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8/31/2009
ANGRY IDEOLOGUES vs. THE STATISTS

This is another installment in my award winning series of blog posts on “What Ails Conservatism?” (Note: The awards have been of the “RINO of the Day” and “Squish of the Month” variety).

The purpose of this series has been to clarify my own thinking about modern conservatism and it’s relevance in a 21st century industrialized democracy of 300 million people.

***********************************************
Conor Friedersdorf, writing at Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish, has a thoughtful critique of Mark Levin’s huge bestseller Liberty and Tyranny.

It caught my eye because I finished the book last week and was as impressed as Conor with some of Levin’s arguments, especially how he constructed a logical, and coherent framework for applying traditional conservatism to problems associated with modern America. It was a brave attempt to marry philosophy with politics and Mr. Levin should be congratulated for going beyond the usual cotton candy conservatism we get from the Hannity’s and Becks of the right.

However, like Conor, I was troubled by what might be termed, Levin’s problem with “enemy identification:

As I reflect on Liberty and Tyranny’s final pages, however, I find myself unable to respond without addressing a larger feature of the book that I regard as its most consequential flaw: Its every section, including the Epilogue, references few if any concepts as often as “Statism.”

[...]

The United States that he comments on isn’t one that pits Republicans against Democrats, or conservatives against liberals, or the center right against the center left, or where citizens of complicated political persuasions — mixing ideology, pragmatism and ignorance — do some combination of participating in politics and ignoring it. Instead Mark Levin’s America is one where the conservatives are pitted against the Statists, or to put things as he would, where liberty is pitted against tyranny.

Freidersdorf never gives us his definition of “statism” so it is impossible to discover why he believes the label is so mis-applied in Levin’s book. Conor quotes Levin’s thesis:

The Modern Liberal believes in the supremacy of the state, thereby rejecting the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the order of the civil society, in whole or in part. For the Modern Liberal, the individual’s imperfection and personal pursuits impede the objective of a utopian state. In this, Modern Liberalism promotes what French historian Alexis de Tocqueville described as a soft tyranny, which becomes increasingly more oppressive, potentially leading to a hard tyranny (some form of totalitarianism). As the word “liberal” is, in its classical meaning, the opposite of authoritarian, it is more accurate, therefore, to characterize the Modern Liberal as a statist.

Do “modern liberals” desire to create a “Utopia?” That is an exaggeration. Liberals are no more enamored of Utopia than conservatives. Both political philosophies seek to create societies that emphasize different virtues; self reliance vs. community; moral order vs. fairness; personal responsibility vs. the collective good.

It is also mis-leading (though not entirely inaccurate) to say that liberals favor the “supremacy of the state.” It is more accurate to say that the modern left favors promoting “the collective good” at the expense of “selfish” individuality. They do not dismiss individual rights. They simply believe that in some instances - more than is healthy for liberty’s sake - those rights should be trumped by what is best for all.

This flies in the face of Kirk’s “voluntary community” but is a far cry of worshiping at the altar of “statism.” And Conor nails it when he takes Levin to task for generalizing and ultimately, mis-identifying the enemy:

Terrible as he sounds, The Statist that Mr. Levin describes—his ill deeds keep growing as the book winds down–would at least play a clarifying role in American politics if he actually existed. Imagine how useful a blueprint Mr. Levin’s book would prove if the primary opponents of conservatives were actually cunning Statists with malign motives and hatred of liberty in their hearts. But re-read all the attributes that describe the Statist. Does anyone in American politics fit that description, let alone a plurality sizable enough to enact their agenda?

In fact, the main antagonists that the American conservative vies with in politics are the independent, the liberal, the center left Democrat, the progressive, even some among the apolitical. The average people who support “Statist” President Obama’s domestic agenda are apolitical African American women who work in cubicles, law firm associates who earn six figure salaries, and working parents who fret about being uninsured—not utopian radicals bent on advancing a counterrevolution that destroys the freedom won by the Founding generation.

