Friday, November 7, 2008

Post-Mortem Madness

There is no lack of navel-gazing going on now after the election. I have read one that I think is extremely interesting from my friend DJ McGuire. In his post he states the following (worth reading the whole thing, BTW):

Still, we will hear a lot about how young voters in particular are so enthralled by Obama that any opposition to his big-government domestic plans will lose the GOP a generation of voters. Not so fast.

See, those of us who remember when the Republicans were the party of limited government consider those days either halcyon or so far in the past as to be useless. What we tend to forget is this: it was so long ago that young voters don’t remember it.

The last time the Republican Party stuck its neck out and went “to the mattresses” on limited government was the “government shutdown” of 1995. Say what you will about it, the party establishment has been spooked ever since. Thus Gingrich et al rolled over to Clinton’s spendthrift demands in 1998 and hoped Monica Lewinsky would rescue them (she didn’t). George W. Bush ran on “compassionate conservatism” and caught a break when Al Gore’s voters concentrated themselves too heavily in the northeast; then he (Bush) ran for re-election on national security issues, and won. We all remember 2006 and last Tuesday.

So, the last time the Republican Party actually tried to reduce the size of government, the oldest young voter in America today was sixteen. Now, I followed politics at that age, but I was a geek. Most American teenagers aren’t. In other words, no young American voter has ever seen the Republicans try to reduce the size and scope of government.

So, for them, this election was a contest between a big-government party with the charismatic mixed-race nominee with his better-than-any-comedian-on-earth running mate and a big-government party with a cantankerous old guy with the folksy Alaskan.

Are we really surprised who won?


It is time to start over and return to FIRST PRINCIPLES!!! Reagan started this fight before in the 70s telling us in 1975 (empahsis added):

I don ‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party”—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents.

It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating?

Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?

Let us show that we stand for fiscal integrity and sound money and above all for an end to deficit spending, with ultimate retirement of the national debt.

Let us also include a permanent limit on the percentage of the people’s earnings government can take without their consent.

Let our banner proclaim a genuine tax reform that will begin by simplifying the income tax so that workers can compute their obligation without having to employ legal help.

And let it provide indexing—adjusting the brackets to the cost of living—so that an increase in salary merely to keep pace with inflation does not move the taxpayer into a surtax bracket. Failure to provide this means an increase in government’s share and would make the worker worse off than he was before he got the raise.

Let our banner proclaim our belief in a free market as the greatest provider for the people.

Let us also call for an end to the nit-picking, the harassment and over-regulation of business and industry which restricts expansion and our ability to compete in world markets.

Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government’s coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine.

Our banner must recognize the responsibility of government to protect the law-abiding, holding those who commit misdeeds personally accountable.

And we must make it plain to international adventurers that our love of peace stops short of “peace at any price.”

We will maintain whatever level of strength is necessary to preserve our free way of life.

A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.

I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.


Finally, another post-mortem that I found which is worth the read. From Leslie Carbone (she has many interesting articles in the last few days) who wrote in her blog on Wednesday Time for Rebuilding:


Voters didn't reject Republicans because they reject conservatism; voters rejected Republicans because they no longer trust Republicans to uphold conservatism. And there's no reason why they should.


Time for a revolution in the ranks--time to retake the Republican party and reinstate conservative first principles.

16 comments:

David B. Montgomery said...

Plain and Simple, the GOP MUST return to Social and Fiscal conservatism as the main planks holding up their national security an other values.

No more earmarks or pork, clean clear ethics and morality that is ok to talk about in CHURCH.

Or I'm headed for a new party that represents those values.

Nuff said!

Jodi said...

Two things:

1) I was 17 (by your claim, 1 year
too old) in most of 1995, a political nerd (thanks to my family), and had friends who were 16 at the time and were as observant as I was. Therefore the claim, "In other words, no young American voter has ever seen the Republicans try to reduce the size and scope of government," is false. And, I am still a Democrat and I voted PROUDLY for Barack Obama twice- also in the primary!

2) I agree with everything Ronald Reagan said here (although, I do believe that over-regulation is a problem, I strongly support common sense regulation). The problem I have with the Republican Party as it stands now is that as Reagan cautioned not to "broaden the base of our party" the party grew to include the Moral Majority in 1979. This presents a problem. The two factions of the party seem to contradict one another. While the business/government side of the party tends to be laissez-faire the Fundamentalist side tends to stick their noses into people's private lives and private choices. The businessman has your confidence. You believe that he doesn't need regulated because he has a stake in the success of the economy as a whole. Yet, the homosexual who wants to be married can't do so because you've decided to regulate their life and tell them no. I could go on with examples of these contradictions, but you get the picture.

