Paul Scott challenged us to look at what Eric Garland, a Progressive blogger, has to say and to take it seriously as a way to win the White House. Paul is right — we cannot make a convincing argument unless we know what our opponent in the argument believes. Insulting Paul doesn’t make us stronger. Rather than spin around in our own fish bowl, we have to look at what others are saying, correct their misconceptions, and either challenge or concede to their arguments head-on.
In that spirit, I’m taking a serious look at Eric Garland’s post. I’m not giving anything away here when I say that, having weighed it carefully, I’ve found it wanting.
Eric might also want to look seriously at conservatives, since he seems to be have accepted several canards propounded by the media and other liberal sources. In that regard, I would remind him that the Wheel of Political Fortune has tended to rotate in roughly eight year cycles: Reagan’s conservativism got 12 years (counting Bush); Clinton’s Progressivism got 8 years; Bush’s compassionate conservativism got 8 years; and Obama is now getting his 8 years.
Whether Obama will also get his own addendum years, as Reagan did with Bush Sr., remains open to question. Americans are a generous and forbearing people, but unless Obama significantly improves the economy, or significantly re-educates Americans so that they lower their economic and employment expectations, Obama’s next four years may be the Democrats’ last four for a while.
Let’s start with Eric’s contention that he is the kind of voter that Republicans seek:
- My family lineage goes back to the MAYFLOWER, BOAT ONE!!! (Garland family of New England-> John Adams -> Howard Alden -> Plymouth colony ->KINGS OF MUTHAF***IN’ ENGLAND)
- I am a heterosexual, married to the super Caucasian mother of my two beautiful children who are, inexplicably, EVEN WHITER THAN I AM.
- I am college educated (Master’s degree!) and affluent.
- I am a job creator and small businessman.
- We pay a lot of taxes! Every year!
- I grew up in a rural area and despise laziness!
- Having started my own business, I have complained at length about the insanity of federal, state and local bureaucracy – and its deleterious impact on the innovative small businessman.
- I currently live in the suburbs in a historically Red state.
I’m not sure Eric is the perfect specimen he thinks he is. Or rather, he’s the perfect specimen only if you accept his rather ugly view of conservatives.
Family lineage: As a first generation Jewish American conservative, I was unaware that the Republican party had admissions criteria based upon 1950s WASP country club rules. To the contrary, the Republican party, unlike the Democratic party, does not classify people by race, religion, or country of national origin. Instead, it seeks values voters. As I use it, and as the the conservatives I know use it, the term “values voters” should be understood to encompass constitutional values such as individual liberty; market-based capitalism; small, affordable government; freedom of speech; freedom of worship; etc. In other words, the oldies, but goodies. These are values intrinsic too all Americans regardless of the divisive victim identities that the Democrats and Progressives have sought to impose on the American body politic since the 1960s. We understand that people like Eric can’t help their boring lineage. They are still welcome amongst conservatives.
Sexual orientation and race: By boasting repeatedly about his, and his family’s, whiteness and heterosexuality, Eric sounds a little too much like a candidate for the KKK (which was, as his high education level surely informs him, a Democrat connected party). Eric’s obsession with his race and sexuality highlights the Democrat/Progressive habit of parsing Americans into sexual and racial boxes. Honestly, we conservatives really don’t care about those archaic, eugenicist classifications. What we do care about are shared values, tied to the Constitution. I know bunches of gays, whites, Jews, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics (and whatever other little boxes Progressives like to check) who believe in limited government.
What all conservatives have figured out is that, once government gets big enough (and ours certainly has gotten that big), it can start picking winners and losers. That’s good for the winners. Unfortunately, as Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Communists, and the mentally disabled discovered in Nazi Germany; as Kulaks discovered in Soviet Russia; and intellectuals and glasses-wearers discovered in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, if a Big Government identifies you as a loser, you’re pretty much dead. The smaller the government, the less risk for minority groups. Ideally, as the Founders perfectly understood, one wants a government that’s big enough to protect all of its citizens, but not one so big that it does what Eric does: parses them into “in” groups and “out” groups, and then punish the “out” groups.
