Friday, April 30, 2004
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The disgruntled conservatives
I've received some interesting e-mail ragarding my "Up is Down" essay for TNR Online -- now available at the CBS News web site as well!! They suggest that a lot of Republicans are less than thrilled with George W. Bush, but feel that they have no place to go.
Here's one example -- it's from Virginia conservative Lee Dise:
A few e-mails is pretty paltry evidence of a trend. Still, one wonders whether this this feeling of alienation on the right is prevalent.
UPDATE: Another e-mail from a very well-connected and disgruntled conservative:
Developing....posted by Dan on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM
I know a number of conservative who are upset with President Bush’s big government advocacy. However, they normally calm down after being reminded of the war on terrorism. This is the not the time to waste votes and endanger our country. A wimpy John Kerry is everything the terrorists dream for in a president. We cannot afford protest votes for an Allan Keyes.
The current Bush is like his father. They both believe that compromises with liberals will pay off on election day. It makes them seem more moderate. Needless to add---one gets nothing in return for such behavior. You only anger your friends while your enemies laugh at you.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I don't think the sentiment is widespread. I don't need to agree with everything Bush says or does in order to think he's doing a decent job and to expect that he'll continue to do so. I may have doubts about some domestic policies and wish that he was more conservative in certain areas, but that's hardly a reason to wish the man would "go down in flames" on election night as punishment. Frankly, it seems downright petty.posted by: Bryan C on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Well, as author of that post, Bryan, all I can say is you can characterize it as being petty if you like. From my perspective, however, when my vote is courted by people who promise to rein in the growth of government, and we get a Republican president who goes on the biggest spending bonanza since the late unlamented LBJ, I don't think it's pettiness to treat such a betrayal as a betrayal.
Mr. Drezner did not relay my other point, which was my prediction that the Democrats will find some way to replace Kerry on the ballot, as soon as most of them realize Kerry can't win. Kerry will succeed where Bush cannot: he'll give me a reason to vote for Bush. I'd be more inclined to shrug and write in someone else if the Democratic candidate were less egregious.
Republicans in general, and Bushes in particular, are prone to ignore their conservative base, and even to do things to actively irritate it, in a desperate search for liberal votes that just aren't there. Case in point: The Specter/Toomey battle. All Bush had to do was to refrain from supporting Specter. That's all. That isn't much to ask. If Bush had just kept his mouth shut, Toomey would probably have squeaked past Specter. But if he'd been nice to conservatives, even by accident, he wouldn't be Bush, would he? He had to go and actively campaign for Specter. That's like rubbing salt on an open wound. A Toomey victory would have given Pennsylvania conservatives a reason to go to the polls. I predicted that if Toomey won, Bush would win PA; now that Specter has won, I predict Bush will lose PA. Hear me now, believe me later.
Republicans cannot win over liberals, they can only alienate conservatives. If the Democrats come to their senses and run someone like Lieberman, my attitude will be that I don't have a horse in this race. If I'm going to get a liberal for president anyway, what do I care if he calls himself a Republican?posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Tim Blair has a post up asking readers to confess their past liberal acting outs. There are several former liberals who voted democrat as recently as 2000.posted by: aaron on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Heh heh heh! Very funny! If you're implying I'm a liberal in sheep's clothing, please check the following samples of my writing:
Sorry, my bona fides as a conservative are good. I read William Buckley's "Up From Liberalism" in 1967, at the age of thirteen, and never looked back.
You'll have to think of some other reason why someone who calls himself a conservative might express unhappiness with Mr. Bush. Hint: Maybe Bush's conservative bona fides are the ones that need to be questioned.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“If I'm going to get a liberal for president anyway, what do I care if he calls himself a Republican?”
There is one issue which demands one’s primary concern: the war on terrorism. All other matters are of secondary importance. There are currently millions of radical Muslims committed to murdering us and our love ones. This is why liberals like Roger L. Simon are supporting President Bush. We are at war. It’s time that some folks ceased pretending otherwise. Oh by the way, Senator Joseph Lieberman did not get the Democrat nomination. That party is committed to a dishonest pacifism. John Kerry will not stand up to the Muslim nihilists. He will find any excuse not to do anything. Far too many Vietnam era Democrats believe that violence only worsens the situation. Embracing such a childish attitude is dangerous. This is why we must support the incumbent.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
1. I certainly implied that Bush would get my vote if Kerry is still the nominee in November, for the reasons you provided.
2. I see nothing childish about being angry over betrayals, and nothing childish about wanting to exact a price for them. That's what politics is all about. They're called "incentives". As I said, if conservatives don't punish Republicans when they do liberal things, who will?
The War on Terror, yes. But one other factor will get conservatives out to vote Bush back in: the prospect of John Kerry nominating three Supreme Court justices. I get shudders just thinking about it.posted by: Jason Johnson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I share your shudders concerning Democratic appointees to SCOTUS. But I'm also disappointed in what has mostly been a non-response to the Democrats' escalaction of tactics in the confirmation wars. Where's my assurance that when the next vacancy occurs Bush won't cave and settle for another Souter?posted by: Hunter McDaniel on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“Where's my assurance that when the next vacancy occurs Bush won't cave and settle for another Souter?”
You have zero assurances. Who ever told you otherwise? I expect President Bush to make a wise selection---but sometimes an idiot slips through. Once again, you should be focussing first, last, and foremost, on the war. Please note Dan Drezner’s recent blogging on the growing threat in Thailand. We are in a world wide fight to the death. All other considerations must be put to the side. The Democrats are unofficially committed to a dishonest pacifism. It is virtually impossible for this party to pick a candidate who will take the fight to the enemy. The Democrats will always find an excuse to do nothing. They are still trapped in the Vietnam era. Only a Republican administration might (no guarantees) save our bacon.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
If it wasn't for the war on terror I think Bush would be in trouble with the conservative voters (including me) for his bloated spending, protectionism, and stupid political decisions (farm bill, prescription drug benefit, education bill, steel tariffs, campaigning for Specter, campaign finance reform, assault weapons ban, etc.). But I think the war on terror trumps all of his domestic disasters.
However, it has been disheartening to see how many Bush supporters don't have a consistent conservative philosophy they just support anything proposed by someone with an (R) behind their name. This has prevented Bush from getting some of the negative feedback that may have helped him make better decisions.
“However, it has been disheartening to see how many Bush supporters don't have a consistent conservative philosophy they just support anything proposed by someone with an (R) behind their name.”
The conservative publications have consistently challenged President Bush on some of his foolish choices. Please point out even one author who has not criticized the President? It’s merely a matter of priorities. The Democrats are downright dangerous. Our options are therefore extremely limited. Politics is often a matter of choosing the lesser of evils. Democracy is nasty, yucky and disgusting (according to Winston Churchill)---but better than any other system attempted on planet Earth.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
posted by: aaron on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Bravo, TJIT! It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Republicans love to shove conservatives and conservatism out in the cold, and then during election year, they're all smiles and bubbly charm. Conservatives are Charlie Brown and Republicans are Lucy, holding the football and promising not to yank it away, this time. Republicans do not want conservatives' inputs when they make policy, they only want their votes at election time.
To be honest, Bush lost me when he signed the so-called campaign finance "reform" bill. Bush's own words, as he was signing it: "I think it's probably unconstitutional." Now, refresh my memory: isn't upholding the Constitution part of the presidential oath of office? So I've been disgruntled for some time, long enough that I don't even remember a time when I was gruntled. :-)
How about the war on terrorism, everyone asks? Yes, unfortunately, we are at war, and it's important to have a president who understands that. I give Mr. Bush credit for standing tall in a stiff wind on this one issue. I do think he should have sought a formal declaration of war from Congress in October of 2001, though, because it would have clarified matters and stuck more closely to the constitutional playbook. But so far he's done better than I would expect from any Democrat.
