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  • My Kind of Republican

       March 24, 2005

    I've been predicting the coming split in the Republican Party for nearly a year now. I'm not the only one. Today alone, Sharp As A Marble said:

    I've been battling with something for a while now. I really, really, really want to remove the R from my voter's registration card. I'm not a Republican, at least not in the sense of how the GOP sees themselves. To me, the only difference between Democrats and Republicans these days are basically defense issues. Neither party stands for smaller government, neither respects your right of liberty.

    While Glenn Reynolds quoted a Ryan Sager article which said:

    In coming years, political historians might look back and try to pinpoint the day or week or month that the Republican Party shed the last vestiges of its small-government philosophy. If and when they do, the week just past should make the short list. For it was in this last week that the Republican-controlled Congress made it clear that it sees no area of American life -- none too trivial and none too intimate -- that the federal government should not permeate with its power.

    My whole life, I've thought of Republicans as the party of liberty, both at home and abroad. Now I'm afraid many of them are nothing but Democrats in hawk's clothing. It's a depressing thought, but luckily it was easy to find some inspiration. To right the Right's course, one need look no further than Barry Goldwater. I just read his classic 1964 nomination speech again. I've never read a finer articulation of conservative ideals. I want to quote nearly everything in it, but I've chosen three passages that should resonate with those of seeking a return to a liberty-loving small government.

    I think this one is particularly interesting in light of this week of, as Sager said, "steroids and Schiavo":

    Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill that purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens. History shows us - demonstrates that nothing - nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets from bullies and marauders.

    Now, we Republicans see all this as more, much more, than the rest: of mere political differences or mere political mistakes. We see this as the result of a fundamentally and absolutely wrong view of man, his nature and his destiny. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.

    Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

    Even though he was speaking of communism, Goldwater's words still make a hell of a lot of sense when applied to our current War on Terror:

    It is further the cause of Republicanism to restore a clear understanding of the tyranny of man over man in the world at large. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the illusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression - and this is hogwash.

    Finally, I love this quote. Goldwater used the word "diversity" over and over again in this speech and it's interesting to see how, over the last 40 years, diversity has gone from being a natural result of small government to something that must be foisted on us by a far more powerful government:

    We see, in private property and in economy based upon and fostering private property, the one way to make government a durable ally of the whole man, rather than his determined enemy. We see in the sanctity of private property the only durable foundation for constitutional government in a free society. And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We do not seek to lead anyone's life for him - we seek only to secure his rights and to guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.

    It's long past time that our Grand Party return to some of these Old ideas. Let's put the "O" back in the GOP.

    Posted by at March 24, 2005 10:09 PM

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    #  March 25th, 2005 7:05 AM      JohnTant
    Kris, a few thoughts.

    People have been predicting a splintering and a fracturing of the GOP for the past 40 years or so. It hasn't happened, and I don't think this Schiavo thing is going to do it either, for quite a few reasons.

    The main reason centers around how the GOP is set up. We actually do a lot of arguing amongst ourselves, but those arguments are about principles. Are we going to do x or y, what's acceptable government, that type of thing. In fact, one of the debates has historically been between the more libertarian-minded guys who were left behind by the Libertarian Party jumping the shark and the older guard country-club types. Heck, think back to just a few years ago when "neocons" were going to destroy the party.

    Even now, the GOP is dealing with the internal debate of non-defense discretionary government spending. But this is not a new debate for the GOP. We had the same debate during the cold war. The resolution then was the same resolution it is now...that's to say, yeah we're spending money on non-defense stuff, but this is in the middle of a war for our survival. We can go back and fix the other stuff after we've defeated our foe.

    This is a healthy and normal thing for any organization. Yes, there are submovements within the GOP and conservatism in general, but on the big points it's not as tenuous as the press would have you believe. In fact, I'd say such debate is a sign of our VITALITY, not our demise. All movements have certain disparate factions. But that's a sign of intellectual growth and questioning. It's when the movement CEASES to have the debate and the argument that you have to worry (I give you, again, the Libertarian party). I guess the big theme here is if we didn't have arguing and debate and raised voices we'd be a bunch of small cults instead of a national party.