In my view, Republicans have faith in laissez-faire when it comes to money, but when it comes to the people, they should be told what they can and cannot do, because the Humanists, non-Christians, and Atheists obviously don't have a stake in keeping a civil society.

jpb2525 said...

I am not even going there. Trickle down - doesn't work. Less regulation - doesn't work.

The only thing that works with the republican party are WEDGE issues (ie. gay marriage, abortion) - and scare tactics.

For the most part, most people have finally wised up to these tactics and decided that fear would not keep them from change.

As for Bush 2000. Nope. He didn't win, the Supreme Court handed it to him....(and then the Republicans declared they didn't want anyone legislating from the bench)....talking out of both sides of the mouth also did this party in.

So if you really want to learn from your mistakes...start there.

Stop talking about smaller government...and getting government out of our lives ...because you truly don't believe that (as a party)....they want bigger government (last 8 years) and want government in the bedroom (gay issues) and in the woman's womb (abortion). The party doesn't stand for what it "wants" to stand for - it was taken hostage by the extreme right....and until that is resolved, I believe the republican party will be relagated to the "also-ran" party.

Those are my two cents.

Leslie Carbone said...

Good post. Thanks for your thoughts. I am very encouraged as I see the right responding with thoughtful commentary on the need to return to our first principles. Let the conservative renaissance begin!

Anonymous said...

In 1787, whilst he exited the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman, "What have we got--a republic or monarchy?" His reply, well known, was "a republic…if you can keep it."

The United States Constitution instituted a republic not only for the general government of the several (distinct) States, but it guaranteed this form of government to every State in Article 4, Section 4. This nation was, thus, a republic of republics.

In fact, prior to the passage of the 17th amendment in 1913, when Senators were selected by State legislatures, the Senate represented the interests of the States, as independent entities, and the House of Representatives, those of the people.

Although the Philadelphia Convention eschewed monarchy, the document it produced has not completely survived over the years the force of personality in the presidency.

Andrew Jackson sought the abolition of the Electoral College, which would place the selection of the chief executive in the hands of the people instead of the States. Abraham Lincoln signed into law the first income tax, eventually leading to the passage of the 16th amendment that allows Congress to levy an income tax without regard to the States.

Erosion of the rights of individual States, by constitutional alterations and military force (1861-1865), combined with the populists movements of the late 1800s and early 1900s, has transformed the American republic increasingly towards the peril of democracy, rule by omnipotent majority.

New Deal and Great Society programs should not be unexpected when the Constitution of 1787 is relegated from fundamental law to historical artifact. Can we fathom what "Change" we are in for from an administration led by someone who describes it as a "charter of negative liberties."

Republics safeguard the rights of individuals and minorities. Democracies facilitate mob rule, allowing those who are experts at winning elections, and but potentially nothing else, to dominate politics. The distinctions between these systems have been noted for over two millennia, from Plato's Republic to Tocqueville's Democracy in America.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for, but one which should not only be founded on true free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among general bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others."

James Madison describes the dangers of democracies in Federalist #10, writing "When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government...enables it to sacrifice its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens." He then argues that the Constitution contains a republican remedy (or it once did).

We can debate ad nauseam about what platform/issues might save the GOP or whether forming a new Conservative party is merited with the Republican brand being tarnished as it is, but unlike the Whig party of the 1850s, whose good name was sullied by debate over slavery, those who claim to carry the banner of Reagan have failed in part because they omit his principle of New Federalism.

I have often marveled that a self professed "conservative" Republican president, who instituted a massive federal insertion into public education and spearheaded an initiative to increase entitlement spending via medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors, could be so vilified by the Democratic Party. This hatred transcends post 9/11 security policies and the Iraq war.

But a shift back from democratic populism to a constitutional, federalist republic will not alone save our country. What is also needed is, described in the Constitution of Virginia, Section 16, "the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love, and charity towards each other."

The 10th commandment states, "You shall not covet." Following this, the politician, who offers to take the wealth of another, by force, and distribute it to others, should hold no power over "We the People."

