December 3, 2012

“Why Don’t People Get It About Jefferson and Slavery?”

So asks David Post, writing at Volokh, in a thoughtful piece that takes to task Paul Finkelman’s insipid and historically inaccurate revisionist reimagining of Thomas Jefferson, which the NYT Op-ed page titles “The Monster of Monticello”.

Writes Post:

The founding generation, Finkelman writes, helped perpetuate a “treason against the hopes of the world,” by “fail[ing] to place the nation on the road to liberty for all,” and “no  one bore a greater responsibility for that failure than the master of Monticello.”

This is truly outrageous and pernicious and a-historical nonsense.  The truth is that few people in human history did more, over the course of a lifetime, to “place the road on the road to liberty for all” — and indeed, to eliminate human slavery from the civilized world — than Jefferson.  Don’t take my word for it  – take Lincoln’s (who was himself, of course,  one of those “few people”).  ”I am sustained by Mr. Jefferson” he said, in 1858.

The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society. And yet they are denied, and evaded, with no small show of success.  Some dashingly call them “glittering generalities”; another bluntly calls them “self evident lies”; and still others insidiously argue that they apply only to “superior races.”  These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect—the supplanting the principles of free government . . . We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us.

This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

All honor to Jefferson—to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.

That “abstract truth” being, of course, that all men were created equal, and that all had inalienable rights to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness.  Taking his cue from the 25th chapter of the Book of Proverbs – “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” – Lincoln went on:

“The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word ‘fitly spoken’ which has proved an ‘apple of gold’ to us.  The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it.  The picture was made, not to conceal or destroy the apple; but to adorn and preserve it.  The picture was made for the apple – not the apple for the picture.  So let us act, that neither picture, or apple, shall ever be blurred, or bruised, or broken.

It was Jefferson, Lincoln wrote, who realized that there was a question of God’s eternal justice wrapped up in the enslaving of any race of men, or any man, and that those who did so braved the arm of Jehovah – that when a nation thus dared the Almighty every friend of that nation had cause to dread His wrath.”

Maybe Lincoln didn’t understand what was going on as well as Paul Finkelman now does, but I regard that as unlikely.

Why is this so hard for people to see? Even if Jefferson had done nothing more than pen those words and get them inserted into the foundational document for the new country — and he did plenty more, see my paper here — declaring that principle to be a self-evident truth and at the foundation of any legitimate government was an act of political courage, not cowardice or hypocrisy, at a time when slavery was at the heart of the way of life and an economy across vast swaths of colonial America.  Maybe Prof. Finkelman would have come up with a way to more quickly eliminate the institution from the new republic than Jefferson did, one that would have eliminated the horrible bloodshed of the Civil War.  But nobody had such a plan, at the time – not Jefferson, not Washington, not Clay, not anyone.

Historically, of course, Post is correct — not only did an early draft of the Declaration contemn the British for the slave trade, but the idea of natural law and the rights of all men necessarily set the stage for the eventual abolition of slavery, as Lincoln rightly pointed out.  The truth is, to get colonies to sign on to the Declaration, certain concessions were made.  This was a political bargain struck out of necessity and circumvented out of the genius of the Declaration’s final wording, though it was the progeny of the Founders and Framers, by way largely of the abolitionist movement (social cons!),  who ultimately brought to fruition the intent of the Declaration’s call for unalienable rights for all.  And the Constitution, note, no where protects slavery or the slave trade in any affirmative manner.

— Which is why for all its usefulness, Post’s piece, having brushed up against the main point of Professor Finkelman’s argument, fails to subdue it, and instead lets it slip by with a bit of unnecessary explication.

And that’s because when Post asks, “Why is this so hard for people to see?,” what he doesn’t do — perhaps out of a sense of collegiality or adherence to some unspoken academic code — is conclude the obvious observation that this is but a rhetorical question:  of course people like Finkelman know this — making the real question, why are they so invested in creating these revisionist histories in the first place, then attempting to give them the imprimatur of credentialed “academic” plausibility?

