I’ve been arguing with a friend. I’ll admit it. I’ve been frustrated with him all day – at least I thought I was.
Then I realized why I was frustrated and that it might not be with him.
The following dramatization is totally fictional and any resemblance to any person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental (or is it?).
You have all been there. You have all experienced what I have been experiencing today. It is that cocksure aura of feeling really good about yourself after having a really great day at work. You made all the right calls, your boss and co-workers love you and you really are pretty sure of yourself and on top of the world. You are just pretty damned pleased with yourself – aren’t you, Mr. Biggie Big Manly Man? That isn’t just hairy man-wool on your chest, it is cashmere, baby…you are a veritable $500 Pashmina scarf of manliness and you know it!
You get home and it is hot – a Florida, high humidity, your skin sticks to your shirt and your butt sticks the leather seats, tiny beads of sweat are running down your buttcrack kind of hot…and that’s when you realize it – last night when you were helping the wife put the aftermath of dinner away, you noticed a single Klondike bar in the bottom of the freezer. How it is possible that there was a lone survivor after the weekend when your two eating machine sons were home from college is a question best left to the transcendental wisdom of the Dalai Lama but the fact remains – it is in there and you are mere steps away from not having to do a single damn thing for a Klondike bar.
By some extreme twist of fate, you make it home before your wife. Could have been a teacher’s meeting, a parent meeting or she just had to stop by Publix for a gallon of that water mixed with white shoe polish they call 1% skim milk (contrary to popular belief, there is a 1% that I absolutely detest) but you don’t really remember because all you heard this morning as you were trying to keep your two Labs from using your copy of the Wall Street Journal as dental floss was, “Blah, blah, something, something, milk, blah, more something, something, late.” It really is her fault that you don’t know what she said, she knows that your hearing doesn’t really kick in until you have that second cup of coffee and finish the editorial pages.
It goes without saying that wise men do not question fate, they waste not the preciousness of time looking gift horses in the mouth, they accept from the Fates their gifts (but never take the time to send a thank-you note), and proceed to congratulate themselves on what great guys they are to have such finite and discrete control over their own destiny. They seize the moment. You are that wise man, Mr. Klondike Craver.
Pulling open the lower freezer drawer of your Viking commercial refrigerator/freezer combo, you feel the blast of fresh, cold air strike your face as if you were Commander Peary surveying the North Pole for the first time, which is kinda nice because after all, you got there on a dog sled and for months all you have seen is the ass end of a bunch of Huskies – and the rear dog, Spot, has some fearsome gas from eating all that baby Harp seal meat…
Quivering with anticipation, you push aside the Sam’s Club size bags of frozen broccoli and vegetable medley, fearing the worst – did she find it after you so carefully nudged it behind the bag of jumbo frozen scallops? No. Sweet. There it is, the silver wrapper shining seductively in the 15 watt luminescence of the freezer bulb. You could swear that the polar bear just winked at you. Your muscles begin to relax as a wave of relief washes over you like warm bath water. Klondike, thy crispy, chocolaty decadence and cold and creamy inner delights are mine!
You indulge yourself – it is so good that what you feel is a crime, prosecutable in at least 7 states – if you smoked, you would have a cigarette.
Then you hear it. It is the sound of a 3.5 liter, fuel injected Infiniti engine. Your wife is home.
She has had a different kind of day. The kids at school were so hyper that she swears that their parents fed them crack and coffee for breakfast. The District denied her request for new workbooks and one of the other teachers that was supposed to help drive to Orlando for the conference this week now can’t go because her boyfriend scored primo tickets to see Bon Jovi in concert in New Orleans. She now has to drive. She had a parent conference that consisted entirely of her telling a mom that Mom’s little angel Billy was running around the playground today showing his special “tool” to all the little girls and as a result was suspended for the rest of the week. Today wasn’t fun. Matter of fact, it SUCKED. She NEEDS that Klondike…
Oh, shit, you now know that she did see it after all.
After five furious minutes of searching, she realizes that you probably ate it and have been sitting in your recliner, petting the dogs and just letting her look. She walks in the great room, assumes a stable stance with both hands firmly resting on her hips and brings it, “You ate it, didn’t you? You sorry bastard, did you not think to at least share it with me?”
Busted…and you know it…but what do you do? You deny it. Her aggressive posture triggers both your adrenal glands and your testicles, releasing a deadly cocktail of adrenalin and testosterone. “Hell, no.” you say, “I didn’t even know it was in there.”
