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January 11, 2007

Rightie Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Dartmouth's true-blue Jeffrey Hart has been expressing displeasure with Bushie Republicans lately. The New Criterion's James Panero tells the story.

* Dennis Dale considers the case of the British ballerina who is a member of the BNP. Great line: "Her behavior, apparently racially tolerant in her personal life but willing to consider the consequences of race, ethnicity and immigration on the macrocosmic level, is common and rational."

* Jim Kalb distills the last 60 years of American conservatism down into five cogent paragraphs.

* Jim points out this wonderfully grouchy it's-all-coming-to-an-end piece by the late paleoconservative John Attarian. Nice line: "Barring unforeseeable developments, American conservatism will go down in history as a failure, a crass and clueless movement that never really understood its mission, nor ever grasped reality."

* NZConservative muses about the way that political discourse has grown so ill-tempered even though there aren't that many differences between political parties. Shrewd insight: "Political correctness is one possible reason why politics has got so personal and abusive. Many people are afraid to say what they really think and so prefer to vent their frustrations through personal attacks rather than by explaining why they are opposed to particular policies."

* Tyler Cowen thinks that a universal 401K plan might make a positive difference.

* I Was A Young Republican!



posted by Michael at January 11, 2007


I think Attarian might have been guilty of what psychologists call "projection". "A crass and clueless movement that never really understood its mission, nor ever grasped reality" is a pretty good description of paleoconservatism, but hardly of conservatism in general. Conservatism is actually a victim of its own success. The twin evils it set out to defeat (Communism and overt statism)were both defeated, and it has had (as large movements do) a difficult time re-orienting itself to face the new challenges ahead. As to whether it can, or whether some new movement will be necessary,only time will tell.

Posted by: tschafer on January 11, 2007 12:58 PM

Ideological purity (of almost any sort) seldom wins general elections.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on January 11, 2007 1:09 PM

I'm not too worried about conservatism.

The Republican party has always had a Hamiltonian wing and a libertarian wing. The history of the party suggests that these two traditions have alternated and will continue to do so.

The hands-off libertarian Coolidge was followed by Hoover, an activist Hamiltonian who doubled the income tax and started the New Deal. Bob Taft led the party along libertarian lines and was followed by Eisenhower, who built the interstate and expanded abroad. Goldwater was followed by Nixon, Reagan by Bush One, and Gingrich by Bush Two. The first member of each of these pairs of party leaders was a libertarian (for the most part), and the second was a Hamiltonian.

My personal theory is that the libertarians piss off the big money donors by cutting programs, and then the Hamiltonians must bribe them back into the organization with pork and patronage. But then I'm an awful cynic...

Anyway, if this is true then we're due for a libertarian swing in the next election or shortly thereafter. And not a moment too soon!

Posted by: Brian on January 11, 2007 2:32 PM

Ideology is BS. Conservatives, paleo and otherwise, fail because they are deluded, and somehow believe that conservative ideology is congruent with reality. In this, they resemble Marxists, who also foolishly believed that they had somehow stumbled onto some scientific notion of how economics and history works.

It's interesting to note that some conservatives whine that Republicans lost big in November because they refused to hold fast to their "values," while ignoring the plain fact that Independents abandoned Republicans in droves, rejecting their love affair with Christian fundamentalists. One savvy conservative pundit noted that a lot of men who love to do the online gambling thing rejected moralistic, nanny-state Congressional legislation that would limit online gambling, and which was an obvious sop to the religious right.

I disagree with the idea that "Political correctness is one possible reason why politics has got so personal and abusive." Liberals and conservatives both invove "political correctness" when they are unable to rationally advance an argument.

Posted by: Alec on January 12, 2007 5:52 AM

Social Conservatism is probably the least ideological of all political persuasions. What is at its core? Opposition to Affirmative Action (let the people decide whom to hire), small government (let the people decide what to do with their money), freedom of religion to pray and express religious ideas even in public spaces, opposition to abortion and infanticide (so that we might have a birth rate at the replacement level), an approach to education which is focused on teaching real material and holds students to high standards, that is not divorced from teaching about morality also, and some, but not excessive regulation of business, lower taxes, etc. What's so bad about that?

Social conservatives are not republicans. They have in the past and are trying to make the republican party into a socially conservative one with little success. They are the vast majority of americans who are largely unrepresented in government because their agenda is largely anti-government, and would result in a pullback of government power and the ability to steal the people's money for useless projects and corrupt power-mongering.

