Skip to comments.The Winter of Conservative Discontent
Posted on 12/11/2012 6:16:54 AM PST by Kaslin
As the white flag rises above Republican redoubts, offering a surrender on taxes, the mind goes back to what seemed a worse time for conservatives: December 1964.
Barry Goldwater had suffered a defeat not seen since Alf Landon. Republicans held less than one-third of the House and Senate and only 17 governorships. The Warren Court was remaking America.
In the arts, academic and entertainment communities, and national press corps, conservatives were rarely seen or heard. It was Liberalism's Hour, with America awash in misty memories of Camelot and great expectations of the Great Society to come in 1965.
That year, however, saw escalation in Vietnam, campus protests, and civil disobedience against the war. That August, there exploded the worst race riot in memory in the Watts section of Los Angeles, with arson, looting, the beating of whites, and sniper attacks on cops and firemen.
A year after LBJ's triumph, black militants and white radicals were savaging the Liberal Establishment from the left, while Gov. George Wallace had come north in 1964 to win a third of the vote in the major Democratic primaries with an assault from the populist right.
Below the surface, the Democratic Party was disintegrating on ethnic, cultural and political lines. Law and order and Vietnam were the issues. Richard Nixon would see the opening and seize the opportunity to dismantle FDR's coalition and cobble together his New Majority.
Today, the GOP strength in the House, Senate and governorships is far greater than anything Republicans had in the 1960s. The difference is that, then, we could visualize a new majority of centrist Republicans, Goldwater conservatives, Northern Catholic ethnics and Southern Protestant Democrats.
And we could see the issues that might bring them into the tent: a new Supreme Court, law and order, peace with honor in Vietnam.
When the Liberal Establishment collapsed during the 1960s, unable to end the war in Vietnam or the war in the streets, national leadership passed to the party of Nixon and Ronald Reagan. From 1968 to 1988, the GOP won five of six presidential elections, two of them in 49-state landslides.
The crisis of the GOP today is demographic, cultural and political.
Demographically, people of color are nearing 40 percent of the U.S. population and 30 percent of the electorate. These folks -- 85 to 90 percent of all immigrants, legal and illegal -- are growing in number. And in 2012, people of color voted for Obama 4 to 1.
The GOP trump card -- we are the party of Reagan, who led us to victory in the Cold War -- ceased to work 20 years ago. Then, George H.W. Bush, a war hero who had presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, the victor of Desert Storm, won 38 percent of the vote against a draft-evader named Bill Clinton.
Culturally, the causes of the 1960s' revolutions -- no-fault divorce, legalized drugs, "reproductive rights," teenage access to birth control, gay rights and gay marriage -- have either been embraced or become acceptable to most of America's young.
As a result of the sexual revolution promoted by the counterculture of the 1960s, the dominant culture today, 40 percent of all births in the United States are now to single moms.
With no husband, these women look to government to help feed, house, educate, medicate and provide income support for themselves and their children. For sustenance and the survival of their families, they depend on that same Big Government that Republicans denounce at their rallies.
As to the GOP's strongest appeal -- we are the party that will cut taxes -- half the country does not pay income taxes, and the GOP is about to surrender to Obama even on the tax front.
Republicans stand for bringing entitlements under control. But the primary beneficiaries of the big entitlements, Social Security and Medicare, are seniors, the party's most reliable voting bloc.
On foreign policy, the most visible Republican spokesmen are Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Both were unhappy with the withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. Both want to intervene in Syria and Iran.
What does America want? To come home and do our nation-building here in the United States.
The bedrock values of Reagan -- work, family, faith -- still hold an appeal for tens of millions. But the faith of our fathers is dying, the family is crumbling, and work is less desirable when the social welfare state offers a cushioned existence for life.
Conservatives need to rediscover what they wish to conserve and how, in a climate every bit as hostile as 1964 -- then await the moment when the country turns again to an alternative.
As it will. For our economic course is unsustainable. And our regnant elite are more arrogant than the establishment of the 1960s, though less able to satisfy the clamors of their bawling constituencies for more and more from a country that is approaching an end of its tolerance and an inevitable crash.
Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlements”. We worked and PAID INTO THE SS SYSTEM and INCOME TAXES that paid SS and Medicare benefits for the millions of the grannies and grampas of those on FR who will skewer me for saying this. - Meantime, Al Gore (you know, “lockbox” Al Gore) and his “colleagues” in Congress basically confiscated what we paid in for all taxes and diverted the funds to buy welfare votes in order to build their “constituency”. - If we can’t get term limits, we’re sunk.
spot on Ryan
Unfortunately "going Gault" will not fix this. Those in DC in both Parties think the "status quo" will, it won't. The question is how to reassert adult leadership.
