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Confessions of a Low-Information Voter

 

Obamacare’s regulations run to about 11,000 pages. I don’t even want to read the first page. I’ve heard that F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is a wonderful book that conservatives should read. I don’t want to. If you’ve read it, I’ll take your word that it’s a seminal work.

Obviously, I didn’t think my way to conservatism. My heart led me.

I don’t like bullies. In fact, I beat one of them up when I was about 11 years old. Oh yeah, I beat the hell out of Rusty on the school grounds of Mark Keppel Grammar School in 1949 and left him crying in the dirt around second base. Rusty was a mean bully who threw the first punch. Ask anyone who was there.

Rusty the schoolyard bully is the equivalent of the hard Left today. They’ve used the IRS to harrass conservative non-profit groups. In California, they keyed the cars and intimidated businesses who dared to support Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriage). That is, they don’t merely stop patronizing offending businesses; they try to shut them down. And violent mobs show up on college campuses to intimidate conservative speakers like Ann Coulter and Charles Murray.

I’m on the Right partly because it’s the Left who are the bullies these days.

I like America and I’m thankful for its opportunities. Perhaps all of those patriotic songs and military jet flyovers before NFL games had an effect on me. When I was a young man, my wife and I took a motorcycle trip around Europe, camping along the way. At the time, I was still, well, liberalish. One day we were standing in line for tickets to a Shakespearean play in Stratford-on-Avon. A hippily dressed American guy in front of us was telling the Brits around him how terrible America was. That wasn’t the only time on that trip that I heard an anti-American blowhard trashing his country.

Whenever the Left gets the chance, they always seem to compare America unfavorably to, well, almost any other nation, especially the Scandinavian countries. And when a bunch of ungrateful football players claim that America is a cesspool, leftists nod approvingly. I don’t particularly care for people or ideologies who find much to admire in dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela but can’t find much to admire in their own country.

I like fairness. I was the kid who insisted we all follow the rules in sandlot ball games and Monopoly. And no fudging at the starting line of foot races either, not even a single toe.

In another essay on Ricochet, I described a university search committee I was on—this was about 1986 or so. We were looking for a new English professor. We were told by the Dean of Racial Percentages (or some such) to hire a black or female candidate. So we tossed aside the applications from males. We never told the poor saps that they didn’t have a chance. We sent them the usual form letter of rejection, full of guile and lies. That’s not fair.

It’s the Left who want to move some ahead of others, largely based on race and gender—and then dole out advantages to those it deems more deserving (and the “deserving,” coincidentally, usually happens to be their core constituents). Affirmative Action, heartily endorsed by the Left, only seems to be fair. At its heart, it’s a terribly flawed and unfair program that has embedded discrimination into the law.

Let’s say you’re a dirt-poor white or Asian kid living next door to a mansion in which lives a young black lad, the son of a lawyer and a professor. Who gets preferential treatment in college admissions? Based entirely on the color of his skin, the rich black kid does. Treat everyone the same, MLK said. I liked that idea then, and I like it now.

When I was a kid, I roamed the streets of Compton like a stray dog. I liked that feeling of freedom. In these, my latter days, I hate guided tours and prepackaged vacations. I like to go to a city and roam around and discover things. At home, I would never buy a house in an area overseen by a home owners’ association. I want to be able to paint my house pink, erect ugly statues in the front yard, and fly the American flag—even upside down if that suits my fancy. And I want my neighbor to have that same freedom.

The Left hates freedom. What they love is a powerful State that can boss people around through the multiplication and enforcement of the elephant-eye-high stacks of regulations, each of which, no matter how benign, subtracts a tiny bit from the sum total of freedom. (By the way, I’m not an anarchist. I just want fewer regulations; the Left wants more and more.)

Obviously, I didn’t come to conservatism through the doorway of logic and reason. I was driven through by ideas formed, piece by piece, in my youthful heart—and without much consciousness or self knowledge on my part. “The heart has reasons,” so said Pascal, “that Reason itself does not know.” I believe that to be true.

