Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some really boneheaded advice for the GOP

Armin Rosen has an article detailing five major things that the Republicans can do to become electoral victors again. Suffice it to say that there are some real problems with the list, mostly connected with the Libertarian assumptions behind the list points. Starting from the top and working our way down, the author's first of five bullet points is "oppose liberalism". He wrote (author's emphasis and embedded hyperlink):
-OPPOSE LIBERALISM: All of this talk about “the direction of conservatism” is bullshit (and yeah, I realize this is a post about “the direction of conservatism…”) . From Burke to Metternich to Gingrich, the onlyresponsibility [sic] of conservatism has been to provide a principled check on otherwise-unfettered social experimentation.
As it is, this is a good start to this list although we conservatives might have good reason to be wary. The author mostly uses it as an excuse to paper over the Libertarian/Conservative divide in the Republican party, but papering over ideological divides is, technically speaking, a potentially winning electoral strategy. Moving on, we come to point number two:
-DON’T GIVE UP ON SOCIAL CONSERVATISM. BUT DON’T EMPHASIZE IT EITHER: This is part and parcel of my first suggestion. The Rove-Palin divide-and-conquer strategy clearly isn’t a winner anymore, and conservatives really have nothing to gain from taking a hard-right stance on social issues. Then again, they have a lot to lose from giving up on them altogether. A “hate the sin, not the sinner” tack should win back to the social center that’s been voting blue in recent years: basically, conservatives should promote traditional values without championing measures that would punish those who don’t.
Here we see that the conservative's wariness is entirely justified. A Republican party that is terrified of taking a hard-Right stance is a Republican party that has conceeded control of politics to the liberals. Whatever stance we make now, no matter how moderate and reasonable and centrist it seems at the moment, will eventually become a hard-right stance as the liberals keep marching Left. It's just a matter of time.

The author's mistake is that assigning to conservatism the political role of holding the Left in check presupposes that the Left has an inherently legitimate political agenda. That's all fine and good, but what happens when the Left decides that principle, as such, needs to be eliminated from the nation's political institutions? What happens when the Left opposes conservative stances merely because any conservative stance at all is offensive to the Left?

Of course, this is all in theory. Maybe the American people were just waiting for same-sex marriage to be enacted before launching a new golden age of conservative governance as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately for the author's case, his points get a lot worse than this. The author's third point is a major blunder (author's embedded hyperlink):
-DUMP THE DRUG WAR: Need an issue that’ll win back the youth vote while moving conservatives in a simultaneously cautious and more progressive direction? Well, you’re welcome Michael Steele, ‘cuz this is a guaranteed winner.
This is just totally insane. Unrestrained drug abuse is probably the one agent of social change in existence that is even more powerful and destructive than liberalism (look up "China" and "opium" in Wikipedia if you get a chance). If conservatism is really a political movement acting as a check on unfettered change, then why in a million years would conservatives want to unleash drug abuse across the United States?

The author's fourth point is pure political fantasy:
Yeah, good luck with that. Finally, we have the author's point five:
-FOUND AN OPINION JOURNAL OTHER THAN THE NATIONAL REVIEW AND THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Both have gone from being quirky voices of reason in American political discourse to being unreadable party rags.
Yes, that's right. If 2008 has taught the Republican party anything, it is that the Republican party needs more mavericks!


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