And that answer doesn’t require a whole lot of deep research or footnoted historical marginalia:  the goal is to devalue the virtue of the founders and framers in order to erode the legitimacy of the founding documents and the constraints they place on the more contemporary and enlightened socially-forward progressive politician.  That is, the answer is that Finkelman, as are many would-be masters of his political stripe,  is invested in the narrative that a necessary  neo-Wilsonian view of government is being hamstrung by checks and balances and separation of powers, obstructions that prevent the intellectual and (by association, moral) supremacy of the political class from acting in a manner that is, in their minds, necessarily expeditious, and committed to “social justice” and “positive rights.”  Liberal fascism with notes of nutty democratic socialism and hints of a vanilla police state.

Of course, to those who believe in the American system as founded — the one that protects individual liberty, natural rights, and sets the conditions for equality of opportunity through a just and stable rule of law, a free-market capitalist economic system, and an unobtrusive federal government with limited enumerated powers — Wilsonian progressivism and it Fabian socialist antecedents, are entirely alien to this country, and were in fact based around ideas that led to our breaking from the British monarchy in the first place.

What Finkelman is attempting is to deconstruct the founding and framing through the founders and framers in order to problematize the products of their unclean and treasonous Enlightenment bigotries.

All to set the stage for the ever-more aggressive attacks on the Constitution’s legitimacy.

The irony being that, like all good anti-foundationalist leftists, I have no doubt that, when it comes to questions of religion and the social contract, Finkelman will be one of the first to dig into Jefferson’s letters and cite his “separation of church and state” line, acontextually, to promote the institutionalizing of secularism and statism, creating the God as State model at the heart of every totalitarian regime, no matter what its outward polished sophisticated trappings.

Resist we much. And we must.

And part of doing so effectively is pointing out the cynical (and dare I say treasonous, too?) motivations behind such attempts to revise the American founding and those who provided the world the blueprint for self-governance and individual freedom and autonomy.

(h/t geoffB; via insty)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:24am
61 comments | Trackback

Comments (61)

  1. If there was “treason against the hopes of the world,” it was perpetrated by the founding generation, which failed to place the nation on the road to liberty for all. No one bore a greater responsibility for that failure than the master of Monticello.

    And yet, the nation was on that very road. Frederick Douglass:

    Let me tell you something. Do you know that you have been deceived and cheated? You have been told that this government was intended from the beginning for white men, and for white men exclusively; that the men who formed the Union and framed the Constitution designed the permanent exclusion of the colored people from the benefits of those institutions. Davis, Taney and Yancey, traitors at the south, have propagated this statement, while their copperhead echoes at the north have repeated the same. There never was a bolder or more wicked perversion of the truth of history. So far from this purpose was the mind and heart of your fathers, that they desired and expected the abolition of slavery. They framed the Constitution plainly with a view to the speedy downfall of slavery. They carefully excluded from the Constitution any and every word which could lead to the belief that they meant it for persons of only one complexion.

    The Constitution, in its language and in its spirit, welcomes the black man to all the rights which it was intended to guarantee to any class of the American people. Its preamble tells us for whom and for what it was made.

  2. I have no trouble seeing Jefferson as both of those people at once: a smart guy who appreciated liberty and was a huge formative influence for our country, AND a guy who owned slaves and had a less-than-perfect viewing of how these two aspects of his life conflicted.

    It’s also worth noting that while Jefferson’s owning of slaves is rightly discreditable by our current set of values, it wasn’t really out of the ordinary for his lifetime.

    Taking away some of his value as an all-around regular guy in no way detracts his value to our country’s core values.

    I pretty much agree with Douglass, too: our Constitution granted equal rights to everyone, even if it took until after the deaths of the collective authors. Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920. And he kind of overlooked the 3/5 compromise, but that was really more about representation than about rights.