    I mean, let's put this in perspective. I think Congress did the right thing in intervening. I don't think James does, and I'm not sure you do. But on the major issues like loving free markets, low taxes, strong and effective national defense, and the others, we're in agreement. I'm not going to leave the GOP based on this, and I wouldn't have left the GOP if the votes came the other way.

    Let's contrast that with the Democratic party, where if you reasonably disagree with even a minor plank of dogma (as Larry Summers did), you're cast into exile.

    So if someone is trying to make the case that the GOP is going to split over this, he has to make the case that one major part of the GOP, like the low tax guys, just can't work with another major part of the GOP, like the defense-of-marriage guys. So far, that case hasn't been made. For the movement to fracture as it's being portrayed, you have to go beyond disagreement into a full blown you-guys-all-suck brouhaha. I mean, if Pat Buchanan and the paleos couldn't split the GOP, how can this?  
    #  March 25th, 2005 9:48 AM      kris
    Buchanan and his like failed to split the GOP simply because Ross Perot was insane. If he had been anything less than insane, he would have won the Presidency in 1992 and the Reform Party would probably even now be the home of the fiscal conservatives.

    In wartime, of course various factions in the party are going to suck it up and compromise for the sake of national security, but in peace, no way.

    I think the GOP is definitely more inclusive than the Democrats. For example, pro-choice voices aren't completely silenced like pro-Lifers were silenced at the DNC. But, look at some of the actions of the social conservatives. They repeatedly try to silence people like the Log Cabin Republicans.

    I'm afraid there will soon be a time when someone like me (and by that I mean someone who believes what I believe) will not have a comfortable home within the "big tent" of the GOP.  
    #  March 25th, 2005 10:32 AM      BVBigBro
    Hey, I already don't have a comfortable home in the GOP.  
    #  March 25th, 2005 11:16 AM      JohnTant
    Actually, I'm talking more about the paleo-neo "split" that predated Perot. It goes back to a 1986 meeting of the Philadelphia Society, when paleoconservatism first announced itself as a movement. It seemed to stem from Ronald Reagan appointing William Bennett over Mel Bradford as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities back in 1981. Instead of Bradford recognizing it was his own history that doomed him (think Zoe Baird, with Nazi/Civil War imagery), he instead chose to blame "neoconservatives" (a term with it's OWN checkered history) and a hijack of the party. In short, the paleo movement has it's genesis in frustrated political advancement. But the movement didn't split the GOP as it was then feared...and the paleos had a much more generalized and fundamental beef than the Schiavo case. Even as recently as 5 years ago, pundits were still claiming the paleo-neo "split" was dooming the GOP.

    But then these things pop up all the time. I also remember in 1992 when Clinton won the pundits were saying that was a wholesale repudiation of the GOP and it would fracture from the stress. Two years later the GOP won a Congressional majority.

    I'm curious Kris that you seem to typify today at being "in peace." I don't think so, not with troops deployed and terror threats warnings being a daily fact of life.

    My main point is that if we're going to have a "big tent," there will be internal squabbles and debates. What makes this a tempest in a teapot, in my opinion, is that the current squabbles are matters of genuine principle and honest, intellectual debate. If instead the goal is to have an insular and close group which agrees on everything, then the tent is going to fit about ten people. In other words, I don't fear internal debate and argument, because that's general arena-of-ideas stuff. Instead I fear a party too insular to have such debates.

    Oh and yes...I'm a huge nerd.  
    #  March 25th, 2005 4:27 PM      marcus
    Another problem Ross had was lack of a good base. People forget politics is a team sport and Ross started off building a pyramid with the top block instead of building that pyramid from the bottom up.

    There are reasons to be upset with President Bush. The first four years of runaway spending (the Dems are now whining about cuts, this is a good sign), the signing of the BCRA, and his wishy-washiness on immigration are items of concern.

    Some now believe the latest attrocity ist he Schivo case. Do we really want a government starving its weakest to death? I see this the same as fighting terrorists in Fallujah instead of Boston. I would rather fight the culture of death out on the fringes of life and death than closer to the center of the life spectrum.

