Friday, May 20, 2005

So Much For What They Stand For

Via Instpundit comes this link to John Cole's lament over the Republicans:
Let's run through the checklist:

Federalism- nope, don't need it.

Limited Government- nah- useless.

Fiscal Responsibility- forget it- outdated.

Tradition?- Whatever, loserboy.

Fair play?- For credit card companies, not for you.

State's rights- a quaint idea.

Separation of Church and State- Fuhgeddaboutit!

Limiting entitlement programs- nonsense!

Compassionate conservatism- meaningless buzzwords.
You'll have to read the original post to get the supporting links and further remarks.

And yet this doesn't mean I'll ever support a Democrat. With a Republican, there's at least a chance that we'll get the occasional spasm of party principle that means smaller, limited government, less spending and less intrusion. That never happens with the Democrats. They are the party of The State, Big Momma, Big Brother.

The questions are these: How do we cripple the Democrats for a generation or two? How do we get the Republicans back in line? How can we get more than two parties into the American national political system?

The Democrats themselves seem to be taking care of the first problem by themselves. As they see their power wane, they get more shrill and lunatic in their pronouncements. After all, you can only cry "Hitler!" so many times before the villagers stop coming to see what the fuss is about. Eventually, they'll leave you to go back to the village and their lives and jobs.

There are two streams now in the Democratic party. One is seeking to mimic Bill Clinton's successful move to the center. Some of those centrists are already-sober-sided folks like Joe Lieberman. Some are Hillary Clintons and Harold Fords, who see electoral success in the shift. America has a long history of cyclical change between conservatism and activism. We are in the conservative cycle right now and likely can be for some more decades.

The other stream in the Democrats evolved from the Sixties Left and was possessed by anti-war and anti-Bush hysteria. (How ironic that name is, eh?), Mike Moore, Howard Dean, et al. are working hard to grab their reins. But do they have a positive agenda to push? It seems not. They mostly can be defined by what they oppose: the definition of reactionary. They aren't pushing any platform or agenda of change other than "Get rid of Bush and the neocons! Bush lied; people died. No blood for oil! Liar, liar, pants on fire! Bushitler! Chimpy McHalliburton!"

Like most fantasist, they have mistaken the symbolic for the real. The ability of humans to abstract the concrete has led to dangerous notions. People who believe in magic believe that everything real has an "unreal" counterpart. Just as the real can be moved and reconnected, so can the "unreal" be moved and reconnected. But where they fail is that believing that where abstracting from the concrete can happen, so does reifying the abstract also produce real-world results.

That, I think, is why you see so many art-damaged types in protests on the Left. They are, first of all, exemplars of American individualism; but also folks who believe that symbolic dissent is just as important -- if not more patriotic -- than action. They also believe that manipulating the symbols of their enemy will produce changes in their enemy. Magic, if you will.

Most of America looks at what the post-Sixties generation has wrought on the nation -- casual sex, hollow marriage, alienation, loss of traditions -- and isn't happy. Sure, the Left brought equal rights and opportunity to minorities and women, but the groups that formed to achieve this have institutionalised now and seek to find further relevance to their continuing existence. Just like unions are fading after changing the workplace, so are these lefttist activist groups. They haven't found the next frontier of change yet.

But in their wake, we have the wreck of American traditions and the family. No, not all traditions are good, but we have the benefit of a widely educated populace that can look back on recorded history to see what's worked and what hasn't. It's no longer a question of righting fundamental wrongs but of fine-tuning the new landscape. But there are those who want to take us closer to utopia (a word that literally means "no place," by the way, and so continue to tinker with the workings of a running engine.

They must be stopped. Cold and hard. Republicans are getting their chance to do that.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans aren't using this opportunity to advance their cause, but rather to get their slice of the pie. Having seen Demcrats create a massive system of vote-buying via government projects and handouts, they merely want to hijack that system for their own personal benefit. Principles be damned.

I think that, just as the first Republican leaders of the new majority were holdovers from the minority days, people who didn't know how to lead from power and so had to be replaced, their successors are merely thinking reactionarily. It's time to skim off that next generation of leadership and find the statesmen who lead from principle. Right now, it's not an easy thing.

The Bush administration has consistently shown an electoral willingness to abide "go along to get along" and RINO Republicans to assure party wins. Time and time again, in state races and federal races since 2000, they will accept those who know how to work power rather than those who wish to use it for principle. Lamar Alexander, Arlen Specter, Richard Riordan, Elizabeth Dole, and I'm sure you can name many, many more. A lot of very principled, stand-up conservatives have been passed over to assure political wins instead. Ask Ed Bryant; he can tell you.