Postscript: OK, I’ve read a few books, mostly 18th-century stuff, but my heart has been the driver in my journey toward conservatism. Swift, Johnson, Burke, and Chesterfield, et al., have been my conversational companions in the back seat. (We’re crowded back there.)

There are 53 comments.

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  1. Member

    KentForrester: (We’re crowded back there.)

    Should add a bit of that young fellow George William Frederick Guelph. He had some very interesting things to say in his writings.

    • #1
    • October 17, 2017 at 9:46 am
    • 2 likes
  2. Member

    What a perfect description of my own road to the Right. You expressed it better than I could.

    • #2
    • October 17, 2017 at 9:53 am
    • 9 likes
  3. Member

    KentForrester: I’ve heard that F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” is a wonderful book that conservatives should read. I don’t want to.

    I say just wait for the movie!

    • #3
    • October 17, 2017 at 10:51 am
    • 9 likes
  4. Member

    KentForrester: Obviously, I didn’t think my way to conservatism. My heart led me.

    Amen. I hate progressivism because it is heartless. It leads to heartless bureaucracies (or much worse) wherever it is tried.

    • #4
    • October 17, 2017 at 10:59 am
    • 12 likes
  5. Member

    Kent, this is a great post. It’s from the heart and I believe echoes most people at Ricochet. I love it!

    KentForrester: I’ve heard that F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” is a wonderful book that conservatives should read. I don’t want to.

    I heard there weren’t any pictures so I haven’t read it either. I’m not all that book smart, but I know right and wrong, good and evil, takers and givers. And bullies. Punched my last one in 8th grade and then we were good friends through high school.

    • #5
    • October 17, 2017 at 11:06 am
    • 6 likes
  6. Inactive

    KentForrester: Obamacare’s regulations run to about 11,000 pages. I don’t want to read even the first page.

    Just for the record, the Canada Health Act is only 9 pages long (or 18 pages, if you also count the French version).

    Just a wee bit of ammo for when your Democratic Party acquaintances try to compare Obamacare favourably to the Canadian health system. They are nothing alike.

    • #6
    • October 17, 2017 at 11:14 am
    • 14 likes
  7. Thatcher

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    KentForrester: Obamacare’s regulations run to about 11,000 pages. I don’t want to read even the first page.

    Just for the record, the Canada Health Act is only 9 pages long (or 18 pages, if you also count the French version).

    Just a wee bit if ammo when your Democratic Party acquaintances try to compare Obamacare favourably to the Canadian health system. They are nothing alike.

    Only nine pages? Where do you hide all the favors to special interests?

    • #7
    • October 17, 2017 at 11:19 am
    • 8 likes
  8. Member

    C. U. Douglas (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    KentForrester: Obamacare’s regulations run to about 11,000 pages. I don’t want to read even the first page.

    Just for the record, the Canada Health Act is only 9 pages long (or 18 pages, if you also count the French version).

    Just a wee bit if ammo when your Democratic Party acquaintances try to compare Obamacare favourably to the Canadian health system. They are nothing alike.

    Only nine pages? Where do you hide all the favors to special interests?

    Canadian health system screws everyone equally. That’s why the rich come to the US for treatment.

    • #8
    • October 17, 2017 at 11:22 am
    • 11 likes
  9. Inactive

    C. U. Douglas (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy (View Comment):

    KentForrester: Obamacare’s regulations run to about 11,000 pages. I don’t want to read even the first page.

    Just for the record, the Canada Health Act is only 9 pages long (or 18 pages, if you also count the French version).

    Just a wee bit if ammo when your Democratic Party acquaintances try to compare Obamacare favourably to the Canadian health system. They are nothing alike.

    Only nine pages? Where do you hide all the favors to special interests?

    At the provincial level.