  3. “. . . rightly discreditable by our current set of values, it wasn’t really out of the ordinary for his lifetime.”

    That’s historicism in a nutshell.

  4. Obama Aide: With These Republicans, There’d Still Be Slavery

    That’s the ticket. Nothing works like the well-honed “random” tie-back.

  5. True, it was not illegal or unusual for a person to own slaves, but if he did so but was against slavery than he was a hypocrite, and we know that is a primary sin that progressives must denounce.

  6. Finkleman will be one of the first to dig into Jefferson’s letters and cite his “separation of church and state” line, acontextually,

    For those trolls who don’t know the context, a Baptist church in Connecticut found itself a religious minority after independence and feared that the dominant religion(s) in Connecticut would use the levers of state power to mess with their religious practices, e.g., dictate how they ought to perform baptisms or which version of the Bible to use. Such types of State interference in religion was common in Europe, so it wasn’t inconceivable that it would happen here (and it may have, during the colonial era).

    In the famous letter he wrote in response, Jefferson reassured them that in the new United States of America, there was a “wall of separation” between church and state, which meant that nobody in Connecticut had the legal capacity to dictate jack to any church at any time.

    In other words, the area of concern was State interference in the free exercise of religion, not the ACLU’s allegation that religious ideas should never contaminate the political process (read: the State religion, wherein the State is the repository of all moral authority).

    So the First Amendment guarantees that the State cannot tell Catholic Charities that they must adopt out babies to gay couples or pay for contraception and abortifacients.

    Got a problem with that? Take it up with the Constitution.

  7. OT sorta, but here’s something I wish happyfeet would read.

    I can set it up with the last paragraph:

    […] the last thing that we need to do is to take the advice proffered to us by Mike Murphy that, to succeed, the Republican Party must surrender to the Zeitgeist. If the Republican Party does that, it should be abandoned.

    Of course, as I’ve said often lately, it’s too late now. The Republic is dead, never mind the Republican Party. Still, something to keep in mind if there is secession and a new republic.

  8. Jefferson wrote unkind things in his journal about an ancestor of mine. Knowing my family, I’ll defend Jefferson’s judgment with sleeves rolled up. Whatever else, he knew us McGehees well.

  9. [T]he goal is to devalue the virtue of the founders and framers in order to erode the legitimacy of the founding documents and the constraints they place on the more contemporary and enlightened socially-forward progressive politician.

    Blame Isaiah Berlin and his fallacious positive liberty/negative liberty bit of circle squaring.

  10. As to the rhetorical question that’s the subject of the post, what’s there to get? Jefferson was a limousine liberal. When do they not encourage others to live their lives in a manner different from their own?

  11. When Jefferson inherited those slaves at the age of 14, it was illegal in Virginia to free your slaves. The first thing Jefferson did when he was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses was introduce a bill to make it legal to free your slaves. It was rejected. (I can’t remember if he was later successful, but I do know that there were plenty of shenanigans with those laws at the time.)

    Furthermore, there were concerns about the well-being of freed slaves, whom they thought might be the equivalent of zoo-born animals: unable to fend for themselves after a lifetime of dependency (WHICH HAS NO BEARING ON ANYONE ALIVE TODAY). They also weren’t sure that freeing the slaves en masse wouldn’t result in them turning on their former masters and slaughtering them (cf. Zimbabwe).

    Jefferson ended up being one of those “land rich, cash poor” folks, he being an aficionado of throwing lavish parties where he served up expensive spirits and tomatoes. (As a member of family Solanaceae, which is the Deadly Nightshade family, the tomato was suspected to be poisonous as well. Jefferson demonstrated otherwise.) The upshot being that his slaves ended up being his only assets.

    Jefferson was a complicated guy. But he’s also the one who put the time bomb in the DoI—quite deliberately—in the hopes that it would later detonate, notwithstanding his personal inability to live up to his own standards.

    BTW, also to any visiting trolldumb: If you’ve never violated your own standards, you’re either a god or your standards are awfully low.

