Be Afraid

This week’s podcast is a large as the plains that our guest, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) hails from. We go from Trump, to party loyalties, to Rubio vs. Cruz, to remembering Nancy Reagan, Camille Paglia, and more. With the Senator, we delve into his very public argument against Donald Trump as the party standard bearer, why he’s a conservative, and the upcoming battle over the next Supreme Court nominee.

Music from this week’s episode:

I’m Afraid of Americans by David Bowie

The opening sequence for the Ricochet Podcast was composed and produced by James Lileks.

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There are 29 comments.

  1. The Question Inactive

    When I read the blurb, I thought that Camille Paglia had died. Fortunately that is not true.

    • #1
    • March 10, 2016, at 11:38 AM PST
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  2. Hammer, The Member

    Crud… the very title makes me hesitate to listen. I’m already plenty afraid! What I need is good news; some insider information on how there is no way we will ever nominate a man like Donald Trump.

    • #2
    • March 10, 2016, at 12:00 PM PST
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  3. Yeah...ok. Inactive

    Look on the bright side, if Trump wins, the Republicans can continue to use “we only control 1/3 of the government” as their goto excuse.

    • #3
    • March 10, 2016, at 12:04 PM PST
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  4. Fricosis Guy Listener

    A Bowie tune that doesn’t get enough love. Nice call.

    • #4
    • March 10, 2016, at 12:19 PM PST
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  5. Red Fish, Blue Fish Inactive

    I agree with everything Sen. Sasse said. Unfortunately, a significant majority of the country either doesn’t agree or does not view their country in such a theoretical manner. He sounds like a professor lecturing. You can’t win an election like that. Great radio, awful politics.

    • #5
    • March 10, 2016, at 1:19 PM PST
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  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bill Whittle on the electoral race:

    • #6
    • March 10, 2016, at 1:25 PM PST
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  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It’s hilarious that John Podhoretz is still bothered by the “establishment” concept because recently in trying to disparage the idea he actually provided support for it.

    • #7
    • March 10, 2016, at 1:31 PM PST
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  8. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Red Fish, Blue Fish:I agree with everything Sen. Sasse said. Unfortunately, a significant majority of the country either doesn’t agree or does not view their country in such a theoretical manner. He sounds like a professor lecturing. You can’t win an election like that. Great radio, awful politics.

    I agree. I also think that just because Trump doesn’t lead with or formulate his communication with government restraint as the central theme doesn’t therefore mean he thinks he should be unrestrained or that he favors expanding the federal government role. It’s certainly a possibility, but I think people get far too certain in both directions about these kinds of things. Even with other Republicans like Dole, McCain, Romney. Or with the left.

    It’s all (mostly) about differing assumptions and givens. I think it’s clear that Trump shares for more of these with me than he does with the left or with fascists or other flavors of strong man. Definitely not perfect, but enough for me to view characterizations of lawlessness, statism, and fascism as less than convincing.

    There’s plenty not to like about him, but there’s at least significant overlap with conservatism there, and I think it unwise to discard it simply because we don’t like the pitch or the pitchman. Especially when our pitch hasn’t exactly been a doorbuster and when his has shown some success in attracting more people to our tent.

    • #8
    • March 10, 2016, at 1:48 PM PST
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  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    To tie things together, take the example of my own Representative Ted Poe.

    Like Sasse, he spoke of defending citizens from government overreach. So, after his election to Congress, he helped draft legislation for actions like selling federal lands back to the people and devoting the proceeds to the national debt. Not terribly controversial, right? It’s like telling Sesame Street to go fund itself, but instead of “Think of the children!” nonsense you’d hear “Think of endangered rodents!”

    What happened with his proposals and a hundred proposals like it from other Representatives? They collected dust. Why? Because the Republican party (like any political party) has a hierarchy and the interests of Tea Party freshmen are not a major concern of the leaders. The way Congress works now — when not simply delegating their authority to unelected bureaucrats — is a handful of party leaders meeting separate from their fellow Congressmen to negotiate their own proposals before submitting a book-sized convoluted lawyers’ mess to each house for an up-or-down vote. If any amendments are made, it is because the leadership permits them.

    In other words, “the Establishment” isn’t necessarily anything nefarious. It arguably arises from pragmatic strategies to navigate an ever more complicated and unConstitutional system of government. Leadership is needed. But when that leadership rejects the stated interests of most constituents, it becomes a curse.

    The curse is earned. That it has morphed into a meaningless insult in many minds does not negate the real problem.

    • #9
    • March 10, 2016, at 1:56 PM PST
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  10. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller:[…..]In other words, “the Establishment” isn’t necessarily anything nefarious. It arguably arises from pragmatic strategies to navigate an ever more complicated and unConstitutional system of government. Leadership is needed. But when that leadership rejects the stated interests of most constituents, it becomes a curse.

