Should we put it on life support and hope that it survives
or attempt to displace it gradually with something better?
Yesterday, I received a gracious e-mail from the Obama-Biden campaign thanking me personally for all that I had done:
I hope you saw Jim’s note with the video of President Obama thanking supporters and staff. I wanted to single you out especially because you’ve gone above and beyond in your support of the President. (Emphasis added.)
I only wish I could have done even more to support his defeat; after all that he had done, it was past time for him to go. Now we are stuck with him for another four years.
On the day after the election, I tried to suggest here some of the things that went wrong and got him reelected. There were many of them, and now we have to decide how to get back in the game.
According to Jonah Goldberg’s e-mail for yesterday,
one thing that’s bothering me a lot about GOP Recriminationpalooza is the fact that almost all of us are talking as if the worst news to come out of this election is that the GOP is in disarray.
Look, obviously I want the Republican party to get its act together. But if you were to lay out a newspaper that reflected the important news coming out of Tuesday, the headline would be something on the order of “America Screwed: Obama Reelected.” Or maybe: “Obama Wins; Experts Take Second Look at Mayan Prophecies.” The story about the Republican party’s problems would be below the fold, at best. And probably on page A2.
It is axiomatic: America’s problems are more important than the Republican party’s problems. The hitch is that the GOP’s problems will only hasten the country’s problems if they don’t get fixed.
The Republican Party may or may not get its game together and may or may not get fixed; the party may already be more “fixed” than it should be.
These seem to be the three broadly stated possibilities:
♦ Give up. Although that might result in a pleasant letter, maybe even from President Obama himself, it does not appeal. If we take that course we will have committed the
impossible deviant act of screwing ourselves.
♦ Do more of the same things, just do them
smarter better. That’s a bit more like it, but it seems that things may have gone too far for it to work.
♦ Do something different. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for President, said during a post-election interview,
I hope that people will see that we don’t have to sit by the sidelines and watch as the two ‘major’ parties limit their choices to slightly different flavors of the status quo. It is, in fact, possible to join the fray, stand up for principles, and offer a real alternative. Of course, now that we appear to have reelected the status quo, both in the White House and in the Congress, I hope those same people will see that there is a very real need for the process to welcome, rather than exclude, new and different ideas.
That is the essential thrust of this article.
We are screwed
The United States — the States as well as the people in them — are in a deepening state of dependence on the Federal Government; although many think that’s great, most conservatives disagree. Should dependence persist it is likely to increase and the numbers of voters who think it’s good are likely to increase as more get caught up in the dependence web. More will likely get caught up in that web as the economy continues its decline.
Isn’t this special!
We have also become a demoralized and deviant nation and it has not happened over night. Walter Williams recently wrote about Our Deviant Society. Here’s one aspect of it
[One] measure of social deviancy is reflected by the excuses and apologies that are made for failures and how we make mascots out of social misfits, such as criminals and bums. The intellectual elite tell us that it’s poverty or racism that produces criminals, as opposed to a moral defect. We call bums homeless people. That suggests a moral equivalency between people who have lost their homes in a fire or natural disaster and people who choose to be social parasites; therefore, neither group is to be blamed for its respective condition. People who are very productive members of our society, such as the rich, are often held up to ridicule and scorn.
Think back to former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the nation’s response that “it was just about sex.” Therefore, it was no big thing for the president and his men to become involved in witness tampering, perjury, obstruction of justice and a White House-organized attack on Kenneth Starr, an officer of the court. Most Americans thought removal from office was too harsh for Clinton’s lawlessness.
That kind of lawlessness helped establish a precedent for lawless acts by President Barack Obama. His most recent was an executive order that suspended legal liability for young people who are brought to our country illegally by their parents. He also repealed the legal requirement that welfare recipients must work, by simply redefining “work” to include other things, such as going to classes on weight control. Then there are waivers from Obamacare for favored allies — waivers that offend the principle of equality before the law.
Whether the president’s actions were good or bad ideas or not is irrelevant. What’s relevant is whether we want to establish a precedent whereby a president, who has no constitutional authority to repeal parts of congressional legislation, can grant special favors and rule by presidential decree like Third World tyrants.
I don’t hold President Obama completely responsible for his unconstitutional actions. It’s the American people who are to blame, for it is we who have lost our morality and our love, knowledge and respect for our Constitution, laying the foundation for Washington tyranny. It is all part and parcel of “defining deviancy down,” which is the term former U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined in 1993 to describe how we’ve switched from moral absolutes to situational morality and from strict constitutional interpretation to the Constitution’s being a “living document.” (Emphasis added.)
Isn’t our modern “hookup culture” really a grand way to empower women! Here’s a brief excerpt:
Here’s feminist Hanna Rosin writing in the Atlantic:
The hookup culture that has largely replaced dating on college campuses has been viewed, in many quarters, as socially corrosive and ultimately toxic to women, who seemingly have little choice but to participate. Actually, it is an engine of female progress—one being harnessed and driven by women themselves.