    Just sayin’

  12. Compare also one of the widely admired precursors to the US Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, Articles II and III ( and note, as I believe, the intentional [John Adams’ emplaced] contradictions):

    Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

    Art. II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments, provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.

    Art. III. As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of the public instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, To promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

    And the people of this commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subject an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if there be any on whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend.

    Provided, notwithstanding, That the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic, or religious societies, shall at all times have the exclusive right and electing their public teachers and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance.

    And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship and of public teachers aforesaid shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he attends; otherwise it may be paid toward the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised.

    And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law. […]

  13. I am wondering if having been a slaveowner for a period of time which didn’t encompass his entire life, George Washington’s life accomplishments while he owned slaves are rendered worthless?

    By these standards, I mean.

  14. He’s a Dead White Male. I can’t believe you people are defending him. I mean, I could maybe see cutting him some slack if he were into boutique cupcakes and burlesque and J-pop, but this dude was, like, totally square.

  15. I’m running the risk of removing some critical context here, but I’ll go ahead anyway – I’m not afraid to be wrong:

    The truth is, to get colonies to sign on to the Declaration, certain concessions were made. This was a political bargain struck out of necessity and circumvented out of the genius of the Declaration’s final wording…

    This sounds an awaful lot like what we’ve been arguing about recently – Republicans maintaining a commitment to ideological purity vs. making “pragmatic” concessions in order to get elected, then theoretically speaking introducing change from the inside slowly over time. Jefferson gets credit for doing what I’ve seen the RINOs/pragmatists/etc. get excoriated for doing (or attempting to do, given the most recent electoral results).

    Is there something to be said for sneaking in some RINOs with an eye on the long game, or are we sure that the current Republican politicians are unwilling or incapable of such a thing?

  16. Right now, throughout Asia and Africa slavery is being practiced right this fucking second.

    Within oh 80 years, the US had eliminated the practice.

    Why don’t Paul Finkelman go over there and spread some of that righteous anger?

  17. Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

    I wish this part, at least, had been inserted verbatim in the DoI. It might have slowed the progressives down a little bit.

  18. And damned well let em know that his name is Paul FINKELMAN.

    Cause that would be cool. After they gut him, his family can sue for damages.

  19. Is there something to be said for sneaking in some RINOs with an eye on the long game, or are we sure that the current Republican politicians are unwilling or incapable of such a thing?

    Did we, or did we not, just lose a presidential election trying exactly that?

  20. Is there something to be said for sneaking in some RINOs with an eye on the long game, or are we sure that the current Republican politicians are unwilling or incapable of such a thing?

    No. Because Jefferson’s pragmatism was in service of his idealism — and the idealism isn’t stripped from the document. As others have noted, it was there all along. It just took some time before the political will existed to state the obvious.

    RINO pragmatism vs the pragmatism of getting the Declaration signed in a unified manner to show allegiance in the fight for independence against the Crown may seem similar in structure, but it’s entirely different in terms of its intent and the substance of the compromise.

  21. Did we, or did we not, just lose a presidential election trying exactly that?”

    If I get the proposition correctly, I don’t think so, since I don’t believe Romney can properly be accused of grasping the philosophical position proposed to be smuggled in. He just isn’t that guy.

  22. Are you suggesting the Romney wasn’t a concession to pragmatism with an eye towards getting a President and an administration more friendly to economic liberty?

  23. For arguments stake, if we’re going to start making pragmatic compromises in order to win elections, then maybe we should take a second look at purported big-government paternalists —so called because the supporters of Johnny-come-lately über-staunch conservative Mitt Romney found it convenient– like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

  24. arguments sake

  25. Are you suggesting the Romney wasn’t a concession to pragmatism with an eye towards getting a President and an administration more friendly to economic liberty?”