I do, however, believe Bush is mistaken if he actually thinks we can transplant democracy to Iraq. Democratic government is a fragile seed that requires a soil rich in Western, Anglo, and Christian influences and prerequisites. We won't succeed in making Iraq into a democratic showplace, but should gladly settle for turning it into a place that constitutes no threat to America.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Did you coin a new word with "ragarding", meaning 'ragefully regarding"? It seems far too apt to be a typo.posted by: Jacob on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I don't agree with a lot of Bush's agenda (e.g., Medicare expansion), but on the Big Issues (national security, judicial nominations and taxes), he's been right, so I'll happily give him a pass on the other stuff.posted by: DBL on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Well, gee. All you have to do is look at the hundreds of surveys gauging support of the base for the candidate, and you will see that the republican base is lined up behind Bush.
You might wish it were otherwise, but it isn't.
Will some conservatives have temper tantrums if everything doesn't go their way? Sure. Just like some liberals are unhappy with Kerry.
When you can't defeat the argument, it's always popular to try tainting the arguer. The use of characterizations such as "temper tantrums" is a diversionary tactic, designed to keep from having to deal with any substantive criticisms.
And what good are Supreme Court nominees, if it takes a fight to get them confirmed, and the president is unwilling to go to the mat for them? And need I point out that in many key cases, such as Michigan, the decisive votes in favor of the liberal position have come from Republican appointees? Democratic appointees are reliably liberal, but Republican appointees are only unreliably conservative, sort of a reflection of the Republican Party's performance in general.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“I do, however, believe Bush is mistaken if he actually thinks we can transplant democracy to Iraq.”
The main thing is that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. I would be happy even if we install some sort of benevolent dictator. Instituting democracy is only frosting on the cake. We have no choice but to change the culture of the Middle East. The Arab Muslims must be pushed into accepting the modern world. These people have to grow up and stop acting like children. They must cease perceiving themselves as victims. Scapegoating and self pity is the norm. The Arabs have got to look into the mirror and confront the harsh fact that they did this to themselves. Nobody told their ancestors some 400-500 years ago to embrace ludditism and anti-intellectualism. Are we responsible that their women are second class citizens?posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
> David Thomson: "It’s merely a matter of priorities. The Democrats are downright dangerous. Our options are therefore extremely limited."
That's the same logic that got us Nixon for two terms. Consequently, I'm less impressed with it than I used to be.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
> David Thomson: "The main thing is that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. I would be happy even if we install some sort of benevolent dictator. Instituting democracy is only frosting on the cake."
My sentiments exactly. Bush may succeed for the wrong reasons. It's okay with me if we fail to make the Middle East safe for democracy. My primary interest is in safeguarding our own.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
As a member of the NRA and charter subscriber to Pat Buchanan's "The American Conservative", I would like to make the following points to Lee Dise:
a) You will NOT get a "smaller, less intrusive government" when that government will be $9.9 TRILLION dollars in debt in 2008 --$3.8 Trillion more than what Bush promised only 3 years ago.
In the years leading up to Sept 11, We spent $350 billion/year on "DEFENSE" and yet 19 ragheads with bad English could waltz in and pull off Sept 11? Yet No one got fired and Bush said the solution is to spend $100 billion more??
As a resident of Pennsylvania, I can assure all of you that our ex-governor Tom Ridge could not pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. The one thing more funny than giving John Kerry the nuclear football and asking him to make a decision is giving $50 billion/year to Tom Ridge. Hell, in the last election people here in Pennsylvania were so tired of Ridge's reign that even the hard core Republican suburbs of Philadelphia voted Democratic.
Note: When I said "last election" I meant "last election of governor" --in Nov 2002. Ridge's deputy --who took over a few months before Ridge scurried off to Washington --was clobbered.posted by: Don Williams on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Don, I'm happy you posted, if only to show our other erstwhile conservative sparring partners that they only *thought* I was them one having a temper tantrum. :-)
With regard to habeas corpus, the Republicans have a history of that sort of thing, i.e., Lincoln during the War Between the States. But on this go-around, as far as I'm concerned, it's just fine to throw enemy combatants in a dungeon, if they're not U.S. citizens. As far as I'm concerned, if someone born in the U.S. raises a weapon to a U.S. soldier, he has implicitly renounced his U.S. citizenship and belongs in a dungeon. And he's better off there, considering that the alternative is to consider him still a U.S. citizen and then hang him for treason.
I share your concerns about the budget, if not quite to the degree you do. The important issue is the growing size and power of the government itself, not the budget per se. Take care of government's growth problem, and the budget will fix itself.
I would also like to take this opportunity to distance myself from your anti-Israeli rhetoric. Israel is trying valiantly to survive in a tough environment. They're not the problem. Blaming them is like blaming a woman who gets raped because she took a stroll through the park. Their enemies are our enemies; after 9/11, I shouldn't have to explain this.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
The UN is dead!!! Long Not-Live the UN!!!
Adios Kofi!!!posted by: x on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“With regard to habeas corpus, the Republicans have a history of that sort of thing, i.e., Lincoln during the War Between the States.”
The Constitution is not a suicide pact. I am unable to think of a viable alternative regarding the prisoners locked up in Gitmo. The Don Williams will yell and scream---but we are still waiting for their ideas on how best to handle this awkward situation. Me thinks that I will continue to wait until hell freezes over.
Israel is our ally. It is probably responsible for 20% of the problems with the Palestinians. Still, it is a democracy that is working to make things better for everybody, Jew and Arab. The Palestinian militants are mostly guilty of the continuing blood shed. This is especially true concerning nihilistic violence. When is the last time a Jew opted for a suicide bombing mission? Do the Jews raise their children to blow themselves up?posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
David, I was only pointing out that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the War Between the States, before Congress had authorized him to do so. And the Constitution is pretty specific that the president cannot do this without Congressional authorization.
In general, I don't expect much from presidents, but I do expect them to uphold and defend the Constitution as they have solemnly sworn. I'm just not sure how the Constitution requires us to treat enemy combatants who are not U.S. citizens. I'm reasonably sure we're treating them better than they deserve at Gitmo, and until I know differently, that's good enough for me.
As for Lincoln, however, he had a choice between upholding the Constitution and preserving the Union, and chose the latter. I have a difficult time imagining how the U.S. Constitution could be construed to deny the right of secession to states. Obviously, this proposition is 140 years late, but intellectually I don't think it's an irrelevant point. The root of most of our problems is an unwillingness to be governed by 'original intent'. They say, "We have a living Constitution!" I say, then shoot it. We are either ruled by law as our forefathers envisioned, or we are ruled instead by men, just like in any banana republic.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I refuse to pretend that constitutional problems do not exist regarding Gitmo. This is especially due to my strong conviction that the war on terror will likely last another twenty years. Thus, I am advocating giving up a lot of power to the government---that may very well be abused! The ACLU and ultra right wingers simply avoid the threat of terrorism. Their position is one of blatant dishonesty. We must not forget that the terrorists do not normally wear uniforms. They are technically under the Geneva Convention similar to spies. Will innocent people suffer? Of course they will. We can only hope that these instances are rare.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
"Still, one wonders whether this this feeling of alienation on the right is prevalent."
While I find plenty with the Kerry campaign to which I object, I feel mine are substantive objections based on Kerry's stated positions. But on these posts I only hear opinionated assertions and blanket dismissals.