Levin obviously has in mind Democrats and liberals who support the agenda of President Obama - an agenda full of “solutions” to problems like health care, climate change, education, the home mortgage crisis, and our economic woes. Is this a “statist” manifesto or an attempt by a political party to curry favor with voters by offering to address their real life concerns?

I have resisted using terms like “socialist” and especially “communist” to describe the Democrat’s ideology because by strict definition, they are not trying to destroy the free market, repeal individual rights (as always, making an exception for 2nd amendment guarantees), set up a dictatorship, or impose “tyranny - soft or hard - on the American people.

Sllippery slope arguments are unconvincing, if only because the logical fallacy involved in the “boiling frog” scenario where we all just sit back and allow the government to descend into a kind of fascism, is belied by the stink being made by conservatives over some of Obama’s more anti-free market actions today. Can you imagine if Obama really tried to take control of the economy? I daresay we wouldn’t need Glenn Beck, weeping on live television about how bad things are with Obama as president to activate conservatives. And we wouldn’t be alone. Moderates, libertarians, classical liberals, and others would be standing with us, side by side, to strenuously oppose any move to socialize the entire economy.

But I too, have been guilty of using the word “statist” to describe what Obama and the Democrats have been doing. My definition is a little more benign than Levin’s in that the agenda being promoted by the left would not lead to tyranny, but rather a highly constricted free market of the sort that is practiced in many European social democracies; over-regulated markets that stifle inventiveness, innovation, and entrepreneurship. With such regulation necessarily comes higher taxes on all: reason enough to oppose the Democrats and thwart their plans for “fairness, transparency, and accountability” in the free market.

But I see Friedersdorf’s point. There may be a small clique on the left that would love to see an America that they could “guide” in a paternalistic sort of way. George Soros and his billionaire buddies come to mind. But in order to kill the free market, enslave the American people, gain control of the media, and destroy liberty, those ordinary folk Conor mentioned would have to be convinced that all of this would make their lives better - a tall order, that.

This problem with mis-identification that Conor writes about as well as the wrong headed definitions of where Obama and the Democrats are trying to take the country, feed what has become a perceived paranoia among many conservatives that is driving people away from the movement rather than rallying them to our standard.

At bottom is the argument I’ve been trying to advance in this series; that the excessive ideology fueling the rage that manifests itself in paranoid rantings on the internet against imagined socialism, the purging of perceived apostates, the obsession with ideological purity, and more recently, shouted down speakers at health care town halls - all of this damages conservatism in the eyes of people who might be inclined to support our cause. It also makes it extraordinarily easy for the opposition to paint conservatives as too emotional to trust with running the government.

Bruce Bartlett has some similar thoughts:

I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W. Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is “what can we do to screw the Democrats today.” How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday?

I am not alone. When I talk to old timers from the Reagan years, many express the same concerns I have. But they all work for Republican-oriented think tanks like AEI and Hoover and don’t wish to be fired like I was from NCPA . Or they just don’t want to be bothered or lose friends. As a free agent I am able to say what they can’t or won’t say publicly.

I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents.

I don’t think you can accuse Bartlett, Friedersorf, or I for that matter, of lacking principles. I have made the argument that pragmatists are as principled as any ideologue. Where the extremists and I part company is in the application of those principles to real world politics. Not hating your opponent should not disqualify you from being a conservative, nor should dismissing the notion that Obama is a socialist be cause enough to question one’s conservative bona fides. Principled opposition in a republic must be based on the golden rule; respect others as you yourself would like to be respected. No, I don’t always live up to that credo. But I would like to think that I never question the good intentions of my foes. Wrong, not evil.

And on a related note, I would argue with Mark Levin that liberty does not exist in a vacuum, nor can free people exist apart from the community that bred them. There are responsibilities that go along with enjoying liberty that includes the recognition that we are not islands unto ourselves, and that government, however imperfect it can be, is nevertheless not the implacable enemy of liberty some conservatives believe.