    No, not exactly. The “eye towards” which — I’m saying — belongs to others (others like you Ernst, or I) rather than to Romney himself. It might be our aim, but it was not his aim. Which is why, I think, people were encouraged that Romney chose Paul Ryan as a running mate (since they understood Romney’s lack), one about whom people might conclude represented just such a knowing advocate of the fuller expression of the underlying philosophical position but who understands (somehow) the pragmatic position where to give ground now in order to obtain greater advances at a later time. Yet we could also be mistaken about Ryan. We don’t finally know how well he understands the political circumstances, despite the occasional appearances that he does understand them somewhat.

  26. And I’m just calling attention to the fact that all of these calls for pragmatism over purity, Team! over Visigothyness, are intended to shame social cons into shutting up so the Rockefellereqsue establicans can focus on the issues that really matter,

    Which, by the way, are not the small government, economic liberty issues sometimes referred to as fiscal conservatism.

    And that’s not by accident.

  27. me I also think is too late now but I will read over dinner, which I just have to order

    OT Abe lied about pennsyltucky… It’s far more indescribably…

    I keep putting my hand over my mouth and catching myself… I wish I had longer to stay so I could get a better understanding

  28. If we truly believed that the Republican Party was acting all milquetoasty as part of a clever ruse to gain control of the federal government and scale it back to its traditional roles and limits, we might cut them some slack. We’d probably still argue the wisdom of the tactics, but we’d be in the position of a partner with a disagreement, rather than our current position of unwanted rebels.

    The problem is that we believe — in the light of evidence and the historical record — that the Party is running squishy moderates because they just want their turn playing with all the wonderful power that the Left has accumulated inside the Beltway over the past hundred years.

    It’s that wonderful juxtaposition of craven tactics in service to a dishonorable strategy that makes people like me so critical of my pragmatic superiors in Washington.

  29. if we do not find a way to reverse the sexual revolution we are doomed?

    Cause of it promotes dependency

    What also promotes dependency is having kids you can’t afford, especially out of wedlock

    But some of what rahe says makes sense as far as it goes i think

    It just reads to me like rahe’s socons don’t understand that they have much bigger fishes to fry than silly abortion regulatings a la lila’s ultrasounds and worrying about how many gay peoples can marry on the head of a needle

  30. Whereas keeping abortion on demand the law of the land? That’s the white whale of fried fish!

    I’ll start believing it when folks like you start acting like it.

  31. “And I’m just calling attention to the fact that all of these calls for pragmatism over purity, Team! over Visigothyness, are intended to shame social cons into shutting up so the Rockefellereqsue establicans can focus on the issues that really matter,”

    Could be I’m wrong, but I don’t believe (lacking evidence) that’s what scooter had in mind.

    Just noticed this: “Women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920.”

    Except women could vote in New Jersey way back in the late 1700s and into the early 1800s. That voting privilege was legislated away thereafter.

  32. except the whale actually existed, at least in fiction

    there is no such thing under heaven as banning abortion when your pitiful little party can’t even win the catholic vote much less the presidency

    no such thing at all

  33. the biggest socon fish to fry is economic growth, cause of it was economic growth what allowed America to briefly take the frivolous socon agenda somewhat seriously

  34. Except women could vote in New Jersey way back in the late 1700s and into the early 1800s. That voting privilege was legislated away thereafter.

    Correct. But I was speaking of Constitutionally protected rights. Or, to be more precise: Constitutionally protected rights that had the muscle of enforcement behind them.

  35. If that’s the case, then you’re better off, in the long run, pandering to anti-abortion voters. You get their support for you economic agenda, and you don’t have to worry about one day having to deliver on your anti-abortion promises.

  36. It just reads to me like rahe’s socons don’t understand that they have much bigger fishes to fry than [blah, blah, blah]

    And those fish are never going to get fried while we the people encourage an irresponsible culture. They’re all bibbed up waiting for the rich guy to serve the fish.

  37. those fish are never going to get fried while we the people encourage an irresponsible culture. They’re all bibbed up waiting for the rich guy to serve the fish.