"The root of most of our problems is an unwillingness to be governed by 'original intent'. They say, "We have a living Constitution!" I say, then shoot it. We are either ruled by law as our forefathers envisioned, or we are ruled instead by men, just like in any banana republic."
Some of us don't want to live in a country stuck in 18th century jurisprudence just because it is so-called "original intent." By your standards, how could you possibly run a modern society? For example, the 4th Amendment obviously didn't contemplate wiretaps, internet, computers, other things that change the scope of privacy. How do you determine "original intent" with respect to things that didn't even exist when the Constitution was written.
I seriously doubt our forefathers intended us to treat the Constitution as unable to even address modern issues. What do you even mean by "original intent?" The Federalists had one view or original intent and the anti-Federalists had another.
Your problem seems to be more with democracy. Most Americans decided we didn't want to live eternally in a world of 18th century economic and political arrangements. The political system responded to that desire and the courts interpreted the Constitution to make it relevant to the real world. It they hadn't, I suspect the society would have discarded the Constitution long ago.posted by: MWS on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Lee Dise wrote:
Well, as author of that post, Bryan, all I can say is you can characterize it as being petty if you like. From my perspective, however, when my vote is courted by people who promise to rein in the growth of government, and we get a Republican president who goes on the biggest spending bonanza since the late unlamented LBJ, I don't think it's pettiness to treat such a betrayal as a betrayal.
Just out of curiosity, how can it be called a “betrayal” when the candidate in question never ran as small government conservative?
Small government conservatives have a lot to be displeased with about President Bush – steel tariffs, a new prescription drug benefit for Medicare, expanding the education department, signing “campaign finance reform,” and a number of other issues. The problem for those who complain though, is that these were all things that Bush said he was in favor of as a candidate in one form or another, in which case the idea that he somehow “betrayed” conservatives is baloney.
The fact is that he has pretty much – aside from the “nation building” in Iraq and Afghanistan – been doing the sort of things he said he would do as a candidate. That pertains to the stuff that small-government conservatives (and neo-libertarians such as myself) do not like but it also pertains to tax cuts, judicial nominees, reforming our military, health care savings accounts, pushing to allow workers to invest a portion of their FICA, adopting a more results-oriented basis for environmental regulations, liberalizing trade with Africa and Latin America (of which the steel tariffs were part of the horse trading) and a number of other issues that conservatives are for.
Complain all you want that Bush has done something you disagree with but don’t pretend that you were “betrayed” when anyone who paid attention to the 2000 election could have told you that he was not running on a “limited government” platform. More important, don’t be so foolish as to imagine that it would be better to allow Kerry to come into power (either by voting for him or not voting to reelect the only plausible alternative) when you know darn well he would do the same things that Bush is doing (or worse) that you do not like and you would lose the things about Bush that conservatives do like.posted by: Thorley Winston on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
> "But on these posts I only hear opinionated assertions and blanket dismissals."
Thanks for clarifying. Otherwise, I might have mistaken this remark for an opinionated assertion or a blanket dismissal.
Lee Dise wrote:
As for Lincoln, however, he had a choice between upholding the Constitution and preserving the Union, and chose the latter. I have a difficult time imagining how the U.S. Constitution could be construed to deny the right of secession to states.
I disagree that the two were somehow mutually exclusive or that Lincoln did one at the expense of the other.
The Constitution specifically allows for suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during times of insurrection and invasion (of which a civil war would certainly qualify) and regardless of whether one thinks that States ought to be able to secede – the moment that they decided to fire on Fort Sumter, the Union had every right to deal militarily with them just as they would a foreign country that fired on a US military target.posted by: Thorley Winston on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Ignoring the pleas of his 14-year-old daughter to spare her life, Mehmet Halitogullari pulled on a wire wrapped around her neck and strangled her - supposedly to restore the family's honor after she was kidnapped and raped.”
The above story should remind us why we must change the culture of Middle East. Even the secular country of Turkey has problems with the Muslim crazies. These people are stark raving lunatics. They must be smashed if we are to be safe.
“While I find plenty with the Kerry campaign to which I object, I feel mine are substantive objections based on Kerry's stated positions. But on these posts I only hear opinionated assertions and blanket dismissals.
Oh wow, thank you for throwing a slow pitch down the middle of the plate. John Kerry fought President Reagan when the latter was winning the cold war. His recent silliness has him arguing that the United Nations should manage the military aspects of the Iraqi war. How stupid is this man? The UN is useless when it comes to employing violence. You should find it also insulting to your intelligence when Kerry claims that Bush alienated some of our foreign allies. Common sense dictates that the French and Russians were going to do nothing regardless of the politeness and multilateralism of the Bush administration. Kerry is either a complete fool, or a liar. There is no middle ground. Either way, he cannot be trusted as our Commander in Chief.
Far too many Americans possess a childishly immature perception of the United Nations. This organization leaves much to be desired. It is at the very best, a group of fools who may occasionally do more good than harm.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
You should find it also insulting to your intelligence when Kerry claims that Bush alienated some of our foreign allies. Common sense dictates that the French and Russians were going to do nothing regardless of the politeness and multilateralism of the Bush administration.
Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that it was Kerry who was alienating our allies in Great Britain, Australia, Poland, Japan, and Italy when he and the other Democratic wannabes referred to them as being part of a “sham coalition”?
> Just out of curiosity, how can it be called a “betrayal” when the candidate in question never ran as small government conservative?
Well, that's actually an interesting objection. You're right, in that he didn't that I recall promise an explicitly smaller government. However, he did not run on the platform of the vastly expanded government that he has actually accomplished, obscured any intention to spend as much as he has, and certainly made utterances consistent with small-government conservatism. In short, he didn't mind getting our votes.
I didn't harbor too many illusions about him when I voted for him in 2000, even as I had few about his daddy in 1988. Deep down, I figured I knew what his true colors were. But my philosophy is always to vote for the guy who says he believes what I do, and believe in him until he forces me to believe otherwise.
I'm not privy to the text of all of his campaign speeches at the moment, but here are a couple of comments that can at least be construed to mean Bush would not actively seek to grow the scope and power of the federal government faster than even the Democrats in their wildest dreams.
George W. Bush, Joint Session of Congresss Address, 2001:
"Government has a role, and an important role. Yet, too much government crowds out initiative and hard work, private charity and the private economy. Our new governing vision says government should be active, but limited; engaged, but not overbearing. And my budget is based on that philosophy."
George W. Bush, State of the Union, 2002:
Comment: "Small" and "short-term" are obviously the wrong words for Bush's budget deficits.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that it was Kerry who was alienating our allies in Great Britain, Australia, Poland, Japan, and Italy when he and the other Democratic wannabes referred to them as being part of a “sham coalition”?”
That’s absolutely correct. Still, I rather focus on his immature view of the United Nations. This attitude is very dangerous. Too many of our fellow citizens have not outgrown the silly idea from their elementary school teachers that the UN is supposedly the beginning and end of all wonderfulness. The reality is that this organization is primarily anti-American and anti-Israel. Do we need a UN? Yes, we do. But we cannot ignore the problems with this present group of blow hards. Anybody, like John Kerry, who unreservedly praises the UN is not worthy of respect. This individual is a fool who should be gently patted on the head---and told to go in the corner to play with the other children. Adults must deal with reality, not wishful thinking. Senator Kerry is a similar to a five year old playing in a sand box with his toys.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
>> As for Lincoln, however, he had a choice between upholding the Constitution and preserving the Union, and chose the latter. I have a difficult time imagining how the U.S. Constitution could be construed to deny the right of secession to states.
> Thorley Winstron: "I disagree that the two were somehow mutually exclusive or that Lincoln did one at the expense of the other....
