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One Cheer for the Republicans
Chronicles Magazine ^ | 11/7/02 | Thomas Fleming

Posted on 11/08/2002 5:25:01 AM PST by JohnGalt

November 7, 2002

ONE CHEER FOR THE REPUBLICANS by Thomas Fleming

The Emerging Democratic Majority has to be the most hapless title of the decade. The New Republic's John Judis (or his publisher) had obviously timed the book to coincide with the Democratic Party's stunning congressional gains in the mid-term elections. If Scribners hasn't remaindered the book by now, they had better move quickly.

As a leftist, Judis used to be a perceptive social critic, but as a left-liberal, he cannot see beyond the end of the New Republic's masthead. The old Judis knew that liberalism was a bankrupt ideology and that even the tepid brand of conservatism hawked and vended in America held out a promise of something richer than the endlessly broken Promise of American Life offered by TNR founder Herbert Croly and his progeny.

The Democrats, whom the voters this week whipped like junkyard dogs that had strayed into Scarsdale, are refusing to learn from their mistakes. The problem was, they are sniffing, too many of their people caved into George Bush. Democratic congressmen have been too accommodating, too patriotic. Now it is time to go left and get tough. If the leftist Democratic Caucus in the House takes over the party, it is a Republican dream come true.

The 2002 election was about many things, but not about which ideology would dominate the American future. By and large, the candidates for whom George W. Bush campaigned conspicuously did well. The majority he holds in Congress may not amount to a mandate, but it does constitute a vote of confidence. The economy is in a shambles, but Americans do not appear to be convinced that a continuation of the socialist revolution is the answer. If the Democrats have their way, governments in the United States will confiscate 90 percent of all our incomes and, after reducing us all to helpless dependency, hand back perhaps 50 percent of what was ours in the form of housing allowances, free college tuition, health benefits, and subsidized euthanasia.

Apart from more radically Marxist policies, the Democrats have only one thing to offer: a cultural revolution that demonizes the American and European past and the middle-class American present. Their one promise is to import more and more unhappy minority groups and to invent domestic minorities out of thin air. It is no longer a question of blacks and Mexicans, or of women, children, and homosexuals. Now we have to worry about nonsmokers and vegetarians, retirees who invested in high-tech stocks, airline passengers who think they are allergic to peanuts, birdwatchers that fell out of a tree and cannot go on the Audubon Society's annual bird count. Small wonder that so many middle-class Americans regard the Republicans as the lesser of two evils.

Conservative Republican pundits would have us believe that the GOP is the party of the Old Time Religion, the free market, and classical civilization. The truth is, the Republicans do precious little to support any of the above. Republican voters are, however, superior to the Democrats in two respects: first, in being more normal as human beings and second, in supporting yesterday's revolution rather than tomorrow's. Where John Judis went fundamentally astray was his na¥ve assumption that the GOP could not constantly reinvent itself to attract its own Rainbow Coalition. By 1952, Republicans had given up their fight against the New Deal; in the 1980's they had signed onto the principle of special rights for any minority that could make its voice heard. And yet, most of us in the dwindling middle class prefer the Republicans.

From the perspective of Jesse Jackson, Republicans are always a day late and several million dollars short (time may be money, but Jesse measures time in unmarked bills), but the GOP's conservative and gradualist approach to social and economic revolution gives us the comfortable feeling that the cause is not entirely lost, and that by supporting Republican candidates we can delay the end of the world by a decade or two. When I was younger, back during the 2000 election, this did not sound like a great deal. Better to die suddenly than to linger on, better to be assassinated while fighting the good fight than to go through ten years of radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

But even a sick man can get something out of being alive. If he is not in too much pain, he can start reading all the good books he always intended to read but was too busy for; he can smell the burning leaves in the fall and remember fishing trips in Canada or twilight strolls through the streets of Rome; he can hold his grandchildren on his knee and give them bad advice they will never take. "Mere existence," as Dr. Johnson remarked, no matter how unpleasant is better than the alternative, and this holds for nations as well as individuals. Besides, in the next ten years, "they" might come up with a cure for cancer—or for the Western self-hatred that has brought us to this state.

