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2/23/2009
IDEOLOGY vs PRINCIPLES? SCHWARZENEGGER HIDES UNDER THE BUS
CATEGORY: General

There was a very interesting and instructive conversation between This Week host George Stephanopoulos and California Governor Arne Schwarznegger broadcast yesterday that exposed some troubling attitudes on the part of some politicians who see nothing wrong in having the federal government expropriate your property to subsidize failure, incompetence, and in California’s case - government overreach.

First, it must be said that even though I am a “Big Tent” Republican, anyone who would abandon their principles in order to accede to the wishes of the mob isn’t much of a conservative. I don’t know what Schwarzenegger is, or what he believes - if he truly believes anything at all and not just blows with the winds of popular discontent - but one thing he isn’t is a conservative nor is he any kind of Republican that I can compare him to:

Schwarzenegger said Republicans in Washington must put aside their ideology and work with President Barack Obama on solving the economic crisis.

“You know, you’ve got to go beyond just the principles. You’ve got to go and say, ‘What is right for the country right now?’” he said. “I think that, if they — they should make an effort to work together and to find what is best for the people, because by derailing everything, it’s not going to help anybody, and it creates instability and insecurity.”

Stephanopoulos describing what Schwarzenegger said reveals a supposedly experienced and educated man who doesn’t know the difference between “ideology” and “principles.” Ideology can be defined as how we see the world through the prism supplied by our principles and defines where we come down on important issues like taxes, government spending, abortion, etc. One can change their position on issues - ideology - as long as you remain true to basic principles.

Principles, on the other hand, are virtually immutable philosophical concepts that form the underpinnings of ideology and are “true” to the extent that they are informed by logic and reason rather than emotion.. An example of a conservative principle is the belief that in a well ordered society, government is required to take from the people in taxes only that which it needs to function. Ideological conservatives transform that sensible principle into the issue of cutting taxes, feeling that the government has taken too much. It is an arguable point that I happen to agree with and which ideologues from the other side might see differently. But there is no conservative “principle” that specifically holds that cutting taxes is always the right thing to do in every situation nor even that it is necessary at all. It is this notion among others that ideological conservatives have conflated with “conservative principles” to the detriment of the movement.

As I have written previously, conservatism has become excessively ideological where instead of conservative principles informing ideology, a mindset has developed that equates ideology with principles, abandoning Burke and Hayek for Hannity and Limbaugh. Until conservatives can sort out and redefine for the modern age what our traditional, classical, view of man and his relationship to government and society means, it is probable that people will continue to listen to Rush rather than Russell Kirk (among others) and believe they are being exposed to conservative “principles” rather than the entertaining ideological slants of show biz personalities.

So I would agree that a little less ideology in these times is a good thing. But what about Arne’s call to set aside principles and do what’s best “for the country?” This presupposes that conservatives who are violently opposed to Obama’s bail out culture are only doing so out of spite or for political gain. Obviously, I vigorously reject that notion. What Mr. Obama is up to is such a total and complete anathema to my conservative principles that opposing him where I believe his subsidies and bailouts go beyond what is “best for the country” by my own definition becomes a necessity. Why should conservatives accept Mr. Obama’s notion of what is “best for the country.” Why should conservatives “put aside” their principles to support what every fiber of their being is telling them is wrong?

No doubt elections have consequences. But Mr. Obama did not run a campaign where he promised to fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the government, where Washington was going to reward bad behavior by forcing the people to subsidize failure and bad decisions by their fellow citizens . If he had, he would have been roundly defeated. His campaign oozed moderation not radical left nostrums of bank nationalizations, trillion dollar stimuluses (when a sizable number of economists think half the spending in the bill would have been enough), and other radical surgery proposed for an economy that is in recession.