A danger at times? Yes. But if conservatism is to triumph again, we must demonstrate that conservative principles can be applied to running government better than the those of the opposition. That is the essence of politics and we would do well to remember it.

By: Rick Moran at 11:40 am
22 Responses to “ANGRY IDEOLOGUES vs. THE STATISTS”
  1. 1
    Buckeye Said:
    1:44 pm 

    Rick, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. When I read Levin’s book, I had many of the same concerns as did Friedersdorf. For example, a lot of people are statists of convenience: in favor of a heavy government hand in some cases and a light hand in other cases, and every different combination in between. Therefore, on one issue, Levin would be allied with a fellow “anti-statist” only to see that same guy switch sides the very next day. The world is more complicated than Levin’s two-dimensional world.

    Still, I think you underestimate the natural (or default) tendency of mankind to backslide into tyranny. The real “slippery slope” is human nature, which provides plenty of its own gravity, but so-called progressivism does help nudge us along.

    Yeah, there’s a lot of angry, closed-minded, intolerant, people out there. And, sure, they tend to be clustered at the extremes, but we also sometimes confuse cause and effect - i.e. the guy was intolerant before he became conservative/progressive, but his intolerance hardens his outlook. On the other hand, it would be presumptious to categorize somoene as “extermist” simply because they perceive the dangers from Obamaism to be more pronounced than you do.

  2. 2
    Foobarista Said:
    3:10 pm 

    I don’t think we have many genuine 1930s-style statists in the US, but we do have people who see the government - or what they often call “society” - as a vehicle to achieve Great Social Things. Many lefties (and some righties) see the government as a benign, agenda-less entity that would run perfectly and reform society into a more pleasing form, if only the “right people” were In Charge. Sometimes, they pretend that the government, at least as an entity apart from society, essentially doesn’t exist.

    An interesting test is whether a person refers to the government as “we” or “they”. Even in a democracy, the government isn’t a “we” (unless you work for the government), and the various elements of the government will have their own agendas, which will often not be favorable to anything but itself.

    I think that where things run off the rails for polemicists is when they mistake results for intent. American “statists” don’t necessarily see a big state as a good thing by itself (although there are definitely some that do, on both left and right), but the things they want mandate a large, expensive, intrusive state, so they push for the expansion of its powers, resulting in a big state.

    I think it’s best to assume intentions are benign and to keep the focus on results.

  3. 3
    Mike Said:
    3:11 pm 

    “I have resisted using terms like “socialist” and especially “communist” to describe the Democrat’s ideology…”

    That is one of the reasons I like to read your blog. It’s possible to passionately disagree and still enjoy the process!It’s an education.

  4. 4
    busboy33 Said:
    3:15 pm 

    @Buckeye:

    “it would be presumptious to categorize somoene as “extermist” simply because they perceive the dangers from Obamaism to be more pronounced than you do.”

    The difference between opposition to Obama and fanaticism is degree.

    “I oppose his policies.” “His proposal is dangerous.” “This is the wrong path for America and here is why . . .” That is opposition.

    “Obama is a SocialistCommunistFacist dedicated to the utter destruction of America, liberty, grandma, and puppies.” is fanaticism. There is no thought to the opposition — its automatic regardless of what the issue is. Obama wants to plant tomato plants in the lawn? Anarchy! Revolution! I want my Country back!

    If there is absolutely nothing that Obama does or could do that would be acceptable (except for conceeding he is in fact the reincarnated AntiChrist), then any legitimate opposition is smothered in blind partisan hatred . . . and that does drive votes away. I may disagree with Obama’s plan or with the Democrats, but if the alternative is percieved as “The Only Solution”, then I as a voter don’t feel like I have any real choice in the matter.