As far as I can tell, its the last hope for this country before it becomes some sort of leftist corporate totalitarian regime--free markets and government assistance for big corporations, and excessive taxation and wealth transfer amongst the rest of the vassals. Online gaming is a big issue, huh?

The reason that social conservatives abandoned the republican party in the last election is because the republican party abandoned social conservatives. I don't know what party or movement will rise up to court this vast portion of the electorate, but the movement is growing and has done so non-stop since the 60's and early 70's.

Posted by: BIOH on January 12, 2007 7:28 PM

BIOH – RE: Online gaming is a big issue, huh?

Yeah, it is. And it’s not just my assertion, but that of commentators like John LeBoutillier, who recognize that there are many flavors of social conservatism, some more ideological than others. It’s hard for someone to claim to be anti-government and then applaud the federal government’s attempt to enforce morality and protect individuals from themselves by banning some forms of online gambling, especially when they simultaneously serve up all kinds of protections for casinos and other gaming industries. The same holds true for the fed’s excessive concern over pornography and supposedly indecent language on TV. Apparently, they don’t believe that Americans have the mental strength to change the channel or turn off their computers or, accept the idea that some people might be able to view porn and not immediately become slack-jawed degenerates.

And while some social conservatives may think that they have some mandate to encourage the national birth rate, I suspect that most Americans reject any attempts by busybodies to monitor or interfere with an individual’s personal liberty, which obviously includes decisions about when, and whether, to have children.

I don’t know many people who oppose freedom of religion “to pray and express religious ideas even in public spaces,” but this is not the same thing as the noxious idea that school teachers should lead prayer sessions in public schools.

Posted by: Alec on January 13, 2007 6:05 PM

"Online gaming is a big issue, huh?"

The casino industry hates it. For obvious reasons.

Conservatism in its postwar form is the victim of its own success. Communism is dead, except in the American universities. Overt socialism is dead, ditto. Keynesian fine-tuning is dead. It didn't work. We got stagflation. We now know that. Perpetual expansion of welfare is no longer acceptable to voters. Saying crime is "society's fault" is no longer acceptable to voters. The world is a better place because of the successes of conservatism.

Conservatism in the USA has always been a big tent, with warring factions. That is a sign of strength and vitality.

The woodshedding in 2006 was mostly due to Mr. Bush's unsuccessful war. But it was also a wake up call. I expect a reformulation of the package and a resurgence fairly soon. 2008 is probably too soon. But, soon.

Posted by: Lexington Green on January 13, 2007 6:20 PM

Social conservatives like me are not anti-government. That's libertarianism. I am for small and decentralized federal government and limited business regulation, just like the other 90+ percent of social conservatives. We are not zealots.

Pornography has done great harm to the family life of many americans. Why do you equate regulation with banning? Regulation, or placing limits on certain activities, is not banning them, but restricting them. Turn the computer off, or the TV off, huh? What if the people looking at the porn are kids when their parents aren't home? Why should it be the public's responsibility to act as a filter for some profiteer's broadcasting of smut? I think the smut-lovers shouldn't be so lazy, and they should have to work a little harder to feed their smut habit. Obviously, the fat, lazy smut lovers have a quarrel with that. Maybe they shouldn't be so lazy and unimaginative. If the rest of us have to constantly have a remote control at the ready to "just turn the smut off" whenever some degenerate broadcasting profiteer slips it into a show, I think the smut lovers should likewise be perpetually burdened. That's fair, isn't it?

As far as the kid situation, that's a load of crap. The government used to provide huge tax breaks for middle class people to have kids. For the past forty years, they have been subsidizing bastards and minority childbirths. Now they are leaving the borders open so that illegal third world dregs are making new "americans". I don't see any problem with the government encouraging certain behaviors and discouraging others, as long as these incentives are not mandatory. Again, you seem to have a hard time distingushing the idea of promoting or restricting with mandating or banning. Its not all or nothing, guy.

I don't see why teachers can't lead kids in prayer if they want to. After all, they do have the right to freedom of religion and speech. How noxious that some people might pray to God to offer thanks and ask for blessing! Out loud too! It might interfere with the viewing of porno! Ban it! Damn conservatives!

Posted by: BIOH on January 14, 2007 12:46 AM

I'm pretty skeptical of a history of post-WWII (however brief) that doesn't include racial or social bigotry. While those haven't been major traits of elite conservative intellectuals, they have clearly been major traits of conservative policy and voters.

Posted by: ptm on January 15, 2007 9:17 PM

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