Let us be clear on the application of this principle. A presidential candidate who offers money to those who do not pay taxes is not reducing tax liability (a tax cut) because no tax is owed. To even call this welfare would be charitable, when it has all the appearance of an outright bribe.

Tocqueville predicted, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." An honest reflection of our current state of affairs leads to the indictment of both Republicans and Democrats in this regard, but the citizens have culpability as well. Is not the recipient of a bribe, paid for at the expense of another’s labor, a willing participant in the treachery?

John Adams said, "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

We can pretend that Republican Party, or the Democratic Party for that matter, or even the "republic" itself can long survive morale relativism or pluralism, but the study of history is not our friend in this regard. We must face the reality that the Great Commission of Matthew 28 holds more power to transform society than the election of any executive, the actions of any legislature, or the rulings of any judiciary.

Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Fight the good fight.

Publius

David B. Montgomery said...

Jodi and jpb2525,

You are both sadly mistaken.

#1 Jodi - Morals come from God, not from man. The vast majority of conservative govenment and fiscal ideas were originally and should be based on solid biblical principles. Look up "Stewardship" in the bible. Blueletter bible has a searchable website.

Homosexuality is a sin and against God, that is not a "Wedge" created by the GOP. Those of us who do not reject God must reject those who "drift" away from solid biblical principles. I've got friends and neighbors who are gay. their sin is between themselves and God, not my gig to judge them. But neither can I condone their sin, nor can I support making their sin the legal law of the land. There are other legal contracts that can be granted providing what gay's need without poisoning marriage.

Taking a moral stand on government and fiscal policy DOES include not letting the sinners run the show in other aspects of civil society. There really is a slippery slope and the bible documents over and over how society's slid down it into destruction and damnation.

#2 jpb2525 - PUH-LEEESE - The current Democrat idiocy talking points are that Regan's economic policies did not work? He laid the foundation for all economic gains since then, and he turned around the DEVASTATION Jimmy Carter wreaked upon this land. Get a flipping clue and STUDY reality dude.

Obama is going to be worse that Carter unless he changes course. I hope you love your 21% mortgage dude.

When anything goes, everything is already gone. Morality and laws are what keep society civil, not the other way around.

David

Anonymous said...

JPB2525,

Have you considered where your logic will take you if the argument is presented in terms of more/less government?

The state already regulates the body to a large degree. Suicide, actual or attempted, is illegal in many jurisdictions, although admittedly the transgressor may technically be beyond the reach of the law if successful.

The argument that "one has the right to do whatever one wants with one's own body" is not axiomatic to excuse any behavior whose consequences are directed inward. A tortured interpretation of the fourteenth amendment should not either.

There are naturally understood consequences to most behaviors. If a man engages in sexual activity, he may become a father. If he does and is unwilling to provide support for the life he begets, the state will, by force, take steps to assure that he fulfills his moral obligation for the next 18 years.

Likewise, copulation for a woman can result in pregnancy, and aside from rape, the action is voluntary. The fact that the life conceived resides within a woman's womb is really not relevant.

The fertilized egg is a different biological entity than the mother, and it has human DNA. What exactly do you think this is? If human, on what basis would you deny the same rights afforded to an infant child?

Would you make the argument that the state should force men to be fathers but not women to be mothers, if only for 9 months?

Were abortion illegal, the state would be no more intrusive than the other examples cited. This is one of the responsibilities that we grant to government, the right to enforce laws that protect people: do not kill, buckle-up, take care of the elderly, etc.

Would it be your position that big government is good when it tries to protect a four year old by mandating a child safety seat, but it is bad when it tries to prevent the life of a human embryo from being terminated without due process?

Governments, through laws, legislate and enforce morality. As not everyone agrees on what is ethical, why do we not all just confess that defining right and wrong is above our pay grade?

I can appreciate that you may respectfully disagree with the viewpoint of those who adhere to traditional values, but you are misguided if you try to paint their ideas as extreme. The GOP is not embracing Klansmen. If its ideas seem extreme, a bit of self reflection might be in order.

Publius

David B. Montgomery said...

Publius,

Well said. Bravo!

David

jpb2525 said...

Mr. Montgomery - I really have a problem with people that say, "I've got friends and neighbors who are gay." As if this makes it ok for you to be as homophobic as you are, just because you have "friends" that are gay. I truly doubt you have any "friends" that are gay. That is like saying I like gay people but they are total “f*gs.” …And so what if you have neighbors that are gay – what does this have to do with anything? I have neighbors who are straight, does that make me any more of an expert on their life or their struggles?

