After nearly two years of spasmodic posting on this blog, I have decided to reboot and relaunch the site and write daily, original postings as often as I can manage.
That’s the plan, anyway. With the campaign for the presidency beginning to heat up, I felt compelled to add a voice to the proceedings that perhaps isn’t heard as much as it should be.
The voice of reason.
I’m just cynical enough to realize that no one much cares about reason, logic, rationality, or philosophical conservatism for that matter. Fewer care what I think. Fewer still have any use for my brand of conservatism.
And I’m just arrogant enough to think that love me or hate me, agree or disagree, I am a good enough writer to engage your interest and entertain most of you.
And that brings me to the reboot of Right Wing Nuthouse. I have been branded with the epithet “RINO” by most of the internet right — at least, those who view themselves as true blue, or “real” conservatives. But “RINO” may be a misnomer. I have never been a “party man” in the almost 8 years this site has been on the net, although I have had my partisan moments to be sure. The ideologues who have tarred me with what they believe to be their most withering criticism actually mean that I am a “Conservative In Name Only” — a CINO. But since the GOP is now almost exclusively a party of conservatives — something to be greatly lamented — we’ll stick with RINO as a catch-all for both.
It hardly matters. I wear both acronyms with pride, considering the source. Besides, I have no desire whatsoever to have my name associated with a political party that:
1. Embraces the likes of Ted Akin, Christine O’Donnell, Michelle Bachmann, Alan West, Tony Perkins, Joe Arpaio, Herman Cain, Tom Tancredo, and 2 dozen more bomb throwers, anti-science mountebanks, bigots, half-crazed religious fanatics, closed minded nincompoops, and intellectual lightweights. For those who are tempted to say, “Oh Yeah? Well those Democrats have their own Hall of Idiots too,” I would only respond that I have no earthly reason to be associated with the Democrats either. Besides, defending your own by pointing out that the other side is worse, or similarly handicapped is idiotic. It’s not an argument. It’s a cry for help.
2. Fails to deal rationally with the problem of 11 million illegal immigrants. You can’t deport them all, or round them up and hold them in pens until they get their due process. They are here. There are 11 million of them. Deal with it. If you want them off the public dole, make it possible for them to work. The potential human capital and entrepreneurial energy being wasted because of bigotry or some over-heated notion of “law and order” is irrational (crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor). A more rational legal immigration policy would help. So would beefing up border security. But for the 11 million already here, a solution must be found.
Either solve the problem or take the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” off the Statue of Liberty
3. Believes that we are living in the end times of the republic if Barack Obama is re-elected. If the US can survive a James Buchanan, US Grant, and Jimmy Carter, we can survive Obama. This hysterical overreaction to every thing the president does is astonishing. The claim we are “losing” our freedoms is pathetic. Please list those freedoms Barack Obama has taken away, not talking points from the echo chamber. Czars do not represent a loss of freedom. Executive orders do not take away freedom. Creating a gigantic bureaucracy to oversee health care in America does not represent a loss of freedom. Overregulation is not a loss of freedom. Just because government becomes a nuisance does not mean that our basic freedoms are being lost. If they were, you would probably be in jail for saying so.
Those besotted with partisan ideology and who see Obama through the darkest prism imaginable, are the real danger to the republic — not some incompetent, far left liberal with delusions of grandeur and dreams of redistributive justice.
4. That believes all Democrats are traitorous, evil wretches who hate America.
5. That believes Obama is a “socialist” or even a “Communist.” To disregard the definition of a word and substitute your own meaning is damaging to the language and to rational discourse.
6. That believes the Constitution is holy writ and is to be interpreted literally.
7. That thinks that Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other right wing radio talk show hosts should be taken seriously.
8. That believes in so many conspiracies that paranoids locked up in mental institutions look sane by comparison.
9. That never met an environmental regulation they didn’t hate and defines “free market” as nearly unfettered, predatory capitalism.
10. That believes the solution to most of our challenges overseas is either to bomb the hell out of them or overthrow the offending government. Sometimes both.