    As an independent, I see conservative voices question Obama and the Democrats, only to be savaged by Teh Tru Conservatives because they don’t personally attack him as a person intensely enough. Whether that is in fact the main body of the Republican Party is irrevelant at this point . . . it APPEARS to be the main body of the party. I’m sure someone will blame that image on the vast MSM conspiracy, which just kind of underlines the point.

    I want ideas and thought from the party I vote for. Blind faith I already get from my God.

  5. 5
    mannning Said:
    4:58 pm 

    I think it’s best to assume intentions are benign and to keep the focus on results.

    So all sorts of idealogues can occupy positions of authority if their end results are in accord with freedom and liberty?

    The problem with that, I think, is once the end results are reached it is too late to correct them if they are hurtful. If the sudden direction of these ideologues happens, by sheer chance of course, to be in concert, and that direction is governed by a tyrannical model, it just might be too late to redirect.

  6. 6
    busboy33 Said:
    5:51 pm 

    @manning:

    “The problem with that, I think, is once the end results are reached it is too late to correct them if they are hurtful. If the sudden direction of these ideologues happens, by sheer chance of course, to be in concert, and that direction is governed by a tyrannical model, it just might be too late to redirect.”

    A fair concern . . . but how is this concern different for idealogues as opposed to any human in power? I would think idealogues would be a better buttress against this, as those that oppose their “master plan” will watch them like a hawk and alert at every perceptible drift toward dangerous territory.
    On the other side, if those in power share your “vision” it is easy to gloss over concerns with minor shifts in the system . . . and minor shifts add up.

  7. 7
    Pug Said:
    6:21 pm 

    You are way too reasonable to be considered a true modern conservative.

    Today, you need to stand tall and scream “death panels! death panels!”, or you are just a RINO. Sorry.

  8. 8
    yoyo Said:
    7:30 pm 

    The stupid thing about Levins book is that under his weird dichatomy Ron Paul bots would be the ideal people, the anti statis as it were. Who wants a country run by the followers of Ron Paul (even the followers currently out on bail)?

  9. 9
    mannning Said:
    8:10 pm 

    Well, busboy, I suppose there are weak, moderate, and strong ideologues on all sides. Some of them will be in positions of power, I suggest.

    Obviously, I would want MY ideologues to be running things, not those of the main opposition. We have such a situation today, where leftist ideologues (if not something entirely different and unfathomable!)have the say, and it ain’t pretty, in my opinion.

    How do you reconcile a national debt of 17 Trillion dollars (or lots more!)in 2019 from this administration, with common sense? My answer is–you don’t. You get rid of them ASAP.

  10. 10
    mannning Said:
    8:17 pm 

    I ask the question: how do you, RM, know the true, long-term intentions of Obama and his minions, and Congress? Are you not flatout guessing from very limited information and a lot of faith in the system?

    Who is to say that the signs we see of the current trends of this Democratic-dominated and leftist administration and Congress are actually benign to the US?

  11. 11
    busboy33 Said:
    3:22 am 

    “How do you reconcile a national debt of 17 Trillion dollars (or lots more!)in 2019 from this administration, with common sense?”

    I don’t. Deficit spending sucks, pure and simple.

    But we’ve been doing it for at least a decade now. I don’t see a difference between Republican deficit spending and Democratic deficit spending. I epsecially think it’s insanity for both parties to both deficit spend AND push for tax cuts. I’m no ecconomist, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t actually work as a long term plan.

    What should happen? We should live within our means. Is that going to happen? No — forget right and wrong, that’s a simple statement of reality. The absolute best I hope for is to slowly, slowly chip away at the spending gap, in bite-sized chunks that Americans can stomach. Personally, I think that’s a dream, but I’m a dreamer.

    Regardless, I DO want universal health care. I don’t favor a “big brother” style of government, but I do think there are some things that the government should do. It should protect us. It should insure our saftey from each other. And it should heal the sick. I consider that part of their moral perogative. I know most people here disagree with me, but that’s my stand. That is something that is worth paying for (and if necessary worth raising taxes for). So is the military. So is the FDA. So is the EPA (I don’t particularly care about Mother Nature . . . I just don’t want to live in the run-off from a chemical factory).

