Another View of Divisive Politics: A Response to Dr. Bastiat

 

This comment on the moving post by Dr. Bastiat metastasized such that I offer it as a post.

Once upon a time, the American political establishment was confident and successful. Government interventions may not be deemed efficient but we believed them to be designed by smart, well-intentioned people. We fought racism and poverty and we kept the Communist juggernaut at bay. Conservatives like William Buckley were fun to listen to but were no real threat to the consensus that kept the right sorts in power. Vietnam and urban riots elected the despised Nixon but even he actively expanded the administrative state.  

Our confidence in the establishment began to wane in the Carter years. “Malaise” combined with a directed acceptance of a lower standard of living and the intentional decline of national power conflicted with the decades-old post-WWII narrative of success and competence.

Reagan seemed to offer a corrective. In reality, the twofold bad news about the Reagan victories is that we would eventually (slowly) realize that (a) the populist right is largely incapable of effecting systematic change or reforming, much less shrinking the administrative behemoth the establishment built and (b) that establishment itself has learned nothing and is also incapable of rethinking itself and stagnated.

Our politics is sick because it is an accurate reflection of the state of things.

The right offers no clear vision of what government can and should be. Republican congresses don’t cut spending. The one agency the GOP once expressly promised to end (Education) is still alive and more pernicious than ever. Any Republican electoral victory means a slight slowing, a mere timeout for trends and government actions that conservatives viscerally despise.

The old establishment left cannot understand or accept why its useless, fossilized ideological carcass has been devoured by the absurd new left. How low does one have to fall to lose power and intellectual leadership to the likes of AOC or Kendi X? Or decline to a point where  Bill Maher has a more mature take on politics than academics or congressional leaders?  How flaccid and empty so as to be pushed aside in academia and corporations by woke commissars and second-rung HR functionaries? Conservatives were not in control in those institutions. It was the old establishment left that was defeated and displaced.

The left now needs the politics of division.

The party of Truman or even of Bill Clinton could plausibly claim to want to see the average American working family to get ahead. Biden cannot even convincingly fake such a desire. Allocating jobs and education by race, not providing enough energy, denigrating normalcy,  crushing economic growth and opportunity, and instead devoting massive efforts to spin, lies, and suppression is not a winning formula. 

The new establishment can no longer produce the kinds of leaders who crafted the New Deal, the Civil Rights bill, and the ultimate victory over the USSR and, most importantly, delivered and protected the steady, inexorable rise of the American working and middle classes. And they have no gravitas. The Biden cabinet, like the president and Vice President, is a bad joke. University presidents wet their pants if called transphobic. Our generals now only fight systemic racism. Competence, integrity, honor, and virtue are dangerous in the bizarro world regime that now wears the skin of the dead old order.

All rhetoric about division serves the interests of the debased left (including 2A bushido on the right about ultimate forms of resistance). Their hold on power depends on convincing enough people that their caricature of the right poses a mortal threat because that is all they have left.

On the one hand, the perception of division is clearly the fault of the intellectually and morally bankrupt left for their depraved but predictable intention to make our politics about fighting the mythical MAGA dragon. But we on the right must accept some blame for not demanding leaders capable of both crafting a clear, novel, detailed vision of government and selling that vision. Although valid, it is not enough to simply point out that the entire political and institutional leadership of the left is comprised of malignant buffoons who hate everything that is best about America and its normals.

It is not enough to win elections but to force the terms of the debate to be about a positive vision, not just comparative evils.

The left will lose control eventually due to the simple fact that reality always wins and their program is objectively a disaster. The only issue is how much damage they will cause in the meantime and whether the political right will then actually effect structural change or merely delay another round of harm. One byproduct of true change would be an end to the politics of bogus divisions to be replaced by healthy debates about the role of a government circumscribed by the rights of its citizens, debates resolved by free and scrupulously honest elections.

If the elections in November and in 2024 are only about whether Trump was cheated in 2020 and whether the partisan FBI is a disgrace, the left wins even if they lose the election simply because their preferred faux politics of division and accusation will still be in effect–and their failures not front and center and no alternative vision put in play.  Other than the end of the evil clown show that now controls so much of American life, what exactly do conservatives want that the great majority of Americans also want?  We need to go there and go hard.

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  1. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    I want to close agencies, fire people and sell buildings in DC and the various congressional Districts – a la closing military bases. Maybe re-open a couple of those ending some joint bases. But first fire everyone in the FBI, accept resignations from all in Justice, close up the Ed, HUD, Labor (does anyone know what Marty Walsh does?,) EPA and Interiors Shops and not spend any of their budget allocations. 

    • #1
  2. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Well said, and much needed.

    • #2
  3. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Do you have any idea how many judges are just waiting to declare such things illegal/unconstitutional?

    • #3
  4. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Old Bathos: the simple fact that reality always wins

    If that were that case We wouldn’t be having this conversation. 