Even the dogs know you are lying. They stare at you, drop their heads and move away before you try to lay it on them. They know that it has only been you and them at home and you were the only mammal present with the requisite opposable thumbs necessary to open that freezer drawer. You are the only one with the means, motive and opportunity to commit the offense.
After about 10 minutes, the adrenalin and testosterone have metabolized, your wife is in the shower washing the last remains of the clinging day of disaster off her supple skin and you realize why you reacted the way you did. You know, deep down, that even though she has a different view of the situation, she is kind of right. You should have asked her, should have considered her point. Yeah, even though you disagree with her claim to title, you know that she is right. You aren’t mad at her, you are mad at yourself. You really don’t like it when you are left defenseless due to a generous application of the truth. You don’t like being told something you already know.
Well, in a long way of explaining it, that’s me and Black3. He is right and I know it. I’m just frustrated because I have a different take on the best way to get the Klondike bar.
I was going to write to explain my disagreement with Black3 but I already have – in a post on July 31st of this year. I’m not going to try to run through plowed ground because if you are from a farm in Mississippi like I am, you know that you can’t run very fast and usually wind up falling down and getting dirty. I hated getting dirty then and I have little desire to do that now.
I have tremendous respect for Black3 and his passion. I respect his intellect and his ability to commit that intellect and passion to these pages. I am blessed to call him friend and partner in this effort to debate, educate and influence people though the meager power of our writings here. I take no pleasure in our disagreements except for the fact that usually, at some point in the process, a drop of wisdom is distilled and offered here.
In that July post, I posited 5 rules of modern politics, those being:
- You can’t govern if you can’t get elected,
- You can’t change government from the outside, therefore,
- Electability is important,
- True political change is a long term proposition and
- We need the presidency AND control of Congress to make any structural changes.
These were echoed in a comment on the Vote for the Winner comment thread. In that comment thread, I stumbled across something that I’ve never quite fully considered but I think that we should “crowdsource” the combined brainpower of all the TRNL readers to think about. That was this:
[It is] my opinion that elections are a reflection of the culture, not necessary the other way around.
This statement is the mortar that holds the bricks of my position together.
Consistently winning elections is a function of the health and disposition of the culture at the time of the election. To win elections, the cultural battle must be won beforehand…and that takes time, a lot of time.
Elections are truly de facto national temper tantrums, we chose on the basis of the past 2, 4 or 6 years, too small of an interval to drastically change the political direction of the country through a single national election. While elections aren’t sufficient to advance ideology, they can hurt it. National elections are too frequent to be used as a lever because the incumbency of your opposition guarantees that your work to change the next election is much more difficult.
We have to face the fact that it is hard to be a classical liberal. It takes work, effort, thought. You have to believe in something greater than yourself and be prepared to defend your position. Because you believe in individual liberty, you have to make the hard decisions and expect others to make them, too. You have produce and are measured by your tangible successes. You have to be John Galt.
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
Some people can’t even conceive of being that independent, they are far more comfortable relying on others and take great pleasure in telling them what to do even as they depend on them for sustenance and support. They don’t really have to produce anything because they have jobs in elite occupations in academia, union leadership, journalism and government where the measure of performance isn’t what you produce; it is how well you work the bureaucracy or how much dependence you can create in other people. It takes little effort to be one of the crowds, part of the collective. These people are called “progressives”.
The great paradox is that most people live their lives as classical liberals. They make decisions, take responsibility and work to provide for their families but when it comes time to pull the lever for a conservative, they don’t do it. Maybe it is some kind of delusion, some wishful illusion that “progressive” are really the answer. That’s the culture that we have to find a way to change.
So, I love my brother from another mother, Black3, because he is right. He is the kind of studious and passionate man who can change and influence people, a patriot.
I will keep on trying to help him by finding ways to win elections, to hold the line while he preaches the gospel of freedom and liberty – even to the point of eventually volunteering to be sacrificed at the altar of public service when I’m finished in Scotland. I am not a Marine but like them, I refuse to leave the field of battle while there are still soldiers on it. We fight on.
I’ve excerpted parts of the July post below, I hope that helps add clarity to what I have inelegantly written.
I love Ronald Reagan. I believe that Reagan was one of the greatest presidents in the history of the Republic, right up there with Washington and Jefferson – but Reagan’s legacy has been squandered because conservatives were not able to build on his presidency by following up with a president and Congress that would take conservatism to the next level, instead we got Bush I – the weakness and moderation of whom gave us Clinton. Clinton kept the leftward push going (temporarily halted by the 1994 Republican Revolution) by introducing things like Hillarycare (Obamacare’s momma). Even though Hillarycare didn’t take, the seed was planted for Obama to fertilize. Clinton was successful enough in keeping the leftward trend going that it made a moderate Republican, a big-government “conservative”, look like a real conservative. We got 8 years of Bush II…but even that was better than a Gore or Kerry administration.
