Process Matters

 

imagesOne of the differences between the Right and the Left is that the Left is concerned only about outcomes while the Right is concerned about outcomes and process.

When you think about it, all the major conflicts in America’s history have been more about process than the underlying issue. The American colonist’s slogan was not “No Taxation”; it was “No Taxation Without Representation,” which is fundamentally about process. Even when Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, the colonists weren’t satisfied because they had no say in the matter and thought — correctly — that the repeal was just as arbitrary as the original act. Most of the grievances leveled against King George in the Declaration of Independence were about the arbitrary exercise of royal power. The American Revolution was fought over process; the ability for free men to govern themselves. While the underlying moral cause of the Civil War was slavery, the proximate cause was about the process of laws and policies concering slavery that lead to secession.

What is the Constitution of the United States other than a document describing the process by which the people will govern  themselves? When the Supreme Court issues rulings like they did last week, they usurp this most fundamental of all rights. The Left will never understand our concern with process, which they consider to be a minor detail on the road to utopian social justice. What they fail to understand is that someday the arbitrary exercise of power may go against them. By then it will be too late — and a country of the people, by the people, for the people will have perished from the earth.

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  1. user_189393 Inactive
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    If process matters to the right, then how come the Patriot Act?

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  2. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    For them, the ends always justify the means.  Broken eggs and all that.  I think that if there is no integrity in the process, there is no integrity in the ends, but I do wonder how we combat the left’s means/ends perfidy?  So far, it pretty much works.

    • #2
  3. Stewart Mills Inactive
    Stewart Mills
    @StewartMills

    Yes, I think you highlight a major underlying problem that separates right and left on many issues – I think it’s largely why we keep talking over each other’s heads.

    • #3
  4. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Barkha Herman:If process matters to the right, then how come the Patriot Act?

    :-D

    • #4
  5. liberal jim Inactive
    liberal jim
    @liberaljim

    Taxation without representation = slavery

    Taxation with representation = liberty

    A question of process?  Not in my book!!

    • #5
  6. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    I beg to differ with your Civil War analogy. The War did not begin over slavery although that became the stated cause by Lincoln in 1862 and was due more to military necessity than moral awakening. It is OK to talk about process but not if you don’t include all pieces of the process.

    Yes the process that led to war included the slavery question, but far more important was the economic impact of the economic interests that resulted in destabilizing tariffs for Southern economic interests that resulted, by some accounts, in the South contributing more than 60%-75% of total Federal revenues. Naturally the South didn’t like it and moved toward session as a way around the tariffs and could deal with Britain and Europe under their own terms. It is no surprise that the Northern interests did not like that, because it put all of its mills and products at more price risk. War, as Thucydides reminds us, emanates from Fear, Interest and Honor. ALL factors on display leading to the Civil War.

    A Blue Stater or any academician today is not going to talk about this because many were not taught the full truth in primary and secondary school. For example, In New Jersey, my Niece and Nephews’ exposure to US History started from 1876 to present. Think about that, they had no formal instruction about the History of the US until 1876, after reconstruction, and they went to a Private School.

    • #6
  7. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    The Left are masters of process – they use it to their advantage again and again. When it suits them, they tie their opponents up with it. When it doesn’t, they have no hesitation in just jettisoning the whole thing. See e.g. the Bolsheviks, and century of entryism and other Leninist tactics. And SCOTUS, of course.

    • #7
  8. user_581526 Inactive
    user_581526
    @BrianSkinn

    genferei:The Left are masters of process – they use it to their advantage again and again. When it suits them, they tie their opponents up with it. When it doesn’t, they have no hesitation in just jettisoning the whole thing. See e.g. the Bolsheviks, and century of entryism and other Leninist tactics. And SCOTUS, of course.

    They have a masterful understanding of process, yes, but they don’t respect it, or the value in defining “good” processes and abiding by them.

    • #8
  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    This is built into the distinction between conservatives and progressives as holding the constrained and unconstrained visions.  About which see Sowell.

    It’s a good observation.  Conservatives not only have a high degree of confidence that the process is likely to lead to the best possible outcome (which itself is not likely to be perfect), but are also absolutely convinced that the lack of a process will simply lead to tyranny, and is almost synonymous with tyranny itself.  The “perfection” the progressives seek will always lead to the imperfect being liquidated.  Since nobody is perfect, lack of process is the same as the rule of force.

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  10. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    It should be noted that we care about process because of the ends.  In the SCOTUS case, many of use are opposed to the process by which SSM became legal.  We feel it should have been done in the states, not by judicial decree.  That’s process, right?  But the reason we care about the process, in this case, is because of the ends.  We are afraid of tyranny by the judiciary, the elimination of individual liberty.  The ends.

