The Benefits of Reactionary Politics

Seemingly reactionary politics are actually a far more complex ideology that has for too long been marginalized by mainstream establishments in western civilization.  In this response to a New York magazine essay, I consider the merits of this “reactionary” ideology.

 

Andrew Sullivan’s recent essay for the New York magazine is a good example of how something can be insightful, and yet fundamentally flawed.  His subtitle “An open-minded inquiry into the close-minded ideology…” puts the article off to a rough start.  I do think Sullivan is genuinely open-minded after reading the entire article, but he is too quick to call these “reactionaries” close-minded.  Are they close minded for being skeptical of globalization?  Are they close minded for rejecting what most in academia swear by?  Or is most of academia close-minded for not giving serious thought to the possibility that globalization will do more harm than good?

Despite Sullivan’s inconsistent critical thinking, I do think this article is a genuine effort to understand this movement he’s calling “the reactionary right”.  First, he draws a brilliant distinction between conservatism and reactionism.  This is spot on!  Conservatives, as the very name suggests, seek to conserve the status quo, and implement modest, incremental changes.  The changes they seek are to build upon what is already there, rather than change it fundamentally.  In this last Presidential race, Clinton was actually the conservative.  Clearly, the conservatives are not who elected Trump.  As many in the media stated many times over, Trump voters were “thirsty for change”.  While I think the term “reactionary” doesn’t do this movement justice, Sullivan’s description of these reactionaries is astute:

“Reactionary thought begins, usually, with acute despair at the present moment and a memory of a previous golden age. It then posits a moment in the past when everything went to hell and proposes to turn things back to what they once were. It is not simply a conservative preference for things as they are, with a few nudges back, but a passionate loathing of the status quo and a desire to return to the past in one emotionally cathartic revolt.”

Sullivan’s first-hand experience, and my own

In the essay, Sullivan discussed his own background as a “reactionary”.

“Growing up steeped in traditional religion, in a household where patriotism seemed as natural as breathing, I became infatuated with a past that no longer existed. I loved the countryside that was quickly being decimated by development, a Christianity that was being overwhelmed by secularism, and an idea of England, whose glories — so evident in the literature I read, the history I had absorbed, and the architecture I admired — had self-evidently crumbled into dust.”

I can see that Sullivan is genuine in describing his own experiences, but also that he doesn’t do it justice.

Like Mr. Sullivan, I too have, in the past, fit this description.  In my early adult years, despite my mixed heritage and German surname, I strongly identified with my English heritage to the point of wanting to “go back”.  I romanticized England, the land of my forefathers, and imagined it much like Sullivan describes above.  I’ve discussed my dismay at what I actually found before.  I too know the despair of modernity, when compared to a glossy and cherry-picked image of a past I’ve never experienced except in my mind.  I admit that to this very day, this “reactionism”, which I prefer to call “nostalgiaholism”, is my instinct.  This level of nostalgia really can have an intoxicating effect, and I think of myself now as a recovered nostalgiaholic.  Despite this, the ideals of “reactionaries” should not be dismissed, and may have merits.

Sullivan makes two assumptions that should be challenged.  1. That looking to the past equates to resisting progress, and 2. That change is necessarily good.

The benefits of nostalgia in moderation

As drinking in moderation has proven health benefits, I contend that nostalgia in moderation can also benefit the health of society and human progress.  What Sullivan is calling “reactionism”, Roger Scruton calls this “restorationism”, and distinguishes it from mainstream conservatism, and this label is probably the most accurate.  Reactionaries, after all, would not be proactive, nor have any particular goal other than to impede some sort of change they don’t like.  But restorationists see something from the past they’d like to restore.

While trying to fully restore an entire era is not only dangerous but impossible, this does not mean that the past should be ignored.  Many times in human history, great leaps forward have been motivated by nostalgia.  It was nostalgia for ancient Rome that drove Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.  It was nostalgia for the logical thinking of ancient Greek philosophers that motivated the creation of the university.  What is more civilized than the critical thinking skills developed out of the early modern university?