The argument is a classic syllogism, and it's as simple as can be: the Tenth Amendment stipulates that if a power (left unspecified) is not denied to the states in the Constitution, then that power (unspecified) reverts to the states (or to the people). The Constitution does not deny the power of secession to the states. Therefore, the power of secession reverts to the states.
If the states had the power to secede, it follows that states, having seceded, had the right to demand Union troops remove themselves immediately. But the Union troops, in Fort Sumter, were there to collect tariffs, and Lincoln had no intention of removing them. So they were fired upon.
Also, it follows that if secession is constitutional, it was unconstitutional for Lincoln to try to deny that right to the states, hence my observation that he chose to preserve the Union rather than uphold the Constitution.
To deny the argument, I've read page after page of argumentation that tries to argue that the Constitution implicitly denies the right, through implied powers. Problem is, implied powers have to be based on some actual power that was explicitly granted. The truth of the matter is that the issue was settled ad baculum, but never intellectually.
> The Constitution specifically allows for suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during times of insurrection and invasion (of which a civil war would certainly qualify)...
It wasn't an insurrection if the secession was legal, and Lincoln suspended habeas corpus before Congress authorized it. Yes, they finally authorized it, but not before he'd already exercised it.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
And, Mr. Winston, let's clarify something. You say Mr. Bush is not really betraying small-government conservatives, having never run as one. Okay, let's leave aside all the other issues he has betrayed us on, and look at this one issue. Let's also leave aside the fact that the Republican Party has traditionally represented those who believe in smaller government (even if their hearts have seldom been in it), and also the fact that Bush bills himself as a conservative, and conservatives have been in favor of small government from day one.
Now, just one question: If you were a small-government conservative, who would you vote for?
Right. Not a very great choice, is it?
I don't figure I can ever get the Democrats to go for smaller government, but at least Republicans are not ideologically welded to the notion of big government. They're the ones I have to try to exert influence on. In short, if Republicans are going to come to me for my vote, and then deliver bigger government, they'd better stay out of rock-throwing ranger.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
This article posted today on the National Review website is relevant to this discussion:
"Principle vs. Party
> MWS: "Some of us don't want to live in a country stuck in 18th century jurisprudence just because it is so-called "original intent."
Well then, let's open it up. Why are we wedded to 18th century jurisprudence and 'original intent' with regard to, say, freedom of speech? If the times have changed, maybe so too the need for freedom of speech has changed as well. Maybe it really should mean freedom to speak the way Ted Kennedy or Justice Souter likes. Who cares what Jefferson intended, maybe in today's world, he's wrong and you shouldn't be allowed to say whatever you want.
How about the right not to incriminate oneself? The Founding Fathers thought that was important, but maybe it's less important in today's complex world. Maybe in a world where we have terrorists and bombs, we should have the power to force people to testify against themselves. Otherwise, how can we possibly run a modern society?
I hope you're beginning to see the problem here, but if not, let me spell it out: Original intent is the only thing that stands between us, and the government simply interpreting the Constitution like so many tea leaves and, in an existentialist manner, making of it whatever they will. When government has the power to do just that, we might as well not have a Constitution at all.
There are already mechanisms to allow the Constitution to keep current. They're called "amendments". Don't like what the Constitution says? Pass one.
> MWS: "I seriously doubt our forefathers intended us to treat the Constitution as unable to even address modern issues."
Right. I'm absolutely convinced by your logic that the Founding Fathers took the trouble to write all those things down, expressly intending us and expecting us to ignore them today. "Please follow our Constitution, but don't assume we meant what we wrote."
> MWS: "What do you even mean by "original intent?" The Federalists had one view or original intent and the anti-Federalists had another."
What I mean is that the most important part of interpreting the Constitution is the wording of the Constitution itself. Where it is clear, it means what it says. Where it is ambiguous, it means as best as we can determine what the Founding Fathers meant to say when they wrote it. That's why the Federalist Papers are important: we know, in addition to what the Constitution says, what the framers of it meant to say. I'm not saying that there will never be unreconcilable ambiguities, only that this is the standard jurisprudence should follow.
> Your problem seems to be more with democracy.
If I have a problem with democracy, so did our Founding Fathers, who realized that democracies can be tyrannical, too, and thus sought to shackle the government with a document called the Constitution. It's why the only federal elected offices that were decided by a popular vote was for Congressmen. (Senators were appointed, and Presidents selected by a slate of electors, as now.)
> Most Americans decided we didn't want to live eternally in a world of 18th century economic and political arrangements. The political system responded to that desire and the courts interpreted the Constitution to make it relevant to the real world.
Let me translate: Some Americans decided they didn't want to be bound by a constitution, and so finally the courts decided that the next time they needed to wipe their butts, the Constitution would be the toilet paper of choice. "Relevant to the real world" means they get to do as they please, and it's spinach, and I say to hell with it.
> It they hadn't, I suspect the society would have discarded the Constitution long ago.
If the courts can discover rights that aren't in the Constitution, and deny rights that are there in the Constitution, and get away with it, then the Constitution has already been discarded. All I'm doing is noticing.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Al Qaeda is a trival threat. To suggest we should scrap the Constitution on a whim is the mark of one who is a bigger threat to this country than Al Qaeda.
There is no reason why a US citizen guilty of treason can not be tried in a court of law -- and every reason to insist that the government must present it's case to a trial of 12 citizens.
An little excerpt from Article III of the Constitution:
Our Founding Fathers were in far, far worse danger than we will ever be --yet they still thought it necessary to safeguard against the loss of liberty to the Executive. Yet the hyperventilating girlly boys of today suggest we should scrap those protections because they need for Mr Bush to serve as a surrogate mommy -- to protect them against the evil world -- and they are willing to let him create a facist police state to do so.posted by: Don Williams on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Sorry, but I not consider al-Qaida to be a trivial threat. It won't be long now before "suitcases from Allah" start showing up, and blowing up, in American cities.
The trick is then going to be, if we choose to survive, either finding some method of deterring them, or exterminating them. The plan of last resort is extermination. That sounds harsh now, it sounds unjust, but we ought now to be asking ourselves, how badly do we want to survive, as human beings, as a nation, as a civilization? Because the alternative will be anihilation.
I think there is a good percentage in our own country that has a death wish, that for some reason or another despises everything Western civilization, everything Anglo, and everything Christian in our culture. They will cloak their arguments in the mantle of reasonableness, but the bottom line is they will not allow the rest of us to do what it takes to survive. In politics, I think that segment of the population finds its voice in the Democratic Party. They were in full throated denial throughout the Cold War, and they are in full throated denial today.
Modern day liberals are like the Moriori, a people whose pacifistic philosophy was so strong, they would not lift a finger to save themselves from the rampaging, cannibalistic Maori. The reason you've probably not heard of them is the last one died sometime in the early 1930s.
It will be interesting to see what it takes to push us too far.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
They suggest that a lot of Republicans are less than thrilled with George W. Bush, but feel that they have no place to go.
Are people still actually surprised when a two-party plurality system fails to provide a candidate they like? It's been like that for a long time. It's also one of the reasons both candidates are willing to do a lot of things to anger the base (to a point). They know the base doesn't have a choice, as long as they don't push the base too far to not show up. Deficits? Increasing Medicare spending? Steel tariffs? Bush figured he could win the base back later.
Maybe we can get some disillusioned Republicans to get behind electoral reform (Condorcet/Approval/IRV/PR) if libertarians don't seem to think it matters. It's stupid to have a system where you can't vote for McCain without hurting the Republican cause.