College educated and affluent: It’s great that Eric and his family are college educated and affluent. I’m sure his mother is very proud. It may come as a surprise to Eric that many conservatives are educated too. And almost as many conservatives have spent many years trying to unlearn the Left wing pap that made up that education.
The real world doesn’t put the same premium on the Ivory Tower that the Ivory Tower puts upon itself. Womyn’s Studies contribute little to intellectual attainment or economic betterment. And if you’ve got an MBA predicated on Keynesian economics — well, you’re about to see that economic view take a hit in the real world, just as it did when Roosevelt put it into effect (with the Depression massively worsened under his aegis), or when Europe put it into effect with its now-collapsing soft-socialism, and as America will see play out as the Harvard-educated Obama continues to pick winners and losers in today’s economy.
The secret that hasn’t yet infiltrated the Ivory Tower is that governments are slow, inefficient, and corrupt. They analyze data inefficiently, apply their analyses unfairly, and then pervert the market (using taxpayer money) to prop up their so-called “winner’s” failures. Today’s education, which is directed at creating a Leftist man, rather than a broadly educated man, is nothing to boast about.
A job creator and small businessman. Again, that’s great. Conservatives believe that job creators and small business people should support conservative values, because lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less government control (not no government control, but less) enhance small businesses and create more jobs. We find bewildering the number of small business owners who willingly vote for politicians who impose ever greater burdens upon them, stifling their building to thrive and grow.
Pays lots of taxes: Eric sounds almost enthusiastic about those taxes. One wonders if he’s ever asked himself if the government makes better decisions about spending that money than he does? I’m sure Eric doesn’t quarrel — and neither do I — with government spending it on core government functions that all civilized nations support, such as national security, roads, public health, etc. I wonder, though, if he’s thought seriously about the economics and morals of taking stimulus dollars and deciding which businesses, interests, and individuals should get special treatment using American tax dollars. Likewise, I wonder if he’s ever considered the wisdom of tethering people more and more tightly to welfare by taking dollars out of the market and then having the government channel those same dollars to people rendered unemployed by the deleterious effect high taxes have on jobs.
Rural and not-lazy. Again, good for Eric. Republicans like rural, not-lazy people. Republicans also like suburban or urban not-lazy people. Basically, Republicans like people who are willing to put some energy into living their own lives, rather than sitting back complacently, waiting for a hand-out.
Complained about bureaucracy: It’s rather peculiar that Eric hates bureaucracy, but still supports Obama and his Democrats. This headline explains my bewilderment: “Obama Administration Proposes 6,125 Regulations And Notifications In Last 90 Days.” Why would someone who dislikes the burdens of a large bureaucracy vote for the candidate whose promise is to increase government interference in and control of every aspect of our lives?
Red Stater: I bet Eric likes living in a Red State. His taxes aren’t as high as they could be (try living in Blue California), and he’s not dealing with the failed economies that plague the Blue States (have I mentioned California?). In other words, Eric is living well thanks to Red State, conservative values voters, who have supported lower taxes and more individual freedom. It’s ironic and sad that his current goal is to reduce the entire United States to a wacky economic combination of Detroit (bankrupt), California (bankrupt), Illinois (bankrupt and corrupt), and other blue stated wonders, filled with “smart” people and big debt. It’s not just the states that are bankrupt. Bankrupt states produce bankrupt individuals.
(Thinking about this makes me kind of sad that I didn’t pursue my original law school goal of becoming a bankruptcy attorney. It seemed like such a great idea during the recession that existed when I was started law school. As the Reagan economy improved, through, I rethought things, and went for general business litigation. Now would be a good time to be a bankruptcy attorney. Take a firm like Wadhwani & Shanfeld, for example, which clearly started as a two attorney enterprise, and now has five offices scattered throughout meatless-Monday Southern California. That’s the great thing about America — there’s always a silver lining for someone. Also, I like that firm because it’s quite clear that the founders are from different cultural/racial backgrounds, but they came together to create a successful all-American enterprise. Woo-hoo!)
But back to my main point….
Per Eric’s definition, the modern Republican party would desperately like to look like the old Democrat KKK, which utterly fails to explain why it celebrates extraordinary people and politicians such as Mia Love, Marco Rubio, Allen West, Herman Cain, Bobby Jindal, and other Americans who are concerned more with values than with little boxes on government survey forms.