    The curse is earned. That it has morphed into a meaningless insult in many minds does not negate the real problem.

    Yes, and as I have been arguing: the establishment is fluid and not monolithic. People fall in and out of it, there are competing factions. Kind of like a royal court. There is plenty middle ground between a conspiratorial cabal versus a figment of the imagination. It bugs me to no end when people mock the very idea of its existence.

    • #10
    • March 10, 2016, at 2:09 PM PST
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  11. 1967mustangman Inactive

    What no hair for James?

    • #11
    • March 10, 2016, at 3:07 PM PST
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  12. Blue Yeti Admin
    Blue Yeti

    No one cares about my George Martin tribute…?

    • #12
    • March 10, 2016, at 3:08 PM PST
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  13. Reldim Reagan

    May I dispute the whole crack up – reformation thing. Remember the reformation happened quickly because there was a civil war which rapidly reoriented politics along sectional lines and focused everything around the issue of slavery and civil rights. The saliency of that one issue forced everybody to choose a side and stick with a party coalition.

    I don’t see a salient issue that will force the electorate to take a side and suppress other differences in an effort to win on that issue. It is wholly possible that the fracturing will reform into three parties – a center/center-right party that pulls away some “centrists” in the Democratic Party, a nationalistic Party that resembles France’s FN or Britain’s UKIP – pegged as right-wing but peddlers of more than a few lefty statist economic policies, and a truly Left party that moves to socialism at worst and looks at best like New Labour in the UK or the PS in France – a group that is basically the Social Democrats of the United States.

    • #13
    • March 10, 2016, at 3:22 PM PST
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  14. jonsouth Inactive

    This morning I woke up and my house was not on fire. I found this very beneficial as I was able to keep all my property and memorabilia, and didn’t have to deal with insurance companies. Also I am grateful that I live in a generally capitalist country.

    • #14
    • March 10, 2016, at 3:39 PM PST
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  15. Mate De Coolidge

    I didn’t know David Bowie was Ameriphobic

    • #15
    • March 10, 2016, at 8:30 PM PST
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  16. Douglas Inactive

    Mate De:I didn’t know David Bowie was Ameriphobic

    He wasn’t. Lived in New York for many years (and died there). But he both loved and feared America’s vast differences from the Europe he was comfortable in. America seemed overwhelming to him at times, like a vast beast that was beautiful and stunning to behold, but in danger of eating you at any moment. The only place in America he ever said he hated was LA (“They should burn the ****ing place to the ground”). He kept coming back here, though, a man bigger than life to a country bigger than life.


    Red Fish, Blue Fish
    :I agree with everything Sen. Sasse said. Unfortunately, a significant majority of the country either doesn’t agree or does not view their country in such a theoretical manner. He sounds like a professor lecturing. You can’t win an election like that. Great radio, awful politics.

    It sounded like a political Amway pitch. Convinces no one.

    • #16
    • March 10, 2016, at 10:40 PM PST
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  17. Titus Techera Contributor

    Reldim:May I dispute the whole crack up – reformation thing. Remember the reformation happened quickly because there was a civil war which rapidly reoriented politics along sectional lines and focused everything around the issue of slavery and civil rights. The saliency of that one issue forced everybody to choose a side and stick with a party coalition.

    Probably, it would be better to think of the post ’64 change in the GOP or the even more dramatic New Left takeover of the Dems after ’68. My reservation as to this comparison is, American parties have grown significantly weaker–although a party losing its own nomination process–a step up from just losing elections!–is a bit much by way of illustration… I think the slate of Dem candidates in 2020 will be oracular–I am not sure their party is as brittle as the GOP. It has at least the potential to turn into the majority party, though on a new basis–it is not clear America has or can have national parties anymore…

    • #17
    • March 10, 2016, at 10:54 PM PST
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  18. Titus Techera Contributor

    Douglas:

    Mate De:I didn’t know David Bowie was Ameriphobic

    He wasn’t. Lived in New York for many years (and died there). But he both loved and feared America’s vast differences from the Europe he was comfortable in. America seemed overwhelming to him at times, like a vast beast that was beautiful and stunning to behold, but in danger of eating you at any moment. The only place in America he ever said he hated was LA (“They should burn the ****ing place to the ground”). He kept coming back here, though, a man bigger than life to a country bigger than life.

    He also happened to fear American Christianity-

    • #18
    • March 10, 2016, at 10:56 PM PST
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  19. Hartmann von Aue Member

    The Republican Party should crack up, if Trump does win the nomination. And every sensible person should leave the party to make it happen. And Rob is right, sooner is better than later. I think Rob is also right that the Democrats can shatter as easily as the Republicans. If Sanders’ supporters think the party is shafting them, I don’t think that they will take it lying down any more than I think that the Trump crowd will take his being shut out the by the GOP or the real GOP and real conservatives, i.e. we of the #neverTrump persuasion, should take Trump’s nomination lying down.