Or do conservatives really think the Republican party serves their purposes instead of vice versa?posted by: fling93 on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
" David Thomson: "The main thing is that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. I would be happy even if we install some sort of benevolent dictator. Instituting democracy is only frosting on the cake."
My sentiments exactly. Bush may succeed for the wrong reasons. It's okay with me if we fail to make the Middle East safe for democracy. My primary interest is in safeguarding our own."
Our work done when we install a benevolent dictator or strongman? Hmm... wonder if that has anything to do with the current mess.
No, the constitution is not a suicide pact. But if you scrap the provisions that allow us to live free lives, we will in fact live lives in captivity. It seems that the radicalized Muslims aren't the only people bent on the destruction of our way of life. If we fight too dirty, we will not only lose this grand clash of civilizations (which seems to be the way you frame it), but we will lose this civilization entirely.
> Are people still actually surprised when a two-party plurality system fails to provide a candidate they like?
It's a question of degree. If a Republican comes and asks for my money and my vote, and yes I get that all the time (because I subscribe to National Review), I expect something in return.
How has it gone so far?
The budget? Way out of control. Expensive new bureaucracy for defense? What's the matter with the one we had? New pharmaceutical entitlements? Aaaack!!!! An education bill only Ted Kennedy could love? Aaaack!!!!! Steel tariffs? Aaaack!!!!! Verbally supporting the Supreme Court decision in favor of Affirmative Action in Michigan? Aaaaack!!!!! Signing into law what should have been an unconstitutional campaign finance "reform" bill? Aaaaaack!!!!! Campaigning for Arlen Specter???? Aaaaaack!!!!!
What have conservatives gotten out of all this to justify all this pain? Lip service for a marriage amendment? Ho-hum. The conservative court nominees? That's nice as far as it goes, but why won't he get down and fight for them? The war? Jury's still out, but I'm hopeful. The tax cuts? Great, but if he's re-elected, he'll sign a repeal of the tax cuts. His lack of budgetary discipline will force him into it. Hear me now, believe me later.
The pattern with Bush, like his father, is to give conservatives lip service and meaningless gestures, give liberals actual policy. Sorry, it's not a performance that deserves to be rewarded. It doesn't matter whether I "like" Mr. Bush, it's a question of whether it's worth it for me to vote for him, given that he's likely to sell me out.
> It's been like that for a long time.
Thanks for the civics lesson. If it was the first time conservatives had been sold out by Republicans, I wouldn't be so p.o.'ed.
> It's also one of the reasons both candidates are willing to do a lot of things to anger the base (to a point).
Actually, Democrats don't do much to anger their base. Democrats are pretty reliably liberal. Bill Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act, but his back was against the wall, and he tried to stare the Republicans down and vetoed it twice. Democrats have done plenty to earn the trust of liberals. Conservatives should be so fortunate with Republicans.
> They know the base doesn't have a choice, as long as they don't push the base too far to not show up....
See, that's where you're wrong and Bush is wrong. It would be true if we were required to vote for someone on the slate, but we're not. Nixon wore that strategy out thirty years ago. G.H.W. Bush tried it in '92 and went down, because conservatives, especially religious conservatives, sat on their hands.
> Maybe we can get some disillusioned Republicans to get behind electoral reform.... It's stupid to have a system where you can't vote for McCain without hurting the Republican cause.
It's no stupider than any vote for McCain. If you're talking up McCain, you're no conservative. I'd rather have my hemorrhoids soldered together with a blow torch than vote for McCain, the liberals' favorite Republican.
> Or do conservatives really think the Republican party serves their purposes instead of vice versa?
Yes, as a matter of fact, we do.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Onen point I've not seen anyone else address... and fogive me if someone did.... This string of complanits from the right would seem to end any argument from the left, that Mr. Bush is anything but what he is; a centerist.posted by: Bithead on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
fling93: Or do conservatives really think the Republican party serves their purposes instead of vice versa?
Lee: Yes, as a matter of fact, we do.
Well, personally, I think this is naive. I think both parties serve their own purposes, which is to obtain as much power as possible (and why outsiders like Dean and McCain are never allowed to win the nomination). Voters are a means to an end to them. This is why neither party makes any ideological sense. They take a political position if they think it serves their political purpose and adds another group to their cobbled together coalitions, regardless if it violates ideology. Bush may take this to an extreme, as you've demonstrated yourself, but he's hardly the first to do this.
Lee: Actually, Democrats don't do much to anger their base.
Clinton helped pass NAFTA, kept a lid on federal spending, and talked about changing Social Security. Gore proposed defense spending increases almost as big as Bush. Kerry talks of sending more troops to Iraq.
Besides, it seems to me that the Democratic base is actually a lot more fragmented than the Republican base, and thus Nader.
fling93: They know the base doesn't have a choice, as long as they don't push the base too far to not show up....
Lee: See, that's where you're wrong and Bush is wrong. It would be true if we were required to vote for someone on the slate, but we're not. Nixon wore that strategy out thirty years ago. G.H.W. Bush tried it in '92 and went down, because conservatives, especially religious conservatives, sat on their hands.
Not the ones who hate Kerry worse than Bush. In a close race, the base knows they'd rather have their man than the other guy. By November, Kerry will do his share of appealing to the center to antagonize his own base as well.
You don't truly prefer Kerry to Bush now, do you?
fling93: Maybe we can get some disillusioned Republicans to get behind electoral reform.... It's stupid to have a system where you can't vote for McCain without hurting the Republican cause.
Lee: It's no stupider than any vote for McCain. If you're talking up McCain, you're no conservative.
Fine, Buchanan or Forbes or Bush Sr. or whomever candidate you want (I picked McCain cuz he was the strongest challenger last time). You vote for anybody but Bush, or stay home, you split his vote and help Kerry.
My point is not McCain. My point is why stick with a system that doesn't give you a choice to vote for the guy you want? That forces you to choose between holding your nose and voting, or not voting at all.
Why not support Approval or Condorcet, where more than two parties can run without splitting the vote? Where the power is taken away from the parties and given back to the voters.posted by: fling93 on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I don't feel betrayed by George Bush. Those people who now claim they do are either manufacturing their grievance or were not paying attention before he became President.
George Bush is a creature of the electoral process. His political career has been based on presenting an attractive image to the large majority of voters who do not follow government closely, and on winning the support of specific groups of voters willing to give it in return for changes in government policy that will benefit them personally.
At no time before he became President did Bush ever articulate ideas about what "small government" might mean in practice. He never spoke of the work of whole government departments in a way that suggested more than a very vague understanding of what it was they did, and spoke of foreign and defense policy only infrequently. A Republican party establishment that dreaded the factionalism plaguing the GOP since Ronald Reagan's retirement mostly lined up in support of his candidacy in 1999 because of his high name ID and because his appeal to evangelical Christians and willingness to support enormous tax cuts made a repetition of the insurgencies of the late '80s and '90's unlikely.
There are Republicans who if pressed (and not quoted) would admit they don't think Bush has been a very good President. Though they didn't know much about what they were getting in 2000, they are disappointed with his disengagement from policy discussions, his support of spending at all times and on all things, his really lamentable inability to talk like a President when not reading from a prepared text, and many other things. They have only themselves to blame.
Sixteen years ago the Republican Party could have brought about the Presidential election of a man of genuine character and achievement who had made government his life's work. Four years ago the GOP could have brought about the election of a man who had served and suffered for his country, and demonstrated his understanding of the corruption that unending preoccupation with campaign mechanics was bringing to government. Each time the Republican Party voted for personal mediocrity, for intellectual vapidity, for drift and delay, for promises vetted by interest groups and rhetoric vetted by focus groups, for filling the government with talentless timeservers punching their tickets on the public payroll before cashing in to peddle influence for private interests. Republicans voted to fill a big office with small men, and got what they voted for.