    Say, rather, that the left only see what is in front of their noses.  They care only about the immediate problem, and take no thought for the unintended consequences of their proposed solution.

    • #10
  11. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    As a continuation of the “Civil War” process outlined above, let’s suppose that no War was fought at all. Would Slavery still exist today? I think it is pretty safe to say that, taking the moral issue out of it, that slavery would have faded away by the 1890s at the latest. The steam and combustion technologies that evolved would have replaced the advantage of human muscle pretty quickly. Then what? 8-10million disenfranchised ex-slaves with no means of economy or making a life? Major race riot that would be put down by the US Army, similar to the Native Americans? or massive amounts of money allocated to educate, train and provide property. Sorry, call me a cynic, I don’t see the good citizens of Boston or New York financing this.

    That is not what happened by easily could have. Process is complex particularly in the evolution of human society where culture, economics, justice, rights, freedom, religion and education all play interwoven factors. To limit the process, any process, to moral preening is certainly not helpful for the future.

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  12. Ricochet Lincoln
    Ricochet
    @MattUpton

    Ball Diamond Ball: Conservatives not only have a high degree of confidence that the process is likely to lead to the best possible outcome (which itself is not likely to be perfect), but are also absolutely convinced that the lack of a process will simply lead to tyranny, and is almost synonymous with tyranny itself.

    This thought ties together so much of traditional conservative thought. It explains deep support for law enforcement institutions. While there is a strong case to be made for reforms to restrain the power of government prosecutors and check law enforcement, conservatives have a fear that reforms would go too far and render the whole process ineffective.

    This was also some of the thinking about certain conservative opposition to the Civil Rights Act. There were those who supported a racially integrated society, but could not get behind the government imposed integration. They saw long-term implications of the legislation concerning free association (correctly, I might add), and believed the benefits did not outweigh the cost. I like the metaphor John Yoo used: the civil rights act was the equivalent of breaking a window to escape a burning building. Those who value process do not want to break windows, but failed to appreciate the desperation of the Black community.

    Unfortunately, there are those who now break windows with a perfectly good exit down the hall. They either fail to appreciate the harm they cause, or believe the house had it coming. (Okay, enough with that metaphor).

    • #12
  13. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    I think it is pretty safe to say that, taking the moral issue out of it, that slavery would have faded away by the 1890s at the latest.

    Well, but you can’t take the moral issue out of it, can you? There’s a story in the Gospels in which Jesus encounters a man with withered hand on the Sabbath. The Pharisees (real sticklers for process) watched Jesus to see what he would do. He heals the guy. Why? It’s the Sabbath—a mere 24 hours. It’s not like the guy hasn’t had that withered hand for a long time, possibly his whole life. Why was 24 hours worth violating the Process?

    Jesus evidently thought that 24 hours more of a life without a withered hand was worth not just breaking the Sabbath but risking his own life—the Pharisees, Mark tells us, go away and begin plotting against Him, and we know how that turned out.

    Which isn’t to say that process was unimportant to Jesus, or should be immaterial to us, just that we should not be sanguine about counseling patience when the suffering to be prolonged by waiting is not our own.

    let’s suppose that no War was fought at all. Would Slavery still exist today? 

    Flip it around: if slavery had not existed at all, would the War have been fought? Would it have been as bloody, vicious and long? Would it still be with us today? How many Americans go around waving the flag of the Whiskey Rebellion?

    • #13
  14. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    I see the left as little children who think that when they are in charge it’s okay for them to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they win. Then, later, when they are not in charge, they will complain loudly when someone else tries to change the rules to suit them.

    • #14
  15. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    One of the most interesting instances in American history of elevating outcomes over process was another Supreme Court case, Dred Scott.  The case could easily have been decided on very narrow legal grounds but instead the Southern dominated court decided once and for all to end this nonsense about potential rights, not just for slaves, but about all blacks slave or free by reading them out of the Constitution and American polity forever.

    • #15
  16. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Mark:One of the most interesting instances in American history of elevating outcomes over process was another Supreme Court case, Dred Scott. The case could easily have been decided on very narrow legal grounds but instead the Southern dominated court decided once and for all to end this nonsense about potential rights, not just for slaves, but about all blacks slave or free by reading them out of the Constitution and American polity forever.

    So here’s the question—do we consider Dred Scott “conservative” or “liberal” (not Democrat or Republican—I know, I know, Lincoln was a Republican)?

    • #16
  17. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Kate Braestrup:

    Mark:One of the most interesting instances in American history of elevating outcomes over process was another Supreme Court case, Dred Scott. The case could easily have been decided on very narrow legal grounds but instead the Southern dominated court decided once and for all to end this nonsense about potential rights, not just for slaves, but about all blacks slave or free by reading them out of the Constitution and American polity forever.

