Of cabbages and kings
Michael S Greve, George Mason law professor, puts a decidedly cynical spin on the state of our national politics:
The miserable condition, I argued here, is an unsustainable, let’s-have-it-and-not-pay-for-it transfer state that both parties promised to maintain. We are stuck with that condition, as we would have been under President Romney. What now?
For advanced democracies in the transfer state predicament, there are only two ways out. One is a responsible Social-Democratic party that is (1) cognizant of the fact that a wrecked economy would also wreck its constituencies and (2) capable of holding labor unions in line. Successful reform countries—Canada, Germany, Sweden, and (more arguably) Brazil—all have that dynamic in common. America had but forfeited that chance in 2008, with Mr. Obama’s victory over Mrs. Clinton. The moment is gone for good, and Mrs. Clinton (should she enter the 2016 sweepstakes that started yesterday) will go nowhere. The new face of the party is Elizabeth Warren et al—brutal, ruthless hacks from Harvard.
Not to nitpick here, but I have to interject: Dear professor, there is no such thing as a “responsible” Social-Democratic party. The very ideas of punitive progressive taxes and “economic justice” are anathema to a system built around free markets, equality of opportunity, limited government, individual autonomy, and private property rights. A Social-Democratic party is an attempt to force a bridge between collectivism and free market capitalism. The two can’t co-exist except by a kind of supercharged bureaucratic enforcement apparatus — and this administrative state, people with unelected regulators beyond our reach as voters, runs counter to the idea of representative government and the consent of the governed.
The rest of the point — that we are being overtaken by what Mark Levin has called “masterminds” and I’ve called a “faculty lounge” political mindset — is dead on: how the voters of Massachusetts could vote for us a socialist who embodies everything that is broken in our society, from a clearly expressed economic illiteracy to a manipulative gaming of every system she was apart of as a way to put herself in positions that may have otherwise gone to those better qualified or more deserving (and to be rewarded for it), is frankly beyond me.
The only answer I can come up with being that the majority of people really are ignorant morons undeserving of their franchise.
But I digress.
The only other way out is a political force that offers a competing social model. That force, and that model, does not now exist—largely, I suspect, on account of our grimly professional politics. Conservatives felt compelled, for eight long years, to defend the Bush administration, an exercise that left them exhausted and compromised. After 2008, they should have done what opposition parties normally do—rethink, and regenerate. Alas, there was never any time for that: all the energy went into a fight against Obamacare, stimulus bills, etc.
The natural temptations is to keep it up: the people voted for “the people’s House” to keep taxes low. Maybe. But they also voted to keep benefits high, and so there’s the problem. A responsible opposition, it seems to me, would have to start at the opposite end—not with some clever promise to move crucial voting blocs (Hispanics, blue-collar Catholics), but with the truth: the country is broke. Our institutions are broken. Our economy is on the ropes. To fix the mess, you must give up something; but we have a plan that makes it worth your while.
That pretty much sums up The Federalist. The difference between Publius and us is the willingness to tell the truth, and the plan.
The TEA Party movement did just this. Predictably, they were demonized by the left — not for wishing to save the Constitution (though much was made of the “fetishizing” of such a dated document), but as racists and militia cranks and fringe extremists. Less predictably — and more disturbingly, it seems to me — they were demonized by many on the right, including many so-called “conservative” opinion leaders. Lately, they’re being called “purists” and “true believers,” having graduated from being Hobbits and Visigoths.
One of the problems with nominating moderates is that they are cast by the left as right wing extremists. Mitt Romney called himself “severely conservative” even though he was clearly a technocrat who believes in the supremacy of government as a means toward social and economic problem solving. And the fallout from this is that timid, “pragmatic” party hacks, relying on the left’s characterization of the right, set themselves up as “conservatives” when they are, in fact, no such thing. And yet because they’ve adopted the label, they presume to speak on behalf of those who, in reality, they don’t much care for, those who have been pushed into the “fringe” camp by the constant leftward movement of the political lines of demarcation.
The question going forward is this: do we allow the party hacks to pretend they’re conservative and adopt a new way of defining ourselves so that we can separate ourselves from the pragmatism and realism that these people preach, and that we as members of their party — and it is theirs, from a leadership and messaging standpoint — are consistently punished by? Because that would necessarily require either a third party or a third party coalition of some sort that worked with actual conservative Republicans, classical liberals, and libertarians whose foreign policy views are prudent and America-centric.
Or do we instead just keep on the rhetorical attack, pointing out how the electoral “solutions” being discussed by the GOP by way of a postmortem are in every instance a surrendering to the progressive’s narrative and a capitulation to their epistemological paradigm — something that we can’t do without necessarily moving toward authoritarianism and tyranny, even if it comes wearing the smile of liberal fascism?
I honesty don’t know. Help a brother out?