Would Michael Dukakis or Al Gore have been worse? Yes. Would John Kerry be worse? Almost certainly. But if the Republican Party can think of no more worthy mission for itself than keeping men like these out of the White House it will deserve the minority status now rushing toward it.posted by: Zathras on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Ah...another episode of "When conservatives confront reality". While there are some aspects of my political philosophy that might be labeled conservative, I am by no means a conservative, so feel free to ignore my opinion on your debate.
But I have to say that most of what Bush has done goes against conservative philosophy. He pays attention to some of the rhetoric, but not the substance. Anyone that truly believes in limited government has to be horrified at the power this President has built in the name of a war on terror that does not merit the infringement on rights we have seen.
The rhetoric that some conservatives of the David Thomson-ilk spout would lose elections in a heart beat. And the actions towards limiting government that other conservatives spout would do the same. The Dems have done a decent job putting the left wing crazies out of the way. That is why you see people like Nader gaining support. For some reason conservatives engage in a fantasy that the GOP will represent their interests. If they were true to themselves you should see 3-7% of the vote going to a right wing candidate.posted by: Rich on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: "The above story should remind us why we must change the culture of Middle East. Even the secular country of Turkey has problems with the Muslim crazies. These people are stark raving lunatics. They must be smashed if we are to be safe."
Oh yeah. Nothing ever happens like that in America. We know how to treat our kids.
A judge has ruled that sexual battery complaint that a murder victim filed against her stepfather 11 months before her death cannot be used in the man's trial.
Oh, wait, here's a Pennsylvania Christian who knows how to treat children:
COURTHOUSE - After allegedly beating a 4-year-old boy to death with a carpenter's level, a former Upper Dublin pastor returned to a house of God to dispose of the murder weapon, testimony revealed Friday.
How about this one:
WHITE PLAINS — An Ossining man accused of throwing his 10-month-old daughter out a seventh-floor window in Peekskill after arguing with the girl's mother was convicted yesterday of second-degree attempted murder.
Or this one:
MARSHALL, Ark. -- The case of a Marshall woman accused in the death of her 13-year-old daughter's baby ended in a hung jury Friday.
Jurors deliberated for five and a half hours and sent several notes to the judge saying that they were "hopelessly deadlocked."
The teenager's mother, Julie Smith, was accused of inducing labor and allowing the baby to die.
Jurors also sent a note to the judge stating that some of them felt Smith was guilty, but of a lesser charge. Smith was charged with first-degree murder
And oh, wait. While you're advocating the offshoring of jobs to India, let's check their moral standing too.
HYDERABAD: Women continue to be a battered lot and atrocities against them are on the rise in the twin cities. Two women were killed, allegedly by their husbands, in two separate incidents in the city on Friday
And here's another:
CHENNAI: A women's court on Tuesday found a man guilty of murdering his wife and was sentenced to life imprisonment, while his father and mother were awarded seven years rigorous imprisonment each after conviction in the case.
Holding that circumstantial evidence indicated that the woman Archana was first rendered unconscious and then set ablaze on the terrace of her home, the Judge S Vimala took note of the post-mortem report which said that the victim would have been rendered unconscious due to a head injury before she sustained the burn injuries.
David Thompson: Jackass in a bubbleposted by: Jon H on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
There's another trend. As someone who was, until this year, a registered Democrat (I'm not undeclared), and who is a moderate-to-liberal on the political spectrum, I will be giving my vote to Bush. Because as far as I can see he's the only candidate who "gets it" as far as the thread terror poses to not just our nation, but the West in general. This is World War III, and John Kerry is not the man to lead it.
Laurie K.posted by: Laurie K. on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
"UPDATE: Another e-mail from a very well-connected and disgruntled conservative:
Last night, I was having drinks with a wide variety of young right-of-center types. All were dissatisfied, and roughly 65 percent wanted to see Bush's head on a pike. Of the 65 percent, something approaching a majority were even willing to vote for Kerry (i.e., for Richard Holbrooke), and the rest were teetering on the fence....
Among the would-be reluctant Kerry voters was a friend of mine from the Standard, of all places. Suffice to say, we all hate Kerry."
How does Dan Drezner know that this e-mail is actually from “a very well-connected and disgruntled conservative?” Is this someone he is well aquatinted with? I strongly suspect that Drezner has been sent a “Moby” con job. He might need to Google the e-mail address and find out more about this individual. The odds are at least 50-50 that this is a radical liberal attempting to confuse people.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
It's fascinating to read this thread -- I'd never seen postings from disgruntled members of Bush's fabled base before.
Laurie, you may want to read "The Age of Sacred Terror" (Benjamin/Simon) and "Against All Enemies" (Clarke) before you vote. Al-Qaeda is even more scary than everyone thinks. I was a reluctant supporter of the war in Iraq (in the sense that I thought it was a reasonable decision at the time), but after having read these two books, I've changed my mind.posted by: Russil Wvong on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
“David Thompson writes: "The above story should remind us why we must change the culture of Middle East. Even the secular country of Turkey has problems with the Muslim crazies. These people are stark raving lunatics. They must be smashed if we are to be safe."
Oh yeah. Nothing ever happens like that in America. We know how to treat our kids.”
Is Jon H. truly this ignorant concerning the Muslim crazies? The instances he cites which occurred in the United States are extremely rare. Moreover, such behavior is condemned by the the overall society. This regrettably is not the case in much of the Muslim culture. Many Muslim men normally murder their wives, sisters, and daughters if they are rape victims. “Honor killings” are an accepted part of the cultural milieu. The police and court systems often look the other way. I instantly obtained this link from Gooogle.com:
Jon H. needs to learn how to Google. The above link took me less than ten seconds to find. I merely put the words “honor,” “ killings,” “Muslim” into the search field. There’s plenty more where that came from.posted by: David Thomson on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Apparently you have learned to use google but not to reason. Or did you fail to notice that the first story you mentioned had ANKARA, Turkey plastered on the front line?
Turkey is considered the most long lasting stable and advanced Muslim democracy in the middle-east region, and has been a strong partner militarily and diplomatically with the United States for some time.
If we were able to create something equivalent to Turkey in Iraq it would success to equal the wildest neocon dreams.
Yet this example isn't sufficient for you when you demand "cultural transformation" from the Middle-east?!?!
This is to suggest that your goal is unobtainable.
This is the reason why I as a conservative am actually going to grit my teeth and vote for John Kerry. Not because he isn't a stinking big-government, idiotic, waffling, snobbish, politically indecisive liberal waife. He is all these things and more.
It's because however stupid he is, and he is stupid, he is sane. With growing horror I have watched the Republican party under the leadership of Bush descend into madness. I do not use hyperbole when I refer to insanity. I would not be surprised to find that the leadership was actually mentally unstable.
What they ask is not merely stupid, wasteful, or the moronic ineptitude that comes from big government. They're literally deluded. They literally seek what is not possible. That gives me shivers frankly.posted by: Oldman on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Mostly I think I should stay out of internecine warfare, but Laurie's statement
Because as far as I can see he's the only candidate who "gets it" as far as the thread terror poses to not just our nation, but the West in general. This is World War III, and John Kerry is not the man to lead it.
Have you read the newspapers? Have you noticed that the war is not going according to plan? Indeed, have you noticed that with respect to Iraq, we'll be lucky to get out with a situation as bad as when we started? [For a conservative view thus, see Tacitus.]