    The Democratic Party’s budget is deeply in the red . . . but so was the Republicans, so it’s not as if I have a choice between deficit spending or not as those are my only two real choices.

    I know this isn’t addressed to me, but . . .

    “Who is to say that the signs we see of the current trends of this Democratic-dominated and leftist administration and Congress are actually benign to the US?”

    Because they are Americans, and they don’t want to destroy America anymore than Republicans do. Define “benign”. If “leftist” is the same as “malevolent”, then ONLY Republicans can be trusted with the safety of this country . . . and I just can’t accept that as a reasoned position, to say “only me and mine are trustworthy (please ignore all examples of mine being untrustworthy), and everybody else is a dangerous sociopath”.

  12. 12
    Buckeye Said:
    6:37 am 

    @busboy33

    “’Obama is a SocialistCommunistFacist dedicated to the utter destruction of America, liberty, grandma, and puppies.’ is fanaticism. There is no thought to the opposition — its automatic regardless of what the issue is. Obama wants to plant tomato plants in the lawn? Anarchy! Revolution! I want my Country back!”

    I made the point, although not explicitly (and perhaps not very well) that those who talk like you describe above are mostly (but certainly not exclusively) intolerant, rabid folks to begin with, who just tend to wander toward one extremist pole or the other. At first, I was tempted to say that you created a strawman - because few reasonable conservatives would ever talk like that - but then I have heard these types of comments for real. Thing is, I’ve also heard self-described moderates/centrists, who also happen to have unhinged personalities, say some pretty two-dimensional cartoonish things, too. I think that’s more reflective of 21st century American culture at large than it is 21st century conservatism or classical liberalism in particular.

    Also, at the risk of seeming patronizing, I think a lot of moderates/centrists misunderstand the nature of tyranny - and its dangers. The vast majority of people have good intentions - that goes without saying - although some people will have more integrity, self-reliance, etc. than others. We all covet things, including government policies that might favor our interests at the expense of the general welfare (which I mean in the old school sense, NOT “social justice”). Our Founders understood that there is a tyranical impulse that lurks within us all.

    Tyranny creeps up on us a thousand drops, drops, drops at a time, until it is too late. Every generation must fight against it (usually by non-violent means) thereby bailing things out for the next generation. Throughout our history, Americans have fought gamely against the natural trend toward tyranny (although the ground has shifted), but holding the (always wandering) line can never be taken for granted, even with our built-in advantages: the Constitution, the American psyche, etc.

    We have 100 things a day to worry about other than fighting the quiet, gradual, seemingly imperceptible slide toward tyranny. But I think it is dawning on a lot of people that the present course is both unsustainable and dangerous. Look, I’m sure Barack Obama and the great majority of “progressives” are just fine people at heart. But right now they’re persuading folks to drop their buckets, that they shouldn’t worry about the waters rising around them.

  13. 13
    jackson1234 Said:
    8:39 am 

    The difference between Bush and his Big Government “conservative” critics is a matter of degree, and a minor one at that. I find that quite ironic. While I agree with much of what you wrote about civility, I simply would point out that Americans are much more conservative than perhaps Bartlett, to use an example, would like. Poll after poll confirms it, and the GOP does not need to become the Democratic Party-lite. We are in another period of upheaval, and this time the pendulum has started to swing sharply right again. The ability to govern is important, but if it devolves into Me-tooism the electorate simply will cast its lot with the bigger statists.

    While at it, we use the word “statist” constantly although in a collective context. The Left accuses the Right of wanting a “National Security State,” the Right accuses the Left of wanting a “Nanny State.” Both terms have merit although they are used derisively and often accurately.