    But on the whole I want the government fighting for the life of its citizenry, that is what it is supposed to do! I do not want the government dictating what color the blinds in my house should be.

    I too think the imminent death of Conservatism is hyped much more than it should be. The patron saint of Libertarianism Ayn Rand said a big country needs a big government. We are a big nation.  
    #  March 25th, 2005 4:54 PM      kris
    As far as the war goes, I think we're clearly on our way to winning the War on Terror. I'm not saying there's no danger of terrorist attacks, but we've certainly done a lot of work both dismantling al-Qaida and changing the Middle East.

    As a voter, I think about how I stand on the issues and find out where the candidates stand. Then, I have to rank the issues in order of importance to me. I think a lot of people do this. So, in 2004 terrorism and Iraq were still the most important issues to many people. They may disagree with the GOP on lots of other things, but this one issue is so important to them that it doesn't matter. That whole dynamic is why I do believe the War on Terror is the glue that help the GOP together.

    But, there's another dynamic that I think will tear it apart. We talk a lot about how the Democrats have no ideas. The problem when only one parties has ideas is that voters have nothing to choose from anymore. The choices are already made by the party leadership. That can lead to a lot of arrogance from that leadership. They're not going to give a rat's ass what the fiscal conservatives want, because what are they going to do, vote for the Democrats?

    As a small government conservative, I feel as though I'm being asked to vote Republican strictly out of party loyalty. Or, I'm voting Republican simply to not vote for a Democrat. Sooner or later, people like me are going to get sick of doing that and if there's a non-Republican option that we can at all stomach, we'll vote for it.

    All I'm saying is that I long for some candidates who will uphold more of what I believe in.  
    #  March 25th, 2005 7:53 PM      TheUnabrewer
    I think the split is different this time, John, although that could largely be selfishness on my part: "It must be more significant since I'm involved in the split."

    But as of now (and I came to this conclusion pre-Schiavo/steroids) I have no intention of voting for a Republican in 2008 unless some major course correction happens. I'm disgusted. Four years of gridlock won't harm the country, but a continued evolution into two big government parties will.  
    #  March 25th, 2005 10:01 PM      BVBigBro
    Amen Mr. Unabrewer.  
    #  March 26th, 2005 3:38 AM      jonts
    "war on terror" lol

    If you described the life in america during this 'war on terror' to the generation who lived through the second and first world wars-they would laugh in your faces and tell you to stop being hysterical big girls blouses  
    #  March 26th, 2005 10:28 AM      james
    jonts, i fail to grasp your point. are you making fun of the "war on terror" because it isn't a good enough war for you? you remind me of an obnoxious new yorker that moves to chicago and spends the rest of his life saying "you think this is traffic? ha! back in new york....."

    is it that you you think that the "war on terror" is a laughing matter? didn't look so funny on september 11, did it? every chance you and the rest of the left get you bitch and moan about the "war," but here you think it's funny?

    jonts, lol?
    #  March 26th, 2005 9:22 PM      jonts

    I think the war on terror was a useful invention of bthe repuplican political advisors to get Bush re-elected- sure 9-11 was a tradegy caused by extremist saudi/al queada terrorists but the republicans played the cards they were dealt very well.

    You have to be pretty dim to believe that military might can defeat terrorists- it doesnt- but F 16 and mech divisions do go down well in the US heart land among right wing voters.
    Sure you do need the military to fight terror- small groups of special focres to take out terrorsts/recon ; but the big hard items -ships planes tanks- thats all to give goosebumps to the impressionable right of centre voters in the US.

    Look what military might has done so far- toppled saddam and created a hornets nest of terrorists and unrest in Iraq. And now lebabanon is perhaps slowly sliding back into unrest after 30 years of stability under syria had resulted in one of the most liberal and vibrant economies in middle east.
    #  March 27th, 2005 12:46 PM      BVBigBro
    Well, where do I begin?