Most people would abandon a dentist or car mechanic whose prognostications were so far off and whose remedies had been so ineffectual. Why we have lower standards for the War on Terror, I have not the psychological acumen to understand.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: "Is Jon H. truly this ignorant concerning the Muslim crazies? The instances he cites which occurred in the United States are extremely rare. Moreover, such behavior is condemned by the the overall society. This regrettably is not the case in much of the Muslim culture"
No, David, instances in the United States ARE NOT extremely rare. They happen every freaking day. I don't think I posted a single example that wasn't from just this April, and I was leaving out a lot of other murders. Try searching Google News for "murder" and see how many US hits you get.
You live in a bubble, which blocks out facts that don't match your worldview where the US is all sweetness and light.
And you might not have noticed that the Turkish man who killed his daughter WAS ARRESTED.posted by: Jon H on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Hey Laurie K:
If Bush "gets it" regarding terror, why is it that almost every single policy move his administation has done (or not done) since 9/11 has only INcreased the probability that more terrorist attakcs will occur?
Those concerned about Kerry's spending intentions should remember one thing. It is extremely unlikely, given Republican controlled House and Senate, that he could get spending increases anything near what GWB has managed to get by the Republicans.
In fact, given that he *knows* that even the slightest spending increase will get him massively tarred as a "tax and spender", he really has no choice but to be vastly more fiscally conservative than GWB. Anything else will be voted down *and* get him tarred and feathered. *Only* George Bush has the political capital to allow him to spend like a drunken sailor.
> fling93: "Or do conservatives really think the Republican party serves their purposes instead of vice versa?"
> Lee: "Yes, as a matter of fact, we do."
> fling93: "Well, personally, I think this is naive. I think both parties serve their own purposes, which is to obtain as much power as possible (and why outsiders like Dean and McCain are never allowed to win the nomination)."
Actually, I don't disagree. What I meant to say is, they are supposed to server the interests of their constituents. As you point out, naturally, they tend to not want to. And don't I know it.
> Voters are a means to an end to them. This is why neither party makes any ideological sense. They take a political position if they think it serves their political purpose and adds another group to their cobbled together coalitions, regardless if it violates ideology. Bush may take this to an extreme, as you've demonstrated yourself, but he's hardly the first to do this.
I don't disagree with anything you're saying here, Fling. That's why my attitude towards politicians is that they are disposable. Loyalty needs to be earned.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
> Four years ago the GOP could have brought about the election of a man who had served and suffered for his country, and demonstrated his understanding of the corruption that unending preoccupation with campaign mechanics was bringing to government.
Oh spare me the McCain encomiums. I don't think undermining freedom of speech is a great thing to have on one's resume, sorry.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I don't really consider myself a "conservative", but a right winger.
Personally, I think Bush is pretty much what he said he would be. Most of the things (IMHO) he's done is what he promised to - more benefits for geezers, open borders to mexico, cutting taxes, that education bill, etc.
Which, other than the taxes, is why I didn't vote for him.
I thought he would be less wussier when it comes to guns and I never really saw the tariffs coming. Those are the really disappointing things.
Of course, the funny thing is, all of this stuff is somehow called a "far right" agenda by democrats. Uh-huh. He's to the left on Clinton on a lot of things.
I've also found Bush to be disappointing on the war on terror. Where is Osama? Who knows. And it's a direct result of not being tough enough at Tora Bora. Iran and Syria are now medlling in Iraq. Does the US do anything about it? No, of course not. The marines have now surrendered to Falluja. Whee! That will help in the Arab world. Making our best fighting troops run away.
Yes, Bush has talked tough. But he hasn't put his money where his mouth is. If we need more troops, we should be pulling them out of Korea and Europe, where they are unwanted. Let Europeans and Koreans pay for their own defense.posted by: Jeremy on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
I originally saw a link to this article from the Cardinal Collective where I made the following observation:
Dan Drezner noticed that:
While 55 percent of Bush's supporters said they strongly favor the president, only 32 percent of Kerry's supporters strongly favor their candidate.
Now some posit that the difference in support between Bush and Kerry's numbers is caused by the difference in Bush and Kerry's ability to rally their base. Let me give you a different possibility.
In the 1950's Leon Festinger, a social psychologist, developed the theory of cognitive dissonance. Contrary to what common sense might have us believe, human beings don't abandon or weaken strongly held beliefs in the face of contrary objective evidence. Rather, when the beliefs are central to their identity, contrary objective evidence tends to strengthen those beliefs.
For example, when a central cult prophecy fails, rather than weakening the belief of the cult members, this failure results in a strengthening of belief and the rightness of their action.
Here's a quote from Festinger's famous article:
This poll result show a similar event might be happening right now with many conservatives and their attitudes toward Bush. When diehard conservatives are faced with so much evidence that the leader of his party is first, abandoning is small government views, and second, incompetently handling his leadership role, what are their options? To vote Democratic is so antithetical to thier sense of identity, that their only recourse is to redouble thier belief and provide ad-hoc hypothesis for this dissonance.
Kilroyposted by: Kilroy Was here on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Oh, puhleeze. You miss the whole point, Kilroy. People like me want Bush to move to the right, not the left. What incentive would we be providing Republicans if we were to vote for Kerry? No... you have to write in a conservative, so that it becomes clear that conservatives were there, and could have been there for Bush, if they hadn't blown it.
Save the psycho-babble for your next term paper. I'd rather cut out and eat my own liver with a grapefruit spoon than vote for Kerry.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
You need not write anyone in. You could actually vote for a real right wing party: The Constitution Party. You might elect a Kerry, but 4 years from you can be sure that the Republicans will deliver a real right-wing candidate. 4 years of a Democratic President deadlocked by a Republican Congress wouldn't be the end of the world -- it's been done before.
Today the Republicans are merely a cheap-labor party, cynically manipulating mainstream voters by wielding the terrorism cudgel. Kerry couldn't take any more of a milquetoast approach to terrorism than Bush. Want to really give terrorists (or "militants", as CNN calls them) what they deserve? Vote for authentic, America-first right-wing candidates.posted by: Leonidas on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Thanks for the suggestion, Leonidas. I'll look into them, but probably not if Kerry is on the ticket. Remember, my original theme was that before conservatives play "spolier", they have to make sure they could live with the Democrat. It will be hard for me to live with Kerry.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
If you are a conservative and want to exert political power the only way to do it is by not voting for Bush. No matter who else you vote for this will contribute to the election of John Kerry.
It is not an easy position, but the fact is that the vast majority of America are as uncomfortable with true Conservative policies as they are with true Liberal policies. Both extremes scare a lot of people.
But if Conservatives stay loyal to Bush even after he has been screwing them over for four years, there will be no incentive for future GOP presidents or candidates to accomodate the right. They will be able to take it for granted and thus have the freedom to pursue other policies which will attract additional support. For the GOP this probably doesn't mean moving to the left, but rather growing government for the benefit of corporations and business interests.
As I said before, if Conservatives were serious about trying to extert any political power you would see a candidate on the right earning a percentage of the vote on the same order of what Nader got in 2000. That is the baseline of people on either extreme willing to show their "home" party that they should not be taken for advantage.posted by: Rich on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
> Rich: "It is not an easy position, but the fact is that the vast majority of America are as uncomfortable with true Conservative policies as they are with true Liberal policies. Both extremes scare a lot of people."
I always hear people say that, Rich, but -- maybe this is just my personal perspective talking -- I have a hard time understanding what "extreme" views held by conservatives would offend the moderates so much, if those views are well-defended.
Free trade? Well, that is a hot button, I grant you, but mainly for people who's jobs are *directly* threatened by overseas competitors. Wal-Mart continues to make lots of money selling goods made in China. Free trade doesn't seem to offend those individuals when they're operating in their consumer mode. In other words, they choose free trade every day, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Affirmative action: Even a majority of blacks, when polled, are at least against the principle of racial favoritism, if not the actual practice of it on their behalf.
