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The Republican Moment

November 5th, 2010 by Myrhaf · 15 Comments · Uncategorized

In his post-election press conference President Obama said,

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country and meet people where they live and where they work, from backyards to factory floors. I did some talking, but mostly I did a lot of listening.

This is nonsense. The Democrats lost over 60 seats in the House of Representatives precisely because they did not listen to American people. The people made it clear they did not want Obamacare. The Democrats ignored them.

For two years the Democrats governed without notice of the Republicans, ramming through such bills as the stimulus package. When Republicans argued for their position, Obama answered, “I won.” Now that the Republicans have won back the House, suddenly compromise is important again. Of course, to the left compromise always means Republicans cooperating in the expansion of state power.

As George Neumayr writes, Obama learned nothing from this election.

Obama received praise after the press conference for his “pensive” demeanor, but what’s stunning about him is his utter lack of reflection. He either has no capacity for critical thinking or what little he once possessed has dissipated in ideological reliance upon mindless cliché and sophistry. In any case, it is scary. At the end of the day, he is nothing more than a shallow pol with little interest in or knowledge of governing. He backed into the White House through effortless luck (he ran against one of the worst Republican presidential candidates ever), and apparently assumed that running the White House would be just as easy.

His shallowness also makes him obtuse, even from a rawly political and self-interested standpoint. He suffered one of the worst defeats in decades because of his environmental, socialist, and Brave New World dilettantism, yet spent much of the press conference talking about “electric cars,” gays in the military, and 26-year-olds who, thanks to his largesse, will get to stay on the health care plans of their “parents.”

Dr. Hurd warns us of the worst:

Republicans have a clear majority in the House, and possibly a working majority in the Senate. Obama now stands alone. And, my sense of the situation is: He doesn’t mind a bit.

Humbled? You’ve got to be kidding. I would love to have a candidate for capitalism and individual rights who’s as unyielding and unbending as this man is for socialism. This is a man who encouraged citizens to report opposition to his plan for socialized medicine to a special White House email address. What is this — a totalitarian state? Not yet, but if we did things Obama’s way, it would be. Watch and see. He will use the regulatory agencies of the federal government to ram through whatever he wishes in the coming two years. Who’s going to stop him? Republicans? Republicans have never stood on principle before, and have never stood up to a liberal Democratic President before. If they do this time, it will be different. I’m waiting and watching to see how they respond to this President’s forthcoming abuse of executive power. America is about to meet the real Obama. Fasten your seatbelts, because it’s not going to be pretty.

The Tea Parties are more important than ever because the Republicans need the American people to stiffen their spine and stand up to Obama, the MSM and the Washington establishment. The Republicans need to find the confidence to defend limited government, free market economics and individual rights. The Republicans need to throw off pragmatism and stand on principle. The Republicans need to cleanse themselves of the lingering stench of Karl Rove/George Bush’s compassionate conservatism.

This is frightening, uncharted territory for the Republicans. If they can get this right — by repealing Obamacare, cutting spending and lowering the deficit — then they will buy freedom time in America, and that would be an heroic victory. They’ve never done anything like this before, but then, they have never faced an intransigent leftist in the White House before. Obama’s consistent statism might help them be more consistent in the opposite direction.

15 Comments so far ↓

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  • Roger Theriault

    Boehner did say that the Republicans would henceforth stand on principle to oppose Obama and the Democrats, and not compromise. I’d feel better about that if I thought that Republicans knew what principles are.

  • Richard

    Myrhaf you once wrote that Obama has something to the effect of a “social metaphysics”. Do you still think that is a good way to describe him? It seems to me like he’s worse than that, or at least he only uses the reality of those around him when it compliments his emotions and desires.

  • Mike Bahr

    For as long as the Tea Party is associated with superstitious idiots like Sarah Palin, it will never reach the level of philosophical consistency it needs to challenge leftism in the long term. Ultimately, social conservatism is just as wrong as economic leftism and the Tea Party’s continuing association with the likes of Palin and the religious right has been the source of much of its self-inflicted wounds.

    I do hope that the right is able to effectively oppose Obama at least on economic issues, augmented by the clarity that comes from the president being so diametrically opposed to authentic free-market capitalism.

  • Lloyd Smith

    Mike Bahr said, “Ultimately, social conservatism is just as wrong as economic leftism”.

    Ultimately ‘social conservatism’ is worse.

    They’re both wrong, but ‘social conservatism’ comes from the religious right, is organized, and has had 2000-plus years to establish and entrench itself.

    The religious right believe that we should return to an earlier time, when we were MORE moral… but it’s the morality of self sacrifice they want to return to, which is what brought us to this cliff.

    However, both are absolutely fatal.

    Keep up the good work Myrhaf.

    Keep fighting guys!

  • Myrhaf

    Obama might be worse than I originally thought, Richard. I had hopes when he was elected that he might go the Clinton path of triangulation to keep his polls up, but so far he has not.

    On the Tea Parties, the jury is still out. The emphasis has been on limited government so far, which seems to bother Republicans almost as much as Democrats. I think a lot of the Republican establishment would be happier if the Tea Parties could be fit into the conservative box they are comforable with. The pressure on the Tea Parties to “get religion” will be great.

    Right now the best we can hope for is that the left is slowed down. Repeal of the health care bill would be a huge victory. Avoiding massive CO2 regulations would be huge. Privatizing the auto companies, getting government out of the housing industry, spending cuts — we’ll see how much gets done.

  • madmax

    I said this in another post but I’ll repeat it here. Leftists are beholden to altruism and egalitarianism. Many Conservatives see the destructiveness of egalitarianism but they simply can not shed themselves of altruism. To do that they would have to reject Christianity as Christianity elevated self-sacrifice to cosmic levels. Indeed, in Christianity’s worldview, it is only through the heroic act of Christ’s sacrifice that all of humanity can be redeemed and that mankind can achieve moral salvation from Original Sin.

    In the Christ mythology lie two of the most important elements of Conservative ideology: Original Sin / innate depravity and sacrifice and the restraint of human desire as the only path to individual happiness and social/political stability. No committed Conservative or Christian can ever reject altruism. To do so they would have to reject their views on Original Sin and human nature. Most won’t do that.

    I’m left with the conclusion that there will be no significant challenge to the Left and wellfare statism until Rand’s influence is great enough that there is a culture-wide pro-egoism movement. How quickly that can occur is an open question. Sometimes I think it could take forever, other times I think it could actually occur very quickly say if some brilliant director/screenwriter were to adapt the Ayn Rand novels the right way (and here I think ‘Anthem’ is the one they should do first – that could have a big impact if done right).

    Until there is a challenge at the moral level, I don’t see any meaningful counter to the Left although I am hopeful that the harsh economic reality can at least force a little common sense on Republican politicians. But that may be too much to ask. All the Left has to say to any proposed cuts to the welfare/entitlement state is: “but you’re being mean!” Can any Republican withstand that?

  • Mike N

    “All the Left has to say to any proposed cuts to the welfare/entitlement state is: “but you’re being mean!” Can any Republican withstand that?”

    They will have to if they don’t want a Democratic rebound in two years. The proper moral response to “but you’re being mean” is “hurting people is a strange way to be kind to them.” Republicans are inexperienced at throwing the moral argument back at the liberals and that’s because they share the same moral code of sacrifice. Now is the time for Objectivists to nudge the Repubs into using the moral argument.

  • North Bridge

    Early statements from both Boehner and McConnell have been as good as anyone could have hoped for. Both acknowledged that this was not a vote for the Republicans (which in itself is a sober observation coming from the leaders of the party).

    Boehner said in his victory speech: “With their voices and their votes, the American people are demanding a new way forward in Washington. And I’m here tonight to tell you that our new majority will be prepared to do things differently, to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried before in Washington – by either party. It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it. Reducing the size of government instead of expanding it …”

    McConnell said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation: “… if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.”