I did not vote in this election, and I shall probably not vote in the next one. In fact, I shall never vote again until I am sure that by casting my vote I shall not find myself caring very much about the outcome. Neither party has candidates who are even willing to tell a pleasingly conservative lie. When the Republicans continue to talk about equal opportunity, I only have to look at my paycheck to see how they are robbing my children to create opportunity for some stranger's child. I reject their entire social and economic philosophy in principle as an unmitigated evil. Not voting is my way of being morally free, but I do not recommend it to others.

In fact, voting for Republican candidates may make our lives one- or two-percent better in some ways and may put off Doomsday by ten or 20 years. That is reason enough for many prudent people to vote straight-ticket Republican. What, after all, is their alternative?

In the past, I have almost always supported third-party candidates, but, as I have watched those parties dissolve into factional bickerings and seen too many of their leaders betray the rank-and-file by turning the campaign into an ego trip, I have become wary. Until a genuine social movement arises, one that is educating voters into serious republican principles, one that does not disappear between presidential elections, one that is not simply the vehicle of Ross Perot's (or anyone else's) vanity, I shall turn a deaf ear. Bill Clinton was probably no worse a President than Bob Dole would have been, but it is politically and morally wrong to work in a futile cause (futile because it will not survive the campaign) whose only effect is to strengthen the more evil party. As a general rule, I reserve the right not to vote for the lesser of two evils, but from now on I absolutely refuse to do anything to help the greater evil.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: conlibertarians; oldright; paleoconservative; traditionalists
I find myself agreeing with every word save a couple conclusions which illustrate the difference between the paleo-conservatives and the conservative libertarians.

I still vote based on two reasons: I receive pleasure from voting and winning much in the same way I receive pleasure in watching the New England Patriots. I realize it does not mean anything, but its one of the few blows I can strike against an alien culture.

Secondly, I believe, Republicans are ultimately the party that can better handle the change from an Industrial Era based politic to the new rules of the Information Age, rules yet to be defined. If 9/11 was the opening salvo in the new rules of international relations in the Information Age, I expect the transition to be a period marked by violence. Democrats support ever greater central control which will only serve to inflame the coming conflict between the haves if the Information Economy and the Have-nots of the inner-city welfare districts who will not like having first their welfare benefits sharply reduced and then the reactionary class who will not like having their jobs shipped all over the world (witness the reaction of IT employees to their jobs being shopped out to India for pennies on the dollar.)

The question that remains is short of becoming radical individualist (the course my wife and I have chosen), how can we preserve the bonds of community, the oral history of our families, the heroic tales of the forefathers, the brilliance of the Constitution...

1 posted on 11/08/2002 5:25:01 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JohnGalt
I did not vote in this election

This says it all. What a big baby.

2 posted on 11/08/2002 5:31:52 AM PST by Huck
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To: Huck
Jacobism is alive and well at FR.
3 posted on 11/08/2002 5:46:00 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JohnGalt
...from now on I absolutely refuse to do anything to help the greater evil.

Where is the logic here? (I certainly see the hypocrisy.) He spends almost the entire article saying how bad the Democrats are and yet refuses to help out the "lesser evil" which he says will delay catastrophe for a decade or so. What does the man want anyway? Political perfection? Not in this world.

4 posted on 11/08/2002 5:47:46 AM PST by OldPossum
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To: JohnGalt
Jacobism is alive and well at FR.

So is Libertarian nitwitery, apparently.

5 posted on 11/08/2002 5:49:06 AM PST by Cincinatus
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: JohnGalt
The Democrats, whom the voters this week whipped like junkyard dogs that had strayed into Scarsdale

I had resolved to stop gloating and enjoying the RATS discomfiture as of this morning. Then I had to log onto FR and read this.

I really don't like gloating. It's tacky and counterproductive. W set exactly the right tone yesterday. I know this with my mind. But I'm having so much fun being tacky that I think I'll gloat again today.

SOMEONE STOP ME BEFORE I GLOAT AGAIN!!!!!

7 posted on 11/08/2002 5:53:38 AM PST by ffrancone
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To: OldPossum
...from now on I absolutely refuse to do anything to help the greater evil.

His inaction soothes his fear of error. He's a wimp. Bystander. Gelding.

8 posted on 11/08/2002 5:57:14 AM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: JoeSixPack1
Fleming was one of the intellectuals (as important as Murray Rothbard) for the Buchanan runs in 1992 and 1996, so your analysis is not that accurate.