Sullivan refers to the Roman Catholic “Counter Reformation” as part of this “reactionary” tradition.  However, it should be noted that the Counter Reformation brought about much needed reforms in the Roman Catholic Church, much to the benefit of those nations that were predominantly Catholic, such as finally ending the practice of “selling indulgences”, and disciplining corruption among the episcopate.

The United States of America was motivated also by nostalgia.  Go back in time to 1776.  Monarchies and oligarchies are the norm.
Republican form of government?  Isn’t that the primitive government the early Romans had before they became an empire?  Oh yeah, they also tried that in England under Cromwell.  Didn’t he turn into a dictator and massacre Irish priests, nuns, and laity in their parish?  Why would anyone want a Republic?

But the Founding Fathers looked to those few examples of a successful republic in the ancient world with fondness.  They also saw the failures of the Cromwell Republic in England, and were careful not to repeat those failures.  (The first amendment guarantee of “free expression” of religion is a crucial component of that.)  Rather than living in the now of 1776, the Founding Fathers lived in the past, the ancient past.  Thanks to the ancient past, they were able to restore a republican form of government.

The Church of England has made leaps forward not only for the Church itself, but also for Great Britain, motivated by nostalgia.  In the 19th century, many in the Church of England started longing for their Catholic roots.  Few desired a full reunion with the Roman Catholic Church, but they did push for the restoration of many Catholic styles of worship.  Consequently, they also found themselves increasingly sympathetic to the plight of their long oppressed Catholic brothers in Ireland.  In the political sphere, they pushed for better treatment for the Irish with some success, and at least brought an end to formalized suppression of Catholic worship in Ireland.

Then comes the Irish themselves.  Around the time of World War I, they began looking to the past.  Ireland was free once, wasn’t it?  They began pining for an independent Irish nation.  They also looked to the United States for inspiration.  This all sparked the Irish revolution, leading to a now small but thriving Irish Republic.  How fortunate that the Irish looked to the past, rather than embracing the now of 1916.

The Fallacy of Novelty – Change isn’t always good

People don’t necessarily resist change just because they are stubborn and set in their ways.  Most academics would in principle agree with the statement – skepticism is a healthy component of critical thinking.  Yet, when it comes to “progress”, suddenly skepticism is to be viewed as the anti-thesis of critical thinking.  But this is not so.

Many of these salt-of-the-earth Americans are more intelligent than recognized by those in the ivory towers of academia, the Washington beltway, and the mainstream media.  There are many changes that they do embrace, some of which Sullivan has identified, such as a desire to fundamentally transform the administrative state.  But their skepticism of many proposed changes that are imposed upon them is perfectly healthy.  Rather than seeing it as a stubbornness that should, at best, be coaxed out of them, or a worst, should be broken by brute force; perhaps we should be humble enough to admit that they might actually be right, or at least partly correct.  Human history is full of examples, after all, of a nouveau elite imposing massive changes on a people with disastrous consequences.

The Cromwell example in England mentioned above is one such.

The Soviet Union is another such example.  Massive changes were imposed on the people of Russia.  Their historic Orthodox faith was suppressed.  Their economy was radically reorganized.  Dissenting opinions were not tolerated.  It was assumed that anyone who doubted communism was “insane” and they were institutionalized.  The Bolshevics never had the humility to consider the possibility that they may not have known what was best for everyone, all the time.  And the result was nearly a century of suffering, mass murder, starvation, and the final collapse of the Soviet Union.  Communism in China went similarly, though they managed not to collapse.

In America, the early progressives implemented some very positive changes that transformed out economy and led us to victory in World War II.  However, some of their imposed changes make up the darker chapters of American history.  Many of the early progressives sought to advance the human species with eugenics, which also influenced early Nazi Germany.  They also studied diseases on some “lesser human beings”.  Sadly, this meant the long oppressed African Americans, some of whom were denied treatment for syphilis as part of the Tuskagee Study in order to study its effects.  A growing number of blacks became skeptical of all that change.  They were right to be skeptical.

