12 May 2009

'A Heroic Climb': Goldberg & Steyn On The GOP

Continuing the theme from last week, here are a couple of good articles on the state of the Republican party & conservatism generally. I probably just should have referred you all to these pieces in the first part rather than rambling on myself. Oh well.

First, Jonah Goldberg:
The mainstream perception that conservatives are close-minded and dogmatic while liberals are open-minded and free-thinking has it almost exactly backward. Liberal dogma is settled: The government should do good, where it can, whenever it can. That is President Obama’s idea of pragmatism and bipartisanship: He’s open to all ideas, from either side of the aisle, about how best to expand government and get the state more involved in our lives. Meanwhile, conservatism’s dogma remains forever in flux. We constantly debate the trade-offs between freedom and virtue, the conflicts between liberty and order.
Yup. Conservatives are the dogmatic ones. But wait, there's more:
Also, partisans like to believe that whenever their guy wins, it’s because their ideas have been ratified by the American people, and whenever the other guy loses, they pronounce that the American people have resoundingly rejected this or that idea. Sometimes this is obviously true, but not nearly as often as we like to think. Obama, after all, promised over and over that his administration would provide a “net spending cut.” How’s that going?
When you repeatedly state during your campaign that you want to "cut taxes for 95% of Americans," is that really a mandate to govern as an extreme liberal?

Mark Steyn writes about everything that interests me and does so in the exact manner I would do it--if only I were as witty:
the GOP’s tent has many poles: It has social conservatives, libertarians, fiscal conservatives, national-security hawks. These groups do not always agree: The so-cons resent the libertarians’ insouciance on gay marriage and abortion. The libertarians don’t get the warhawks’ obsession with thankless nation-building in Islamist hellholes. A lot of the hawks can’t see why the fiscal cons are so hung up on footling matters like bloated government spending at a time of war. It requires a lot of effort to align these various poles sufficiently to hold up the big tent. And by the 2006 electoral cycle, between the money-no-object Congress at home and a war that seemed to have dwindled down to an endless, half-hearted, semi-colonial policing operation, the GOP poles were tilting badly. The Republican coalition is like a permanent loveless marriage: There are bad times and worse times. And, while social conservatism and libertarianism can be principled to a fault, the vagaries of electoral politics mean they often wind up being represented in office by either unprincipled opportunists like Arlen Specter or unprincipled squishes like Lincoln Chafee.
In the Democrat party....
Meanwhile, over in the other tent, they celebrate diversity with ruthless singlemindedness: In the Democrats’ parade, whatever your bugbear, government is the answer. Government is the means, government is the end, government is the whole magilla. That gives them a unity of purpose the GOP can never match.
Once the Democrats are ensconced in government glory, the infinity sided caged deathmatch of lobbying, favor giving, spoils dividing, etc., etc., takes place the & winners--as happens when the Democrat party gets its way--are chosen by the government. We've already seen some of this--ACORN payoffs in the 2010 census, the liberal grab bag that was the spendulous, er, stimulus, the Orwellianly-named "Employee Free Choice Act" (Orwellian because it aims to do exactly the opposite of what the name implies), and will continue with the cap & trade that will no doubt put money in the pockets of "green" people (not martians) who helped get Obama elected. Ditto healthcare.

One last quote from Steyn on Colin Powell:
Consider this cooing profile of Secretary Powell from Todd Purdum in the New York Times back in 2002: “Mr. Powell’s approach to almost all issues — foreign or domestic — is pragmatic and nonideological. He is internationalist, multilateralist and moderate. He has supported abortion rights and affirmative action.”

So supporting “internationalism,” “multilateralism,” abortion, and racial quotas means you’re “moderate” and “nonideological”? And anyone who feels differently is an extreme ideologue? Absolutely. The aim of a large swathe of the Left is not to win the debate but to get it canceled before it starts. You can do that in any number of ways: busting up campus appearances by conservatives, “hate speech” prohibitions, activist judges’ more imaginative court decisions, or merely, as the Times does, by declaring your side of every issue to be the “moderate” and “nonideological” position — even when, in many cases, the “extreme” position is supported by a majority of voters. Likewise, to Colin Powell, it’s Ann Coulter who’s “vicious,” not Michael Moore, who compares the jihadists who blow up Western troops in Iraq to America’s Minutemen and gets rewarded with a seat next to Jimmy Carter in the presidential box at the Democratic convention.
Steyn has got some great recommendations on the way forward..... but you're going to have to click the link & read the article to find out.

I'll give you one hint: He's a Happy Warrior; he's optimistic about our chances.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.