    • #4
  5. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: the simple fact that reality always wins

    If that were that case We wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Should have inserted “ultimately” or “eventually”. Rich nations, like rich individuals may have the means to stave off immediate consequences of imprudent actions–unlike, say, Sri Lanka or an unemployed drug addict.

    • #5
  6. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: the simple fact that reality always wins

    If that were that case We wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Should have inserted “ultimately” or “eventually”. Rich nations, like rich individuals may have the means to stave off immediate consequences of imprudent actions–unlike, say, Sri Lanka or an unemployed drug addict.

    “Men” are having babies.

    “Reality” ain’t winning. 

    • #6
  7. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Old Bathos: The left will lose control eventually

    This is not true.  Leftist authoritarianism is the norm and is stable in the long run.  The exception is Right wing federalism, which is very rare must be diligently protected from creeping socialism.  Look around the world.  Do you see much ordered liberty breaking out? 

    • #7
  8. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    DonG (CAGW is a Scam) (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: The left will lose control eventually

    This is not true. Leftist authoritarianism is the norm and is stable in the long run. The exception is Right wing federalism, which is very rare must be diligently protected from creeping socialism. Look around the world. Do you see much ordered liberty breaking out?

    The conventional wisdom 50 years ago was that communism was inexorable and impossible to dislodge. The collapse of the USSR, the various permutations of limited economic freedom in China were presumed impossible. It was the west that was deemed shaky.  

    But when even the secret police can’t find groceries, the regime collapses. Reality is a bitch.

    That does not mean that “ordered liberty” will break out–it is not a binary choice.  Chaos, authoritarianism, feudalism may well ensue in the aftermath, especially if there is no existing tradition of the rule of law. But he leftist regime itself is gone and that was the point.

    It is a bit mysterious to me that Castro’s minions have hung on. Perhaps if you really impoverish and beat a people down long enough…. 

     

    • #8
  9. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Boy, did I pick the wrong night to watch Mr. Jones.

    The left doesn’t want truth. They just want their utopian bs to work, however many millions of unimportant, ordinary lives have to be sacrificed.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    Boy, did I pick the wrong night to watch Mr. Jones.

    The left doesn’t want truth. They just want their utopian bs to work, however many millions of unimportant, ordinary lives have to be sacrificed.

    I just saw it last week. Couldn’t sleep afterward for a couple of days. And there are eerie similarities to what is going on right now in energy and agriculture throughout Europe and eventually here. 

     

    • #10
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    The difference here in the US, from other places, is we have so many of the peons out in flyover country armed, and more are armed every day.  Leftist gun confiscators can’t confiscate enough firearms to make even a dent in the level of armament of the Public.  Communism will take over Europe long before America.  Same with Australia, the UK, and Canada, all of whose public are “gun-free”.  I’m sure there are millions like me, who say “if you try to confiscate my firearms, regardless of how many of you there are, I will make sure to take as many with me as I can.”  Russia, China, North Korea, and Cuba all had mostly unarmed populations.  Not here.

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Communism will take over Europe long before America.

    I don’t think it would take full-blown communism to produce the circumstances that led to the Holodomor. A powerful central government would be sufficient.

    • #12
  13. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    I lost hope if the Federal government being reduced

     

    • #13
  14. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Brilliant essay. 

    Old Bathos: If the elections in November and in 2024 are only about whether Trump was cheated in 2020 and whether the partisan FBI is a disgrace, the left wins even if they lose the election simply because their preferred faux politics of division and accusation will still be in effect–and their failures not front and center and no alternative vision put in play.

    Their failures are so abject and legion that a schoolboy could run an effective campaign appealing to those people who are not self-destructively insane, yet they do nothing more than their tired old “do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi and her radical agenda?”   

    I just can’t understand it.

    • #14
  15. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    Brilliant essay.

    Old Bathos: If the elections in November and in 2024 are only about whether Trump was cheated in 2020 and whether the partisan FBI is a disgrace, the left wins even if they lose the election simply because their preferred faux politics of division and accusation will still be in effect–and their failures not front and center and no alternative vision put in play.

    Their failures are so abject and legion that a schoolboy could run an effective campaign appealing to those people who are not self-destructively insane, yet they do nothing more than their tired old “do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi and her radical agenda?”

    I just can’t understand it.

    When you are in the minority you can propose good stuff that you know will not be enacted to strike a pose, set a tone, build a record and establish a platform.  That is the freedom (and the only perk) of being in the minority.  It is not enough to point out that Pelosi and Schumer are a disgrace but to point to what could and would have been done instead if they were ousted.  The heavy lifting is both about the homework required to craft the details but then to develop a disciplined message with a vision. 

    Both parties in Congress simply wait for the public to get sick of the side in power.  