How fortunate that in Spain, many reactionaries resisted change!  Led by Franco, the seemingly benign center-left Republic was overthrown.  The momentum to overthrow this Republic was not a desire fascism, nor even Carlism (Spanish conservatism), though those elements were there.  The momentum that led Franco to victory came from the genuine fear that the Soviets were about to use the Spanish Republic to ultimately turn Spain into another Soviet satellite.  Spain could have been like Romania under Ceausescu.  Instead, it went from an authoritarian right government under Franco, to a monarchy, to a now a thriving democracy structured around a constitutional monarchy, much like Great Britain and several Nordic states.

As we should not hold on to tradition just for the sake of tradition, we should also not embrace change simply because it’s new.  Ideas old and new should be scrutinized, and it is the scrutiny of the new that is an essential function performed by these “reactionaries”.

 

Make America Great Again – What does this mean?

Many have dismissed this slogan as a racist desire to return to the Jim Crow era.  As a recovered nostalgiaholic, I can tell you that when I was on the wagon, I had no desire to restore white supremacy.  Actually, I had great sympathy for some of the most radical African Americans who wanted to embrace their African roots.  I wanted to embrace my English roots, they wanted to embrace their African roots…makes sense.  To me, the desire of any people to reconnect with their ancestors, their traditions, and the land of their forefathers, is a perfectly natural desire.  The philosopher Roger Scruton (the aforementioned restorationist) has argued that Islam is incompatible with the West, but he likewise has shown respect for the right of the Islamic people to be autonomous, and not have western values imposed upon their part of the world.    In so doing, Roger Scruton shows greater respect for the Islamic world than many a self-righteous neoliberal, who preaches compassion when calling for admitting refugees, but doesn’t hesitate to bomb entire nations into submission because they think that the west knows what is best for the whole world.

This claim that “reactionaries” or restorationists are racist is absurd, and is a cheap tactic by the globalists to racially isolate this movement as an exclusively white movement.  But people of all races across the world face different threats from the forces of globalization.

Sullivan, fortunately, is open minded enough not to dismiss this movement as “racist”.  But this is only a matter of strategy, rather than intellectual inquiry in the merits of “reactionary” politics.

“The American elite’s dismissal of these truths, its reduction of all resistance to cultural and demographic change as crude “racism” or “xenophobia,” only deepens the sense of siege many other Americans feel.”

It’s commendable that Sullivan seeks to reach out to these American under siege, but how can he expect them to be open to his ideas, if he is not also open to their ideas?

Sullivan himself not only acknowledges that globalization is very new and fragile, but admits to the negative consequences of globalization.  He refers to the work of Robert Putnam, who found that “people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down,’ that is, to pull in like a turtle.”  I saw this firsthand during my time in London.  You’ll never meet a more unpleasant Englishman than the one who lives in London.  But I found the English I met anywhere outside of London to be far more pleasant and welcoming, contrary to stereotypes.

In America, we are more accustomed to multiculturalism, given our long history as a nation of immigrants.  While the 1950s were, admittedly, “whiter”, it is not the “whiteness” that so many in Trump’s base pine for.  My father tells me of a time in America when you could walk into a factory and get a job the same day.  As a political scientist, I look at a time in the past when there wasn’t as wide of a gap between rich and poor, and America had a strong middle class.  Do I really care how “white” the middle class is?!

The great thing about restorationism is that you don’t have to restore everything.  If we can restore America as a manufacturing giant, it doesn’t mean we have to restore Jim Crow.  Manufacturing in no way depends on racial segregation.  (If anything, segregation was an impediment, and manufacturing thrived in the 1950s despite it.)

We can debate whether or not restoring America’s manufacturing sector is possible, or a good idea if it is.  But to claim that this is “racist” is a cheap straw man argument designed to impede any legitimate debate.

The stale intellectual elites, and Mr. Sullivan 

At the risk of getting back on the wagon, I must lament at the changes I see in academia.  I joined academia in the hope of becoming a part of an institution that valued knowledge and critical thinking.  Many in academia still do.  But I see this under assault by a violent wave of political correctness.  The short term feelings of students and faculty takes precedent over the development of their minds.  Expanding the mind is sometimes a painful process, which involves challenging everything you know, or think you know.  But when doing so is “offensive”, it is increasingly suppressed by those claiming to be the open-minded advocates of the oppressed.  I see this in academia, but others on the #trumptrain see it all around them.

