What Karl Rove and company did last week in the New York Times, claiming that their new “Conservative Victory Project” would cure the ills of a disappointing campaign cycle, is laughable. The so-called “Conservative Victory Project” is nothing more than an attempt by establishment Republicans to cull the conservative movement. Why does Rove think he has a monopoly on wanting to win?
At least Karl Rove and company are finally out front with their disdain for the conservative movement, and I am thankful for it. The battle lines are finally drawn, and conservatives should look at the New York Times article as our Lexington and Concord. This battle will be a long, hard slog against the establishment. Just this week, a Rove henchman attacked conservative leader Brent Bozell. But we will prevail, because we actually believe in core principles and a cause greater than our egos and money.
The time has come for honesty. We cannot continue as we are, pretending to party unity. The schisms are too obvious. We talk of “establishments” and “purists” as though we all want different things. Let me suggest that this is in fact, because we want different things.
Let us first talk of the Union. The Union is the Washington GOP, the New York GOP, the PAC bundlers and the white-paper policy writers. The crew that ran K Street and runs Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and National Review. The opposition from the old days, when conservatism was drowning in a sea of rad-libs and fellow travelers, and keeping the faith alive from one defeat to the next was the order of business.
The Union are Hamiltonian men, for whom the business of government is management. The economy is to be managed; the welfare state is to be managed. Sure, we can make sound argument that these things should not exist, that they are poisonous to the body politic. But we will not unmake these things, because the insanity of the Left is something we must also manage to. If we push too hard, the left will turn the Eye of Sauron on us, and the mushy middle will betray us, and we will get Goldwatered. We must manage the progressive rot of our liberties, because the alternative is progressively worse.
Then there is the Confederacy. People who have been paying attention to the Tea Parties from the beginning know that hostility to Bush-brand bailouts and “compassionate conservatism” was also part of their fury. They felt betrayed by the conservatives they had sent to Washington, who had suckled on pork and given us Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind. What was the point of electing Republicans, if this was what they got?
The Confederacy – Tea Parties, Breitbart, and Reason-reading, Hayek-quoting kindred spirts of that ilk – don’t want to manage the erosion of our liberties. They want to roll it back. They’re tired of having to defend a constantly shrinking circle of redoubts, which the progressives may attack at their leisure. They don’t want to fix Social Security; they want to break it in two. They don’t want to increase federal education spending; they want to end it. Because that word – liberty – which I hardly heard in the 80′s and 90′s, has suddenly returned to vogue. The conservative base has had it with diluted conservatism, with begging the Priests of Leviathan to please not change everything right this minute.
This divergence is at the root of all the strife amid Republicans, not just now, not just during the election, or during the primaries, or even during the first Tea Party primaries in 2010 (O’Donnell vs. Castle et. al), but further and yet further back. Yesterday Stacy McCain reminded us that Rush Limbaugh backed Pat Buchanan’s quixotic attempt to unseat Bush the Elder in the 1992 primaries.
Limbaugh knew that Bush was doomed to defeat in 1992, and that the key was to give conservatives a cause worth fighting for. After Bush lost, Limbaugh’s show became the focal point for the Republican opposition that triumphed in 1994.
We cannot win if we do not fight, if we do not risk defeat. Ace spoke on this yesterday:
Yes, taking the Strong, Uncompromising Position has a chance of moving the Overton Window in your direction, which the Weak-Tea Fudge Position does not.
But then, taking the Strong, Uncompromising Position can also move the Overton Window away from you, too.
It’s a high-risk strategy. As in investing, high-risk plays are the only ones that can generate high value rewards… but then they can also bankrupt you. You can make high-risk investments, but not too many of them, and you have to make such decisions only with great care and deliberation.
He thinks that Paul Ryan took the Strong, Uncompromising Position last year and that it blew up in our faces. People were terrified of messing with the government gravy train and so fell into the soft embrace of Obama’s orotund evasions. Perhaps, perhaps. But was this not instructive? Did we not learn something about the work that is before us? About the extent to which we are outflanked culturally and demographically? Did we not all, Establishment and Tea Party, come away with the understanding that we have to try harder, and in new ways, if we want to win again?
Perhaps not. Perhaps all the Union men came away with was the fact that we just got pummeled and that we should give the Beast whatever he wants so that he will eat us last. And Perhaps the Confederates learned only to Let it Burn, so that they can rebuild on the ashes.
But no election is ever the last one. We will have another chance, and soon. The question is, what will we use that chance to do? To maintain and manage, or to resist? Do we want to trim Leviathan’s claws, or do we want to kill the beast?
We need to make up our minds. Our enemies already have.
Actually, he asks about the income tax in general, given that almost 50% of Americans don’t pay income tax.
This is not a bug; this is a feature.
The income tax is a specifically progressive structure. It exists to do two things:
- Feed the Beast
- Give the Federal Government a permanent managerial role over the economy and the structure of society.
It’s a great idea if you’re a statist who wants government to grow big enough to control every aspect of its citizens’ lives.
And people keep ignoring this, because, egalitarianism.
When Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he declared that marriage is between a man and a woman. For the most part, his position was treated as a nonissue.
Now Rick Santorum is campaigning for president. He too says that marriage is between a man and a woman. What a different reaction he gets.
There’s no mystery why. Mr. Santorum is attacked because everyone understands that he means what he says.
President Obama, by contrast, gets a pass because everyone understands—nudge nudge, wink wink—that he’s not telling the truth. The press understands that this is just one of those things a Democratic candidate has to say so he doesn’t rile up the great unwashed.
And that’s why Tea Partiers are turning toward Santorum. Not because his policies and voting record are Tea Partyish — they aren’t. But scaling down government is but one side of the Tea Party. The other side, which we saw in glorious bloom in 2009, is the satisfaction of telling truth to power. Of asking representatives and senators “Look, just who the hell do you think you are?”
If Santorum doesn’t quite have that (no lawyer-cum-Senator possibly could), he does have a bracing determination to say “This is who I am. This is what I think. This is why.” So the Tea Party finds in him a kindred spirit.
Where it goes from there, I’ve no idea. But I wish him luck.
Last night I dropped the H-word. Even saying that strikes me as funny, because the slurs that have been applied to white people have always so struck me. “Cracker” has obvious snack-related joke connections; “ofay” seems to be a kind of breakfast cereal, perhaps an ersatz Cream of Wheat. Only “paleface” ever seems to really rise to the level of insult, calling to mind Aaron the Moor’s denunciation of melanin lack from Titus Andronicus:
Fie, treacherous hue, that will betray with blushing
The close enacts and counsels of the heart!
And “Honky”? I can never say it without imagining it in a warped child’s toy jingle, such as Homey the Clown might have sung:
What sails the seas
Brings you to your knees
Enslaves all your neighbors and friends
What slows your advance
But yet cannot dance
Everyone knows, it’s Honky!
So yes, when I use such a word as this, I use it with a great degree of studied irony. I am not “taking it back” from the African-Americans who invented it. I don’t even know if African-Americans use it much anymore. It seemed to have it’s highest cachet in the Black Power days of the late 60′s to early 70′s, but for all I know black people say it all the time when the ofays are out of earshot.
So this is not about double-standards; this is about being obnoxious to one’s political opponents. I have a theory, shared by many on my side of the aisle, that accusations of racism mostly serve one group of white people to discredit another group (the “wrong kind of white people” as Stuff White People Like puts it). Thus, Janean Garafalo’s almost reflexive accusation that the Tea Party must be racist.
Tea Partiers are by definition the wrong kind of white people, because they do not leaven their patriotism with shame. One sees significant cultural pressure, from academia and other instituions, which seem to teach whites to detest the culture that they come from and continually apologize for it. This is defended as a necessary corrective to past imperialism, even as it supports ever-greater authoritarianism on the part of the federal government, directed especially at those activities, such as public prayer and coal-mining, that the wrong kind of white people engage in.
There was much about last night’s post that was, to say the least, intemperate. But politics is in many ways the art of strategic intemperance, of marshalling pathos to achieve an end. Sometimes an obnoxious turn of phrase uncovers an unpleasant reality, such as the devotion of our chattering class to a cultural dialogue that achieved its goal fifty years ago (That’s right. The Sixties are now as far away as World War One was to the Sixties). Sometimes the truth needs blunt telling.
So, from time to time, as politics will provoke, I will use the H-Word to refer to those who insist that the historical sins of white Americans are unique and special evils that must prostrate their descendants, rather than manifestations of a common ugliness that all peoples, at various times, have shown themselves capable of. That white Americans have demonstrated no proof, and much counter-evidence, to their old claims of being God’s Favorite, I cannot dispute. That they are the greatest of all possible villains, I must reject with gales of mocking laughter.