This is the Palin argument: Having foreign policy experience because she can see Russia. Just ridiculous.

As for not judging? You just did. You said, “Those of us who do not reject God must reject those who "drift" away from solid biblical principles.” Isn’t rejecting someone because of what you perceive as SIN a JUDGEMENT? Not to mention that you are assuming that gay people “reject God.” Again, another judgment.

You are sadly mistaken that "There are other legal contracts that can be granted providing what gay's need without poisoning marriage." As a gay man who has been a monogamous relationship with his partner of 8 years...I can tell you there is NOTHING to protect us. If I die, my partner doesn't inherit my property (as a married couple would), outright. There are a multitude of privileges that CIVIL marriage give couples. In fact, there are over 1400 –(for example) in the case of death there are Social Security Benefits, next of kin status, FMLA benefits, not having to testify against your spouse…etc…

Poisoning marriage? May I ask how many times you have been married? I can tell you I know many people that have divorced, does this also have the same impact of “poisoning” marriage? And if not, why?? and how would allowing gay people the right to marry suddenly "poison" the secular institution?

Sad to say, my partner and I are "legal strangers" even though we have been together for 8 years...but I could pick a girl up today (no nothing about her) and get married today and have more rights...and she is a total stranger. And let’s talk about the Britney-type marriage…the shot-gun marriage, the people that get married when they get pregnant? How do these types of marriages support the sanctity of the institution? Should these marriages also be taken away because they "poison" marriage?

How about couples that get married simply for the 1400 rights and privilages the GOVERNMENT grant? Should these unions be dismissed as well?

How about couples that are unable to..or choose not to procreate? Should those unions be dismissed? Do these unions "poison" marriage?

When you go to a courthouse to get “civil-unioned,” what does the certificate say? It says marriage license, not civil union license. The church does not own the terminology of marriage and therefore should not be able to dictate to a secular society how a “civil” marriage should be conducted..

As for getting a “flipping clue and study reality….” I live in reality, everyday. I am well educated, and have two degrees to show for it…I also paid close attention in my economics classes (and got A’s in both) – so careful there big guy..I wouldn’t want you to strain yourself…our current economic environment was brought about by the Republican Party. There is no way around that one.

Anonymous said...

JPB2525,

Being well educated, with "two degrees to show for it", somewhere along the way you may of noticed the reality of a peace treaty that acknowledged the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain. It begins, "In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity." It is acknowledged that not all of the founding fathers submitted to the orthodoxy of the Christian faith, but the nation, from its inception, was definitely culturally influenced by the teaching of Jesus. Even those whose who doubted his divinity, such as Franklin and Jefferson, spoke repeatedly about the virtues espoused in the Bible.

While you have the right to disagree profoundly with parts or all of Christian scripture, you should not be surprised that a nation whose history and people are steeped in values of Christendom would find what the Bible defines as sexually immoral to be objectionable. Homosexuality is said to be sinful, but in passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9, it is enumerated with fornication and adultery, so the lifestyle is not being beleaguered anymore than premarital or extramarital relations. Do two consenting adults that voluntarily remain in either of these situations have any more or less rights than gay couples? Who protects the rights of polygamist in the United States?

As for judging (or not doing so), I assume you refer to Matthew 7:. If you interpret this passage in this way, consider the implications. Without the ability to discern or distinguish or form an opinion or compare facts/ideas, none of us could perceive right from wrong. As such, murders and rapist and thieves could not be incarcerated. Keynesian economics could not be distinguished from Reaganonomics. If you think that the GOP alone is responsible for wrecking the economy by truly following Reagan's brand of capitalism, we'll have to agree that we interpret that data differently. If you think that Christians are irrational fools for trying model society based on the virtues of the Bible, make that twice we disagree.

Publius

jpb2525 said...

Publius - Goodness. Your rationale is interesting, however flawed. I would caution you to also recall that the Bible was also used by our forefathers to continue slavery. Not to mention that homosexuality is an identity - not a sin.

I shall not engage in religious arguments about this as it does not pertain to the subject at hand.

Your religious beliefs are yours - and you are free to have them, as I have mine. We will have to simply disagree on this.

The nice thing here is that I am not trying to take away your right to believe what you believe or practice your faith, or interrupt your marriage, or enter your bedroom based on my belief system.