    There you go destroying middle class jobs again.

    All the rich guy has to do is pick up the check.

  38. no no no reinstilling the idea of a work ethic in food stamp losers can proceed even as the food stampers get laid

    If not why not

  39. The left are a bunch of fucking lying assholes.

    I did like that part of Lincoln where Thaddeus Stevens makes the speech that men are not equal, but are equal in the eyes of the law (rather than being baited by pro slaveery Democrats into a race argument that would have jeopardized the vote on the 13th Amendment, he turns it as an attack on the moral character of the Democrats). Somethings never change.

  40. Maybe there’s a nugget of the distinction between the earlier Federalism vs. a more Progressive-like universalism in federal government presented in the two periods, Slart? Or to say it another way, a period pre-“incorporation” of the post Civil War amendments and post-“incorporation” of the same. In the 1920s an expectation of uniformity among the states is more or less a commonplace, whereas in the early 1800s no such expectation held sway. Which ties as well to the changes wrought by the 17th amendment.

  41. If not why not

    Ask Tacitus

  42. If not why not

    No bourgeoisie without bourgeois values.

  43. Also, if the proggs quit trying to jam SSM down our throat (civil unions are the compromise), and promoting abortion (what happened to safe, legal, and rare?), we could quit talking about it.

    “the food stampers get laid” is what is causing generational welfare, making the Pope buy contraceptives aside. I don’t care about the getting laid part, it’s removal of responsibility for personal choices and consequences that’s created the entitlement mentality, and until THAT is changed, federal fiscal responsibility isn’t even a consideration, much less realistic.

  44. Obama Aide: With These Republicans, There’d Still Be Slavery

    – The cognitive disonance is getting so thick you could cut it with a butter knife.

    – Has the education system simply stopped teaching history altogether?

    – Of course its not in any way accurate to call the Progressives Democrates either. They’re Fascists, Anarchists, Matxists, Communusts, Socialists, Isolationists, Atheists, anything but Democrates.

    – But since the entire gaggle of asocialist misfits they comprise is based on pure fanticisizing, a misplaced name just makes sense.

    – The only form of ‘slavery’ that still exists is defacto voter slavery that they practice on all the minorities, and when the suppressed finally wake up the Progs are finished. That will happen, one way or another, when there’s no more goodies to hand out, and we’re getting pretty close to that point.

  45. [I]t’s removal of responsibility for personal choices and consequences that’s created the entitlement mentality, and until THAT is changed, federal fiscal responsibility isn’t even a consideration, much less realistic.

    Forget it Lee, you’re talking to a moral idealist.

  46. y’all are just trying to keep me talking as darkness descends on pennsyltucky without a locked door betwixt me and the creatures what prowl the pennsyltucky night

  47. ….and until THAT is changed

    – As I said, when the well runs dry, and its pretty much already there, the whole pile of fantasy and phony agitprop will fall on its ass.

    – Theres going to be a hell of a lot of angry, bitterly disillusioned children soon.

  48. With the mother of all temper tantrums to follow, bbh?

  49. This sounds an awaful lot like what we’ve been arguing about recently – Republicans maintaining a commitment to ideological purity vs. making “pragmatic” concessions in order to get elected, then theoretically speaking introducing change from the inside slowly over time.

    The concessions weren’t made to put individual people into office: they were made to prevent the nascent country from breaking into two pieces, making each vulnerable to reassimilation by the British or picking off by other European powers (and once one piece was conquered, it would be easy to conquer the other).

    It was a genuinely life-or-death proposition, not an idiot tax hike.

    If you can show me where “pragmatics” are planting time bombs in the legislation that will detonate all over the proggy project, then I’ll be glad to reverse my contempt for today’s “pragmatism.”

  50. - Yes, yes there will, and that is why I want Bumbblefuck to go right on doing what he’s doing til it all crashes really really haed.

    – Theres no point in trying to battle him at this point. Far too much damage has already been done for that to make any difference now.