This is not progressive, but the antithesis of progress!  We do not move people forward by shielding them from scrutiny.  We do not move society forward by embedding a strict set of social norms and ostracizing those who challenge those norms.  It makes no difference whether those norms are conservative values or politically correct values.  As John Stuart Mill stated, “This mode of thinking makes the justification of restraints on discussion not a question of the truth of doctrines, but of their usefulness; and flatters itself by that means to escape the responsibility of claiming to be an infallible judge of opinions.”  This assumption of infallibility I see increasingly from academic elites, as well as beltway bureaucrats and media pundits.  Those Sullivan comes from that ilk, he is fortunately more humble.

Sullivan, like me, laments the rise of left-winged authoritarianism on university campuses.  Maybe, like me, he also looks fondly on the past, on the foundation of the university, as a place of open minds, thoughtful questions, and the pursuit of genuine, objective answers.  Restorationism deserves to be a part of the conversation.  It is not merely reactionary, it is a method of critical thought, rooted in the principle that human history contains many examples of past glories that can be revitalized in new and interesting ways.  Don’t get drunk on it, but we could all use a nightcap of nostalgia.

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Best Kos article ever…but it still sucks!

I just got taken for a ride by a very clever article about discrimination in the Daily Kos.  While I have some conservative sentiments, I’ve never cared for the “take back America” mantra.  Last I checked, America was never taken from us, so I’m not sure from whom we’re supposed to take it back.

This Kos article, by someone named Steven D, initially addressed that mantra, which caught my eye.  The first half of it was an interesting account of young Steven’s life in N. Carolina towards the end of the “Jim Crow” era, as a white northerner.  It was very courteous of him to note that these kinds of segregationist norms were uncommon in S. Dakota “probably because there were so few black people living in the Northern Plains states.”  I’ve never appreciated how white northerners criticize the south for all of our history of racial strife, when they up north so rarely had to deal with it, so I’m glad Steven D notes that very important difference in circumstances.  Well, even though I’m about to rip into this article, I’d still encourage you to read it, because the first half really is an excellent primary history source of segregation in 1950s North Carolina.

Now for the ripping. 

While I agree with some of the points that followed, in particular that our criminal justice system continues to discriminate against blacks; in typical Kos fashion the article goes on to make ridiculous hasty generalizations against conservatives, and a series of other fallacious arguments I will explain.  For one thing, Steven D seems to be suggesting that conservatives who say “I want my country back” want to go back to Jim Crow.  I will admit that most such conservatives (who are more anachronistic than conservative by the way), most of them cherry pick the past.  They probably want the prosperity and patriotism of the 1950s, and chose not to remember the segregation, much less the very high tax rates of the era.  But while their memories may be selective, they are not racists, they are not closet racists, and furthermore, it is indeed possible to look to the past, maybe try to re-implement parts of the past you like while leaving behind the parts that you don’t.  I for example would love to make America a manufacturing power house again, like we were in the 1950s.  We don’t need segregated schools to have manufacturing jobs, and it would be absurd to tell me “you can’t cherry-pick, if you want to go back to the 50s, you have to have segregation too.”

What bothered me most about this article is that it engaged in the all too familiar leftist victim group umbrella tactic.  That is, after deeply discussing racial discrimination in the past and present, it jumped into LGBT issues, feminism, Latinos, and any other “victim group” that the monolithic left seeks to homogenize into their narrow-minded political movement.  The article made a clearly false claim about feminism – “Feminism as a movement did not exist until the late 60s and early 70s.”  What about the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries?  What about great classic feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, who encouraged equality in education, reason and modesty?

Religious Freedom is a Problem?

The article then begins to attack religious freedom itself as a mere excuse for discrimination.  So, if a cake decorator is religiously opposed to same-sex marriage, and therefore refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding, that is to be called “discrimination” and the cake decorator punished?  So, you’re entitled to your religious beliefs, but if they offend the left, you have to violate those very beliefs in public…because they’re offensive?  As so often with the cleverly bigoted left, this is compared to the 1950s when blacks were refused service at restaurants.