    Finally, Barack Obama has been a gift. The perception that the American electorate had swung to the Left and wanted larger government has been torn to shreds as citizens from all walks of life have resisted this overreach. We can always debate where the line is drawn, but as polls and recent events bear out, Americans still resist too much government. The ability to manage is important, but we cannot ignore what has happened in the last few months.

  14. 14
    Right Wing Nut House » THE FORMERLY CONSERVATIVE BLOG KNOWN AS REDSTATE Pinged With:
    11:46 am 

    [...] WIDE AWAKES WIZBANG WUZZADEM ZERO POINT BLOG THE FORMERLY CONSERVATIVE BLOG KNOWN AS REDSTATE ANGRY IDEOLOGUES vs. THE STATISTS TRENDS FOR 2010 BEGINNING TO WORRY DEMOCRATS A PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON TORTURE WOULD SATISFY NO [...]

  15. 15
    mannning Said:
    12:24 pm 

    The obvious steps, busboy, are to drastically cut spending by the government, to rein in entitlements significantly, and to desist in any attempts to legislate further entitlements or cap and trade nonsense. This might well mean pulling back on troop levels in Afghanistan, hurrying up the Iraqi retreat, and stopping any infrastructure expenditures for either nation. We should stop payments to the UN and NATO as well. Any thought of national health care will have to be minimized or only slightly adjusted until we get control of the economy. The fact is, we cannot afford the current level of spending, whether we have a tax increase or not. This administration and Congress must reverse its course of spend, spend, spend. spend, and tax later. There is really no alternative, unless you sign up to a totally broke nation.

    We should streamline government as well, such as devolving education down to the states, and killing duplication in agencies, commissions, committees, and bureaus (of which there are some 1,177 in being, according to the LSU website).

    The difference between Republican and Democratic deficit spending is one of degree. Bush was a total piker compared to Obama by about 7 or 8 to 1, I believe, so the deficit is far and away owned by Obama and crowd, marking his presidency forever, and perhaps putting the nation into bankrupcy. Just the service on our debt will reach over 700 billion dollars per year!

    If you have ever had a monitary judgement from a court in your favor, you know that the larger problem is to collect the money. If your debtor cannot pay you, the judgement is effectively null and void. This is what will happen to new entitlements from Obama and Co. You will be owed, but there will be little or no money for you to collect. So the nation will slide even further into debt. Good luck with that!

  16. 16
    SteveinCH Said:
    12:49 pm 

    I personally think you underestimate the number of people in Washington who believe the world would be a better place if their judgments prevailed over the judgments of state and local governments or individual citizens. A substantial portion of the action that goes on in Washington is about substituting Washington’s judgment of what should be for someone elses.

    My own view is that this is rampant in Washington and is one potential definition of statism, that is, using the state to create outcomes that one wants. When those outcomes relate to the state’s role in the World, there is no true alternative. When it relates to state control over things that do not concern the state per se, they can be seen as statist.

    That said, I prefer the term Federalist since this is a disease first and foremost of our (limited) Federal government. It is a disease that affects both parties, although, like many here, I believe it affects democrats a bit more and the current administration quite substantially.

    The test of freedom is to support a person’s right to do something that you would not do in their place. The statist believes in using the state to take away that right. The statists are rampant in our society today and we little realize it because we have few comparisons. Most governments today are more controlling than ours and our history is one of government control for more than the living memory of most who are now alive.

    The examples are almost too numerous to contemplate but do a thought experiment someday. Just spend the first 90 minutes of your day thinking about the degree to which the state limits your choice in matters that affect nobody but you. My first 90 minutes consisted of reduce flow shower heads, low flow toilets, cars with airbags, taking my kids to a “private” school with mandated curriculum. We no longer see these things as statist because we consider them normal, but statist they are nevertheless.

  17. 17
    mannning Said:
    1:25 pm 

    It would seem, busboy, that the current Democratic representatives are signed up, along with Obama, to this spend x 10 program that will cause our children’s children heartaches, and will cure what you think are real problems in the nation, but for how long? Until the bankruptcy of the nation takes solid hold inside of a few years.