    ;-)

    • #9
    • October 17, 2017 at 11:27 am
    • 6 likes
  10. Member

    @kentforrester, I own The Road To Serfdom, can’t seem to get beyond the first chapter without falling asleep. However, what I want to know, “Are you my twin?” I think I wrote the article you posted but mislaid it someplace. I was 11 in 49, beat up the school bully, who kept dipping my braids in the ink wells, and gave him a bloody nose at the water fountain. Stood in line for a Shakespearean play in Stratford-on-Avon in the 1980s, scolded family, friends, people I met who dis America, and declared to a cousin I hadn’t left the Democrat party, they had left me.

    • #10
    • October 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm
    • 11 likes
  11. Thatcher

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    @kentforrester, I own The Road To Serfdom, can’t seem to get beyond the first chapter without falling asleep.

    It is a snooze. I have it on tape. Took me forever to get through it because it putting me to sleep.

    • #11
    • October 17, 2017 at 1:28 pm
    • 3 likes
  12. Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    @kentforrester, I own The Road To Serfdom. “Are you my twin?” I think I wrote the article you posted but mislaid it someplace. I was 11 in 49, beat up the school bully, who kept dipping my braids in the ink wells, and gave him a bloody nose at the water fountain. Stood in line for a Shakespearean play in Stratford-on-Avon in the 1980s, scolded family, friends, people I met who dis America, and declared to a cousin I hadn’t left the Democrat party, they had left me.

    Kay, perhaps we are twins. You weren’t born in Terrehaute, Indiana, while your folk were on vacation from Oklahoma visiting aunt Flossie, were you?

    • #12
    • October 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm
    • 7 likes
  13. Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Kay, perhaps we are twins. You weren’t born in Terrehaute, Indiana, while your folk were on vacation from Oklahoma visiting aunt Flossie, were you?

    My folks came to CA in late 1937 escaping AR, but other relatives were in OK. My grandfather and great-grandfather are buried in OK. Heights of the Depression it was. They stayed for a time with Aunt Gladys so they wouldn’t starve. I was born shortly after they arrived in CA, but in Sacramento. We ought to get together to celebrate our 80th birthday.

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    It is a snooze. I have it on tape. Took me forever to get through it because it putting me to sleep.

    No better by voice, eh? Such a dull writer for such an interesting subject. Maybe someone on Rico could give a review and I can quit feeling guilty for not getting it read.

    • #13
    • October 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm
    • 3 likes
  14. Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Kay, perhaps we are twins. You weren’t born in Terrehaute, Indiana, while your folk were on vacation from Oklahoma visiting aunt Flossie, were you?

    My folks came to CA in late 1937 escaping AR, but other relatives were in OK. My grandfather and great-grandfather are buried in OK. Heights of the Depression it was. They stayed for a time with Aunt Gladys so they wouldn’t starve. I was born shortly after they arrived in CA, but in Sacramento. We ought to get together to celebrate our 80th

    • #14
    • October 17, 2017 at 3:24 pm
    • Like
  15. Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Kay, we reallly do have similar histories. My parents were Okies who migrated to California around 1939. They settled first in downtown LA, and later in Compton, where I grew up. BTW, my birthday is August 5. Who is the oldest? I left California for the Army in 1958 and never returned, except to visit my mom, dad, and sister. I currently live in Portland, Oregon.

    • #15
    • October 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm
    • 1 like
  16. Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Who is the oldest?

    I am the elder, March 4th. I currently live in Bigfork MT. Raised in Sacramento, but stayed with grandparents in AR a couple years in my early teens. I left CA 2002 for good, will never go back there. My mother’s uncle had a business in Los Angeles and wanted her and dad to move down there, but she said no. Her brother lived in Downey. Then she lived in L.A. from 1961 to 1980 then moved to Sacramento. She passed in 1998.

    • #16
    • October 17, 2017 at 3:48 pm
    • 1 like
  17. Thatcher

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    @kentforrester, I own The Road To Serfdom, can’t seem to get beyond the first chapter without falling asleep.

    It is a snooze. I have it on tape. Took me forever to get through it because it putting me to sleep.

    I saw a Reader’s Digest version that IIRC read in about 1 hour. About 30 pages, but I can’t find it right now. That version wasn’t too bad.

    • #17
    • October 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm
    • 2 likes
  18. Thatcher

    I read Road to Serfdom so you don’t have to. I will tell you what to think. Oh, wait, that sounds kind of lefty, doesn’t it.

    • #18
    • October 17, 2017 at 8:26 pm
    • 10 likes
  19. Thatcher

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    @kentforrester, I own The Road To Serfdom, can’t seem to get beyond the first chapter without falling asleep.

    It is a snooze. I have it on tape. Took me forever to get through it because it putting me to sleep.

    I saw a Reader’s Digest version that IIRC read in about 1 hour. About 30 pages, but I can’t find it right now. That version wasn’t too bad.

    30 pages? I thought the whole thing is in the 200-300 range. It has some interesting stuff but you have to take it in small dosages.

    • #19
    • October 17, 2017 at 9:38 pm
    • 2 likes
  20. Member

    Observing the world and coming to conclusions is thinking. That is not a heart thing, that is a head thing.

    Just because you didn’t read it written by someone else in a book doesn’t make it your heart at all. Did you fall hopelessly in love with Ronald Reagan or something, no?

    Original thought is better than other people’s philosophy.

    Conservatism is like science, it can be observed and the opposite can be observed and tested in the real world, not the philosophical world.

    It’s nice to have theory, but they had to observe the same way you did before they wrote it down.

    • #20
    • October 17, 2017 at 10:07 pm
    • 5 likes
  21. Member

    I came to my conservatism through Thomas Sowell. He speaks plainly and clearly like only a smart American can.. There are many ways to be a conservative.

    • #21
    • October 17, 2017 at 10:44 pm
    • 3 likes
  22. Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    I came to my conservatism through Thomas Sowell. He speaks plainly and clearly like only a smart American can.. There are many ways to be a conservative.

    Indeed. Although I’ve read only passages and occasional snippet from Sowell, what I’ve read tells me that he’s one of conservatism’s most valuable assets. Kent

    • #22
    • October 18, 2017 at 12:08 am
    • 1 like
  23. Member

    The Founders had no Left or Right. I like their perspective. They sought to establish Liberty and believed that Liberty is best protected on a scale defined with Tyranny at one end and Anarchy at the other (Tyranny is absolute power in the hands of a very few, Anarchy is absence of government). They believed that Liberty is found somewhere in the middle, closer to Anarchy (limited government) than to Tyranny. I heartily concur. I like Liberty because it suits my natural bent but also because it works out to provide the greatest well-being for the greatest number of common folks like me. When people are freer to enjoy the fruits of their own labor they tend to work harder, be more productive and be more inventive. As those fruits of their labors are taken from them they become progressively less so. (Is that why it is called Progressiveism???)
    It is no secret why Dictatorships and Bureaucratic Nightmarish regimes all have falling standards of living while the countries with the most Liberty have rising standards of living over time. And it doesn’t matter whether the ‘Rulers’ are designated Left or Right, if they constrain people’s Liberty too much the track is ever downward. That is why Reagan could confidently predict that the Soviet Union would end up on the Ash Heap of History, he knew that outcome was inevitable (he did help it along though).
    To quote Madison (from memory), “If men were angels no government would be necessary. If angels governed no constraint of government would be necessary.” So there must be balance sought, enough government to constrain the people from abusing each other and enough constraint of government to constrain the government from abusing the people. That was and is the sole purpose of the U.S. Constitution.

    The U.S. is still free enough to enjoy a rising standard of living but we could do much better. Some of President Trump’s actions, mostly reversals of the previous administrations, are moving us in the right direction on this. So while I can’t stand the man personally I applaud nearly everything he does, just wish he’d talk less and do more. And I’ll take actions over words every time.