In reality, our wistful memories of Reagan are a little bit of cheerful nostalgia. We remember him as a staunch conservative, and he was, but the government he was given was not. Through his amazing communication skills and ability to connect with an American people fed up with Carter, he was able to get several major conservative policies enacted but he still had a Democratic controlled, big spending, Congress to deal with and Congressional leaders like Robert Byrd and Tip O’Neill who were directionally oppositional to conservative policies. The big example is how they screwed him on immigration by promising reform tomorrow for amnesty today. Reagan upheld his end of the bargain but the Democrats lied and immigration reform died.
As far left as our society and government has migrated, any short term movement back to the right should be viewed as a positive. This is a long game, a long road back to Reagan, and as Republicans, we are going to have to start with 80% solutions from people who can actually get elected – and today, a true rock-ribbed conservative is simply not electable to the office of president – not because of what they represent but because of 60 years of liberal domination of the media, using the media to shape conservatives into an evil caricature then marketing that view to the American public and the squishy center of so called “independent voters”.
When conservative positions like support for lower taxes, smaller government, believing that the 2nd and 10th Amendments mean what they say and applying the Constitution as it is written are sold as “extremist”, the left is winning. Their incrementalist approach to slowly moving the country to the left by degree resulted in what we had in 2008…the election of a hard left president masquerading as a transformational populist.
The liberals and Democrats understand the long game; they have been chipping away for decades. They don’t see change in 4 year presidential term increments, they look 40 years out. They realize that American politics are rarely an exercise in paradigm shifts, a rapid lurch to one side or the other. Political evolution, slow and steady, is the process by which long term change is implemented and cemented. Most conservatives want a tectonic shift in 2012 – ain’t gonna happen, folks. 2012 is just the next battle. It can start the transformation but it won’t BE the transformation any more than Obama was the singular liberal transformational event for the Democrats.
I like Thad McCotter , Herman Cain and I strongly support the positions of Michelle Bachmann – but realistically, they have only a slim chance to get the nomination and it is hard to see how they could get elected on a national level. I would support any of the above over Perry, T-Paw, Romney or Ron Paul (Paul’s libertarian ideas present a lot to like but again – simply not electable on a national level).
Some absolute rules of politics are these: 1) you can’t govern if you can’t get elected, 2) you can’t change government from the outside, therefore, 3) electability is important, 4) true political change is a long term proposition and 5) we need the presidency AND control of Congress to make any structural changes. This may appear to create a “Sophie’s choice” sort of thing for conservative Republicans who will have to choose a candidate by electability over being a perfect conservative but only if we singularly focus only on the next election. I know many people who voted for Bob Barr in 2008 because they couldn’t stomach voting for McCain but voting for an unelectable candidate is a guarantee to get a Democrat elected. Even a 60% conservative Republican is better than any Democrat.
There are true RINOs like the Maine ladies, Collins and Snow, Massachusetts’ Scott Brown and even our sometimes RINO buddies, “maverick” John McCain, and the “maverick in training”, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham – but there are also pragmatic conservative Republicans interested in long term, structural change. I think that people like Rubio and Kristi Noem are cast in that mold.
Pragmatism does not mean compromising on conservative principles; it means that the focus is on the long term implementation of conservative policy by winning elections with people who know how to play the long game. It means planting the seeds of conservatism the same way that Democrats have planted the seeds of liberalism.
I’m a conservative first and a pragmatic Republican second.
If being a pragmatist gets me kicked off PoliPundit, then so be it – but I’m far from being a “RINO in your midst”. If people want to ignore the reality of national electoral politics and continue to vote for the Bob Barr’s and Ron Paul’s of the world, then by all means, enjoy your quest for conservative purity, that is your right but be careful in your righteousness because true change agents are seldom pure ideologues. They can’t be and be successful because true change involves leadership and leadership requires inspiration of everybody, not just your supporters. Reagan was an example of a true change agent.
If conservatives don’t learn how to play the long game, we should get prepared to settle in for more Democratic presidents and Congresses for years to come. Then we can all come back here after 2012 and commiserate about how much losing sucks and bitch about liberals…or we can start working a plan so that our kids won’t have to have the same conversations. Our choice.