Eric reveals his blinkered view of conservativism when he claims he is a prize of the type conservatives seek. It’s nice that he pays taxes, creates jobs, is educated, works hard, and lives in a Red State, but he’s flattering himself a little too much. It isn’t what he is taxes and education that matter, when it comes to elections, it’s what he believes — and honestly, his beliefs aren’t so hot. What Eric believes leads down a single road: higher taxes; fewer jobs; continued Leftist educational indoctrination; higher welfare and food stamp rolls; a population made up of disparate groups all vying to be crowned “biggest victim”; and Red States joining their Blue compatriots in bankruptcy and corruption.
Perhaps if Eric could see beyond his Jon Stewart, New York Times, MSNBC definition of conservatives, he might realize that the conservative ideology offers him and others a great deal more than he ever imagined, without interfering too greatly with what I assume are his core values. Let’s take his critiques of conservatives one at a time:
Science – One of the reasons my family is affluent is that my wife and I have a collective fifteen years of university education between us. I have a Masters degree in Science and Technology Policy, and my wife is a physician who holds degrees in medicine as well as cell and molecular biology. We are really quite unimpressed with Congressional representatives such as Todd Akin and Paul Broun who actually serve on the House science committee and who believe, respectively, that rape does not cause pregnancy and that evolution and astrophysics are lies straight from Satan’s butt cheeks. These are, sadly, only two of innumerable assaults that the Republican Party has made against hard science – with nothing to say of logic in general. Please understand the unbearable tension this might create between us and your candidates.
As far as I can tell, in the last election, it is a sad truth that the Republican party managed to field a few idiots, such as Todd Akin, Tom Smith, and Roger Rivard, who are genuinely ignorant, in a very mean-spirited way, about rape. Otherwise, though, Republicans are like other Americans, in that they understand that horrors of rape and the morally difficult consequences that result from rape.
Thus, conservatives recognize that rape is a terrible thing, one that becomes a permanent, damaging part of a woman’s psyche. What some pro-Life conservatives say, though, is that this purely an evil act may nevertheless have resulted in something good: an innocent life. To them, it would compound the evil of rape if it was followed by the murder of an innocent. They are not unsympathetic to the rape victim, they just believe that, in the balance, two wrongs don’t make a right.
I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with them, because the topic deserves a post on its own. I’m simply saying that candidates such as Paul Ryan, Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, and John Koster have set out a moral position that has nothing to do with science. In the same way, there’s nothing science-related about Barack Obama’s repeated willingness to oppose a bill that would have required physicians to care for late-term babies that, rather than being aborted as planned, end up living.
The question of an innocent life within a full-realizedwomen is one of morals, not science, and it’s a profound cognitive error to conflate the two. Also, I can’t resist adding that, when it comes to idiots, the Democrats have managed to field quite a few of their own cranks, crackpots, gaffe-meisters, and other mean-spirited, ignorant people. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that, while the Republican idiots didn’t get elected to office, the Democrat idiots did.
Climate – Within just the past 18 months the following events have come to our attention: a record-breaking drought that sent temperatures over 100 degrees for weeks, killing half the corn in the Midwest and half the TREES on our suburban property – AND – a hurricane that drowned not New Orleans or Tampa or North Carolina but my native state of VERMONT. As an encore, a second hurricane drowned lower Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island. The shouted views of decrepit mental fossil Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that this is a fraud perpetrated on the American people by evil, conspiring climate scientists is belied by such events and is looking irresponsible to even the most skeptical.
I’m always amazed at the way supposedly educated people confuse correlation and causation. The one does not imply the other. That is, just because we’re seeing impressive climate events at the same time that most Americans drive cars doesn’t mean the two are related.
Most conservatives willingly acknowledge climate change. Indeed, they’ll go further than just focusing on the changes that took place since Al Gore, in the early 1970s, was convinced that the earth would soon freeze over. They’ll concede that the earth’s climate has been changing non-step since the earth first came into being.
Where conservatives differ with the self-identified scientifically brilliant climate change crowd is in believing (a) that human activity can change climate and (b) that warming is a bad thing. (The picture below is of Greenland, which was once Green and sustained significant Viking colonies.)