The left, the Democrats, and the media are advancing the narrative that we had no other choices available, that it was this or economic collapse. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, there is an entire school of economic thought that believes what the Obama Administration is doing is ruinous to our future, won’t stimulate the economy, and has thrust the federal government into the role of arbiter, choosing who wins and who loses when such decisions should (for the most part) be left to the market. These economists don’t hate America, aren’t glad to see people suffer, but follow a basic premise that government intervention in the economy of the size and scope proposed by the Obama Administration is wrong. This is not based on ideology but rather on their informed, scientific opinion. To dismiss or ignore this opinion because other economists say differently while pretending there was no other option than to chart the course being followed is pure, ideological politics - exactly what the Obama Administration accuses Republicans of doing.

Schwarzenegger and others may be willing to abandon principle in these uncertain times. How this is doing what is right “for the country” escapes me. It would seem to me that if everyone acted on their principles and did what they thought was best for the country, the nation would be well served, indeed. Yes, one side would win out over the other. That’s how democracy works. But we would be left with the satisfaction that we maintained our adherence to our fundamental beliefs and, as many of us believe, when it is shown that President Obama’s plans have done little to revive the economy, the American people will be more willing to listen to alternatives from those who opposed doing what was popular or politically viable in favor doing what we know from experience and the principles that inform our opinions was right.

There is no doubt that all GOP governors will take most of the money being proffered by the federal government. It won’t make them hypocrites any more than Democrats who voted against every defense spending bill that ever came down the pike are hypocrites for enjoying the freedom and security that spending buys or liberals talking down tax cuts and then not giving the money back when it shows up in their paychecks. Schwarznegger’s call to abandon principles and work for “the good of the country” is different. It is apparent the governor has little in the way of principles to abandon in the first place and that rather than doing what is best for all, he is doing what is best for himself. Unprincipled politicians are a dime a dozen and Schwarzenegger has proven himself to be the worst example in the Republican ranks.

By: Rick Moran at 9:39 am
26 Responses to “IDEOLOGY vs PRINCIPLES? SCHWARZENEGGER HIDES UNDER THE BUS”
  1. 1
    jackson1234 Said:
    10:04 am 

    Even a Big Tent has boundaries. Arnie and I would submit Snowe, Specter, and Collins crossed that line when they supported Obama’s indefensible and ruinous economic policies. We can all disagree about abortion, among other issues, but this should be the one area where Republicans are in lockstep. In truth it is, based on polls, and the principles that bind us make us realize that the tiny Republican minority that has signed onto this nonsense really isn’t so much part of the party as it is political opportunists.

  2. 2
    Sal Said:
    11:24 am 

    Rick, you sell Limbaugh short, which leads me to believe that you really have no idea what he stands for or what his show is about. Limbaugh is probably one of the few on talk radio that does convey what Conservative principles are, of limited government, the role of the relationship between man and the state, American Exceptionalism and Optimism, and the principles of Liberty. I think you and others who attack talk radio do a disservice to the Conservative movement. The average Joe is far more likely to listen to Rush Limbaugh than to read Russel Kirk. Limbaugh has been one of the leading causes of the Conservative Movement’s success since 1988, bringing the thoughts of Kirk, Buckley, and Reagan to the masses in a way never before done, while at the same time ending the main stream media monopoly.

    As far as the idea of Big-Tent Republicanism, what exactly does that mean to you? Is it simply “abortion” or is there more to it?

  3. 3
    sara in va Said:
    12:40 pm 

    Arnold has run his state into the ground; He will certainly grab Obama’s proffered stick before he’s lost in the quicksand.

    Everyone should turn from this dense bodybuilder, and laugh. He has nothing to offer except a model for failure. Now that he’s 100% singing Obama’s tune, the media all of a sudden thinks he’s a genius.

  4. 4
    bsjones Said:
    1:23 pm 

    Rick,

    Obama DID campaign on fundamentally changing the relationship between government and its citizens and he won the election.

    He said he would “spread the wealth around, its good for everybody.” Then he won the election. It appears he is now doing his damnedest to fulfill that promise.

    Remember, McCain was the Republican alternative to Obama. The question is: “What would McCain really be doing differently if he were president?”