Are you still holding on to your Bush '92 and Dole '96 buttons?
9 posted on 11/08/2002 6:05:55 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: Cincinatus
Perhaps, but Fleming is a conservative...

10 posted on 11/08/2002 6:08:51 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JohnGalt
no but I got a Goldwater and A Nixon button :-)
11 posted on 11/08/2002 6:13:00 AM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: OldPossum
It's probably rooted in a protest to the neo-cons who would rather us Old Right racist anti-Semite anarchists libertarians/conservatives vote 'R' and shut up like the red-headed step child we have become.

It was Buckley, afterall, who excommunicated the Randians, the Birchers, and the radical localists, not the otherway around.

12 posted on 11/08/2002 6:20:26 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JoeSixPack1
"His inaction soothes his fear of error. He's a wimp. Bystander. Gelding."

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

As bad as some things is this country have gotten, we still have a chance to take an active role in setting them right. If one chooses not to do so, that's their right, but to present that abdication of responsibility as a virtue is morally repugnant to those of us who are trying in our small way to make a difference.

I don't expect the average person to run into a burning building to save someone, but if they later tried to tell me that letting the person burn was the right thing to do, I'd punch them in the mouth.
13 posted on 11/08/2002 6:29:39 AM PST by Media Insurgent
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To: JohnGalt
"but the GOP's conservative and gradualist approach to social and economic revolution gives us the comfortable feeling that the cause is not entirely lost, and that by supporting Republican candidates we can delay the end of the world by a decade or two. When I was younger, back during the 2000 election, this did not sound like a great deal. Better to die suddenly than to linger on, better to be assassinated while fighting the good fight than to go through ten years of radiation treatments and chemotherapy"

What is he suggesting and hoping for here? That we allow things to fall apart faster so as to not delay, by voting, a civil/revolution while we are still not outnumbered? Seems to me that is what he is saying. Off your rears, grab your guns and take it all back while the conservative middle class still holds a slim majority, voting only delays the inevitable? How freaking irresponsible if that is his message.

14 posted on 11/08/2002 6:43:43 AM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: JohnGalt
John, this is a thoughtful post. We seem to agree on a lot of essentials. But you may know from my other posts that I am an intensely partisan Republican and I am pretty sure that you are not.

We both agree (I think) that a constitutional republic with a federalist structure is, to date, is the best form of government. And we both seem to agree that the Republican Party has drifted far from those roots, having embraced the new-deal and much of the war on poverty.

That said, our choices are (1) to work within the Republican Party and try to move the country slowly back to its structural base as a constitutional Republic OR (2) to withdraw from practical politics by embracing third parties or by not voting--the theory there being that we just let the left crash and burn and we will then pick up the pieces.

Unfortunately, I regard the "let the left crash and burn the society" approach as a Galt's Gulch sort of fantasy. The likely results of crash and burn include such gems as South American style dictatorship or secession and civil war. They include no probable scenarios where the people come to their senses and turn the country over to Libertarians.

So what's left? Complete withdrawal from politics amounts to the crash-and-burn thesis, without taking responsibility for the probable results. And so I am left with the only remaining alternative. Build a power base within the Republican party that is consistent with taking power nationally (ie we can't move the sheeple too fast) and ultimately with moving the party and the country in the right direction.

This is obviously a project of many decades duration. But if we want a decent world for our children and grandchildren, a world where, as you so nicely put it "we preserve the bonds of community, the oral history of our families, the heroic tales of the forefathers, the brilliance of the Constitution... ", I see no real alternative.

15 posted on 11/08/2002 6:51:11 AM PST by ffrancone
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To: OldPossum
I agree, what an idiot! For crying out loud, if every conservative continued to vote for the lesser of two evils, just by that process of democratic evolution, for lack of a better term, we'd eventually have a very conservative country in a matter of time.

I have no patience for this display of apathy!!!!!!!! Heck, let's just all crawl in a hole and die.
16 posted on 11/08/2002 7:17:11 AM PST by Prolifeconservative
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To: ffrancone
A very thoughtful reply, and this being an anonymous posting board let me explain that every first Tuesday in November, I vote a straight R, or L if the D is unopposed. On FR, I will challenge the left leaning Republicans (or neo-cons) but put me in a group of leftists and I will preach only political cynicism. A Leftists cannot be converted to an R voter, so best induce cynicism and have 'em vote Green.