11. That believes waterboarding and other forms of internationally recognized torture are only what the terrorists deserve.
12. That equates compromise with surrender and civility with weakness.
13. That believes there is nothing to learn from opposing points of view and that criticizing your own side for something they’ve said or done is tantamount to apostasy.
There’s a lot more, but I’ve got to save something for future postings.
All of the above is the result of massively excessive ideological fervor that celebrates ignorance and cheers the irrational. I don’t know who or what is to blame — talk radio, the internet, perhaps more than anything, the perilous times we live in. I only know that I proudly reject a political party whose rank and file hold to this kind of deranged thinking — a derangement that extends even to the leadership of the party at times.
So what is it that RINO’s believe? I can only say what I believe and let others who might be tempted to join the ranks of conservative heretics make up their own mind.
1. I believe in a practical, reasonable interpretation of constitutional principles. These include defined limits on the scope and power of government, even if those limits interfere with some people’s concept of “social justice.” There is no justice without order, no order without limits on power. This was one of the core beliefs of the founders and I see no reason to abandon it for any reason.
I also believe in a rational interpretation of constitutional intent. This includes recognizing that the founders could never have envisioned the overwhelming role of commerce in America, but trusted their decedents to balance liberty with the need to restrain the powerful to keep them from preying on the weak. (A no brainer, this one.)
2. I believe in prudence as a civic virtue above all others.
3. I believe in science as a “candle in the dark” and that rejecting established science for religious or ideological reasons is anti-intellectual.
4. I believe we should render unto God what is God’s. All else — including government, public education, and the town square — belongs to man.
5. I believe that the current crisis needs serious men and women willing and able to work with their political opponents to begin to address the monumental problems we are facing. Recognizing that politics is a dirty, nasty business and that it will never be all sweetness and light between Republicans and Democrats, this is not an excuse to indulge in the most juvenile name calling and spitballing that substitutes for governance today. If politicians can’t find a way to overcome their own worst instincts, we are doomed to a collapse that will bring about unthinkable social and economic upheaval.
6. I believe there is merit to carefully examining criticism from the other side when it is logical and reasonably given. I also believe it imperative to expose oneself to other points of view outside one’s ideological comfort zone. If “Reading maketh a whole man” one must never stop searching for knowledge no matter what its origin.
7. I believe in “the examined life” — constantly testing the underlying assumptions of one’s philosophy to ensure that it is grounded in reality. While principles are immutable (to a large degree), one’s definition of belief regarding a particular issue might change as more information is inputted. If one finds that it is necessary to stretch, or spin one’s beliefs on an issue to force it to fit into a predetermined slot in your philosophy, the chances are very good that you’ve moved beyond that particular formulation and need to define a new one.
8. I believe it necessary for conservatism to inoculate itself against the toxicity being spread by the right wing ideologues whose hysteria, conspiracy mongering, irrational religious fervor, and lunatic ideas of government threaten to undermine the true nature of conservatism as a personal philosophy and force a retrenchment that would take us back to a time when the right was irrelevant.
Conservatism is not a political ideology. As Oakeshott points out, the application of conservative principles to liberal democracy is more to the point. What he calls, “rational government” incorporates principles expounded on by theorists from Burke to Kirk.
To govern, then, as the conservative understands it, is to provide a vinculum juris for those manners of conduct which, in the circumstances, are least likely to result in a frustrating collision of interests; to provide redress and means of compensation for those who suffer from others behaving in a contrary manner; sometimes to provide punishment for those who pursue their own interests regardless of the rules; and, of course, to provide a sufficient force to maintain the authority of an arbiter of this kind. Thus, governing is recognized as a specific and limited activity; not the management of an enterprise, but the rule of those engaged in a great diversity of self-chosen enterprises.
I suppose since Oakeshott was in favor of regulating business, he would be called a RINO today.
There’s much more I believe, of course. But to find out, you’re just going to have to add me to your RSS feed and come back for more.