    We know what Bush did:
    TARP
    Auto Bailout
    Trillions in loan guarantees to banks that put taxpayers on the hook

    Would McCain have followed in Commandant Bush’s footsteps? Maybe not. He remarkably said the economy is “fundamentally strong” on the day the government refused to intervene when Lehman Brothers collapsed. I think his policy would have been to continue to use taxpayer money to prop up failed banks and veto any Keynes like fiscal stimulus. On the other hand McCain said the government would “buy bad mortgages” to the tune of $300 Billion dollars. Remember?

    Both parties have a history of subsidy and bailout for failed banks and even corporations.

    The people knew about Obama’s desire to “share the wealth”. Republicans even made a big deal of attacking Obama on this very point in the campaign. He won anyway. The alternative to Obama “sharing the wealth” was a McCain administration buying up bad mortgages.

    This is what really happened.

  5. 5
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:32 pm 

    No doubt elections have consequences. But Mr. Obama did not run a campaign where he promised to fundamentally alter the relationship between the citizen and the government, where Washington was going to reward bad behavior by forcing the people to subsidize failure and bad decisions by their fellow citizens .

    Fundamentally alter? We’ve been subsidizing other people’s failures and inadequacies and bad behavior for a very long time.

    If you don’t manage to save for retirement there’s a social security program that pays you more than you paid in. Bails you out.

    If you can’t manage to keep up your health insurance there’s Medicare and Medicaid wherein other citizens bail you out. You smoked three packs a day? No problem: we bail you out.

    There are price supports and protectionist measures (not to mention ethanol, oy!) that keep farmers afloat. More money flowing from my pocket to the pockets of people who can’t compete.

    Food stamps, welfare, federally insured bank deposits, subsidies you and I couldn’t even begin to track down built into the tax code, all of it my money flowing to other citizens.

    I also have a bad habit of living in states that are net payers of taxes that flow like water to states that are net collectors of taxes. More bailing out of losers.

    And that’s not even getting into subsidies for Egyptians, Israelis, Pakistanis, Eastern Europeans, South Americans and on and on and on.

    What’s happening now isn’t fundamental anything. It’s the same old thing with different numbers.

  6. 6
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    3:22 pm 

    …rather than doing what is best for all, he is doing what is best for himself.

    Huh… I thought this was the very definition of Republican.

  7. 7
    Sal Said:
    4:31 pm 
    …rather than doing what is best for all, he is doing what is best for himself.

    Huh… I thought this was the very definition of Republican.

    Nope that’s what the liberal elites do. They propose raising taxes on everyone else, but then don’t pay their own taxes (Geithner, Daschle, etc.).

  8. 8
    Alex Said:
    6:24 pm 

    You wouldn’t happen to be speaking about CPAC would you?

    So many of my fellow Republicans don’t even bother to think about what their principles are. They just think conservatism means tax cuts and being against abortions. You seem to be one of the very few people out there actually examining the philosophical framework with which policies are supposed to come from.

  9. 9
    funny man Said:
    6:39 pm 

    Sal,
    there are liberal elites and there are conservative elites. What is the problem with that? Everyone has their think tanks, intellectuals, people who think about the future of any movement. Well, and then there is Michael Moore, Ann Coulter and the whole entertaining lot.

  10. 10
    Reaganomics At Work Thanks To The Stimulus Package — A Quarter Of A Million Washington State Residents Receive One Dollar Foodstamp | THE GUN TOTING LIBERAL™ Pinged With:
    8:58 pm 

    [...] ‘ya go, my friendly right-wing soldiers in the Blogospheres — you were right all along. That is, until you went insane a few days ago and gave up the [...]

  11. 11
    Foobarista Said:
    10:13 pm 

    As a Californian - and one who isn’t interested in leaving - Arnold was someone I hoped would do well, but who couldn’t escape his Hollywood need to be “accepted”.