With regard to human activity, conservatives admit that humans can affect the environment, most notably with pollution. Most conservatives believe that they are the earth’s stewards and that this stewardship requires acting responsibly so that we do not make filthy the world around us, or carelessly destroy nature’s bounty. We do not believe, though, that the climate change crowd has adduced sufficient evidence to show that today’s bad weather is human-kind’s fault. News about Climategate, or the profound errors regarding Himalayan glaciers, indicates that we are right to be suspicious. (Regarding glaciers, for example, we know that they’ve advanced and retreated relentlessly for most of the earth’s lifespan.)
And with regard to the apocalyptic view of warming, those of us reasonably conversant with history know that a global warming trend is good for humans. It increases the growing season, releases more water (which is essential to all human existence), and makes available more land on which to grow food. For example, the periods both before and after the mini-Ice Age were good ones for human development.
A few more things to throw into the mix: We know that it’s only since Victorian times that people have been keeping accurate weather records, which means that we’re basing a lot of conclusions on only 150 years of data. We know that the computer models on which much climate hysteria is based have frequently proven wrong. And we know that many of the problems we’ve seen from hurricanes have happened, not because hurricane are worse (and after all, our records are only 150-200 years old), but because we have very dense coastal populations. It’s like the difference between a fatal car crash involving one passenger and a crash involving seven: it’s the same crash, but the mortality rate in the second instance is seven times greater.
Healthcare – My wife and I are quite familiar with America’s healthcare system due to our professions, and having lived abroad extensively, also very aware of comparable systems. Your party’s insistence on declaring the private U.S. healthcare system “the best in the world” fails nearly every factual measure available to any curious mind. We watch our country piss away 60% more expenditures than the next most expensive system (Switzerland) for health outcomes that rival former Soviet bloc nations. On a personal scale, my wife watches poor WORKING people show up in emergency rooms with fourth-stage cancer because they were unable to afford primary care visits. I have watched countless small businesses unable to attract talented workers because of the outrageous and climbing cost of private insurance. And I watch European and Asian businesses outpace American companies because they can attract that talent without asking people to risk bankruptcy and death. That you think this state of affairs is somehow preferable to “Obamacare,” which you compared ludicrously to Trotskyite Russian communism, is a sign of deficient minds unfit to guide health policy in America.
Eric’s analysis about the US healthcare system works only because he is relying on the WHO metric –that is, he’s looking at access, not quality. I’m not going to beat this horse here, because I don’t have to. Scott Atlas’ masterful The Worst Study Ever explains the difference between socialized and American medicine, as well as the flaws in the WHO study. More than that, he does so concisely and in terms even the well-educated can understand.
There’s no doubt that the pre-ObamaCare American system was inefficient and needed improvement. Turning it into England’s National Health Service, however, which serves the young and healthy sort of well, but is bad news for others, is not the way to reform American medical care.
War – Nations do have to go to war sometimes, but that Iraq thing was pretty bad, to put it mildly. Somebody should have been, I dunno – FIRED for bad performance. Aren’t you the party of good corporate managers or something? This topic could get 10,000 words on its own. Let’s just leave it at: You guys suck at running wars.
Eric might want to explain what happened in Libya, which was Obama’s war: Why did we go in, how much did we spend, and what did we get for the money, aside from some murdered Americans, including the first U.S. Ambassador killed since 1979? Eric might also want to look into the skyrocketing deaths on Obama’s watch in Afghanistan — deaths that are wasted, because we already know that they will be followed, not by victory, but by retreat. Lastly, Eric might want to contemplate that, since 1900, most of the wars in which America got involved started on a Democrat’s watch: WWI (Wilson), WWII (Roosevelt), the Korean War (Truman), the Vietnam War (Kennedy and Johnson), and the war in Libya (Obama). Perhaps having a stronger hand at the helm might have avoided those wars in the first place.
Deficits and debt – Whenever the GOP is out of power, it immediately appeals to the imagination of voters who remember the Lyndon Baines Johnson (!) administration and claim that the Republican alternative is the party of “cutting spending” and “reducing the deficit.” The only problem with your claim is that Republican governments throughout my entire 38 year life (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43) have failed to cut spending and deficit and debt EVEN ONCE. I hope you understand that your credibility suffers every time you promise one thing for three decades and do the EXACT OPPOSITE. Egads – if you actually were the party of fiscal responsibility – you might win our votes despite your 13th century view of science!