    So here’s the question—do we consider Dred Scott “conservative” or “liberal” (not Democrat or Republican—I know, I know, Lincoln was a Republican)?

    It’s a terrible decision but the further back you go in U.S. history the harder it is to classify people or actions as liberal or conservative as those terms are used today.   Our history is rich, complex and interesting and many prominent figures had constellations of political views that would be unrecognizable today.  We lose a lot by trying to shove it into neatly labeled ideological boxes.

    • #17
  18. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    Re #13. Well Kate, that is the exact example of the moral preening I was talking about. This tyranny of the hindsight you espouse can pretty much be tracked to anything that exists in our civilization today. Thing all of those old buildings and sewer systems in New York and Boston were built by union labor? How about those first train tracks across the Continental US? How much of the seed capital for the largest University endowments were made off of the backs of 12 and 13 year old girls working in broom and milling plants 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for $1 a day? Should Europe tear down its Cathedrals, the Pyramids, the Roman aqueducts, the Great Wall of China? Let’s keep some perspective. I agree, given what we know today,  Slavery is evil, but it still exists today despite a UN and all of the other things we know today. Get some perspective!

    • #18
  19. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Look Away:Re #13. Well Kate, that is the exact example of the moral preening I was talking about.

    Speaking of moral preening can we stop with pretending that secession was motivated by something other than the desire to preserve slavery?

    The Southern slavers were driven by outcome, not process, in that quest.  They believed that only the expansion of slavery through control of the Federal government would ensure its protection and survival.  It’s why they demanded the Fugitive Slave Act establishing a new Federal court system to overrule state judicial proceedings; it’s why they insisted on the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 to overturn the prior compromises regarding the boundary between slave and free states; it’s why Dred Scott was so important because it didn’t just address slaves, it eliminated the ability of free states to determine the citizen rights of free blacks.

    It was only when the South began to see that with the higher growth in the North it would eventually lose control of the Senate, and that with the election of Lincoln it lost the control of the Presidency it had most of the time since the Founding that it decided secession was the only way to secure slavery and to correct the gross error made by the Founders in their declaration that all men are created equal because that statement left open the possibility that at some point in the future it might really mean all men.

    • #19
  20. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    I agree with you BSC.  Unfortunately you included a hot button in your examples and the thread has been hijacked.

    • #20
  21. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    Mark, can we stop pretending that the slave trade was just limited to Southern states? Who do you think ran most of the slaver ships to Africa, negotiated with the the African tribes to procure slaves at little cost? Northern shippers. Brown University had to fess up that one of their earliest benefactors was guilty of this. Slavery was a cog in the economic process at time as was the use of indentured servitude and child labor. In New York harbor, the most dangerous jobs were given to the Irish, because Slaves personal property were deemed to valuable to have damaged. The Irish, not so much. Thank goodness we have evolved from then and now believe these practices to be evil.

    • #21
  22. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Look Away:Re #13. Well Kate, that is the exact example of the moral preening I was talking about. This tyranny of the hindsight you espouse can pretty much be tracked to anything that exists in our civilization today. Thing all of those old buildings and sewer systems in New York and Boston were built by union labor? How about those first train tracks across the Continental US? How much of the seed capital for the largest University endowments were made off of the backs of 12 and 13 year old girls working in broom and milling plants 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for $1 a day? Should Europe tear down its Cathedrals, the Pyramids, the Roman aqueducts, the Great Wall of China? Let’s keep some perspective. I agree, given what we know today, Slavery is evil, but it still exists today despite a UN and all of the other things we know today. Get some perspective!

    actually, I agree with you about the moral preening. Though this isn’t what we’re talking about at the moment, I’m sympathetic to the complexity of the South’s situation and the cause(s) of the Civil War.  Strange to say, having read a lot about Germany between the wars, I am becoming more understanding about how those good people could end up doing unimaginably horrible things (more horrible, though this is not a good scale to be on, than American slavery) and find myself seesawing back and forth between humility (that could have/would have been me) and moral outrage (how could they?).

    I think that to avoid moral preening it’s important to have the humility, but to avoid moral incoherence, it’s important to have the outrage too.

    To me, the story of the guy with the withered hand is interesting precisely because it includes this kind of complexity—there is a real argument to be made on the Pharisees side. Twenty four hours! Not twenty four years—a single day, and Jesus could heal to his heart’s content! And what about the times when Jesus was on vacation (“withdrew across the Jordan”) weren’t all the people with withered hands having to wait until he got back?

    So easy to imagine that the whole message is “do whatever you want to do on the Sabbath—process doesn’t matter, people do.”  Except that its more complicated than that.