    The problem in California is the local Republican party is nonfunctional. Social conservative ballot measures sometimes win here, but so-con politicians are DOA. Winners need to be libertarian-minded economic conservatives, which is how Ahnult ran in his first election, and since he basically side-stepped the nomination process by running in the run-off, he managed to win.

    Typically, the “RINO purge” at the nominating convention gets rid of non so-cons, who’ll be lucky to win 40%.

    The sad thing is there are lots of “leave me aloners” who are ripe for the right kind of socially don’t-care, economically conservative politics that Arnold initially promised.

  12. 12
    bsjones Said:
    11:20 pm 

    I have enjoyed reading Ricks posts for awhile now. I especially like the ones that ask us as conservatives to question our assumptions, take a look with fresh eyes, or simply acknowledge that there are occasionally contradictions in the movement.

    However, feeding on raw red meat all the time turns out to be a bad diet and those who eat like this all the time are likely to have fuzzy thinking and develop poor eye sight. It can even lead to a kind of blindness.

    This leads me to my post.

    I was just checking out the responses when I saw the American Tea Party ad, which features, among others, “joe the plumber”. After clicking on the ad I discovered they are against “giant government programs that reach deep into our pockets”.

    All of a sudden I was mad. Isn’t “joe” a liar, tax cheat and a “welfare queen”? His parents were welfare recipients too. From what I can tell we have all been sharing the wealth with “joe”. He and his family have already been digging “deep into our pockets”.

    I do not want to pick on the guy, but why is anyone listening to him? It makes my head want to explode!! His actions demonstrate what he thinks of conservatism and its principles far more than his words do. I, for one, do not need an Average Joe tax cheat and inter-generational welfare queen to talk to me about wasteful government spending.

    I hope I am not alone. If we really believe what a conservative believes, how can we stand for this hypocrisy?

    Is there a contradiction when we ask someone like joe to be a spokesperson for the movement? What does this do for our credibility?

    Someone, please, take a look with “fresh eyes” and explain what is going on.

  13. 13
    lionheart Said:
    9:07 am 

    There is no doubt that all GOP governors will take most of the money

    Jindal has already turned it down, and I would be surprised if Haley Barbour takes it.

  14. 14
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:25 am 

    Lionheart:

    Jindal downed down a tiny portion of the whole.

  15. 15
    funny man Said:
    10:56 am 

    bsjones,
    here is my take on ‘Joe the plumber’. It’s not about him. Basically he is supposed to be the spokesman for the anti-intellectual brand of populist conservatism. I would include Palin there too. The underlying current is that out there in the heartland a pure and true, God-fearing Americans, riding their pick-up trucks, listening to Garth Brooks and defending our freedom who are only threatened by girly, intellectual know-it-alls who threaten their way of life (and by implication the American way of life). Of course this is a caricature but there is some truth to it. However, in my opinion we have to realize that our wealth is generated in Silicon Valley, at Wall Street, in Hollywood etc. All those places conservatives love to hate. However, we have to be competitive in these places and ‘Joe the Plumber’ is not the way.

  16. 16
    sara in va Said:
    12:06 pm 

    bsjones

    Totally agree with you about Joe. The GOP can be slightly forgiven for turning him into a populist poster boy during the campaign because McCain needed a boost at the time.

    However, I can’t understand what is behind the continual push behind this guy. The journalist thing, now the book thing. Is the PR blitz coming from him, or a 3rd party organization?

    He’s got a role at CPAC, I have no clue why, but my guess it that the response by the attendees will be lame and people behind him will figure it out. He had his few moments of fame. Anybody who attaches to him as some kind of role model ain’t going anywhere but straight GOP ticket. I don’t think he adds votes, he probably hurts, so God Bless Him, and let’s get him off the platform.

  17. 17
    bsjones Said:
    1:35 pm 

    If any of the stuff in the post, The “Americans want bipartisanship”, is true, we are in big trouble.

