you have got to build a broad enought coalition of people who agree on some Big Issues of the day.

Obama did that in 2008 (with a lot of help from the Popular Media's lack of intellectual and objective honesty) by vaguely positing a lot of positions that a reasonably objective person with a modicum of knowledge about the political realities of this country would have laughed off.
But there you go, he got elected.

We can do better. Someone can run and be fairly honest about what he/she, believes, will do and what is possible, while coloring within the lines.
Stay away from the stupid stuff (or weirdness, as Ace says), that gains you little in votes and guffaws from the Media Morons, and concentrate on the fundamentals and 'let's be perfectly clear', and really mean it.
John Kasich was debating Air-head Huffington and Weird Howard Dean on C-Span the other night, and made a very good point. Political parties are vehicles, they are not an end in themselves.
The end is to govern well, fairly and successfully. Successful government, what's that? :)
But to that end there has to be some kind of consensus "in the middle" that the majority finds agreement on.
We are now getting a nice big dose of all the standard liberal -left tropes of the last 40 years from Obama, and a lot of people are beginning to realize that they don't really like it. The end result is that the Muddled Middle will be open to persuasion by the Republicans if they (the Republicans) can muster a clear message that is long on substance and reason and short on Ace's weirdness factor.

Time marches on.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 5, 2009 10:12 AM

"Muddled Middle?" Perhaps. But only about the waistline. Otherwise, I prefer to think of myself as being as discriminating in my political principles as I am in choosing my friends. And what's the one thing that cements a friendship? Trust. Consequently, Sarah Palin and the Birthers, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity Anne Coulter and all the other jabbering numbskulls on the Right can join their equally annoying cadre on the Left and let themselves out through the kitchen, thankyouverymuch. I'm not for sale.

Posted by: spd rdr at December 5, 2009 01:14 PM

I have been thinking about this subject for several weeks.

I was supposed to write an article for another venue last week, but due to a combination of Operation Santa, migraines, and simple intellectual indecision I haven't been able to finish it.

Hayek said something about conservatism that I find quite applicable to the incandescently idiotic "extremism/RINO" furor that pervades reich wing politics today:

When I say that the conservative lacks principles, I do not mean to suggest that he lacks moral conviction. The typical conservative is indeed usually a man of very strong moral convictions. What I mean is that he has no political principles which enable him to work with people whose moral values differ from his own for a political order in which both can obey their convictions. It is the recognition of such principles that permits the coexistence of different sets of values that makes it possible to build a peaceful society with a minimum of force. The acceptance of such principles means that we agree to tolerate much that we dislike. There are many values of the conservative which appeal to me more than those of the socialists; yet for a liberal the importance he personally attaches to specific goals is no sufficient justification for forcing others to serve them. I have little doubt that some of my conservative friends will be shocked by what they will regard as "concessions" to modern views that I have made in Part III of this book. But, though I may dislike some of the measures concerned as much as they do and might vote against them, I know of no general principles to which I could appeal to persuade those of a different view that those measures are not permissible in the general kind of society which we both desire. To live and work successfully with others requires more than faithfulness to one's concrete aims. It requires an intellectual commitment to a type of order in which, even on issues which to one are fundamental, others are allowed to pursue different ends.

There was much in Hayek's essay that I would quibble with. But there is much wisdom there.

Wisdom I very much fear modern conservatives have abandoned, and not to the country's benefit.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 5, 2009 02:00 PM

Now you know why I count Cassandra among my friends (when she'll have me!).

I hadn't read that Hayek essay in many many years, Cass, and reading those words again today swept away a lot of noisy crap that's been collecting in my ears these last 20 years or so. I can recall that once upon a time that my perfect dinner foursome was Hayek, Bill Buckley, Pat Moynihan, and, of course, me. I wouldn't have said a word. How could I?

It's such a pity that what passes for modern socio-political discourse has been allowed to devolve into a us v. them sound bite/bumper sticker shout fest. I'm a guilty as the next, I suppose, but I can sense that I'm changing.