    Unless you’re the guy with the withered hand, standing in front of the one who can fix it. Than it gets very simple.

    Does that help?

    • #22
  23. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Dean Murphy:I agree with you BSC. Unfortunately you included a hot button in your examples and the thread has been hijacked.

    No, it hasn’t! We’re just broadening the narrative.

    • #23
  24. Look Away Inactive
    Look Away
    @LookAway

    Dean Murphy:I agree with you BSC. Unfortunately you included a hot button in your examples and the thread has been hijacked.

    I understand what you are saying Dean but I disagree with you. The point of this post was process. When we are looking at a historical situation with the idea to see how events occurred and how they might have been better handled, then we need to look at all sides of the equation and consider the motivations of all the parties in the environment that they existed. This makes emotion less the central issue, something that we accuse he Left of doing something all of the time.

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Ironically, the failure of bureaucracy comes from too much process and too little focus on good outcomes.

    • #25
  26. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    nevermind

    • #26
  27. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Look Away:Mark, can we stop pretending that the slave trade was just limited to Southern states? Who do you think ran most of the slaver ships to Africa, negotiated with the the African tribes to procure slaves at little cost? Northern shippers. Brown University had to fess up that one of their earliest benefactors was guilty of this. Slavery was a cog in the economic process at time as was the use of indentured servitude and child labor. In New York harbor, the most dangerous jobs were given to the Irish, because Slaves personal property were deemed to valuable to have damaged. The Irish, not so much. Thank goodness we have evolved from then and now believe these practices to be evil.

    Did I say the slave trade was limited to the South?  I did not because that would be inaccurate just as trying to claim that secession was driven by something other than the desire to preserve slavery is inaccurate.

    And before you come back with the next set of arguments that Southerners fought in te Civil War for many reasons, not just for slavery, I agree but that does not speak to why secession occurred in the first place.

    • #27
  28. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    To return to the original proposition of this post:

    One of the differences between the Right and the Left is that the Left is concerned only about outcomes while the Right is concerned about outcomes and process.

    I agree as it applies to politics today or at least as to how I think about issues.  If one views the Constitution as reflecting in its overall structure, not just the individual provisions, a valuable insight into what is needed to sustain a democratic republic in light of the troublesome past of democracy the forms of that document become of overriding importance to adhere to.  The failure to do so tears at the sinews of society and make it more difficult to sustain the republic in the long term.

    For me, that means I can be OK with policies I don’t like provided they follow Constitutional form and there can be policies I like that I can’t support because they violate the Constitution (most attempts by Congress to regulate abortion fit in this category for me).

    What I find increasingly distressing in recent years is that when I try to explain this to my liberal friends they simply do not understand what I am talking about.  For them, policy preferences should rule everything including the courts.  A common understanding of why the Constitution was structured in the way it was from a philosophical and practical perspective has disappeared.

    • #28
  29. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    After 8 years of experience in the real world practicing medicine – where substance (outcome) matters – I went to law school (naively and wrongly thinking I would be better able to practice unfettered by defeating the bureaucrats LOL). There, I quickly realized, shocked actually, that, on occasion process had completely subsumed substance. Further, this has been accomplished thanks to the supreme court’s (sic) construction of the 5th and 14th amendments. Much irony attaches.

    “Substantive due process” began as a concept purporting to protect unenumerated rights. What it has done instead is entirely contradictory. On the one hand, the court (sic) has created contentious rights seen only in penumbras by by erudite lawyers. On the other, through “procedural due process,” the same court has so burdened and infringed enumerated rights that they are increasingly difficult to actually exercise. Think property rights, for example or the increasingly difficult freedom of speech, assembly or religion. Another glaring example: who but an erudite, elevated lawyer could seriously misunderstand “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Process, among other things we are told, somehow makes “the people” not the people (like “exchanges created by the state” means either by the state or not by the state), thus the Second Amendment is no limit on the power of government.

    In sum, in chameleon-like fashion, progressives choose substance or process to accomplish their goals. For any given issue, no enduring principle matters. And the court (sic) accommodates them.

    • #29
  30. Blue State Blues Member
    Blue State Blues
    @BlueStateBlues

    I could not agree more with the original post.  I have been extremely disappointed in the King v. Burwell and Obergefell opinions, not because of the outcomes which actually don’t bother me all that much, but because of the blatant power grab used to get there – in one case the assertion that words in plain English do not mean what they say, and in the other the discovery of yet another new, hitherto-unknown “right” written between the lines of a Constitutional amendment that had nothing to do with marriage, the subject of the case.  We are no longer a nation of laws if laws do not mean what they say or can be conjured up out of thin air.  Such concerns not only do not bother those on the Left, they don’t even occur to most of them.

    • #30

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