    • #15
  16. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’ve read about (haven’t seen) an interesting thesis being explored in the “Uncle Tom” documentaries (I and II). It posits, as I understand it, that the civil rights movement (yes, even MLK, etc.) has been destructive to Americans — particularly black Americans — and American politics. The “rights” movement has become an entitlement movement, lacking the balancing of “responsibilities” inherent in the Judeo-Christian ethos that characterized our society up until that point. 

    My conviction is that this corrupted what people have come to believe the purpose of government is. In the victim/entitlement (and, oh, btw, (white) oppressor) way of thinking, government is to provide positive rights (to other people’s money, for example), rather than protecting natural rights. (life, liberty, property, et al). Once you’ve ruined the character of the people in such a way, how else would you expect them to vote other than for tyranny? 

    This is why I hold out no hope that elections — even of the “right” people — will save us. The saving needs to be done one person at a time, and only by the grace of God that few enough believe in or pray to. 

    • #16
  17. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    There are simple solutions; eliminate deficit spending and pay off the federal debt.  Start by holding China to account civilly for both COVID 19 losses and the ravages of fentenyl.  Settle this by cancelling any US debt that the CCP holds.  Move to zero based budgets for all agencies.  Any agency with regulatory authority should be subject to sunset provisions by law after one generation (18-20 years.)  Make quantitative easing illegal, whether the debt funded is federal or issued by a GSE like Fanny or Freddie.  Amend the constitution to give the president the ability to veto any budget line item.  Eliminate continuing spending resolutions in lieu of the budgeting process.  Simplify all tax law.  The standard should be that any ordinary citizen should be able to complete an annual return in less than 2 hours.  If we provide any foreign country (outside of a member nation in a defense treaty) with help, muinitions or aid in their defense, this cost should be accounted for and repaid when the conflict resolves.  No more foreign incursions with no expectaion of reparation.  

    • #17
  18. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    There are simple solutions; eliminate deficit spending and pay off the federal debt. Start by holding China to account civilly for both COVID 19 losses and the ravages of fentenyl. Settle this by cancelling any US debt that the CCP holds. Move to zero based budgets for all agencies. Any agency with regulatory authority should be subject to sunset provisions by law after one generation (18-20 years.) Make quantitative easing illegal, whether the debt funded is federal or issued by a GSE like Fanny or Freddie. Amend the constitution to give the president the ability to veto any budget line item. Eliminate continuing spending resolutions in lieu of the budgeting process. Simplify all tax law. The standard should be that any ordinary citizen should be able to complete an annual return in less than 2 hours. If we provide any foreign country (outside of a member nation in a defense treaty) with help, muinitions or aid in their defense, this cost should be accounted for and repaid when the conflict resolves. No more foreign incursions with no expectaion of reparation.

    Preach, brother Doug!

    • #18
  19. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    There are simple solutions; eliminate deficit spending and pay off the federal debt. Start by holding China to account civilly for both COVID 19 losses and the ravages of fentenyl. Settle this by cancelling any US debt that the CCP holds. Move to zero based budgets for all agencies. Any agency with regulatory authority should be subject to sunset provisions by law after one generation (18-20 years.) Make quantitative easing illegal, whether the debt funded is federal or issued by a GSE like Fanny or Freddie. Amend the constitution to give the president the ability to veto any budget line item. Eliminate continuing spending resolutions in lieu of the budgeting process. Simplify all tax law. The standard should be that any ordinary citizen should be able to complete an annual return in less than 2 hours. If we provide any foreign country (outside of a member nation in a defense treaty) with help, muinitions or aid in their defense, this cost should be accounted for and repaid when the conflict resolves. No more foreign incursions with no expectaion of reparation.

    As President Reagan pointed out, there are simple solutions.  There are no easy solutions.

    • #19
  20. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    Move to zero based budgets for all agencies.

    Immediately. Yes. 

    • #20
  21. kedavis Inactive
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):

    There are simple solutions; eliminate deficit spending and pay off the federal debt. Start by holding China to account civilly for both COVID 19 losses and the ravages of fentenyl. Settle this by cancelling any US debt that the CCP holds. Move to zero based budgets for all agencies. Any agency with regulatory authority should be subject to sunset provisions by law after one generation (18-20 years.) Make quantitative easing illegal, whether the debt funded is federal or issued by a GSE like Fanny or Freddie. Amend the constitution to give the president the ability to veto any budget line item. Eliminate continuing spending resolutions in lieu of the budgeting process. Simplify all tax law. The standard should be that any ordinary citizen should be able to complete an annual return in less than 2 hours. If we provide any foreign country (outside of a member nation in a defense treaty) with help, muinitions or aid in their defense, this cost should be accounted for and repaid when the conflict resolves. No more foreign incursions with no expectaion of reparation.

    The single biggest problem with all of that, of course, is that it relies on people to do and follow those things you describe.

    What if they simply don’t?  Which is a large part of the problems we have now.  Much of what happens is already illegal, but nobody cares or will do anything about it.

    To bring out one of my long-time expressions again, no great hand comes down from the sky to make people do the right thing.

    • #21
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