Leaving the political realm, we enter the debate which must continue to flourish on FR. If I happen to believe the country as we know it, is finished (the Fall of the Berlin Wall was the death knell of the large Industrial Communist state and also the large Industrial Welfare state) that belief has consquences to myself and my off-spring.

As what it means to be a citizen is redefined (and judging by the responses on this article, civics, Jacobism, and pulling levers every election and some muckraking on the Internet defines the 'good American') I think conservatives need to figure out what are we trying to conserve so that when this transition is over, whenever that might be, the essentials of, in my case Angle-heritage, will be preserved.

I could get into some selfish gene theory/go forth and multiply stuff here, but I think Galt's Gulch has already taken place. I believe radical individualists have won; witness that a computer and an Industrial age phone line can sustain myself and my family. So Galt, as a metaphor to the apolitical drop-out, as been achieved, in my view.

But life is more than economics, it is also politcal which brings us to this website.

Something is lost when 2500 Somalians show up in Lewiston, Maine, and demand welfare benefits; something is lost that no 2% cut in my tax rate phased in over 10 years is even remotely addressing. I say the problem is DC and a mostly Eastern educated ruling elite who slide in as elected reps, and when booted, go to work as a lobbyist or a government hack, no show job.

But lets be clear, we have folks calling 2002 a Republican triumphant but the top three legislative goals is a new cabinet level department and making a meaningless tax cut that barely keeps pace with inflation permanent (yes, permanently ending the estate tax is a positive) and troop movements in the Middle East.

Just 8 years ago, though it was a failure, the arrival of the House and Senate in GOP hands meant the end of Department of Education and the National Endowment of the Arts! Now we have all three branches and the best we can hope for is a hedge against inflation?

I dare say we are heading in the wrong direction poltiically. I will still vote, and I suggest you all do is well, but we need to talk about the real issues of actually 'conserving' something.





17 posted on 11/08/2002 7:30:08 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JohnGalt
Until a genuine social movement arises, one that is educating voters into serious republican principles, one that does not disappear between presidential elections, one that is not simply the vehicle of Ross Perot's (or anyone else's) vanity, I shall turn a deaf ear.

This is why I despise these so-called conservatives who sit out elections. They want someone else to do the work and the heavy lifting for them. If you want something done do it yourself. Building a poltical movement is a very long and tedious process. Your efforts may not even bear fruit in your lifetime. Slavery would never have been abolished if people like the author and today's libertarians were around back when the abolitionist movement was getting started in the late 18th century. First the abolitions were only concerned with stopping the slave trade. Then they moved on to banning slavery in Northern states. Then all they cared about was preventing it from spreading to the newly aquired territories. Even Lincoln campaigned only on preventing the spread. He would have never tried to outlaw in it the southern states had they not left the union. Had the abolistionists refused to vote for the mildly anti slavery politicians and allowed the pro-slavery candidates to win every time nothing would have ever been accomplished. This author wants everything right now and will get nothing.

18 posted on 11/08/2002 10:02:41 AM PST by rmmcdaniell
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To: rmmcdaniell
And Mssr. Fleming, as I noted, one of the intellectual polemicists for Buchanan in '92 and '96, despises so called conservatives who voted for Bush '92 and Dole '96 simply because there is an R next to their names.

As for the abolitionists, they were not above violence, carried deep hatred for Southerners, and were also marked by their anti-Semetism. They were most out-of-step with your average Conservative American for the time period. That kind of political reasoning led to a very bloody and costly Civil War, precicely what Fleming fears, and yet you hold it up as a model?

Frankly, I think you strengthed his argument.

BTW, "Slavery would never have been abolished" is an assumption on your part that would not hold weight under any scrutiny.
19 posted on 11/08/2002 10:09:19 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JohnGalt
Bill Clinton was probably no worse a
President than Bob Dole would have been,

The ointment was good....but this fly unacceptable.

20 posted on 11/08/2002 4:06:13 PM PST by gcruse
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To: JohnGalt
Well said my friend.

Regards,

L

21 posted on 11/08/2002 4:27:49 PM PST by Lurker
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