Here are three reasons why that comparison is absurd.  1.  In the 50s, the discrimination was widespread, and blacks were being denied very basic necessities such as hotels when they were on the road, food when they were hungry, etc.  This greatly diminished their quality of life.  One religious cake decorator refusing to make a cake will not diminish the quality of a gay couple’s life.  There are plenty of cake decorators who don’t care, and would make them a cake.  To compare one entitled gay couple who still had their wedding to a poor black family in the 50s who slept in their car because the hotel “doesn’t serve coloreds” – that is an insult!  2.  Gay is not black.  A black man walks in, you know he’s black.  When racial discrimination is allowed, it’s far too easy to do so and degrade blacks in every way.  The same would be true of any other skin color.  A gay man walks in, do you know he’s gay?  Some gay people don’t “act gay”.  Some straight people are “metrosexual” (I’ve been known to set off a few gaydars myself).  3.  There is a difference between refusing service simply because someone is gay, and refusing to be involved in a same sex wedding ceremony.  While I am not against same-sex marriage myself, as an American, I will defend the right of fellow Americans to practice their religion as they see fit.  This is not “discrimination”, it is freedom.  To punish a cake decorator who refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding is not ANTI-discrimination, it IS discrimination.  This leftist tactic of comparing everything they hate to Jim Crow racism is a clear poisoning the well fallacy.  Well, I don’t want to be racist, so I guess I’ll have to make a cake of a same-sex wedding ceremony.

This next part isn’t even good enough to be absurd

Of course, this is the Kos, and if you think what I’ve discussed above is the worst in this article…just read on.  The article also made a beyond absurd argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana will somehow effectively discriminate against, well, any group the Kos wants to appeal to.  Here are Steven D’s words – “Their efforts encompass attempts to limit the rights of a far wider range of people, from the poor, young people and students, women, Latinos, immigrants, the disabled and, of course, blacks.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is frankly delusional.”  WHAT?!  I’m sorry, but due to my religious beliefs, I can’t serve poor people…that’s what Jesus would do.  HUH?!  Sorry, but I can’t serve coffee to you students who are cramming for an exam because, religion.  REALLY?!  Where did Steven D come up with this nonsense?

I found the ending to be the most offensive and insulting of all.  Again, Steven D’s words – “I certainly don’t want a country where anyone can discriminate against anyone else of whom they do disapprove and escape liability for that immoral and otherwise unlawful act under any pretext, be it freedom of religionracial superiority or traditional values.”  In the name of white supremacy, the Reverend Clementa Pickney and eight worshippers were murdered at an AME Church in Charleston S. Carolina – while exercising their freedom of religion!  There’s a long a tragic history of black worshippers being murdered by white supremacists, and their churches being burned down.  To equate white supremacy to freedom of religion is an insult to the memories of every black worshipper who was murdered.

Why this article still sucks

I’m not frustrated by this article because it comes “from the left”.  There’s plenty of respectable leftist sources, such as The Nation and….The Nation…. I’m not even frustrated by all the ridiculous points I’ve now refuted, as I expect nothing less from the Kos.  I’m frustrated because this article actually had potential.  I’m not saying Steven D couldn’t make these points effectively.  With some basic critical thinking skills he could have made a plausible argument for why gay is the new black, or that it is wrong to refuse service for a gay wedding.  I’d disagree, but I’d at least consider it a respectable article.  But instead, what starts out as a very interesting first hand history lesson quickly degenerates into the kind of left-winged bigotry for which the Kos is notorious.  It is the worst kind of bigotry, as it is often in the name of anti-discrimination.  But discrimination in the name of anti-discrimination, is still discrimination.  If I as a Christian call for religious freedom, then argue that, say, Muslims do not believe in religious freedom*; and therefore Muslims must not be allowed to practice their religion because they are a threat to religious freedom, I would be a hypocritical bigot – no better than the ones at the Daily Kos.