I’ve got to agree with Eric — the Republicans have been stinky at fiscal responsibility. Really stinky. The only ones who have been worse are the Democrats. James Taranto nailed it in his column explaining that, right up until the Tea Party got serious about the deficit, the only thing that the Republicans did was to temper Democrat spending:
Deficit hawkishness was the main strain of postwar Republican conservatism until the Goldwater movement of 1964. When lefties long for the “mainstream” Republicans of yore, this is a large part of what they have in mind. A conservatism that cares only about balancing the books not only fails to challenge the encroachment of the welfare state but actively aids it by taking political pressure off the left.
Here’s how politics would work in a world in which deficit hawks dominated the Republican Party: The Democrats would propose a new entitlement. Some Republicans would oppose it, but once it was clear it was going to pass, they would drop their opposition and push for tax increases instead.
It’s a win-win for the Democratic left. They not only fulfill their ideological goal of ever-expanding government, but they get the political credit for doling out benefits and they shift the blame to Republicans (or at least share it with them) for the concomitant tax increases. Conservatives are reduced, to paraphrase Newt Gingrich, to acting as tax collectors for the welfare state. With Republican cooperation, Democrats can be the party of generous benefits and low taxes. Lyndon B. Johnson dramatically expanded the former while reducing the latter.
The current strain of conservativism, birthed by the Tea Party, is small government conservativism. The Big Tent has room for social conservatives, but the real press here is what got Reagan into office on his second run for the presidency: shrinking the federal government. As Taranto explains in the article quoted above, talking about shrinking government is easier than actually shrinking government, but the focus is still on restraining growth, not just on figuring out a way to pay for it.
Eric’s attitude — which is that Republicans are wastrels, so I’ll vote for the party that’s even more irresponsible with taxpayer money — is a classic example of cutting of ones nose to spite ones face. Eric should be demanding more small government conservativism, not retaliating against Republican profligacy by opening his checkbook even wider for infinitely worse Democrat profligacy.
The bottom line in the rational world, and one that Eric, as an educated man and businessman, should know well is simple: over the long term, you cannot spend what you don’t have. When your spending outruns your earning by too great an amount, you have very limited choices: continue to spend yourself into bankruptcy, which is the Obama choice; cut your spending, which is the Tea Party choice; and earn more money, which is what Obama contends is his choice, one made by using the government’s taxation powers. Where Obama errs is that it is impossible to close the gap by taxing the rich. Instead, by killing the goose that lays the golden egg, Obama’s approach will merely accelerate the bankruptcy.
Gay marriage – As the child of Baby Boomers who got divorced (as was the fashion!) in the 80s and 90s, and for whom 50% of my friends had their homes broken by divorce in the critical years before age 18, I sure am unsympathetic to your caterwauling bullshit that “gays will destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Perhaps if everyone in your generation didn’t take the period of 1978 – 1995 to start surreptitiously banging their neighbors and coworkers, only to abandon their kids because “they just weren’t happy,” I would take your defense of marriage more seriously. The institution of Middle Class suburban marriage was broken by the generation of aging white Baby Boomers who populate what is left of the Republican Party, so your defense is wrongheaded and disingenuous. And moreover, as someone who got called “faggot” about 127 times a day from the years 1985 through 1991 – guess what – I grew up to be pretty good friends with actual homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is usually the least significant thing about them. The Republican perseveration on homosexuals as any sort of threat consigns them to history’s trough of intellectual pig dung.
Eric errs (again!) in assuming that, because conservatives haven’t embraced gay marriage, they hate gays. Not so. As with abortion, this is a complicated issue that sees a clash of differing liberties. As I’ve written often, “marriage” has two distinct components: religious and civil. When church and state were one, that wasn’t a problem; when they parted ways, with the Constitution guaranteeing that the government would stay out of the religion business, the potential for conflicts arose. As we’ve seen with the ObamaCare contraception/insurance mandate, when the government issue edicts that conflict with doctrine, the Constitution is directly implicated. So too with “gay marriage.” It’s extremely easy to posit a situation in which a church refuses to marry a gay couple, which then sues the church, claiming that it violated their civil rights.