    Read it here:

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/

  18. 18
    lionheart Said:
    2:34 pm 

    Michael (comment 14), are you a hash-house harrier? I’ve been to my share of down-downs, but I never figured you for one :-)

    And yes, I do stand corrected.

  19. 19
    michael reynolds Said:
    3:35 pm 

    Lionheart:

    I often have music on while I write. So here’s my excuse: I was listening to Jeff Beck.

    I’m not saying it’s true, but it’s a pretty good excuse, don’t you think?

  20. 20
    lionheart Said:
    4:12 pm 

    Michael,

    Great song! Very good excuse.

  21. 21
    Scrapiron Said:
    5:42 pm 

    The terminator is part of the Kennedy family by marriage and only ran as a republican because the current gov was in hot water with the citizens. Anyone running as a republican would have won. Now that he’s proven he’s a failure, as all democrats do, he’s now in full CYA mode.

  22. 22
    bsjones Said:
    11:21 pm 

    Sara in VA,

    I wrote this with you in mind. It’s all about sh*tty-bank, I mean Citi-Bank.

    TARP 1 25 BILLION LOAN (at below market interest rates)
    TARP 2 20 BILLION LOAN PLUS 300 BILLION IN LOAN GUARANTEES FOR BAD ASSETS

    For anybody interested, all this happened in 2008. Bush II was still SUPREME LEADER, so this was not Obamanomics.

    The funny thing is, Citi-Bank could be purchased on the stock market for only 20 billion. Since we have paid for Citi two times over, why don’t “We the People” own this bank?

    All of this means, “We the People” are on the hook to the tune of 350 Billion dollars FOR JUST ONE BANK.

    QUESTIONS:
    Who is getting the welfare now?
    Who is paying for the failed bets taken by Sh*tty-Bank?
    If you invested this much money in a business, would you want a say in how it was run?

    Just asking.

  23. 23
    Robert Ehrenkaufer Said:
    1:08 am 

    I have long argued that compromise is possible whereas it does not directly contradict principle. We can compromise on tax cuts inasmuch as the amount of the tax cut is negotiable but not the principle that government should not spend unnecessarily. Liberals are absolutely committed to the false notion that compromise and bipartisanship are equated to total agreement with their ideas. I absolutely advocate compromise but rail against subjugation to the ideals and principles that represent all that I oppose. The Silent Majority

  24. 24
    bsjones Said:
    4:26 am 

    O.K., here’s another one.

    Northern Trust Bank received $1.6 billion in TARP money (i.e., tax payer money). They were so happy to take your money they threw a party complete with trinkets from … TIFFANY AND CO.

    The whole sickening story can be read here:

    http://economistsview.typepad.com/timduy/2009/02/more-banks-behaving-badly.html

    Maybe we should put accountability up there with tax cuts as a foundational part of conservatism. It might even get us a few votes.

    :

    What a minute. Yeah. That guy over there. The one in the Dior tux. No, not him. The one eating the seared salmon. Yeah!! Isn’t that Rick Santelli?

  25. 25
    Chris Said:
    9:57 am 

    Late to conversation but:
    1) Did Arnold ever claim to be a conservative?
    2) Are we confusing conservative principles with Republican politics?
    3) How upset should Republicans be when a moderate Republican manages to stay in office, address a catastrophic budget crisis and “succeed” in spite of a decidedly Democratic and partisan state legislature?
    4) I’m wholeheartedly behind the idea of clear, firm principles underlying governing. And I have “conservative sensibilities” regarding government’s ability to solve a problem vs exacerbate a problem. However, is it not praiseworthy, when a politician, democrat or republican, effectively addresses a problem in spite of complexity, partisanship etc. Isn’t it good for the republican party to say “We’re the party that can tackle tough problems”

  26. 26
    Abandon your principles, Schwarzenegger says. And does. - Orange Punch - OCRegister.com Pinged With:
    1:23 pm 

    [...] Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom we may as well refer to as Gov. Chameleon, says the trouble with Republicans is they won’t abandon their principles. [...]

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