[…]To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.
Social approbation of deviancy has helped to further — and excuse — dependence as well. That’s also been coming for a long time. Jonah Goldberg also wrote yesterday,
Exactly 100 years before Barack Obama’s re-election victory, Woodrow Wilson was elected president for the first time. It was Wilson’s belief that the old American understanding of government needed to be Europeanized. The key to this transformation was convincing Americans that we all must “marry our interests to the state.”
The chief obstacle for this mission is the family. The family, rightly understood, is an autonomous source of meaning in our lives and the chief place where we sacrifice for, and cooperate with, others. It is also the foundation for local communities and social engagement. As social scientist Charles Murray likes to say, unmarried men rarely volunteer to coach kids’ soccer teams.
Progressivism always looked at the family with skepticism and occasionally hostility. Reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman hoped state-backed liberation of children would destroy “the unchecked tyranny … of the private home.” Wilson believed the point of education was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Hillary Clinton, who calls herself a modern progressive and not a liberal, once said we must move beyond the notion there is “any such thing as someone else’s child.”
. . . .
Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married though, which is a big reason why they’re well-off. “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.
Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that. (Emphasis added.)
These factors are closely aligned with our slide into the sewer of dependence.
The Republican Party
The Republican and Democrat parties have reigned supreme for a long time and it has become very difficult to get elected and reelected without the support of one of the two parties. Although we often see solidarity within the Democrat party, it has of late become conspicuous by its decline in the Republican party. Some say stick to values and pick better candidates. Some say kick the social conservatives out of the Republican party (not the author of the linked article), get rid of the other “right wing extremists” and strive for ethnic diversity by attracting more Hispanics and others.
To put it succinctly, the Republican Party is too old, too white, too male and too extremist. Mitt Romney’s 1950s persona was a joke to the younger and more diverse American voters. The Republican Party is in dire straits.
In April of last year, I wrote an article entitled Governments Rot when their Citizens let them.
Britain’s culture has become no less multiculturally devalued than that of the United States. Venezuela, Cuba, and many others never, at least in recent memory, enjoyed cultures conducive to freedom and democracy. Ditto many countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, plus some of the countries they colonized. Mexico? Hardly a role model for the United States; I didn’t learn much about Mexican history or culture half a century ago in school, and I doubt that many young people in Mexico learn much today about the history or culture of the United States. Few are likely to develop cultural attitudes in contemporary Mexico compatible with life in the United States.
There are several failed states whose discouraged citizens are coming to the United States — some for freedom, some for jobs, some to mooch and some to make the United States increasingly resemble their countries of origin. However, due to proximity we seem to receive more from Mexico than elsewhere and I very much doubt that the majority of them, generally uneducated, with no skills to sell beyond stoop labor and unable to speak or even to understand English, have significant knowledge of our history or even what the phrases “Constitutional Government” and “Rule of Law, not Rule of Men” mean. Never having lived where such notions are respected and understood, it’s difficult to appreciate them until a long time after transplantation. It’s good that some of them are socially conservative, but more than that is needed: respect for the supremacy of our Constitution and our laws. That seems quite uncommon, particularly among “differently documented” aliens of all stripes. It takes more than a brief and unlawful stay for it to develop. Even a few years of lawful stay under properly enacted amnesty is probably inadequate. While an Hispanic outreach might enlarge Republican rolls, I fear that attracting them would require giving up on much that conservatives hold dear.
If Republicans are losing elections because of the way Hispanics vote, the solution is not to create through legislation a significantly larger Hispanic vote. Suppose the last amnesty hadn’t occurred? Republicans wouldn’t be wringing their hands now about the difficulties of winning elections given the size of the Hispanic vote.
A second amnesty would, before long, end Republican chances of winning elections as a conservative party, and minimize the number of elections Republicans win at all.
Even if pandering to Hispanics and others might help the Republican Party to achieve what it seems to consider its most important goal of all, keeping Republican incumbents in office for as long as possible, it’s not worth it. The Democrat Party, of course, shares that supreme goal but for Democrats. The longer an incumbent hangs on to office — no matter how corrupt, incompetent or demented — the greater seniority he has. Power in the Congress is a function of seniority: committee chairmanships, seats on important committees and ability to deliver pork to constituents back home to get reelected again. The quasi-permanence of incumbents is a bad thing. Not only do people become increasingly powerful as they become stale in office, they become increasingly detached from the real world outside the Washington Beltway. Short trips back home to raise funds, hold “Town Hall” meetings and generally to campaign are not enough to understand the problems there. Going to motion pictures and reading about the golden days of the Old West may be enjoyable, but fail to provide the insights that come from having lived there to experience the good and the bad. Living in the greater Washington Metropolitan Area and working in Washington are quite different from living and working elsewhere. I didn’t realize that during my long and often pleasant life there. I had to leave, as I did in 1996, for that realization to come.
More is coming in Part II about what we might be able to do.
First published at Dan Miller’s Blog.