Regardless of what you want to believe, our country has a Constitution that prevents the establishment of religion, any religion - and the secular society must remain free from manipulation from ANY religion.

It truly just does not matter what the Bible "says" or does not "say" about homosexuality. That is irrelevant here. The discussion is about basic civil rights...not religious ones. You are free to discriminate in your congregation as you see fit, but to extend that to the public forum is an affront to everything our forefathers fought for.

Jimmy - your silence here speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

Those who used the Bible to justify slavery might just as well have used the text to have concubines, promote polygamy, and commit genocide. The words of the Constitution are dangerous enough in the hands of imbeciles. Scripture in the hands of fiends is not immune to abuse.

You posit an interesting notion...civics without religious influence, but if you were able to successfully divorce a majority of the voters from a devotion to Christian virtue, with what philosophy would it be replaced? Should right and wrong be determined using the formulations of Immanuel Kant or John Stuart Mill? Is natural law that of Aristotle, Augustine or Hobbes? Or does it exist at all?

If the cultural of Christendom had no part in our history, we would face similar questions as a people. Is right or wrong subject to the whims of man, or are there absolutes defined by a higher power? Is moral pluralism a plausible foundation for civil law?

I do understand your position when you say that “homosexuality is an identity” (effectively, an amoral state of being). If this were accepted as an axiom, two things would necessarily follow: (1) your position would be defensible, and (2) the veracity of scripture would be suspect.

In the end, we are unlikely to agree on this matter. Our base assumptions are so fundamentally different, logic and civility cannot bridge the divide.

Publius

Jodi said...

Publius,
I wasn't going to comment anymore, but I had to recommend The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins for his discussion of morality as defined by religion and contrasted by the definition given by atheists/ humanists in the chapter "The Roots of Morality: Why are we good?" Christians don't own morality anymore than they own the word marriage.

Jim-the Classical Liberal (Views from the Right) said...

John,

Do not take my silence as anything other than to try to maintain the uneasy truce with you in the hopes our relationship as brothers can continue without more problems.

I will make only one comment on your last comment, specifically: "Not to mention that homosexuality is an identity - not a sin."

Ummmm...
Humanity is an identity AND A SIN. Homosexuality is no more a sin than being human--God does not classify sin. To Him a sin is a sin "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Remember, according to the doctrine of Original Sin "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5)

It is the nature of humanity to be sinful...each and every one of us--homosexuals are not special or called out in this.

Finally, "if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13)

I have tried my best throughout our disagreements to point out that you are not special in your sin, you are as sinful as I, as Publius, as David Montgomery, as anyone and everyone.

Anonymous said...

Jodi,

Thank you for the book recommendation. Based upon the reviews at Amazon, it appears to be an interesting read; nontheless, while I assume that Mr. Dawkins, an esteemed intellectual and scientist, uses sound logic in the presentation of his argument, I doubt how persuasive he can be in terms of convincing people of faith that the basis for morality is not supernatural.

Human reason requires assumptions, things that we take on faith. Even the athiest must start with a dogmatic assertion in saying "there is no God."

Consider the impact on geometric proofs in Euclidean geometry if you reject the premise that all right angles are congruent or any two points can be joined by a straight line. Axioms are important.

In the strictest sense, you are correct that Christians do not "own morality" as it either comes from God or is discovered in nature by philosophers; however, the rejection of God outright does place the athiest in a different camp than the non-Christian, theistic philosopher who, by his initial postulate of the Almighty, walks down a different path of logic.

We can post back and forth for years, but we honestly do not have enough agreement on a starting point. This is why the proponents of intelligent design and material naturalism will never come to a concensus. Neither do I suspect it is possible for us to reach agreement in discussions regarding ethics, unless one of us has a change of heart about the first cause, or source of all that is.

"If there is no God, everything is permitted." -Dostoevsky.

Publius

jpb2525 said...

Jimmy, I am sorry you feel that we have an "uneasy truce."

We disagree on fundamentally everything - but you are still my big brother and I love you.

Your choices do not reflect on me and my choices do not reflect on you - we have free will and must follow that.

You chose a different path - I accept that about you. I love you. Nothing will change that.

But love does not mean that we can be disappointed, upset, and even angry at each other.

This will be my final post on this - I just have a real problem with how some can espouse their beliefs with no regard for others....it's hurtful for everyone - and I am too happy in my life to be burdened with trying to convince the inconvincible.