Yes, they will blame capitalism.
Yet when the government ‘controls’ food, medicine and every other means of production with the shortages that will surely follow, these same people will trade for what they need on the underground black market: free markets hiding under the governments nose.
These useful idiots will use capitalism and probably not even realize it.
I'm certain Buchanan well knows that the apt comparison to LBJ's 1964 landslide against Republican Goldwater, is Obama's 2008 landslide against Republican McCain, with similar results -- Johnson's Great Society and Obama's Nationalized Health Care.
We expected that 2012 would be another Nixon in 1968 or even (hope springs eternal), Reagan in 1980.
That these did not happen is a tribute first and foremost to Obama's media-enhanced political skills and Democrats' party discipline.
Anyone -- especially Buchanan -- who remembers those previous elections well knows that Republicans won then, at least in part, due to wide-spread Democrats' disloyalty to their party.
We expected that to happen, and it did happen again -- just not quite enough for Republican victory.
Indeed, just the opposite: while Romney received more votes than McCain in 2008, if Romney had received just as many votes as George Bush in 2004, he may have carried the election (I'm talking overall votes, not electoral state-by-state, which I don't know).
So the problem appears not only that Democrats were more loyal than expected, but also, Republican were less.
History does indeed tell us that 2014 could be a good year for Republicans, and 2016 even better.
But by then, how much of Obama's political agenda will be permanent features of America?
This is supposed to ne heartening, and it’s true we were in a deeper hole back when. New Dealers ran the country (into the ground) for 50 years prior to the Reagan “revolution.” Somehow, though, it makes me all the sadder. Just think, we claw our way out of the Old Liberal Order, win record landslides in national elections, free market economists actually win Nobel prizes of all things, the American people get to hear of such a thing as conservatism let alone take it seriously, and so forth. Where does it lead us? To thus. Here and now, and this is all we have to show for it.
What’s the point?
As always, conservatives have allowed liberals to co-opt the language. SS and Medicare ARE entitlements. Because we paid in, we are ENTITLED to reap the benefits. Those who have NOT paid in receive HAND-OUTS; they are not ENTITLED to anything.
Do you know what the word “entitlement” means? Your making an argument for wy you’re entitled to it, not why you aren’t.
Oh, and no, you did not pay into the system. There is no system. Your money is gone. For you to be paid now they have to redistribute someone else’s money. Al Gore did not confiscate anything. He spent your taxes just like they spent any other tax. If you thought it was like insurance, you are a sucker.
GOP tax policy has been corrupt for twenty years, or more.
The hypothesis of Howard Jarvis and David Stockman - that the size of government can be reduced by "starving the beast" - has been definitively falsified. The goal was never cutting taxes, per se. The target was the beast, which is now devouring us.
Taxes are the derivative of spending. High spending REQUIRES high taxes.
Most GOPers have now conceded the point, even going so far as favoring tax cuts "because that increases government revenues".
Increasing government revenues was never the point of cutting taxes. The point was both legal - taking money for unconstitutional functions is wrong - and moral - the money is ours, not the government's.
Having surrendered on both of these fundamentals, GOP tax "policy" is simply incoherent.
The Republicans, or whatever follows their liquidation, must choose. If they vote for >$3 trillion in "public" spending, then they must accept responsibility for >$3 trillion in revenues. If they vote for $2.2 trillion in revenues, then they must also vote for an immediate >$1 trillion cut in spending.
Since they will do neither, they have become irrelevant.
Paying in doesn’t entitle you to squat. Also, you didn’t pay in.
Hand-outs can be entitlements. Who says otherwise? If we live in a world where your fellowman has a moral claim on your productivity simply because wasn’t as productive as you, and we do, then he is “entitled” to your money. Anyway, it’s not about co-opting the language, really. Though the language does confuse people. They are called entitlements because the gubmint has promised to pay them out, and the law gas been put on cruise control to ensure it happens.
I guess what disheartens me the most is that Europe is way ahead of us on this road and they still haven’t come to their senses. Why should I believe/hope we will be any smarter?
Here’s the thing: the current state of fiscal affairs in the US is unsustainable. If we were funding the deficit through conventional means, the US Government probably would have gone bankrupt in 2008 or 2009. Instead, the Federal Reserve is funding the deficit with $$ created out of thin air. I am convinced there is no Plan B here, because that would involve sacrifice on someone’s part and out current generation of politicians is too cowardly to risk that.