    – We need the ‘fail’ to happen as soon as possible before we can even start to rebuild, and anything that slows the process just prolongs the agony. It may turn out in the long run that we’re fortunate that Romney lost. We need to be rid of the Progressives in a very final way.

    – The only good news is that maube in the aftermath of the fall we’ll have learned a lesson for a long time to come, but even that is not assured.

  51. It just reads to me like rahe’s socons don’t understand that they have much bigger fishes to fry than silly abortion regulatings a la lila’s ultrasounds and worrying about how many gay peoples can marry on the head of a needle

    Which bigger fishes are there than the Root Of The Problem? Perhaps you are mistaking the fishes on the surface for the deeper fishes what keep spawing the raucous fishes at the surface that seem more fry-worthy.

    Except women could vote in New Jersey way back in the late 1700s and into the early 1800s.

    Plural wives in the Utah territory could vote from the beginning and became suffragettes when Utah joined the union in 1896 and women lost the vote.

    Progs hate knowing that: Mormon women are supposed to be embarassingly submissive and backwards.

    no no no reinstilling the idea of a work ethic in food stamp losers can proceed even as the food stampers get laid

    If not why not

    Because the way you acquire a work ethic is to live in a household where someone gets up every day to go to work and then uses their money wisely on account of it’s theirs, AND you have another parent at home what can keep an eye on the young ‘uns between school getting out and work getting out. Kids experiment with sex and drugs during that time more than any other.

    Personal responsibility isn’t easily compartmentalized: Spawning kids all over the place but taking no responsibility for raising them—or treating your fellow human beings like sexual playthings—doesn’t instill much respect, self or otherwise, because the fastest way to lose self-respect is to not be in control of yourself. Especially when it comes to the Prime Directive of reproduction.

    As you can see, the situation proggy values has created is not easily undone, which is why all those squares kicked and screamed and protested and fought about the sexual revolution but were shouted down for being so square.

    So much for trusting pop culture/academia for about What Really Matters. The relationship between sexual behavior and societal chaos is Ancient Wisdom, had from Africa to Asia to America, only Hollywood thought it would be fun and clever to turn it all inside out, because of the transgression and the endorphins and no strings attached, because we’re too sophisticated to worry about long-term consequences.

  52. The only form of ‘slavery’ that still exists is defacto voter slavery that they practice on all the minorities,

    They’re not slaves; they’re captives. A slave is someone who is not entitled to the fruit of his labors but someone else is.

    Take a guess who the slaves are in that formulation.

  53. - No one but coddeled children would believe theres any substitute for a reasonably principled, work ethic based life. Its not just wromg to rob people of a sense of self worth and life values, its monsterous to do so.

    – To me, the hard core asocialists are every bit as bad as serial killers, and in their way as bad for a stable well balanced society as religious nut cases, to which group they mist certainly belong in their way.

  54. - That is true di, but I’d subnit that when you are ‘slave’ to your own greed, you’re a slave just as well.

  55. Take a guess who the slaves are in that formulation.

    – Which, by any metricm, is unsustainable, because the Prog plan unavoidably must destroy the middle class, upon which a stable society depends. Independence and self sufficiency is the kiss of death for even the most threadbare version of Socialism.

    – Which is also why the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Delaration of Independence must all go for them to even start.

  56. That’s historicism in a nutshell.

    That’s what is taught to students as history and leads to the comment following on.

    The University of Michigan history department has 28 tenured or tenure-track professors whose research specialties in some way relate to U.S. history after 1789. Race is the favorite topic; at least eleven of the department’s professors indicate that their research in some way deals with race in America. Gender is the next prominent area of specialization; at least seven of the professors offer research in this area (with some overlap with race).
    […]
    With the rise of the race/class/gender approach, subfields perceived as excessively “traditional” or overly focused on “dead white males” have gone into decline—or, in the case of political history, have been “re-visioned” in the hopes of transferring focus to topics oriented around themes of race, class, and gender. Since (at least in large departments, or at elite institutions) U.S. history hires in the national (post-1789) period come in subfields, looking at personnel specialties can give a sense of exactly how a university does—or does not—fulfill its obligation to train future citizens in the foundational events of their nation.

