Climbing the Decision Tree

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.

I believe:

  • 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.

39 thoughts on “Climbing the Decision Tree

  1. Thank you. I need to think on this one a bit. But one objection in the mean time. I disagree that my analogy is inoperative. On the contrary, it IS applicable. You claim that I make a false analogy because you would have a choice as to whether or not to take the position, but we have no choice as to whether or not there is an election. IF we look at my analogy in terms of my vote representing my choice – as I intended it to be considered – then the analogy holds. I can either chose to vote D/R, which in this analogy is taking the job when I know I am not going to be allowed to change anything, or I can vote conscience, which would equate to my refusing the job. Additionally, you know I already believe “the bosses” do NOT want to make any changes (i.e. Parties), and that the company (i.e. People) will not change on their own. Now, admittedly, this is not a direct analogy, but it doesn’t need to be to be an effective illustration. The point is still valid, as – I believe – is my analogy. STILL, I admit it is splitting hairs, but I was merely trying to find a way to illustrate what I’ve been trying to get at.

    Now, if I may take my leave, I actually want to re-read this a few times. I appreciate the time and effort and do NOT want to waste it.



  2. Thanks for the great article.

    Ron Paul has been preaching the same message for the last twenty-five years. His message has never changed. On the other hand, the rest of the candidates have flip flopped so much, you can’t tell if they’re sunny side up or over easy. They were against it before they were for it before they were against it. They change their political convictions faster than a model changes her clothes at a fashion show. Ron Paul has been consistent in his message his whole political career.

    You can be sure of one thing, a Ron Paul presidency would follow the Constitution to the letter, even if he doesn’t agree with the outcome and isn’t that what we want in our elected officials?

    Mike G.

    • “You can be sure of one thing, a Ron Paul presidency would follow the Constitution to the letter, even if he doesn’t agree with the outcome and isn’t that what we want in our elected officials?”

      I believe this, and I would vote for that – even with his problems in foreign policy.

      If I KNOW the man will follow the Const. no matter what HE believes, then I KNOW my liberty is safe. NO ONE promised safety AND liberty – they are mutually opposed ideas.

      Still, one has to understand the threat before one can honor it, and Paul STILL does not see Islam as separate from “Middle East.”

    • Mike – I appreciate and acknowledge your point. I don’t think that the issues of electability can be dismissed in the case of the Congressman. While it can be argued that it is overstated in the case of the Mittster, I think that Paul’s support would start to evaporate in the national election. He is garnering some percentage of non-Romney votes, Democrat and fringe votes that will either 1) disappear in November or 2) vote for Chairman Hussein like they always were intending to do.

      I look at culture and elections as if they were a graphed as a bell curve. With the state of our culture, I do not believe that the public will elect a president that is more than one standard deviation out from the mean popular political belief, Romney is about a +1, Newt and Santorum are between +1 and +2, I put Paul in the tail of the curve and a +3.

      Obama fooled people into thinking he was a -1 but governed as a -3. He also benefited from a panicked population, a majority of voters looking for someone to save them and not trusting themselves to do it – that is what the cancer of “progressivism” does to a culture. I think he has done enough crap that most people who voted for him are now thinking, “Hell, I could have done that good and I didn’t go to Ivy League schools under affirmative action programs.” – the panic advantage is gone this time.

      True constitutional government is foreign to 80% of the population. Another symptom of a metastasized “progressive” tumor called the Department of Education.

      • You might be right, considering that NH has a semi-open primary system and South Carolina has an open primary. So undeclared Democrats could vote in the Republican primary, but it would seem to me that that would be a stupid waste of their vote. Because once they have voted in the GOP primary, they can’t then go and vote in the upcoming Democratic Primary…well, unless of course, they work for ACORN.

        I think Paul will do pretty good in SC, so theoretically Florida will be the real test as it has a closed primary. If Paul still garners 25% +, then he would have to be considered a serious contender, more so than he is now. And you have to admit, Paul is asked the stupidest and most moronic questions from MSM reporters trying to get a “Gotcha” moment. The other candidates are getting a relatively free pass compared to Ron Paul.

        Think about how Republicans shoot themselves in the foot, often with a little help. Here’s an excerpt from a book, “None Dare Call It Treason” by John A. Stormer, a history of the encroachment of Socialism into the mainstream of American life;

        I’m a slow typer so bear with me, eh. 😉

        Modern Republicanism

        The collectivist-conceived bureaucratic empire grew and thrived and was threatened only once–by the possible selection of Robert A. Taft as the Republican Presidential candidate in 1952.

        The Fabians and internationalists in the Republican Party , assisted by transfers from the normally Democratic-oriented political arm of the Fabian movement, the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), succeeded in nominating Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Republican standard bearer.

        Just four years before, 1948, Eisenhower and the open ultra-liberal Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas had been the ADA’s choices for the Democratic nomination. The late Philip Graham, publisher of the ultra-left-wing Washington Post was among the many “liberals” who moved into the Republican Party briefly to stop Taft and nominate Eisenhower. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times was another.

