Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Acceptable moderate betrayals?

It appears there are some betrayals of principle that republican conservatives seem to be less upset about than others. Ironically in some instances a horrible betrayal that has an immediate effect is often accepted as par for the course, yet certain populist attitudes, even if there is slight chance that that attitude it will manifest itself in sudden or major a change of policy, is grounds for immediate excommunication.

OK, I guess I'm sort of talking about Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan ironically would consider himself to the right of what currently passes for conservative orthodoxy (CO) on the issues of free-trade and foreign involvement. The gatekeepers of CO on the other hand have labeled these positions "populist." Buchanan agrees that it is popular, but makes a convincing case that it conserves the vision of the Founding Fathers.

It is a bit of a stretch to say that just because a thing is popular it is necessarily bad or that a politician who runs on these issues is necessarily low. In the case of the two above mentioned issues it is quite disingenuous and it hurts the party After all, it would be nice to win more elections and it is tiresome to lose elections based on betrayals of fiscal conservatism. Add to that the consideration that usually a politician has only sold out on the fiscal issues after wetting his appetite on the moral issues. To quote Ivanhoe "ruined on all sides, ruined on all sides!"

Fiscal purity is nonexistent because of the current state we have reached where representatives are expected to "bring home the bacon" or rather get as much of the pork barrel spending directed to their home state as possible. Newspapers openly tout politicians pork barrel spending directed homeward as a reason to send them back to Washington. The only way a politician can claim fiscal conservatism is to point to efforts they have made to keep the over-all budget down while directing their share of the booty toward more worthy projects.

Fiscally conservative is relative to the other pigs on the sow, so moderate is but a small step away, and it helps with re-election. One can even wrinkle ones brow or shed a tear if one needs to bolster ones reputation for fiscal continence without actually holding back. So I suppose it is understandable that folks have a hard time trying to hold a specific malefactor to account for stepping over a line that nobody has drawn or even talked about drawing. It is alarming enough that this issue has taken such a hit because of lack of definition so it is natural to attack on issues that can be defined.

This is why I would suggest that anyone who is against free-trade not say so directly, but instead talk about holding other countries to account for unfair practices. This will save American industry (and American jobs, be popular, and nobody can accuse you of being a populist. Trust me, if you can't end free-trade just by cracking down on all the countries that are cheating us then you probably aren't sharp enough to play in the big leagues anyway. Just make sure you don't hurt the interests of a certain lobby (for a country that relies on free-trade) and you can probably do whatever you want as long as you pronounce it properly.

Next it is a prudent approach to have a strong defense, it is necessary to have a sufficient defense. I would propose that a way to strike a middle ground on those two acceptable positions would be to be for more Special Forces (very popular) air power, and a smaller highly trained Army and Navy backed by a larger reserve and national guard. Without mentioning any names don't get on the wrong side of the you-know-who and you will have accomplished the nice trick of having kept that lobby in the fold without being an unpopular endless war party. They don't have anywhere else to go anyway, but they can be spoilers.

So yes there can be a party of principle that is popular enough to win most every election. I am not sure that party is the GOP, but it could be with a slight realignment of emphasis. We need to change the perception of what are acceptable betrayals and what conservative orthodoxy consists of in the first place. The founders protectionist principles secured a middle class, there is no reason it shouldn't get their votes now. I should add corporate welfare,but that needs another entry to do it justice.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is Free Trade a Conservative value?

To a certain extent conservative is a relative term; is can be defined in relation to liberal, but liberal is always going further to the left. This creates a situation in which a liberal, if he holds the same the exact same political views for enough decades might find himself to first be a moderate and then possibly might begin to style himself a conservative.

In another sense it could be said that Americans have a North star that constantly points the way. By using the Founding Fathers as a set standard to define what it is we want to conserve we can declare what is or is not conservative without reference to how far liberals have moved their sideline.

The Founders are the only well defined standard that Americans can look too; the 1950's are not a standard because that was an era, not a group of people or an ideology. Also the founders spanned a couple of generations, the 1950's was a decade. We must also consider that the 50's, and the culture and developments of the 50's must bare some responsibility for the 60's and the 70's.

On the other hand we can't do everything the same way the founders did because among other things the "West" was declared settled in 1890. The availability of unsettled free land available for homesteading in the West made for a different set of circumstances than exist now. To maintain the same dynamic, that of being a nation of sturdy smallholders, a few customs would be needed to conserve this historically rare bird.