    An unprecedented amount of scholarship and teaching is being devoted to regions outside of the traditional American concentration on itself and Europe. New subjects of enquiry — gender, race and ethnicity — have developed. Never have historians been so influenced by the methodology and contributions of other disciplines, from anthropology to sociology.

    At the same time, never has the historical profession been so threatened. Political correctness has both narrowed and distorted enquiry. Traditional fields demanding intellectual rigor, such as economic and intellectual history, are in decline. Even worse, education about Western civilization and the Enlightenment, that font of American liberties, and the foundation of modern industrial, scientific and liberal world civilization, has come to be treated with increasing disdain at colleges and universities.

    This extraordinary bias began in the late 1960s with the anti-Vietnam war protests. Many participants, at least those who subsequently went into academia, have never gotten over it. Their fossilized views have made their own disciplines largely museums of dead ideologies. Another of the remarkable changes within the historical profession has been the growth of women’s history. With only a negligible representation in 1975, almost 10% of all historians today identify themselves as historians of gender and women’s affairs.
    […]
    Worst of all, women’s history has contributed to the current holy trinity of race, gender and class that dominates the historical profession. Under normal circumstances, the tight focus on victimization would soon fade. Since oppression studies explain so little, they soon become boring. But, as a part of a political chorus demanding ever-more extravagant entitlements for key voting groups, an essential part of the identity politics that is so destructive of national unity, the trinity is ensured a long life. Historians can grow tired of an intellectual movement. Politicians of a useful political tool, never.

  57. you are ‘slave’ to your own greed, you’re a slave just as well.

    I’d still use “captive” in that sense. Slave always implies that one person’s labor is appropriated by another.

  58. Regarding legislative “time bombs” I’d have to see a piece of R-authored legislation to make that determination and I suspect that the answer is it’s not there. Frankly I wouldn’t give them enough credit to do so; it was merely a hypothetical but I was more interested in the comparison of Jefferson and the dicotomy of the language in the DoL v. how he actually lived with regards to slavery (viewed here as a shrewd political maneuver) vs. Republicans, soft on social/ideological issues, as being counterproductive. I don’t recall anyone arguing (with much support anyway) for a tactic of a candidate appearing more politically center for the purpose of getting elected in order to pass legislation (viewed here as a craven means for getting hands on the levers of power).

    As a long term strategy, however, I think you have to hope that your efforts provide some tangible fruits right away or else the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing tactic essentially poisons the well for future candidates who will be painted as “can’t be trusted to govern as they campaigned”.

    All of this gives the current batch of GOP candidates more credit than they deserve, though. My whole suggestion – not really an argument – assumes that they might be playing this game, and I suspect Jeff’s assumptions are correct.

  59. Couldn’t it be argued – isn’t it, by his defenders – that the “stealth time-bomb” approach was the one taken by CJ Roberts on Obamacare? And yet nobody here gave him the benefit of the doubt. Was there something else in Roberts’ background or other rulings to indicate that he didn’t deserve it?

  60. Couldn’t it be argued – isn’t it, by his defenders – that the “stealth time-bomb” approach was the one taken by CJ Roberts on Obamacare? And yet nobody here gave him the benefit of the doubt. Was there something else in Roberts’ background or other rulings to indicate that he didn’t deserve it?

    I believe LMC argued it. The problem, though, is that there was no need for it. Had Roberts merely gone w/ the commerce clause argument precedent is set on that and ObamaCare is done.

    Instead, he essentially said Congress can after the fact of passing something turn it into a tax if it merely acts like one. Magic!

    As for what in his background indicated he didn’t deserve it, well, I quoted at length from an interview he gave. He is concerned with the Court’s reputation first.

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