        Eisenhower talked like an “economic conservative” but was supported by liberals, avowed internationalists like Thomas Dewey, and the “practical politicians.” There slogan was, “I like Taft, but he can’t win.”…(end of excerpt)

        Just like today, there were charges of fraud, intimidation and money changing hands to get Eisenhower the nomination at that year’s convention.

        As you can see by the passage above, we’re in the same boat today, either hold our noses and vote for the “establishment” candidate, Mitt Romney ( Eisenhower), or vote for the real Conservative, Ron Paul (Taft).

        Just some food for thought.

        • Paul is NOT a conservative – not by the conservatives own definition. I would put him to the right of Jeffersonian Liberal (i.e. Classic Liberal), but not quite all the way to the libertarian camp as he likes to describe himself. The libertarians are to the right of the founders and, as such, NUTS! Even the staunchest Classic Liberal/Original Intent position admits the need for some govt., especially the closer one gets to the local level. The modern Libertarian Party is essentially the political arm of the anarchist movement.

          But then, that’s just the opinion of an arrogant south end of a north bound mule.

  3. OK, after reading this three times, I believe you premise about culture driving politics is flawed. It is not supported by historic record; it is actually contradicted in the case at hand. Please hear me out.

    FACT: In 1962, a rogue SCOTUS reversed 150+ years of settled Constitutional law and kicked God out of govt. Since that point, nearly every social indicator dealing with morality and education have spiked or tanked (in every case, in a negative direction).

    FACT: This deliberate POLITICAL attack on the moral fabric of this nation was openly and deliberately supported by LBJ and his social welfare programs as well as other welfare programs which all serve to further erode the moral fabric which binds and sustains a free society.

    FACT: Current polling STILL indicates the majority of Americans live their lives according to what most would call “conservative” principles. A majority of Americans believe in God, are against Immigration, are now against abortion; oppose gay “marriage,” and, when polled openly, the majority of Americans will even respond that they feel 25% should be the top marginal tax rate for any individual. Yet the govt. governs counter to the will of the People.

    Thus, I submit your premise is not supported by the facts available to us, and that it is actually the other way around. I further submit that this is because the social institutions created to serve the people have been intentionally turned against them (i.e. press, schools, media, govt., etc).

    Now I agree, we must change the hearts of the People, but they will not follow if what they see in your ACTIONS is hypocrisy. You rightfully list Bush’s injuries to the “conservative” cause, but then rationalize Romney when we have every indication that he will repeat these same injuries to that same cause. Excuse me, my friend, but you are trying to justify “fornicating for chastity” again – and this time, in spite of the very argument YOU just made against doing so.

    The [point you make where I see the most hope and with which you seem to be too quick to dismiss is with the TEA Party. As you point out, though they only made a small gain, they DID make gain where the Republicans have taken us BACKWARD since at least 1994. Wouldn’t our cause be better served if we got behind the TEA Party and PUSHED! Take ALL support from the R’s – even your voter registration and especially your money – and put it behind the TEA Party movement (it is not a part and, hence, a better solution, in my opinion)? This way, even if we lose, we lose for a cause, and the People will follow integrity and principled self-sacrifice where they will not follow politicians who openly compromise the things in which they claim to believe.

    Am I making any sense, or do you see where I am coming from here? I am looking for a long-term solution as I have ceded the short term loss (no matter who wins).

    • Well, SCOTUS isn’t culture but let’s look at the members that voted 6-1 against Potter Stewart, a moderate justice known for his middle of the road approach and the swing vote.

      Earl Warren – liberal Republican appointed by Eisenhower – of whom he said was “the biggest damned-fool mistake I ever made.” Hugo Black – liberal Democrat politician nominated by FDR, Wm. O. Douglas, another “progressive” jurist nominated by FDR, Tom Clark – Democrat appointed by Truman. John Harlan, a supposed conservative appointed by Eisenhower but he believed in an “evolving interpretation” of the Constitution, Brennan – flaming “progressive” Roman Catholic Democrat appointed by Eisenhower to garner Northeastern Roman Catholic votes.

      Frankfurter had a stroke and didn’t vote and Byron White sat this one out.

      The original decision in Engel v. Vitale was that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. Subsequent liberal SCOTUS members have expanded this to exclude every religious expression, notable in decisions in 1985, 1992 and 2000.

      Since culture impacts politics and politics influence the selection and confirmation of SCOTUS justices, therefore I believe that there is a link between the decisions of the court and the culture that influenced the selection of the justices.

      LBJ’s “attack” was in response to a cultural change sweeping the country – namely the civil rights movement – and he sought to support his politics through the subjugation of that culture, therefore the War on Poverty and the Great Society was born. Again, culture first, politics in response. The wave started before LBJ, he just sought to political benefit from it by offering it care and feeding.

      People don’t vote the way they live. They vote the way that they THINK they should live because they think others should. Why is that? They have succumbed to the influence of popular (and overwhelming “progressive”) culture over religious belief and common sense.

      I’m not justifying Romney. I’m making an informed decision based on limited, finite and culturally/time constrained options. It sure as hell isn’t on principle – if it was, there are none that would get my vote. 10 months isn’t enough to shift the paradigm of an electorate and the clock is ticking.