    1. "The war on terror was an invention by republican advisors" Get a grip on reality. 9/11 was real. The Taliban in Afganistan were real. Saddam Hussein was real.

    2."You have to be pretty dim to believe miltary might can defeat terrorists." Military might has an excellent record against terrorists. In fact, it's the only thing that has ever defeated terrorists. The vast majority of terrorists/revolutionaries/whatever you want to call them have wound up in graves, courtesy of various militaries.

    3. "F-16 and mech divisions go down well in the heartland". They go down even better on the coasts, where the majority of hardware is built and the majority of the military is stationed. All good solid democrat territory.

    4. Toppling Saddam was wonderful, the terrorists in Iraq now already existed. We are choosing to fight them in Iraq vs. fighting them here.

    5. Lebanon. Yeah, Lebanon has been stable for thirty years; if you don't count a civil war, a PLO invasion, an Israeli invasion, an Iranian Hezbollah invasion and a Syrian occupation.

    Perhaps we should erect statues to Saddam and Assad. They can have inscriptions like "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to live under a brutal dictator in the name of stability."  
    #  March 27th, 2005 9:45 PM      jonts

    "In fact, it's (military means) is the only thing that has ever defeated terrorists"

    Name me one conflict with a terrorist group that was solved by military means.  
    #  March 27th, 2005 10:15 PM      Laura
    ::: making popcorn and getting ready for the show :::  
    #  March 28th, 2005 8:16 AM      BVBigBro
    C'mon, I only have to name one? Let me go back to Roman times and recite a nice list. OK, I'll settle for Mr. T-shirt himself, Che Guevara, hunted down and killed by the military quite nicely. Hell, for that matter 2/3 of South America has had a Che they've killed. Then we had the Moros that Pershing dealt with in the Phillipines, last time I checked any number of terrorist groups were a combined 0 for 57 years against Israel. But I digress.

    Jonts, the danger isn't that militaries fail to kill off terrorists, they inevitably succeed. The danger is that very often the military then becomes the source of power in a country and you wind up with a good old military dictatorship. I don't think there is any danger of that in the USA.  
    #  March 28th, 2005 8:38 AM      JohnTant
    I don't want to get too much into the weeds on this, because I'm trying to put a "conservapalooza" post together and don't want to get too repetetive.

    Unabrewer, in the early 80s the paleo agitation makes this Schiavo business pale by comparison. It was full of all of the same rhetoric as well...with Stephen Tonsor breathlessly proclaiming of those newbies who dared come into the GOP and start making their preferences known:

    We are all delighted to see the town whore come to church even to sing in the choir but not to lead the service.

    The roots of this dispute go back to Reagan's election, when former liberals (derisively labeled "neoconservatives") voted for Reagan and started identifying themselves with the GOP. The roots of THAT go back even farther. By the time of Tonsor's announcement in 1986, most everyone in the GOP was involved, in one way or another. At the time I likened it to one group thinking Reagan was in office for the GOP (especially the Old Guard), and one group thinking he was there for conservatism in general.

    Kris, I think you have a point when you say the War on Terror is the "glue" that is holding the GOP together, but I do not believe it is the only glue. The GOP had a pretty good coalition put together even before 9/11. Things like ownership concepts, markets which are as free as possible, lower taxes, and yes, individual rights are more brands of glue.

    Does the Schiavo issue reverse the respect for individual rights from the GOP? I don't think so, because of the facts of the issue. Both sides in the GOP camp are using individual rights arguments, after all. In other words, the debate isn't of the principle itself (ie "should there be individual rights?"), but rather in how it is applied here. I just don't see that being the stuff of which national party splits are made.
    #  March 28th, 2005 11:18 AM      jonts

    The moros are/have still an active terror organisation.

    Che Guevara Brigade of 'terrorists' consisted of 40 men running around the bolivian country side with zero popular support... more like bandits.  
    #  March 28th, 2005 11:40 AM      BVBigBro
    But that's preciseley the point. While the military force was present, the Moros were reduced to insignificance.

    Virtually all terror groups eventually come to have zero popular support, they are, after all, killing their own people, thus rendering the military solution even more effective.