With your permission, I'd like to link to the 1960 Hayek essay from which you quote, "Why I Am Not A Conservative."

If you never read it, please don't be fooled by the title. You will find Hayek to be eminently well reasoned and (for lack of a better word) joyous in his outlook. Certainly his is balm against the searing intolerance that blares at us today from all directions. Think of it as a Calgon bath for the overtaxed intellect.
And for those of you who, like me, haven't read Hayek in a while, where the hell have we been?

Thanks for the big shake awake, Cass. I look forward to reading your own essay.

Posted by: spd rdr at December 5, 2009 02:55 PM

I think we have all been guilty of that at one time or another, mr rdr. Certainly I have.

It's an interesting article in many ways. One of the most interesting things to be gleaned from it is a realization of just how far we've strayed from the conservatism of yesteryear.

For instance, conservatives love to quote the Founding Fathers or Enlightenment writers to support "conservatism" and yet they were progressives and radicals in their day. I've been wrestling with the definition of "real conservatism" and I'll be darned if I can find one that satisfies me.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 5, 2009 04:36 PM

That's right, you're guilty. :D

In this Old Republic, there should be certain immutable principles that we all agree on, but alas, Federalism among them, is a casualty of a lot of the populist politics of the 20th century.

We are adrift in a vast sea of populist politics, with nothing like a clear and honest debate of the underlying philosophies that guide the everyday politics of making sausage into law.
We are drifting towards a velvet fascism, of Big Government being the answer to everything. Frankly, a lot of people are clamoring for it.

At the end of "The Ominous Parallels" by Leonard Peikoff, he quoted Benjamin Franklin, after the Constitutional Convention.
"What sort of government have you given us?" he was asked.
"A Republic, if you can keep it," replied Franklin.
To which Peikoff concluded as to requirements for "keeping" this Old Republic:
A philosophy, if you can find one.

Thnkers like Hayek are trail markers in that search. The truth is out there, as they say.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at December 5, 2009 04:44 PM

Posted by: spd rdr at December 5, 2009 05:22 PM

spd, you truly have a way with words.

I cannot find one thing to disagree with in your last comment.

/running like helk for the barricades!!! :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 5, 2009 05:55 PM

The thing about Republicans is that so few of them are genuine, dyed-in-the-wool (whatever that means) conservatives...which is why the Republican Party has been steadily losing ground: why vote for "Liberal Liteā„¢" when you can get the real thing?

I would have to say that philosophically I am something of a moderate myself, but only on certain issues. However, fiscal responsibility and limited government are not on that (short) list...

Posted by: camojack at December 7, 2009 01:32 AM

IMHO a good start would be for the GOP to focus on, as Camo points out, "fiscal responsibility and limited [Federal] government".

Given the actions of the most ethical Congress and POTUS ever, limiting government intrusions into our liberties along with fiscal responsibility --which can just as surely steal individual liberty-- could be a tent under which a lot of folks might gather.

Many if not most other issues could, and should be reserved to the states.

Again, nothing more than a knuckle-draggers opinion follows, but the GOP is headed for permanent minority status if the leadership, from the national level right on down through the local party leadership, do not focus on identifying, advertising, and containing their governing principles in one sock, delimited by the Constitution.

Another item to consider. As of 2007, almost 1/3 of tax filers do not pay any income tax. Of that 32.6%, almost half received largess from the 66% who do pay into the treasury. Wonder how those folks will vote, huh?

Now consider the skill and coordinated efforts with which the political machines and the media obfuscate their goals and actions in order to liberate more money from and fit voters with an ever more restrictive government harness, e.g. social justice issue de jour.

All things considered, I think I'll cling to my fondness for the notion of term limits.

Alright, I need to hush.

One last thing, please take a moment to recall a moment from 68 years ago today, December 7th, 1941.


Posted by: bthun at December 7, 2009 01:00 PM