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April 04, 2015

Fundamental Concepts – Guess what Conservatives? We can't win [Weirddave]

Earlier this week, Drew M wrote another chapter in his long running “Let It Burn” saga, Can The GOP Be Reformed? Some Say No, Others Are Wrong. It's a good essay, I encourage anyone who missed it to take a moment to read it, because I'm about to take issue with it.

The issue I have with Drew's thread has nothing to do with it's content. I happen to think that his observations are spot on, and I agree with them. The GOP isn't a conservative party. It isn't going to ever be as conservative as he, and I, and I suspect most of you, would want. The United States will never be as conservative as it should be, and in fact it never was as conservative as we like to pretend. Even if one views the Constitution as the greatest governing document devised by man, which it is, it still has its flaws, and from the day it was ratified efforts from all sides have been ongoing to change or modify its provisions. The problem I have with Drew's essay is that I think he misunderstands the role that we absolutely HAVE to play in the system.

Let It Burn

First, lets dispense with the canard that Conservatives need to just step back and let the worst happen. Let the inevitable collapse occur with an eye towards rebuilding a more traditional, freer, country from the ashes.

It ain't going to happen.

I can think of no situation in the history of mankind where societal or governmental collapse was not followed by a tyrannical government. Remember, oligarchy is the natural state of mankind, once all of the underpinnings of American law and government are destroyed, an oligarchy WILL form to reestablish “order” and to provide “security” for the people. Betting the house that we'd be able to form a successful, American version of the White Army to prevent this strikes me as gambling against very long odds indeed. I understand the seductive nature of let it burn, really I do, and sometimes in frustration or cynicism I waiver towards it's siren call, but ultimately I think it's a fool's gambit. That's not a world I want to live in or want my children or my grandchildren to inherit. Life there is nasty, brutish and short.

Third Party

Now here's a good idea. If the GOP no longer represents the values of a significant portion of it's members, those members should form a party that does. The two parties could then duke it out for the hearts and minds of the right side of the population, with one emerging triumphant. Assuming that it's the breakaway Conservative party, we would then be able to steer the country back in the direction of prosperity and freedom. Sign me up! Except....

I don't think we have the time. The Republicans deposed the Whigs in six years. But without an issue as divisive as slavery to drive the confrontation, I think it would take much longer than that. We don't have six years. A President Hillary or Warren with a Dem controlled House and Senate would probably cause a collapse in six months. Unfortunately, a serious attempt at forming a third party right now would do nothing but bring about the let it burn scenario.

The GOP is useless!

It's hard to argue against the thesis that the GOP is useless. Citizen push back against the leftist policies of the current Democrat party have given the GOP strong majorities in the House and Senate, and they've done nothing with them, squandering the leverage given them by the Constitution to control the budget, showing their belly on illegal immigration and refusing to even consider using Constitutional measured to bring an out of control Executive to heel. It's hard to see how anything is going to change in the next two years either.

On the other hand, it's easy to forget or overlook things that the GOP has accomplished, either intentionally or unintentionally. For the former, we need look no further than gun rights, which are the best in 40 years. If the burning times ever do come, you can thank your lucky stars the GOP never went full squish on these, as you'll probably be depending on one to survive. In the later camp is global warming. Suppose Gore had won in 2000, and instituted cap and trade and a whole bunch of other nonsense. Not only would the economic growth of the 2000s not have taken place, but we'd be in a world where the 18 year halt in rising global temps would be touted every day as justification for some new government program or another. “We acted on global warming in 2000 and stopped it!” would be the left's first line of defense against any push back from conservatives, and it would be very hard to refute.

Fine. So what is our role?

Our role, as William F. Buckley so succinctly put it, is to stand athwart history, yelling "Stop!". All of the natural forces of history and humanity are constantly working against us. The natural state of mankind is poverty, with a small wealthy elite ruling over the masses. We have a system of government that is based upon individual freedom and responsibility, but like everything else, it's constantly reverting to the mean. Entropy in politics is no less real than it is in the universe. We can never stop it, but we have to work very hard to slow it down. We send conservative Republicans to Congress. Over time, as they get seduced by the DC political class, we replace them with others. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is our way of slowing the Overton window. If we can do that, if we thwart not just the natural tendency of human societies to revert to the mean but also those people who actively work to subvert the system and accrue power to themselves, then once in a while, every generation of so, an inflection point arrives where things are so bad that we actually have a chance to jump start the system again. Reagan was one such point, but what great conservative policy victories did he hand us? He didn't eliminate any government agencies, even though he promised to (bet he would have if he'd had the House). He got suckered into a bad immigration bill that's set the stage for so many of our problems today and he frankly got rooked by Tip O'Neill on spending cuts. Why then do we revere the Reagan presidency? He stood on principle and won the cold war. His conservative policies jump started the economy for 20 years, making the country prosperous enough to support collectivist garbage. He revitalized the concept of conservatism as a vibrant, viable option, such that it only took two years of Democrat malfeasance for the country to give the House to the Republicans in 1994 to put on the brakes. The 1994 conservative wave doesn't happen without Reagan, and without it we would have gotten Hillarycare. How much worse a shape would we be in today if that financial albatross had been hanging around our necks all this time? We got a 16 year reprieve from nationalized healthcare by electing the GOP in 1994, even though the vaunted “Contract With America” was for the most part a paper tiger.

The good news is that as long as we are able to stave off total collapse, we are guaranteed to get these inflection points, because the policies of the Left create them. 2016 is just such a point. I don't see things getting better in the next 2 years, in fact they'll get worse (maybe much, much worse). A President Cruz, or Jindal, or Walker or Perry could very well engineer the same kind of turnaround that Reagan did.

So we win, right?

No. We don't win. That's the tough part in all of this. We can never win. The forces of entropy are always going to be working against us. Any victories we get are eventually going to be undone. Obamacare came along and made the victory over Hillarycare moot, but that victory did buy us 16 years. All we can do is slow things down and every so often pump some more energy into the system, keeping it going. Our job is to be the adults in the room. We have to get up every Saturday morning and cut the grass. No matter how good a job we do, cutting, weeding, trimming and edging, next week the grass needs to be cut again. And the following week, and the one after that. Forever. When we die, our kids have to cut the grass, and their kids, and their kids. The grass never stops growing, the same job always has to be done again next week. If we give up, slack off, stop cutting the grass, pretty soon we don't have a nice lawn, we have a weed choked lot. I don't want to live in a weed choked lot, so I cut the grass. It's boring and redundant and frustrating, but I do it. My (metaphorical) neighbors across the street don't bother, and their lawn looks like shit. Our political opponents don't bother, and their country looks like shit. Shit has one thing going for it: It's easy. It requires no work. I don't want my country to look like shit, so I do the work. It's Sisyphean, so I'll close with Camus:

The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling. I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

-The Myth of Sisyphus

Our role is to be the absurd man.

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