    To me, this is criminal. They are raising the expectations of people in trouble today, only to short them in a little while as the credit of the nation goes South, the deficit blooms, and the service costs explode.

    This is not fiscal conservatism in anyone’s book. It is buying votes and support with future dollars that accrue to the deficit we aren’t even trying to reduce now!

    The suspicion exists rather strongly now that the whole plan is akin to the Marxist idea of disassembling the society, or rendering it fiscally impotent, in order to have the mandate from the public to remake government in the image of centrally-controlled collectivism or social progressivism—poorly– noticed little step by little step.

  18. 18
    funny man Said:
    10:42 pm 

    The strength of the United States (IMHO) lies in its conservative tradition in that it makes the society more flexible and able to adopt to changing circumstances more quickly. In contrast, German people (or a lot of other Europeans too) have due to their own history an understandable desire for security. Hence, more of what here is called the ‘nanny state’ and yes, a lot of people are willing to give up some of their freedom in exchange for security. The US never had the turmoil that the rest of the world experienced in the last 200 odd years.

    Be that as it may, I just think that the Democrats want to move the United States more toward a German style society. In some ways that would lead to a competitive disadvantage for the US because they would give up some of their unique character and even a good copy is still a copy. Other changes are inevitable. For example, 150 years ago London was the world biggest city with a serious sewage problem and a bunch of private companies that couldn’t get the job done. In their defense, nobody at the time knew how to handle 2.5 million people’s poop. However, it needed central oversight and enforcement to win the sanitary battle. All I’m saying here is that there is a role for government and today’s problems can’t all be solved by insights from a rural society 233 years ago.

  19. 19
    The Greenroom » Forum Archive » Is ObamaCare’s problem the brand instead of the plan? Pinged With:
    9:12 am 

    [...] are reminded of how government programs grow or die — and virtually never die. Bloggers like Rick Moran may think slippery slope arguments are unconvincing, but it is most people’s experience of [...]

  20. 20
    Patterico’s Pontifications » Is ObamaCare’s problem the brand instead of the plan? Pinged With:
    9:25 am 

    [...] are reminded of how government programs grow or die — and virtually never die. Bloggers like Rick Moran may think slippery slope arguments are unconvincing, but it is most people’s experience of [...]

  21. 21
    mannning Said:
    3:32 pm 

    .
    “All I’m saying here is that there is a role for government and today’s problems can’t all be solved by insights from a rural society 233 years ago.”–funny man

    Quite so! That is why we have provisions in our Constitution to amend it. I would want this to be the only way our fundamental law of the land could be modified, but the Supreme Court and other federal courts have found numerous quasi-legalistic ways to alter the law without going through the constitutional process. This is because they know that their versions of the law would not pass muster with the public and states going the prescribed path.

    Then, too, we have the Congress that passes laws for a presidential signature to ratify. Large political majorities can result in new laws that require vetting by the Supreme Court sooner or later, and often a likely repeal once the other party takes power.

    Some laws are far too difficult to unwind or modify, however, and result in personal entitlements that have swamped the entire federal budget—that is the case now(reference Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, Stumulus, TARP, and, perhaps soon, Obamacare).

    Fiscal responsibility is not evident in these controling bodies of ours.

  22. 22
    George Said:
    8:11 am 

    Rick: I agree with much that you say here, but the real problem, and this is also a problem for the entire Republican Party, or which I am a former member, is that we can call on conservatives to tone down the rhetoric, and perhaps we should, but who is willing to do the same on the other side. Principled politics with respectable debate must have people on both sides adhere to the respect each deserves. Unfortunatly as you note elsewhere, the Bush haters so dominate the Democrat Party that there is no possibility of a principled, civil debate. Further, the level of corruption among the current leadership of the Congress is quite distasteful. Only when we have a change in leadership, of both parties, is anything going to get done.

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