I, too, “want a better country”.  But part of that depends on maintaining those aspects of our country that do work well.  The first amendment, amongst other things guaranteeing freedom of religion, has always served us well.  I’m not prepared to sacrifice that freedom in the name of anti-discrimination.  I’d rather use my first amendment rights to persuade my fellow Americans, than deny their first amendment rights in order to force their actions, which will never change what is in their hearts.

Note(s)

*For the record, I acknowledge that Islam, like Christianity, could be cherry-picked to justify suppressing religious freedom.  But like Christians, the average Muslim especially in America simply wants to practice his/her faith and has no desire deprive others of the same freedom.  If anything Islam has a better history of religious freedom, considering that they at least acknowledge some other faiths as “people of the book” and that during the Crusading era of the Middle Ages, Christians and Jews did have religious freedom for the most part in the Islamic world while the same courtesy was clearly not extended in the Christian world.

My Piece on the Charleston Massacre

Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent – My Peer Reviewed article!

If I’ve been a little slow with my blog and vlog lately, it’s because I was wrapping up this article.  The full title is “The Decline of Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent: Why Grassroots Conservatives in the United States are Embracing a more cautious foreign policy“.  I cannot post the entire article here, but it is a free, open access journal provided by Sage Publications.  You can either read it directly on their website, or have a PDF emailed to you.  Just follow the hyperlink I just gave.  I can at least post the abstract, as follows:

It is now clear that the American conservative movement can no longer be easily categorized as “hawkish” on foreign policy. This essay examines the different perspectives, ranging from intellectuals and experts to grassroots conservatives and popular political culture, to grasp the widening range of foreign policy preferences that currently make up the conservative movement (or conservative big tent). Second, this essay considers the challenges that these hawks, mainly the neoconservatives, are likely to face due to the realities of generational politics. This essay will therefore provide a useful analysis of the different foreign policy preferences in the American conservative movement in the 21st century.

Rand Paul’s dangerous flirtation with “Judicial Activism”

RandPaulHeritageAction

I would write a blogpost refuting a statement by the very man I’m endorsing for President.  Rand Paul hasn’t lost any of my respect due to this, I simply think he is in error.  He’s allowed the left to mislead him with their often flimsy definition of judicial activism, which pretty much amounts to “using the judicial process to overturn bad laws”.  If “bad laws” are unconstitutional, then it is the Supreme Court’s job to overturn them.  Judicial activism is when these judges start abusing that power to push their own agenda, no matter how well intended that agenda may be.  Legislators, that is, Congress is there to pass good policies.  The Judicial branch, headed by the Supreme Court, is only there to ensure that these laws adhere to the Constitution.  So, I’d like to address each of Paul’s examples of where he thinks he’s supporting judicial activism.  Some of these really do fit the definition of activism, but others are simply proper use of judicial review, that is, to overturn unconstitutional laws or statutes.  (Note that I will quote the parts of the Constitution used in full at the bottom.)

