The question has been asked and so deserves an answer. I assume that the fact that I choose to actively endorse Romney over the others means somehow that I am looking favorably toward a “progressive” candidate and my lack of support for Ron Paul indicates that I am not a conservative.
My disagreement with some of my fellow conservatives is not one of principle, rather one of practice.
A good friend of mine just asked me this:
To put this in your world, how could you turn an operation around if your bosses told you to go forth and fix without changing anything the company is currently doing? If you were placed in charge of a failure but told you had to correct it by doing the exact same things that the company is currently doing, would you even take the job?
A clever couple of questions but an invalid proposition based on these three premises:
- If the bosses wouldn’t allow change, the implication would be that they did not want to repair the business, ergo, there would be no need for me in the first place, and
- The presumption is that they people in the company won’t change on their own, and
- The question implies that I have a choice to take the position or not. I can only be subject to the conditions of the company if I choose to go, if I don’t, I won’t.
The gravest error in this hypothetical resides in the last premise and that error invalidates the analogy. Unlike a micro situation with a small organizational unit – a company – where it is my choice to insert myself or not, we cannot avoid the consequences of an election. As we are all citizens of this country, we are all impacted by its laws, its customs and its policies whether you vote or not. Not voting is as much a choice as voting because we simply can’t say, “I didn’t vote for Obama, therefore I do not have to be bound by his policies and I refuse to be affected by them.” If we vote for a crap sandwich, everybody gets a bite.
There is validity in the first and second and this is where I seem to get off the rails with many of my staunch conservative friends.
The reason that I do differ is that I do not think that we can affect the changes that are necessary to turn the country around through political means. I believe that politics are a reflection of our culture however; culture is not a reflection of politics. To try to cement long term political change without cultural change is futile. That doesn’t mean that contemporary politics are futile and it doesn’t matter which party is in charge, it does – one does slightly less damage to the Constitution than the other – but seeking to elect conservatives when their constituents do not completely share those beliefs is a recipe for perpetual futility.
Want a revolution of classical liberalism? Start with the people. We have to explain to the welfare recipient why working is better for them than being on the government dole, explain to the average citizen why business is not evil incarnate and to all, why is it better for freedom to have equal opportunity, not equality of outcome provided by some faceless bureaucracy.
To those of us who are looking for any contemporary politician on the left or right to be some sort of ideological savior, may I suggest that we are looking in the wrong place. As I have previously written, the weight of the corrupt governing culture, that culture of back scratching, ear marking, seniority appreciating politics in Washington will simply not allow such a sea change. I make this statement, not of resignation to this behavior as a permanent situation, but as a simple statement of fact. It is sad and lamentable, but true as evidenced by the lack of substantive change after the sheer number of Republicans that were elected to the House with fevered Tea Party backing in 2010 hath labored greatly and brought forth but a mouse…
Before we can have meaningful political change, we have to have sustained momentum in electoral politics. To get that momentum and inertia, we have to consistently win elections over long periods of time and to do that the culture has to change to support a consistent belief system. The changes we seek have a massive amount of political inertia to overcome and won’t happen if our goals are driven by election cycles.
Why is it that liberalism/”progressivism” is so strong politically? You can look at the period from 1954 to 1994 when the Democrats held the Congress – what changed during that time? Popular culture became more liberal and less concerned about tradition…and that cultural change was reflected in politics…and what happened in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s …an interest in business and investing, Wall Street, 401Ks, mutual funds, the Internet…and politically? 8 years of Ronald Reagan, 4 of Bush I, the takeover of Congress in 1994 under President Bubba and 8 years of Bush II.
The ant-war sentiment of the late 00’s, the lack of conviction of our national politicians, mainly Bush II calling himself a conservative and governing like a liberal, his policies failing on the domestic and economic fronts, not because they were conservative but because they were not, caused America to sour on “conservatism” and vote for the populist rhetoric of a closet Marxist, Barack H. Obama.
Culture drives politics – and 4 more years of the deluxe crap sandwich is just waiting to be ordered in November of this year.
That’s why I can support Romney because while he isn’t a pure conservative, in a government filled with Marxists, socialists, “progressives”, career politicians and bureaucrats, he is conservative enough…for now.
About what I believe as a conservative…
The best description of what I believe as a conservative can be found in the Sharon Statement, a set of core beliefs drafted by M. Stanton Evans and adopted, curiously enough, September 11, 1960 at the family home of William F. Buckley, Jr. in Sharon, Connecticut.
- That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;
- That liberty is indivisible, and that political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom;
- That the purpose of government is to protect those freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice;
- That when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power, which tends to diminish order and liberty;
- That the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power;
- That the genius of the Constitution—the division of powers—is summed up in the clause that reserves primacy to the several states, or to the people, in those spheres not specifically delegated to the Federal government;
- That the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom and constitutional government, and that it is at the same time the most productive supplier of human needs;
- That when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; that when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both;
- That we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history shows periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies;
- That the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties;
- That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace; and
- That American foreign policy must be judged by this criterion: does it serve the just interests of the United States?
“Progressivism” is just the gateway drug to communism, so I’m cool with the use of the word “communism”.
As far as Ron Paul, my disagreement is not in what he believes but how he applies those beliefs, foreign policy being an example – we can’t answer the last question by ignoring Iran or abandoning Israel.
I also have used the term “crazy” in relation to Dr. Paul (he is/was an obstetrician). I used that for dramatic effect – I don’t think the guy is crazy. He is, however, a bit of an odd bird and presents himself as the political equivalent of the reclusive guy walking up and down the street in New York City while quoting scripture and wearing a sign saying “Repent! The end is near!” The words he says are true, but you can’t take him seriously when he tells you that he has been out there for 5 years – a little credibility problem.
So there you have it.