Make no mistake, our country was never a collection of rugged individuals. It was a country of united, but mostly self-ruling states, and the states consisted of mostly self-ruling-counties. As to the counties self-ruling, very little ruling was necessary as the counties were composed of self-disciplined God fearing families. Even the head of a family, though he may be rugged, is hardly a rugged individual.

The whole family pulled together to make the farm or small shop work. Though things had improved from the time of the Pilgrims when the men might say "I like my women big, strong, and ready to work", none-the-less the men weren't doing this alone. Children were welcomed as needed help and even young children had small duties and responsibilities. The old-folks as well filled a role and this role was necessary and respected.

Because Americans made many things for themselves they didn't rely on imports, in fact the federal government relied on tariffs for much of its' income and people preferred this less intrusive form of tax-collection. Another benefit of reasonable tariffs is that it helps maintain local manufacturing even in the face of dumping and currency manipulation. This is a net positive for national security as well as economic security and without economic security there is no national security.

Free-trade was not a part of the founders vision; the founders and the following generations set tariffs. They also steered clear of "foreign entanglements" and I can't help but think that because Americans were not heavily invested in so many countries through trade we were able to mostly stay out of their wars as well.

International wars follow international trade for the simple reason that international trade is almost a type of soft warfare between nations; there is no such thing as friendly competition only winners and losers. To prevent trade-wars we have to set up international governing bodies to settle disputes and to do that they must have authority over the national governments. So we see that international trade ends with international government. I don't think anyone can call that conservative.

Monday, November 2, 2009

GOP's appeal to moderates

By definition a moderate is supposed to be a reasonable creature who avoids the extremes that persons of a more passionate or less balanced mentality might go to.The moderate, we are told, votes for the man who shares his calm, balanced view. In reality, the self-identified moderate probably is a person who votes according to mood rather than principle.

This is why the idea of appealing to moderates by loosening one's principles doesn't make one more attractive. Most of the so-called moderates never look at a politician's ratings or voting record, but rather rely completely on the Main Stream Media for their information (actually for their take masquerading as information.)

The MSM doesn't provide information so much as shading and puffing, terms for misinformation that is just short of a lie. I should add that the MSM isn't above a lie if they can make it look plausible or accidental-like. Also the term moderate is hard to pin down so it can easily be redefined at will by anyone with enough chutzpah to move the definition of the related extreme, be it to the left or the right. In other words, it is not a self-defined term.

This is why a republican candidate, short of being to the left of their democrat opponent, can rarely get credit for being a moderate, so the moderates, even if we believed that they exist as portrayed in common imagination, don't even know the republican candidate reflects their values.

So the republican who has sold out on principle doesn't get the support of the rarely photographed, informed and committed moderate. Also he can't attract the unaffiliated voters with appeals to his upstanding character, the rightness of his principles (which he doesn't have) or his colorful or memorable comments in defense of those principles (which he has never made).

In a word such a candidate is objectively boring, somewhat contemptible as a sell-out who is willing to sink to any level to pander for votes, and he stands to lose votes from conservatives which makes him less electable! In the mean time the press will prop up the Democrat and attack The Maverick as always. Good luck with that!

We may not like the Democrat/Republican stranglehold of the pendulum , but short of a miracle it is what we are stuck with. Because we rely mostly on conservative Republicans to fight for traditional values and the traditional freedoms such as the right to practice our religion and the right to bear arms, the election of a moderate republican means these issues are losing ground.

While we look with hope at the new crop of conservative democrats, that is all it is - hope, there is not much of a track record, and in some cases to the extent that some of them have shown themselves (Bob Casey Jr.) they are liberal as a dog's hind leg. While a Christian may or may not be a conservative republican in good conscience he can not in good conscience be a liberal on the life or marriage issues.

Add to that the concept of subsidiarity which has been so fleshed out in authentic Catholic social teaching that it is hardly in the realm of prudential judgement. Besides Rerum Novarum, Pope Benedict himself has recently written against so-called liberation theology. It is well settled that socialism and Christianity are fundamentally opposed; the socialists have recognized this for years and have been trying to destroy Christianity (which is why they attack the family.)

While one could say that the republicans preach laissez-faire capitalism, they certainly don't make law that way. In fact most new laws by definition are hands-on! It would be easy to realign them away from the big business/socialist/capitalist mix and start to take on a small business/widely disbursed ownership type of capitalism. After all what they are doing now has failed; only a new idea can beat the old socialism.