  1. Lochner vs. New York – This ruling in 1905, a 5-4 decision, concluded that the right to enter a contract was implicit in the 14th It specifically overturned some early labor laws in the NY, limiting bakers to 10 hours a day and 60 hours a week.  I’ll agree with Rand Paul to the extent that this was judicial activism.  I’ve read the 14th Amendment thoroughly, and fail to see how it guarantees unlimited, unregulated individual contracts.  With that said, I see nothing wrong with such a law, but I do agree that it is an example of judicial activism and the kind that Rand Paul would support.
  2. “The New Deal” – This is a broad category of many laws passed during the Roosevelt era, and difficult to refute for that reason. Some of them probably were unconstitutional, and others not.  My position is that Congress has the authority to create programs such as Social Security, for it is consistent with the General Welfare clause of Article I, Sec. 8.  If Rand Paul is like his father, and believes Social Security to be unconstitutional, then overturning it would not be judicial activism.  It would simply be the proper use of judicial review.
  3. “State bans on birth control” – This is a tough one. I personally am a strong supporter of birth control rights.  As an advocate of judicial restraint, I’m hesitant to overturn state laws on this (though I’d certainly oppose Federal laws).  I could see how this would be consistent with the rather vague 9th Amendment, however, and would not consider it an abuse of judicial power to overturn state bans on birth control based on the 9th.  Birth control is a very personal decision, and unlike with abortion, the dispute over human life doesn’t enter the equation.  I can see how this would be one of those “others [rights] retained by the people”.
  4. “Obamacare” – here I completely agree with Rand Paul’s policy position, but completely disagree with his assertion that it would be “judicial activism” to overturn it. Obamacare is clearly unconstitutional as it requires people to purchase a product, effectively punishing inaction.  As there is no constitutional justification for this, we default to the 10th amendment, and leave it to “the states, respectively, or the people”.  Rand Paul is right to want to overturn Obamacare, but this would be well within the authority of the Supreme Court, and certainly not any type of judicial activism.
  5. Brown v. Board of Education – this is the ruling that ended segregation of public schools on the basis of the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause. Like Paul, I agree that segregation needed to be overturned, and I’m glad that it was.  Unlike Paul, and unlike many Civil Rights leaders, I do not see this as judicial activism.  This is perfectly consistent with the original intent of the 14th Amendment, ratified after the abolition of slavery to ensure equal protection under the law to all citizens, with the intention aimed at the time towards former slaves.  Surely that includes the right to the same educational opportunities as whites.

So in conclusion, while I agree with some and not others of Rand’s positions, I completely disagree with his definition of “judicial activism”.  Judicial abuse of power is a very dangerous trend.  If 9 unelected judges who serve for life can overturn laws at their whims, they have become a panel of oligarchs.  And to my libertarian friends, just like I tell liberals, remember…if they can overturn laws you don’t like, they can also overturn laws you do like.  Do you really want 9 unelected judges who serve for life to have that much power?

From the US Constitution, word for word:

14th Amendment (Section 1) – All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

9th Amendment – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article I, Section 8 (first clause) – The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

10th Amendment – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Another of my posts on judicial activism:

Conervative Democrat Peter Newberry – Great Platform, Terrible Strategy!

PeterNewberry ThomasMassie

I used to think of myself as one of the last conservative Democrats, and my heart delights on the rare occasion that I hear of a conservative Democrat running for office (especially against a neocon Republican).  I was thrilled to support Democrat Mark Clayton in TN against the neocon Bob Corker.  I have now heard of a conservative Democrat Peter Newberry who is running against Republican Thomas Massie for a House seat from Kentucky. 

I have looked into Newberry’s platform, and I like what I see so far.  He doesn’t seem very organized, however, and doesn’t have a webpage or even a facebook page.  He is deeply concerned about wasteful bureaucracy and stifling regulations.  He’s also very critical of incumbency and the obscene amount of money in politics (This article discusses him).  Newberry would probably be a great addition to the House of Representatives, but I have one huge problem with this – He’s running against Massie!

The Republican Party is still largely plagued with corrupt neocons who need to be picked off.  I don’t care if it’s done in Republicans primaries, by Democratic challengers, or even third party candidates (if they can win).  But Massie is one of the good ones!  Of course Massie isn’t perfect.  Who is?  But we really need to pick our battles, and this is not a battle worth fighting.  Massie has done an excellent job of fighting for civil liberties and opposing wasteful spending.  We need him in the House, and in a time when most of Congress is made up of neocon Republicans and Clintonian-to-progressive Democrats, we don’t need to be picking off the few who fall outside that paradigm.  Like many Gen. Y/Millenials, I’m sick of having to choose between big government on the left, and big government on the right. 

While Newberry’s platform could be a winner in a different context, I don’t expect Newberry to make much of an impact against Massie.  If it weren’t for my conservative-Democratic sentiments, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this.  Not only is Newberry going after a strong candidate with a similar base (a base which has no reason to switch), but Newberry has no clear organization.  It’s OK to be underfunded if you make up for it with some elbow grease, but I’m not seeing it.  Is he knocking on doors?  Kissing babies?  Using the cost effective internet?  I know he can’t help but be outspent on TV and radio by Massie, but if he’s serious about challenging, he has to make up for that in other ways, and he’s not doing it.