    As position statements, these are promising. Both men are publicly tying their political fortunes to a pledge to shrink the size of government. That is as good as we can hope for.

    Their commitment to oppose, undercut, and repeal Obamacare is also promising. Imagine if that had been done back in 1965 when Medicare was introduced, before anyone had become dependent on the program.

    The problem, of course, is that neither of these men is particularly sincere. An article on Politico outlines how Boehner is trying to place his loyalists in key positions in the House, so that he can go back to the political deal-making that he is comfortable with. I can’t vouch for it, but it has the ring of truth. Boehner is obviously no great ideologue.

    However, the Republican leadership at least understands what brought them back to power. At least they are not trying to “spin” their victory or downplay the significance of the Tea Parties. At least they are claiming to have learned their lesson, and to have abandoned Big Government Republicanism. If the Tea Parties keep vigorous pressure on them, my guess is that even pragmatists like Boehner and McConnell may stick to a course of reducing the size of government. As pragmatists, after all, they don’t truly care in which direction they are going. If acting like pro-capitalist hardliners keeps them popular and provides them with political power, then that is what they will do.

    There is a deep point here about the nature of secondhandedness. In a capitalist society where productivity and independence are admired as virtues, even the secondhanders will drift towards productivity and independence. Somewhat similarly, as long as the most vigorous political pressure is in the direction of “limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a return to the Constitution,” even pragmatic politicians are going to act like pro-capitalists.

    The key factor for all this to amount to anything, as many others have observed, is the continued energy and integrity of the Tea Parties.

  • J.

    It will be a dangerous blow to the implementation of capitalism if the current Republicans pay lip service to small government and capitalism, but fail to accomplish/bring about either. If that happens, then we will see Democrats (progressives) saying again, as they are now, but more firmly: “See, capitalism doesn’t work! It’s the free-market policies that got us into this mess again!”

    I am not going to get my hopes up about current Republicans. Our only hope is to establish gridlock to allow Ayn Rand’s ideas to become more prominent in academia. That’s where it matters most.

  • Jack

    so if you’re a republican right now how would go about reforming and abolishing SS or medicare ? I am sure there will be complaints about throwing our elderly on the street and the like. How do you combat such nonsense ?

  • J.

    Jack,

    SS and medicare shouldn’t be abolished in a day, so to speak. That would be unfair to those who have planned their lives around SS and medicare; therefore, it should be slowly phased out.

  • Lloyd Smith

    Jack and J.,

    Social Security being phased out… or abolished?

    We all know it ain’t happening w/o the necessary change in morality, from self-sacrifice, to rational self-interest as madmax commented very well on.

    We’re buying a little time by flip-flopping the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch during the elections… but that’s all.

    The Republicans are still just as clueless as the Dems and much more dangerous.

    I heard John Allison mention 25 years and Leonard Piekoff talks about a generation until ultimate failure of our Republic and we’re still moving in the wrong direction… but in-roads are being made.

    I don’t see any other (new or different) philosophy on the horizon to compete w/Objectivism. Kantian philosophy is dead as a movement… although it lingers.

    The battle is just starting…. but we’re building an intellectual army.

    Ultimately reality wins out… the question is, will it cost us this nation. If we go all will follow in the decline into Hell.

    My take….

  • madmax

    I don’t see any other (new or different) philosophy on the horizon to compete w/Objectivism.

    I agree with this in part. I do see a significant rise in an ideology I had not seen when I was younger. But that ideology is not a new philosophy but another version of empiricism; yet it is growing. I am referring to the growing tide of genetic determinism which is sweeping the Conservative movement; especially among more secularish Conservatives. Evolutionary psychology is the main influence here. This growing movement will not produce a liberty oriented culture but I wonder if it could compete with the Left over direction of the future; ie instead of an egalitarian collectivist future we see an ethnic, tribalist, traditionalist collectivist movement.

  • Jack

    phased out and eventually abolished yes. the republicans want to privatize it. in other words they want to save it. they ultimately share the same premises as the democrats so its not surprising.