      It isn’t enough to win the presidency, there are 535 members of Congress that must be made into a conservative majority also – that’s how you get a textual, originalist SCOTUS. To do that, we need majorities in a majority of congressional districts all over the US – that takes cultural change.

      I never said that politics couldn’t feed a culture but you have to get elected first and that is a function of culture, even in the smallest congressional district in America.

      • Good counter, well reasoned and on point. I need to consider this as I didn’t look as far back as you did. If I do, I may still arrive back at my position as I will land on Teddy R and Wilson, and they were REJECTED by the people, yet their political legacy lives on and led directly to the people and court case in question. Still, I shouldn’t and won’t assume such until AFTER thinking it through.

        So, I stand checked. thank you.

        • B3,

          If you recall that book I recommended, it will tell you all you want to know about those cultural and political changes Utah is talking about. If you can’t find a copy locally, let me know and I’ll be glad to send you my copy. It’s in paperback

          Mike G.

  4. FACT: Guy and Kells are Lutherans.
    FACT: M. and B. are Baptists.
    FACT: G. is an Atheist.
    FACT: FL is the founding member of the Chapter 14 Northwest FL Panhandle Cross-Dressers of America. (I’m in a zoot suit, tonight, pie face 🙂
    FACT: Mississippi didn’t tell us in his own words what it means to be a conservative.

    • What it means to be a conservative?

      To me it is about liberty, to respect the founding notions of this country that we are all free to pursue life, liberty and happiness in any way that we choose. It means as few restrictions on that process as possible, that governments created among men are created to keep those opportunities alive. It means that I want for you the same opportunities that I have to make of life what you will based on your skills, wants, needs and desires. It means sticking to the clear language of the Constitution and not “interpreting” it to fit the political flavor of the month and then using stare decisis to build a tower of laws on a rotten foundation of precedent.

      It means living in a society that chooses to prosper through the collective benefits of individual progress and success and not limiting that individual prosperity to benefit the collective.

      It means having the freedom to secure for me and my posterity the blessings of liberty, in a manner of my own choosing, one only limited by how much I am able to achieve.

      • “To me it is about liberty, to respect the founding notions of this country that we are all free to pursue life, liberty and happiness in any way that we choose.”

        As much as I admire your sentiments – and I DO – you and I and the rest of this nation miss something that should glare out at us anytime we wax nostalgic about what the founders believed and why:

        They believed that ALL those things you listed were gifts from God, and that they were not to be violated – in ourselves or in others – but by fear of His wrath and vengeance for us having done so. Remove this belief and the internal restraints it creates and none of those things you mention can be kept secure – NONE!

        We either accept this, personally, and demand that it be a sincere part of of any political platform and the PRIVATE character of any candidate we support, or the things we are concerned about and our efforts to preserve them are nothing but whistles in the wind.

  5. Hmmmm…. more math…. Progressivism = Non-Christian? I thought Romney and Santorum were Christian, as well as Obama and McCain (not to be confused with the Other McCain to whom I’ve no knowledge of his religious preference).

    • No, actually, Progressivism started with the redirection of religion. Wilson often called on God to support his cause, and many Progressive leaders still do so today. Religion is behind the concept of “social justice.”

      Neither will I make a judgment as to whether or not the people who claim religion in the Progressive cause are saved or not. I know it is entirely possible that they are, and I “try” to obey the command NOT to judge their salvation.

      HOWEVER, Progressivism DOES = unconstrained view of human nature. It DOES = the idea that mankind can perfect itself, and can bring about its own salvation through its own efforts. They say EXACTLY this in their literature and philosophical arguments. I leave you to determine what to make of that, but I would ask what teaching in the Gospel tells us to divorce our faith from our public life – to include the government?

  6. Utah,

    Glenn Beck just made your case on his radio program. I know I quote and cite Beck quite often, but I disagree with him on this for the same reason I have been disagreeing with you: I do not believe the solution to cancer is more cancer.

    Still, Glenn just endorsed the mantra of ABO. I thought you might like to know that you have yet another ally in your cause 😉

    • B: it is a short term plan. Your ideas and efforts are the long term. I’ll sacrifice myself to stop the bleeding, you bring it home.

      It will take both of us as well as everybody who reads this blog. We all have a role to play.

      Mine will be played by Brad Pitt in the movie version…

  7. I am but a simple yet passionate Conservative who is faced with a dilemma. I am fighting mad at what my country has become, and the course was laid out long ago. Obama is just the arrogant pawn in this game of the melt down of our Constitution. The players on “our side” are there for a reason. I see some passion, I see some ideas, but I don’t see what we have got to have. Don’t get me wrong. I am not one who is giving up, HELL NO! This is the future of my children and yours, and this great nation. But what I have to say is that we are being played as fools by those in power. Can our votes be enough to fight the illegal votes that will surely be there, and are setting the field now? Instead of in fighting, we and the candidates should be focused on the ONLY goal that is important and that is to defeat Obama, period.

  8. Pingback: What He Said « The Rio Norte Line

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