My suggestion, and I think it’s a good one, is for the government to get out of the marriage business and into the civil union business. It is then free to define civil unions however it wishes: male/female, female/female, male/male, goat/cow, etc. The state’s concern would be “What’s good for the state?” Considerations would be population replacement or control, economics, stability, etc. This would leave marriage as a purely religious union.
Frankly, if there wasn’t such a mad rush towards gay marriage, people would be able to step back for a moment and contemplate what their goals are and what the potential pitfalls are. I don’t have a problem with ensuring that committed gay couples obtain the same civil benefits (and burdens) as other committed couples. I do have a problem with a pell-mell rush into changing an ancient institution in such a way that it creates a certain clash with faiths, in such as way as to lead to a serious Constitutional crisis. Am I anti-gay? No. I am pro-civil rights, pro-religion, and pro-Constitution. But in all the rush, nobody is listening to people like me.
Meanness– Your party is really mean, mocking and demonizing everyone who does not follow you into the pits of hell. You constantly imply – as Mitt Romney did in his “47% speech” – that anybody who disagrees with you does so not by logic or moral conviction, but because they are shiftless, lazy parasites who want “free stuff” from “traditional Americans.” Wow, you guys managed to follow up a stunning electoral defeat with insulting the very people you wish to attract for a majority in the political system! Brilliant! You are losing elections because being angry and defensive and just-plain-mean is more important than being smart and winning elections – and thus you deserve everything happening to you.
First all all, mean is not an argument; it’s simply an ad hominem insult, and deserves little consideration. In the spirit of finger pointing, here are few examples of mean from the other side of the aisle. I’m too lazy to find links, but anyone wishing to do so can easily find examples: Conservatives are lambasted as Nazis, racists, homophobes and misogynists. It’s mean to call them those names. Israel, the only true liberal democracy in the autocratic, totalitarian, antisemitic, anti-Christian, homophobic Middle East, is routinely castigated as a Nazi, apartheid state that deserves to be destroyed. That’s mean too. During the Bush presidency, Democrats characterized Bush as a Nazi, as Hitler, as a chimpanzee, as a murder, and as an idiot. That’s not very nice. Barack Obama spent his entire 2012 political campaign ginning up class resentment against rich people or, as I like to call them, employers. That’s not nice. Obama’s Occupy movement raped women, attacked people, defecated all over the place, brought barrels of human waste into buildings, rioted, destroyed public property, and harassed people in their own homes. That’s mean too.
I hope that I have established to Eric’s, and everyone else’s, satisfaction, that calling people names is (a) a game that both sides can play and (b) completely pointless in terms of moving the ball from one side of the debate to the other.
Oh, and by the way, it’s really nasty to call your opponents in the argument “A-holes.”
If you want to know exactly where you failed in 2012, and will continue to fail, here it is. Look you assholes, I’m as traditional an American as it gets, and I do not “want free stuff.” I am a taxpayer, and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I got my first job – dragging bags of cow manure, horse feed and fertilizer around a farm store – when I was 12. I started my first company when I was 28. I have followed the vast majority of the rules set out for middle class white males (for good and for ill.) And if it weren’t bad enough that your policy positions are a complete clusterfuck for the reasons I lay out in great detail, you manage to follow up the whole exercise with insulting me, my wife, and my friends of every stripe who didn’t vote for your political party – all of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, job creating, law abiding, great AMERICANS of EVERY COLOR AND CREED.
In my experience, people revert to obscenities and crude insults only when they’re boors or when they have no ideas — or both. Eric has a few good points (Republicans need to spend less), but mostly, he wallows in myths, canards, and insults. In that last paragraph quoted, when he drops the pretense of facts and objectivity (all of which are easy to counter), he reveals his true self: he is not a serious or a decent person. He is, instead, a bully.
Having escaped my bubble and carefully examined Eric’s arguments, I understand both where he’s coming from and where he is going — and I can’t say I like either his point of origin (an ideological location I once shared) or his ultimate destination. Eric argues from ignorance and heads to obsolescence. Let us hope that, in the coming years, his world view does not prevail.