It may take a while, but eventually this will blow up in everyone’s face. When that happens, there will be a great financial reset and a lot of pain & mayhem. It may make the Great Depression look tame. However, it will be obvious to everyone that the System has failed—that will be the next opportunity for political transformation.
Unfortunately, in the lead up to that, people will demand MORE Government help & intervention as the current System becomes increasingly unstable.
“it will be obvious to everyone that the System has failed”
Okay, but what system? Based on every other recession, depression, panic, crisis, etc. it’ll be blamed on the free market ans laissez fairer policy. Bank on it.
I remember accidentally tuning in to see the History channel explain the 08 meltdown; they were backtracking for perspective ans still (STILL!) blaming Andrew Mellon’s tax cuts for the Great Depression. They can’t be beaten.
“it will be obvious to everyone that the System has failed”
Okay, but what system? Based on every other recession, depression, panic, crisis, etc. it’ll be blamed on the free market and laissez faire policy. Bank on it.
I remember accidentally tuning in to see the History channel explain the 08 meltdown; they were backtracking for perspective and still (STILL!) blaming Andrew Mellon’s tax cuts for the Great Depression. They can’t be beaten.
“Please presume their is an objective that good men should be working towards.”
There is an objective, or severale, but I’m not sure anymore what is the point of working towards it.
I hear ya. But what’s lost is lost; we go on.
Great article. I agree with everything he said.
He really means FEDERAL INCOME TAX ~ and he also means BY THE STANDARDS OF THE INDUSTRIAL AGE.
Traditionally (the time before you were born) at least half the working age adults would be unemployed ~ and neither would the children nor the elderly. That'd be about 70% of the total population outside the rope when it came to any sort of income tax.
Here's a snapshot of today's demographics: 0-14 years: 20.1% (male 32,107,900/female 30,781,823) 15-64 years: 66.8% (male 104,411,352/female 104,808,064) 65 years and over: 13.1% (male 17,745,363/female 23,377,542) (2011 est.).
We (husband and I) paid for YOUR mammy and grandpappy’s social security income all those years. We made good money, and the government TOOK a huge chunk out of it to cover YOUR mammy and grandpappy’s living way back when, and for welfare for the current crop of Obama voters’ recent ancestors. - Calling me a sucker at this point may make you feel superior; but I assure you, you aren’t. In fact, you’re snotty. - We are 66 and 69 and STILL WORK; and can make it fine, thank you very much, without So-So Security if we have to. - In your arrogance, one day, you may be reminded of your current self-congratulatory attitude.
“I used to think that if and when we have an economic collapse people would wake up and realize the Dems/Progressives/Communists screwed us. After the election, I no longer believe that. Any collapse will be blamed on CAPITALISM. People will buy it and things will get worse.”
Your observations are good. No matter how bad things may get, the left (and a growing number of Americans, approaching a majority) will ALWAYS blame “capitalism”, “the greedy Republicans”, “the evil corporations”, and of course, “the white racists”.
Pat Buchanan has written another fine piece here. For a couple of decades now he has been prescient about the future — yet because the problems he sees are not “resolvable” through current neo-conservative doctrine, he is often ridiculed here on FR.
Like many here, Mr. Buchanan sees “the crash” that is coming, with hard times for traditionalists and conservatives ahead.
If there is to be a solution, it will involve facing reality squarely on, understanding the implications, and embracing new objectives about what is coming down the pike and how to deal with that.
We have to confront the reality of “the divided nation”, and whether that nation could, or even should, survive intact. But the two “sides” have become so ideologically opposed, I don’t see how a reconciliation could be achieved, even if one is possible. Some kind of “split” may be coming, through which “the red folks” (and their respective states) may have at least a chance of survival. Without such a split, everyone goes down.
Let’s look back to one of the great disasters of history — the Titanic.
After the ship hit the iceberg, it sank from the bow downwards. As the bow filled, it pulled the stern of the ship out of the water into the air.
But the opposing forces between the weight of the sinking bow and the rising stern became too great for the ship’s superstructure to withstand, and it literally “tore itself in two”, just below the waterline (the “great noise” that those in Walter Lord’s book heard, but could not see).
Afterwards, the bow sank away. The stern momentarily settled back to the water, then it, too, sank to the bottom.
What if there had been a watertight bulkhead high enough on the stern side of “the break” high enough to keep the water out? Could the stern of the ship then survive?