Clayton made the same strategic mistakes against Corker here in TN, but at least it was a battle worth fighting.  Corker has long been a neocon shill, and will always be that way.  But if my endorsement matters, I’m sticking with Massie.  I hope Newberry, or some Democrat like him, will challenge the establishment Republicans in times to come.  I’d love to see some neocons taken down, and the Democratic Party start remembering it’s conservative roots all at the same time.  But that is probably just wishful thinking on my part.  (I rarely embrace the “blue dog” label anymore).

Feminism for Conservatives

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CPAC’s panel “Why Conservatism is Right for Women: How Conservatives Should Talk About Life, Prosperity & National Security” was onto something.  They discussed the disgusting tactics of the Democratic Party, and how they as conservatives could better empower women.  I didn’t care for their partisan rhetoric, i.e. “we Republicans” and “those Democrats”, as most Republicans are not genuine conservatives.  Nonetheless, they are moving in the right direction, but currently fall short.  Leah Libresco in “The American Conservative” noticed this, and did a decent job of critiquing the shortcomings of this panel.  The conclusion in Libresco’s article was so very close, but even Libresco is missing something.

There was a time when feminists were level-headed, enlightened, and erudite.  They eloquently stated their positions and reasoned them well.  First it was education equality, then the right to own property, vote, and run for office.  Then they continued to push for the right to work, and then pursue careers on the level playing field with men.  Much like the civil rights advocates of the 50s and 60s, justice was on their side and slowly but surely they won the respect of society and in so doing transformed it.

Not so of today’s “feminists”.  During the 1960s, the Democratic Party was making a radical shift leftward and they quickly realized that they could lock in large pockets of voters by victimizing them.  For women, they appeal to them largely by promising more healthcare, more laws and regulations to ensure “equal pay”, more abortions, and then rail against the idea that men should make laws affecting women’s bodies.  This rhetoric has become increasingly hyperbolic, partisan, and hypocritical.  (I will post a link to an Anderson Cooper interview below where he exposes some of this hypocrisy).  But in short, an increasingly small and radical wing of “feminists” vote Democrat like their lady parts depend on it.  It has become condescending.  Women are treated like their pretty little heads can’t understand taxes, welfare, foreign policy, infrastructure, and other major political issues.

I have this misogynist, chauvinist, caveman view that woman are rational, thinking, complex human beings.  I do not view women as sex objects to be exploited for votes, nor would I ever think to demean them by treating them as though all they care about is abortion, birth control, and some big bad government to give them stuff like a good cave man provider.  Women are just as capable as men of making decisions, forming opinions about a wide range of topics, and carefully considering the choices of candidates in an election.  The only victims I see are the ones who allow the left to convince them that they are, indeed victims.  There is a small portion of women who will not be convinced.  This small portion loves their version of “liberation”.  They are liberated from self-control.  They are liberated from personal responsibility.  And they are liberated from having to think for themselves.  They have a collectivist “feminist” machine to tell them how to think.

Fortunately, most women know that they are capable of more than being the subsidized sex objects of men who demean them, thanks to those early feminist pioneers.  They have access to education, the right to pursue careers, vote, run for office, and own property.  Furthermore, as this country largely allows guns, they have the right to protect themselves.  They are empowered.  If conservatives want to win women over, this is what must be emphasized.  Conservatives win when they learn to be positive – it worked for Reagan.  Simply bashing the left for victimizing women will not be enough.  Conservatives need to show that they value the early feminist principles espoused by the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft and Susan B. Anthony.  Conservatives should actually embrace the label “feminist”, and show how the left has wrecked the name of feminism.  When conservatives emphasize that they empower women, and truly value them for more than sex and votes, they will make a convincing case for their new found feminist credentials, and they will win over a large portion of self respecting, empowered women.

Original Article:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/gop-needs-a-better-story-for-women/comment-page-1/#comment-4618188

Anderson Cooper’s interview, exposing leftist hypocrisy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFRNXBADEl0

Julie Borowski’s satire of Lena Dunham:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAkdHzpXXo0