Last Week's Food Fight And A Search For Clarity: It's The Federalism, Dummy!
by Larry Perrault on February 9, 2010 at 12:03 PM
First of all, all of these arguments and all of the strain about immigration and libertarianism are a distraction in light of what is happening in America: sort of like fighting over the furniture when the house is on fire. We are losing our republic. And, I’m not just talking about the Obamian momentum that Scott Brown may have slowed. Mass-culture has contaminated our consciousness and our principles have been fading for a century. A lot of you scorners of The Republican Party are right that when after 2000, Republicans held the presidency and Congress, and the federal government and spending grew rapidly. I believe George W. Bush meant well. But, mass culture has altered our sense of what doing well is. In 2009, government went from the freeway to the Autobahn, with no speed limit at all. Until I die, I will see 2009 as a monumental year.
I read most of Lauro Garza’s article last week, and most of the LOOOOONG list of comments…until it made my brain hurt. I had a lot to say about it that was more than a comment, but much of it has dissipated. However, I would at least like to make a gesture toward clarifying and resolving some things. Some of those comments were thoughtful, but many were your garden variety Internet name-calling and insulting. Obviously, some people are wound very tightly about illegal immigration, and I agree with a reasonable plan like Norman Adams presented to order immigration and our law, which suggested nothing about “amnesty,” “open borders,” increasing Democrat voting or welfare or anything like that. People should back up a step. That name-calling and accusations of a hidden agenda stuff is worthy of liberals. I don’t want you to run off and join the Libertarian party. I want you to vote Republican. But, I want us to be the rational and gracious option, not the flip side of the verbal goons on The Daily Kos.
I did reread and finish those comments today, and it at least seems necessary to discuss some terms, similar to what Becky Chandler did in a calm and measured comment. And, I agreed with most of her points. But, there’s one thing that needs to be stressed that may go some way to reconciling the differences. Remember federalism? It’s this quaint old idea that states were to be sovereign in their governance, save for some limited powers of the federal government. This name-calling about The Constitution and libertarianism and corporate interests can be considerably diminished if we all, and I mean ALL, will focus on the important issue.
Now, maybe you’ll raise some question and maybe some terms have some newer popular connotations, but I’ve been around and paying attention for a little while, so let me discuss my understanding of a few terms.
republican – This simply refers to some foundational principles upon which, in our case a democracy rests And, “republic,” of course, is the way Ben Franklin described the new government the founders had created. In answer to a question about what government they had devised, Franklin said precisely, “a republic, if you can keep it.” Now, there is a bit more to the history of our two current major parties, but today we believe that runaway democracy has been injurious and continues to threaten republican principles. Although there had briefly been a “Democratic Republican Party” under Jefferson, the Republican party that continues to today was established in the opposition to the expansion of the practice of slavery: republican principle said that it was improper for an American democracy to support human slavery, even if it had a majority.
Republican – In something of a distinction from today, The Republican Party was seen at its founding as supporting a strong central government, in that it sought to interfere with the rights of territories, and ultimately states as well to democratically impose slavery. As an aside, there is some controversy about how much Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was in service of principle and how much it was political (particularly in the midst of war) and commercial. Personally, I suspect it was both, but that’s another story and I’m not a Civil War scholar. Actually at its birth, The Democratic Party favored more states rights and smaller central government. Now, Democrats try to expand central power while Republicans are seen as opposing it, though I agree that they have often done a poor job of it. I think that mass-media and education and an overwhelming mass ethos has changed the thinking of the population, and Republicans are influenced by and bend to that. But I would agree with many of you who would also complain that Republicans are not republican enough, and I have always said that.
libertarian – the heart of Republicanism? There’s something to that: obviously we, as did Republicans of Lincoln's time, support liberty and not coercion. Like other political parties, The Libertarian Party attracts people who are drawn by the general principle but may differ on application. By the way, in 2000, I attended some Reform Party meetings. Talk about different ideas: what a ZOO! But at the extreme, libertarianism can intrude upon those republican principles. Here’s where, to me, federalism modulates these questions.
The right to life would hold out against the right to kill, as in abortion. In my heart, I don’t think you get more pro-life than I am. I have worked with both of the two largest pro-life organizations in Houston and helped in staging events and prayers outside of clinics. However, I was also excluded from consideration to write for a national pro-life group because of a position that differed from the majority of its readers. I don’t advocate for a pro-life Amendment to the US Constitution. I have no problem with a national resolution about the sanctity of human life. But, the federal government can less capably regulate abortion than it can prosecute every murder and rape in our neighborhoods: perish the thought. I also don’t want to amend the US Constitution on marriage. And yes, though I’d strictly regulate and prosecute drug trafficking at nearer jurisdictions, I think the federal “war on drugs” is a huge waste of resources, and an invitation to corruption and crime. We should check and confiscate large shipments at ports and border crossings, but beyond that, the feds should LET IT GO! Sell it in my town and I hope the cops put your tail in jail.
neoconservative – In the liberal blogosphere and apparently often at supposedly conservative sites like this one, this term has devolved to little more than an epithet (some who hurl it seem to have no idea what the term implies); one that Ron Paul uses in distinguishing his non-interventionist thinking, which I will briefly discuss. But, the term came about in the late 70s and early 80’s. Irving Krystol, the father of “Weekly Standard” publisher William Krystol and one of the fathers of neoconservatism said, “a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” Now, it is likely not incidental that he and others like Norman Podhoretz are Jews. This is interesting in two respects. 1) A Jew may have had more occasion to notice that, if you ignore an enemy, they WILL come after you. And 2) Jews have historically been liberals. Perhaps my favorite radio conservative talk show host is Dennis Prager. Prager is a Jew who was raised a liberal, but early in life realized as Ronald Reagan did who had voted for FDR 4 times, that liberalism was destroying his country. Pro-tax-cut and anti-communist John F. Kennedy was fine, but the consequences of Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter’s irresponsibility and complaints of “malaise” were a loud alarm: “We have a problem!” By the way, the only Democrat I ever voted for in my life was a South Texas judge who was recommended to me by a known conservative in the 1990’s
And William Krystol is not just a defense hawk, but a down-the-line conservative. As I’ve said before, I understand Eisenhower’s warning of the military industrial complex and believe it should be monitored and leashed. I know there are limits to what can be accomplished, and I believe we should as much as we can, require other countries to defend themselves. In Europe for instance, I believe that they have somewhat coasted and hyper-doves can demonstrate in the streets because they know that if push ever comes to shove, we’ve got their back. All of that isn’t lost on me, and we should mind it more strictly, as we should mind most other things that are too much ignored.
However, in a world of easy air travel, virtually real time voice and video communications, and calamitously destructive technology, to turn one’s head from potential aggression and from cruelty is a) dangerous and b) immoral. As I’ve also said, I believe Ron Paul is a patriot who will defend an assaulted America and punish its assailants. But, we shouldn’t fail to be vigilant about interdicting possible aggression at the earliest point. We shouldn’t act only after American masses are dead. And at some point, when you possess some wherewithal in this shrunken world, ignoring brutality is like letting your firearm lie while you watch a violent crime on the sidewalk out of your window. Once, “avoid foreign entanglements” made sense, though even then Jefferson acted with force to clear global trade lanes. We knew then that humanity was cruel, but we didn’t see what was happening in places weeks, months, or years away, and couldn’t have helped a lot, anyway. Today we see it on our screens, and we can be there in a day or less, just as aggression and destruction can come here.
I needn’t even address the corporatist comments. Conservatives aren’t for corporations. Socialism and fascism absorb or supplement corporations. Conservatives are for liberty and not for government welfare on any scale in any direction. We saw with health care how easily liberals and corporations get in bed together if it is permitted. European government and corporate officers are the cultural elite who lead a lifestyle above the rest of the peons. Theirs and ours are liberals who have been unmolested by reality. And Barack Obama is a perfect example. His is a world of textbooks and abstract social designs. He makes millions as a lawyer, professor and politician: all paid by people who produce real products and services. He has never created anything, He has never met a payroll. “Created or saved” nonsense notwithstanding, he has only provided too much of other people’s money to supplement government jobs. I was figuring in my head the other day: It hasn’t, but even if the “recovery package” had provided a million jobs, they would have cost about $800,000 each. Even that is a plan that only an oblivious liberal could be proud of. And actually, the “stimulus” has created no jobs, which is unsurprising since GOVERNMENT CAN’T CREATE JOBS!
Wouldn’t it be nice if no one listened to such nonsense? Unfortunately, the most deluded people often have the cameras and microphones. Anyway, the sound of the flushing of money should be deafening. And, I’m certain that regardless of what Keynesian eggheads Greenspan said on Meet The Press on Sunday about coming out of recession, we have hardly seen the worst consequences of 2009’s folly. I wonder how misguided people will treat the party in power when it catches up with us very soon, and the numbers just don’t add up.