    The only thing terror groups accomplish is the creation of military machines adept at wiping them out.

    #  March 29th, 2005 12:54 AM      jonts

    "While the military force was present, the Moros were reduced to insignificance. "

    wrong, they were carrying out terror activities even with the military there -as we can see in iraq, even the US army with 120,000 men, and thousands of planes, tanks and helicopters are unable to prevent the insurgents/terrorist actions over there.

    The best way to exaplin this phenom. is simply- its like trying to kill a fly with a gun- impossible. On the other hand- the person with the gun feels powerful and his supporters feel as though "something is being done" even if its having little affect.  
    #  March 29th, 2005 8:20 AM      BVBigBro
    I fail to see the point. I don't expect any military or anything to make it physically impossible to do something. Much as I don't expect to the police to prevent any possible crime. They can and do, however, reduce it to levels of insignificance.

    The terrorists in Iraq have thus far accomplished exactly nothing. They are becoming less relevant and less numerous every day. They have failed to stop elections in both Iraq and Afghanistan, failed to eject the US military, and failed to influence a US presidential election. Their actions, and Al Qaeda's actions, have been reduced to the occasional roadside bomb or suicide bomber. You can see the phenomenon with the Palestinians and the Israelis as well. The terrorists are now reduced to the point of suicide bombings. Now carried out by women and children, or as we saw in last year's spectacle, mentally disabled children. Hardly signs of a thriving movement. In addition, they've been ejected from Afghanistan, they are no longer welcome in Libya, and with Syria's impending departure from Lebanon, they will soon lose there home there. It has been a bad three years for terrorists, all courtesy of military power.  
    #  March 29th, 2005 10:29 AM      jonts
    "The terrorists in Iraq have thus far accomplished exactly nothing."

    Well it's costing the US government 4,000,000,000 USD per month to keep an enormous US military presence in Iraq dealing with these terrorists; you- or any foreigner- cant even walk the streets in most areas of iraq.

    Frankly the terrorist operation in iraq is probably causing more damage (financial and human) to its target (e.g. US) than any other in history.

    Now, what were you saying about:
    "reduce(ing) it to levels of insignificance."  
    #  March 29th, 2005 11:14 AM      BVBigBro
    Well, they are insignificant. The 4 billion isn't to deal with terrorists. It includes all kinds of goodies totally unrelated to terrorists, but related to rebuilding Iraq and providing security. Not to mention the fact that a large portion of that money would be spent anyways maintaining that military force elsewhere.

    As far as human history, the Iraqi insurgency is a joke. Look at WWII. Look at what the USSR had to deal with after WWII. Look at Afghanistan pre- 2002. Obviously we disagree here. I don't like Bush. I simply will not vote for a Democrat who will sell out the country, negotiate with terrorists, and negotiate with the likes of Kim Jong Il as Kerry proposed. Until the Democrats get a realistic grasp of foreign policy, I have little choice.  
    #  March 31st, 2005 2:25 PM      mbrlr
    Please cast your mind back to 1964 and the context of the times in which Goldwater spoke. The conservatives Goldwater aimed for --- and to his credit later backed away from the ideologues, as y'all seem to be backing away from the RRR (religious right republican) Party --- were largely conservative Democrats in the South. The "bullies and marauders" language wasn't intended to be read as a threat to the racist whites in the South, but as a slam at the Freedom Riders and those working for integration. Honor Goldwater for his service in the Senate and to the people of Arizona and the United States, but not for that speech in those times.

    For an honorable and great Republican during those times, look to my home state of Arkansas. Winthrop Rockefeller led us out of the dark, dark days of Orval Faubus and was mindful of the great heritage of *liberal* Republicanism, both on the social and economic sides, and of the history of Arkansas as a relatively liberal state of the upper South. He was a great man and I honor his memory and what he did for all Arkansans, black and white.

    As a Democrat, of course, I'd be glad to see the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot as they become the RRR and lose vote. But I do know the history of the Republican Party and I would hate to see this happen both to it and to the country. We need two strong parties to keep each one honest.  



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