This is the challenge facing “the reds”, and the leaders of the red states. That is, to “build a bulkhead” amongst themselves, strong enough that when the inevitable collapse comes, the “blue state bow” of the foundering ship (containing the “pilot house” of Washington, D.C) will split off and sink away, leaving the stern to float away on its own.
This will involve some measure of “quiet collaboration” between the Red States, so that when the national government collapses (possibly into chaos), that a new governmental framework can be quickly put in place to unite as a new confederation.
Traditionalists and conservatives must understand what is coming.
Then we must “build that bulkhead”.
I hope that is in deed happening because there will be vultures, the UN, ready to pounce and “save us” if we’d simply surrender our sovereignty to a “one world order”. A red state confederation may be our only salvation. Fine idea.
You may or may not have paid for my grandpappy’s retirement supplement. Neither you nor I nor anyone knows. Now you want me to pay for yours because, why, intergenerational turnabout is fair play? No, wait, you can get by on your own. Good, then what are you so excited about?
Calling you a sucker doesn’t make me feel superior. Realizing you are one and I’m not, at least as regards this particular issue, does. I only say it out loud because I think you should know.
I hope I will be reminded of this one day when I’m tempted to argue other people’s money is by right my own. I hope the contrast between me now and me then will make me ashamed.
IF “I” don’t know for certain that we paid your grandpappy’s social security stipend those years ago when we were paying taxes through the nose, what, then, gives you the cockiness to ASSERT THAT I NOW WANT “YOU” to pay for MINE? - Likewise, how do you KNOW that YOU personally are paying for MINE? - You can’t have it both ways. -
It will never come up hopefully, because while you will be required pay for 50 years or so, I assume that you have taken the vow to refuse accepting social security.
I haven’t taken a vow or anything. I just always assumed it wouldn’t be there when it was time. I haven’t ever knowingly taken any other kind of handour, including unemployment “insurance,” for which they similarly try to trick us into thinking we “paid into the system.”
You need to vow that you will never accept Social Security since you are going to play so high and mighty about other people that accept it in their old age, when they are tired and weak and old, after having being forced to pay for the privilege their entire working life of 50 years, all the while voting for the most conservative politics that they could.
Listen, me calling other people suckers for buying into the lie that the payroll tax is somehow tied to eventual SS benefits is not me playing high and mighty. Certainly it isn’t me playing high and mighty about people accepting benefits. Did you read my post, or only the word “sucker,” which apparently turns FReepers into kindergarten teachers. Quote me where I said they shouldn’t accept benefits. I wish people wouldn’t, but that’s something different.
You and others can’t wait to lecture, though, and as such slide my simple point. Which is not anyone in particular must not accept benefits. It is that you are not entitled to benefits on the basis of having paid into the system. You did not pay into the system. There is no such system. In order for you to be paid someone else’s taxes must be collected. You are a sucker if you buy into the mythical connecting between SS taxes and SS benefits. That’s all.
“after having been forced to pay for the privilege their entire working life”
See what you did there? People can’t help themselves, and gubmint banks on it. The implied argument is that other people must be forced to pay you for the privilege of growing old, just like you did for others before you and yet others will have to do for the generation that pays for you. You cast it as a moral connection, others as accounting. Neither hold for me, but the paperwork argument of paying into the system and getting you investment back when you retire is the weaker. And it is through it that the state makes suckers out of us.
Just vow that you won’t accept Social Security.
You can also post that method for how to evade paying the taxes for 50 years.
I think he was just sardonically pointing out reality, not calling you, per se, a sucker. It’s not like any of us had any choice in the matter.
The GOP has to push an amendment to the Constitution for term limits. That's just for starters.
Okay, but what system? Based on every other recession, depression, panic, crisis, etc. itll be blamed on the free market and laissez faire policy. Bank on it.
“Just vow that you won’t accept Social Security”
Just go eat a sandwich. (I can play the irrelevant, nonsequitur command game, too.)
“You can also post that method for how to evade paying the taxes for 50 years”
What? Have I been advising tax evasion? Did I say you’re a sucker for paying payroll taxes? Not any more than for paying any other tax. That was my point: that the money supposedly paid into the SS system isn’t special. That it is equivalent to any other federal tax.
I never said you are a sucker if you pay SS taxes. You can avoid them as cleverly as possible, but ultimately you don’t have a choice. They have an implicit gun to your head. What makes one a sucker is thinking the tax entitles you to something in return.
Well, as long as you plan on accepting SS after paying the bill for 50 years, then I guess it is OK if we all do as well.
No; ya’ll won’t get to. I’m sorry. - That other guy can send me some extra dollars, too. :O)