    • #23
    • October 18, 2017 at 2:50 am
    • 6 likes
  24. Thatcher

    OkieSailor (View Comment):
    So there must be balance sought, enough government to constrain the people from abusing each other and enough constraint of government to constrain the government from abusing the people. That was and is the sole purpose of the U.S. Constitution.

    This is a beautiful encapsulation of Hayek – not just the economics, but individual freedoms, and liberty.

    • #24
    • October 18, 2017 at 3:39 am
    • 4 likes
  25. Reagan

    I promise. This is not staged. I cleaned the car a few weeks back. It used to ride in the center console for years. I gave up:(

    • #25
    • October 18, 2017 at 5:22 am
    • 7 likes
  26. Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Trink (View Comment):
    I promise. This is not staged. I cleaned the car a few weeks back. It used to ride in the center console for years. I gave up:(

    Ha ha. Think (autocorrect’s version of Trink), now you can read it in your workshop. Kent

    • #26
    • October 18, 2017 at 7:31 am
    • 2 likes
  27. Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    OkieSailor (View Comment):
    The Founders had no Left or Right. I like their perspective. They sought to establish Liberty and believed that Liberty is best protected on a scale defined with Tyranny at one end and Anarchy at the other (Tyranny is absolute power in the hands of a very few, Anarchy is absence of government). They believed that Liberty is found somewhere in the middle, closer to Anarchy (limited government) than to Tyranny. I heartily concur. I like Liberty because it suits my natural bent but also because it works out to provide the greatest well-being for the greatest number of common folks like me. When people are freer to enjoy the fruits of their own labor they tend to work harder, be more productive and be more inventive. As those fruits of their labors are taken from them they become progressively less so. (Is that why it is called Progressiveism???)
    It is no secret why Dictatorships and Bureaucratic Nightmarish regimes all have falling standards of living while the countries with the most Liberty have rising standards of living over time. And it doesn’t matter whether the ‘Rulers’ are designated Left or Right, if they constrain people’s Liberty too much the track is ever downward. That is why Reagan could confidently predict that the Soviet Union would end up on the Ash Heap of History, he knew that outcome was inevitable (he did help it along though).

    OakieSailor, this is a fine description of the virtues and benefits of freedom much better than I can do. You seem to have given a lot of thought to the matter. Kent

    • #27
    • October 18, 2017 at 7:35 am
    • 1 like
  28. Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    I came to my conservatism through Thomas Sowell. He speaks plainly and clearly like only a smart American can.. There are many ways to be a conservative.

    Amen. Brotha Sowell led me to the right as well.

    • #28
    • October 18, 2017 at 7:39 am
    • 2 likes
  29. Thatcher

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):Kay, we really do have similar histories. My parents were Okies who migrated to California around 1939. They settled first in downtown LA, and later in Compton, where I grew up. BTW, my birthday is August 5. Who is the oldest? I left California for the Army in 1958 and never returned, except to visit my mom, dad, and sister. I currently live in Portland, Oregon.

    I am the elder, March 4th. I currently live in Bigfork MT. Raised in Sacramento, but stayed with grandparents in AR a couple years in my early teens. I left CA 2002 for good, will never go back there. My mother’s uncle had a business in Los Angeles and wanted her and dad to move down there, but she said no. Her brother lived in Downey. Then she lived in L.A. from 1961 to 1980 then moved to Sacramento. She passed in 1998.

    Ok, stop it. You two are freaking me out.

    • #29
    • October 18, 2017 at 7:41 am
    • 3 likes
  30. Member

    JcTPatriot (View Comment):
    Ok, stop it. You two are freaking me out.

    Well, not being twins, maybe Kent and I are soul mates.

    • #30
    • October 18, 2017 at 8:33 am
    • 4 likes
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