    • #19
    • March 11, 2016, at 1:11 AM PST
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  20. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Last week Rick Wilson, this week Ben Sasse. The theme is pretty clear. Next week Bill Kristol?

    • #20
    • March 11, 2016, at 5:34 AM PST
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  21. Mate De Coolidge

    Douglas:

    Mate De:I didn’t know David Bowie was Ameriphobic

    He wasn’t. Lived in New York for many years (and died there). But he both loved and feared America’s vast differences from the Europe he was comfortable in. America seemed overwhelming to him at times, like a vast beast that was beautiful and stunning to behold, but in danger of eating you at any moment. The only place in America he ever said he hated was LA (“They should burn the ****ing place to the ground”). He kept coming back here, though, a man bigger than life to a country bigger than life.

    Ha, Thanks for the background but what I said was meant as a joke. We need a sarcasm button on this site.

    • #21
    • March 11, 2016, at 5:56 AM PST
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  22. Dr. Bombay Member

    BTW, thanks for putting all the podcast links on the main page! It makes multi-downloading so much easier for those of us who work in places where streaming is “discouraged.”

    • #22
    • March 11, 2016, at 8:16 AM PST
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  23. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I was struck by Peter’s comment that he found it “touching” that, during a visit to Germany, he saw a number of die-hard Communists singing the Internationale on the anniversary of the Red Army’s entry into Germany.

    I understand the comment, and it strikes me as strange that many people, Peter included, generally do not find nostalgia for the brutal, evil Communist tyrannies of the world to be objectionable, while we find nostalgia for the equally brutal, evil Nazi tyranny to be reprehensible.

    I think that the Nazi German and Soviet Communist systems to be about equally evil, just as I find Hitler and Stalin to be about equally evil.

    Why is this?

    I submit that it is because the Left has controlled the culture, and has whitewashed the evils of Communism. Think about it. Have you ever seen a pro-Nazi movie? Yet there are plenty of pro-Communist movies (Reds comes to mind).

    I think that the reaction to watching a bunch of Communist hold-overs singing the Internationale should be the same mix of disgust and horror that we would feel watching neo-Nazis singing the Horst Wessel song.

    • #23
    • March 11, 2016, at 11:12 AM PST
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  24. Titus Techera Contributor

    Ask me how I feel about it! Just ask!

    • #24
    • March 11, 2016, at 11:14 AM PST
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  25. filmklassik Member

    Agree with Mr. Sasse about the importance of “catechizing” every new generation on the Things That Make Us Special: Effective but limited government, and constitutional liberty. Amen.

    Alas, I also agree with Lileks that such catechisms would surely fall on deaf ears. If America is coming to resemble Western Europe, and it is, it’s only because a majority of Americans WANT us to resemble Western Europe.

    And how does any discourse on the verities espoused by Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Burke, Locke, Hayek, Sowell, Buckley, et al. compete with the sonorous declaration that “WE KNOW YOU ARE SCARED! VERY, VERY SCARED! AND WE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!”

    • #25
    • March 11, 2016, at 3:42 PM PST
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  26. Titus Techera Contributor

    filmklassik:Agree with Mr. Sasse about the importance of “catechizing” every new generation on the Things That Make Us Special: Effective but limited government, and constitutional liberty. Amen.

    Alas, I also agree with Lileks that such catechisms would surely fall on deaf ears. If America is coming to resemble Western Europe, and it is, it’s only because a majority of Americans WANT us to resemble Western Europe.

    And how does any discourse on the verities espoused by Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Burke, Locke, Hayek, Sowell, Buckley, et al. compete with the sonorous declaration that “WE KNOW YOU ARE SCARED! VERY, VERY SCARED! AND WE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!”

    That’s the thing. You need politicians who know what Sen. Sasse knows–but who speak in a way most Americans can understand. Who doesn’t know what it would mean to have effective government today–which is the only reasonably sure way of having limited government–doesn’t know politics, he just read a book about what it was like an hundred years back or more…

    • #26
    • March 12, 2016, at 12:02 AM PST
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  27. Judge Mental Member

    Blitzkrieg Casper segue.

    • #27
    • March 12, 2016, at 1:50 AM PST
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  28. Titus Techera Contributor

    Judge Mental:Blitzkrieg Casper segue.

    I’m holding on for segue in the Ardennes forest!

    • #28
    • March 12, 2016, at 1:57 AM PST
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  29. Hercules Rockefeller Inactive

    I understand senator Sasse’s concern about Trump being an authoritarian, but the constitution does provide a check on the executive. The United States Senate still exists and can provide a check against authoritarian overreach. The anger that has brought about Donald Trump can be traced to the Senate and House refusing to use their constitutional powers to stop Obama’s authoritarianism.

    • #29
    • March 15, 2016, at 10:54 PM PDT
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