At the State level, look at the Republicans who let personal debts to Lt. Gov. John Wilder determine their votes, not the wishes of the people who elected them, nor the principles which they profess to hold. We have a State Senate Republican majority, but a Democratic Senate leader who still plays by the old rules and sympathies. Real change delayed by weakness of character from venal men.

It will take a rising class not yet there to push these people aside in the Republican leadership. It will take voter urging and action. State and Federal leadership in the Republican party has been top-down for decades now. It takes real action and effort to effect fundamental changes, but it can be done.

The blogosphere is our brief window of opportunity. With it, conservatives (and libertarians) can create the conditions of change that will force the money-men and their lackeys at the wheels of power to shift. Take a look at the race for Senator Frist's seat. Even though the Nashville money men have lined up behind Bob Corker (a RINO at best), there is significant momentum building up in the blogosphere for Ed Bryant, the most conservative of the candidates in the race. That momentum can translate into awareness, if we work it, and into action if we follow through.

Already, Bryant is the favorite of a majority of conservative political bloggers in Tennessee, by a very wide margin. Some have already offered alternative, successful, plans of action to his major opposition -- Van Hilleary. A tremendous discussion, aimed at effecting a particular result, is happening right now, when most of Tennessee still isn't paying attention. We can, if we work hard, create the landscape that makes the road lead to our destination long before most Tennesseans are thinking about the trip.

What's working at the State level can be applied nationally. We, the voters after all, drive what happens. The media, the spin machines, the party PR folks, may try to control the microphone, but we own the building. Parties depend on volunteers, and if those volunteers are motivated conservatives they will define the actions that follow. If necessary, a lot of Republican office holders can be tossed out and replaced, repeatedly in a winnowing process. It may be slow going at first, but these kind of things develop a synergy that produces faster results as they build.

So, a Democratic Party that's the modern day equivalent of the Whigs. A chastened Republican party that's been reminded of their principles. Now what?

Here we move from the realist to the dreamworld, I'll admit it. I've long believe, as many other have, that America should be represented by only to political parties. Such a reductionist us v. them, A or B, up or down, this or that mindset just doesn't encompass the vastness and complexity of America. I think America can easily support five major parties.

First, the Democrats can split in two. One, into a labor-based, working people's party that focuses on keeping Big Business in check and getting a Fair Deal for working Americans. Mildly socialist and not really socially focused. Call them the Mondale Democrats or Social Democrats. Let them keep the old party name. I suspect a lot of African-Americans would end up here. I think this party settles at 25% of the electorate.

The other half is farther over to the Left and encompasses those who want to redesign the nation and society. Very socialist, activist, the party of change. Use the modern Green Party as the seed and let them keep this name. Probably 10 percent of the electorate.

The Republicans also divide in two. The big part becomes Rush Limbaugh-style conservatives. Pro business, free markets, pro-globalisation, not at all interested in social issues except as they tinker with markets and business. East Coast Rockefeller Republicans. I think they, too, end up around 25%.

Then we have the social conservatives, those who wish for an explicitly Christian nation, as we had until the early 20th century. Call them the Christian Patriot party, which I think describes them well. I think this is about another 10% or maybe more. Depending on how the nation changes while the political shift is happening, this could be higher, and would reduce the new Democrats and new Republicans.

Neither the new Greens nor the Christian Patriots should be thought of solely as the farthest edges of the Left or Right. They are the homes for those who make common cause with sympathetic centrists who aren't heavily motivated to change.

Then you have the Libertarians, those driven to reduce the reach of government at all levels and in all areas. A lot of former Republicans end up here, dissatisfied with the stance of the New Republicans and some Democrats as well. This is maybe 5% of the electorate.

How does work get done when power is divided so much? Not a lot happens, actually, unless a true majority wants it. Every party has to make alliances to get a win.

This post has gotten too long, as I sometimes do. We'll end it here since we've drifted into the dreamworld.

To return to my original point, giving power back to the Democrats is not the cure to Republicans losing their way in the run to the pig trough of power. Smaller government that cannot have spoils to give is the answer. We can't get there with Democrats. Not now, not ever. They must be crushed first.

Next we bully the Republicans and lop off a few heads to make the point. Then, in the unbalanced political world that results, when the unwieldy whole is going to topple of its own precariousness, someone takes over the Reform Party as a neo-libertarian agent of change. We can remake the map of politics for a better future.

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