Immigration: Most conservatives favor immigration; it's illegal immigration that concerns us. Why is it "extreme" to want to control our own borders?
Taxation: Why is it "extreme" to maintain that the person who earned the dollar ought to have the presumptive right to keep it?
National Defense: One would have thought that, after 9/11, we would all be defense hawks by now. Apparently not. But most of us are, and we see nothing "extreme" about defending our country.
All I can say is, if conservatism is scary, some people are easily scared. And I deny the basis of your assertion. It isn't conservatism that has to scurry around under cover, like a cockroach trying to stay out of the light; it's liberalism. Except in just a few enclaves in this country, liberals almost always have to run as "moderates" or even "conservatives"; heck, we even had news media people arguing that Howard Dean was a "true" conservative. Liberals usually promise they aren't really liberals, and break their promises. Conservatives, on the other hand, usually promise they are conservative, but break their promises as well.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
It is not those policies that scare people (although a lot of fear can be cooked up around open borders for people and trade). Rather it is the flip-side to some of the policies that you suggest. Specifically the reduction of taxes. While all people would like to pay less taxes, they also don't want less services. A true conservative would not believe that you can increase services and decrease taxes forever.
It is when you start talking about things like cutting medicare, reducing support for highways and mass transit, reducing unemployment insurance, reducing social security, reducing education spending, reducing spending on cops and firemen, etc. that people get uncomfortable.
People also generally believe that rich people should pay more taxes. While you might think that each dollar should be taxed equally, most people who are getting less that $100,000 of those dollars each year think that the dollars of high income people should be taxed more.
Also a true conservative would be deeply uncomfortable with the expansion of law enforcement power within the US in the aftermath of 9/11. However I think that most Americans are all too willing to look the other way while rights are restricted. On this note I am in agreement with conservatives, but see that the position is not particularly popular.posted by: Rich on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
> Specifically the reduction of taxes. While all people would like to pay less taxes, they also don't want less services.
Wrong issue, Rich. Lower taxes almost always wins at the polls. Here in Virginia, we voted down referendums for higher taxes three times since 2000. Of course, the governor and the legislature served them up anyway, and the local liberals hailed it as a great sign of "courage", but when given a choice, people generally opt for lower taxes. The only people lower tax rates scare is liberals, who simply cannot abide and will not tolerate them.
> A true conservative would not believe that you can increase services and decrease taxes forever.
I really don't know you well enough yet to know for sure if you're a liberal, but liberals are very fond of lecturing conservatives on how to be "true conservatives". Usually, being a "true conservative" entails acting more like a liberal.
My two cents worth: We can live without a lot of what the liberals call "services". Here's an example: The "service" that puts subsidized housing next to middle-class neighborhoods. That's the same as taxing the nearby homeowners three times: 1) When their tax dollars pay for the subsidies; 2) When the increase in crime makes their neighborhoods less safe and less desirable for their families, and 3) When they try to sell and find our their property values have taken a hit. "But, hey, we're the social engineers and you're the lab subject, and we're just trying to make the world a better place, and no price is to high for you to pay."
That's pretty much a rule of thumb: No price is too high for the person who doesn't have to pay it.
> It is when you start talking about things like cutting medicare...
That one's simply a matter of Republicans not doing their jobs. If you take me to the BMW show room and say, "Want one of those babies?", yeah, I'm all for it -- until I see the price tag. There is no such thing as a government "service" that doesn't also carry a taxpayer cost, and Republicans are worthless at making this point clear to the voters.
> ...reducing support for highways and mass transit
You're sounding more and more like a liberal. Their love affair for mass transit is a dead giveaway. Liberals love the idea of herding people around on a schedule. When given a choice, however, the rest of us choose freedom.
> ...reducing unemployment insurance...
If you have full employment, this isn't a problem. If the government weren't consuming over 40% of the GDP, maybe we'd have full employment.
> ...reducing social security
I'll never see a penny of it. That Ponzi game is just about played out.
> ...reducing education spending
Given the terrific product turned out in many of our public schools these days, particularly the large northern cities, this prospect isn't the bogeyman you think it is.
> reducing spending on cops and firemen, etc. that people get uncomfortable.
Know why? Because if we were to cut the budget, our lords and masters would do their best to make it hurt. They'd starve the essential services, like cops and firemen, of cash, and they'd keep the food stamps and subsidized housing.
> People also generally believe that rich people should pay more taxes.
No, liberals believe that. The rich are already paying most of the taxes in this country.
> While you might think that each dollar should be taxed equally, most people who are getting less that $100,000 of those dollars each year think that the dollars of high income people should be taxed more.
Most liberals believe that. Most people? I'm not convinced.
> Also a true conservative...
There we go with the "true conservative" bit again.
> ...would be deeply uncomfortable with the expansion of law enforcement power within the US in the aftermath of 9/11.
Why is that any worse than the expansion of the power of the IRS since 1914? Why is that any worse than the expansion of forfeiture laws and eminent domain? I think I know the answer, from the liberal perspective: Liberals do not mind abuses of government power at all, so long as we're talking about the particular abuses that help pay for the liberal welfare state.
The Patriot Act isn't helping to fund anything, it's just trying to protect the citizens, so liberals are alert to any abuses on that end of the government. You simply cannot get a liberal angry about IRS abuses or property forfeitures. They think it's all their property, anyway.posted by: Lee Dise on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
Unless you're impassioned about one of the cultural issues like abortion or gun control, you'd have to agree that there are three enormous issues that a) will have a major influence on our nation's fortunes during the next two decades and b) require strong presidential leadership. those are
1) the war against islamist terror and the struggle against WMD proliferation to rogue states
2) the explosion in health care costs and the lack of medical coverage for a large portion of the US population
3) the imbalance between entitlement spending growth and the public's refusal to finance it with tax increases or spending cuts--rather, we rely on the Japanese and other Asian central banks to fund the difference
On # 3), neither party has any credibility whatsoever. The silence deafens; in our political realm, the issue doesn't exist. At some point, if the Asian central banks start to shift their savings out of treasuries, we'll wake up, but for now, this paramount issue's politically invisible.
On # 2), the health care issue, the nod probably goes to the Democrats--at least they care about the issue--but I doubt they have anything like a realistic, credible, intelligent solution to such a monstrously difficult problem that will only become mroe difficult with advances in medical technology and increased longevity. Nonetheless, if you're passionate about health care, then you should probably lean Democratic.
The reason Bush will probably be re-elected is that Issue # 1 for many voters (and probably most swing voters) trumps the other two. If we don't solve or contain successfully the terror/WMD/rogue state problem, then no other issue will matter.
For the Dems to win back the White House they must admit that terror/WMD/Rogue states is the pre-eminent issue and must therefore address it with a coherent, detailed, thorough analysis and strategic blueprint. Simply repeating the mantra about bringing along the "allies" and the corrupt and inept UN will not cut it. Any intelligent adult with his eyes open can see that France, far from being an ally, views the US as the greatest threat to French interests around the world. Especially in the middle east. Saddam was their and the Russians' best client in the region.
As bas as Iraq is, it screws Kerry because it highlights the man's lack of depth. He can win only if Iraq devolves into chaos (not likely) or else ceases to be a major news story this fall (also unlikely).
But until he and the Dems replace their stupid "don't offend the allies" reflex with a substantive, serious strategy for a changed world, they will be reliant on the limited attention span of most Americans to win back the White House.posted by: tombo on 04.30.04 at 11:43 AM [permalink]
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