Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ryan Sager asks "Can Conservatism Be Saved?"

Ryan Sager is a columnist for the New York Post and RealClearPolitics.com.

In his new book, The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party, he points out that there is a growing rift between the "libertarian" conservatives and the "social" conservatives in the Republican Party.

A portion of the first chapter, titled "Can Conservatism Be Saved?" can be found here. Read it, it's good.

The "social" conservatives are sadly too accepting of big government, and are happy to use it to achieve their ends. Mr. Sager particularly holds Karl Rove at fault for this, and he is for the most part correct.

Not only does that go against limited government principles, Mr. Sager warns, it raises a scary question: what happens when you lose an election and the Democrats, or even all-out Demunist Commiecrats, take over that big government apparatus? Katie, bar the door....

There are many in the Republican Party who believe that now is the time to enjoy the spoils of victory. In truth, however, this is just the beginning of a new war -- a war for the heart and soul of conservatism.

On one side are those conservatives who think that the cause of small government is lost. And if they can't beat big government, they might as well run it. They believe that the battles of the past have been a foolish diversion and that now is the time to adapt to the world as it is and to cease imagining the world as it could be. Some of these people have begun to simply seek power for its own sake. Others have sold their souls in the hope of buying them back one day. Still others have glimpsed a golden opportunity to impose their idea of morality on their fellow citizens. The road to victory has been long and arduous, all of these people recall, and so in their minds there can be no turning back to the discarded ideas of the past.

Yet, there are other conservatives. They are just now waking up to what it is that their party has become: an echo, not a choice. They are realizing that big-government conservatism is no longer an ill-conceived theory, it is the creed of the Republican Party. And they are realizing that far from being "confident and optimistic and forward-leaning," as Karl Rove would have it, this brand of conservatism is weak-kneed, defeatist and retrogressive to a time before giants fused together the coalition that in four decades defeated Communism abroad, halted the march toward socialism at home, lowered taxes and reformed welfare -- just to name a few of its accomplishments.


While Mr. Sager does raise some very important points, he is flat out wrong to suggest that Mr. Rove is entirely listening to the social/religious conservatives at the expense of the libertarians.

Instead, it seems to me that Mr. Rove is cherry picking "the worst of both worlds".

For example, Mr. Rove is engaging in open borders and cheap labor uber alles, to the utter dismay of social conservatives for whom national security, national sovereignty, and cultural unity are paramount. He is trying to "Hispander" to people who, when they become US citizens, will for the most part turn around and vote for Democrats anyway, even far-left Demunist Commiecrats, because the Left will always Hispander even more. The Mexican anti-American demonstrations, on Communist May Day no less, clearly were a wake up call to the "libertarian" immigration romantics.

Not only that, Rove's open border policies indicate that he has deeply imbibed the leftist "multicultural" (communist leftover anti-Americanism) poison. This poison has infected our cultural, educational, legal and media institutions, and it is preventing immigrants from integrating into American society and only sowing further discord. Because of it, we simply cannot allow the proportion of immigrants in that we did in the past, and sadly, because of it, we wind up allowing them in anyway. The immigrants, in turn, will be influenced by this un-American ideology to become a restive underclass. Thank goodness the Mexicans and other Latinos are NOT Muslims, because if they were, we would be seeing European-style riots from an extremely unhappy and restive culturally alien underclass.

It just saddens me that so many "libertarian" Republicans just don't get it when it comes to the immigration problem. I am thinking of the short-sighted greedheads at the Wall Street Journal here, among others.

But Karl Rove and "social conservative" Congresscritters like Chris Cannon and Sam Brownback also just don't get it on this issue. They too have thwarted efforts to secure our southern border.

Moreover, Mr. Sager is just plain wrong in some of his attacks on social conservatives, although his criticisms of "big government conservative" programs (an oxymoron, yes?), like a new Medicare entitlement and "No Child Left Behind" are spot-on. For example, when he asserts that:


"The Bush administration...(has) a philosophy that has led the president to support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would override the decisions of several state governments on a matter that has traditionally been left to the states"

he utterly ignores the fact that every state that has had the choice has soundly rejected homosexual marriage. Massachusetts only has homosexual marriage because of leftist nanny-state judges--the very tyrants in black robes that Frank Meyer warned about.

(Frank Meyer, a thinker who back in the 1950's found a common ground between libertarian and social conservative views, appears to be a hero of Mr. Sager's).

Libertarians and social conservatives could still find so much common ground in opposing such judicial tyrants.

The same goes for government funding of stem cell research; why should libertarians want to support what is blatantly corporate welfare for the biotech industry?

In short, while Mr. Sager is right to sound the alarm about the errors and pitfalls of "big government conservatism", all is not lost in terms of cooperation between libertarian and social conservatives. Both could find a common enemy in the Left's "multicultural" poison, which is anti-American, anti-freedom, and anti-Western civilization. Moreover, the Islamunists might serve to be the threat that the Communists were, with the Crescent becoming the 21st century Hammer and Sickle and the "Raghead Menace" uniting libertarians and social conservatives the way the Red Menace did.

1 comment:

brokow said...

Interesting piece. I agree with your "worst of both worlds" view of how most Republican politicians (though probably not most Republicans) have merged social conservatism and small-government (libertarian) conservatism. I would recommend Tom Coburn's book Breach of Trust for an inside view of how Republicans get elected on a small-government platform and then come to Washington only to split hairs with Democrats over just how much more massive the government should be.

I take issue with you on a couple points, though. First, when you disagree with Sager on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, you quote Sager:

The Bush administration...(has) a philosophy that has led the president to support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would override the decisions of several state governments on a matter that has traditionally been left to the states

And then you say

he utterly ignores the fact that every state that has had the choice has soundly rejected homosexual marriage.

But, of course, he is not ignoring that. His argument isn't that the federal government shouldn't step in to prohibit gay marriage because the states won't. The argument is that it's not the federal government's job to define marriage, even if it would do it similarly to the states. In fact, the claim that the states are doing the same thing undercuts the argument that the fed needs to do it for them. This is an example of the federal government acting as nanny to the state goverments, something conservatives should oppose.

Second, later on, you ask

... why should libertarians want to support what is blatantly corporate welfare for the biotech industry?

The answer: they don't. Every libertarian I know thinks the federal government has little business funding medical research. Libertarians were screaming at Schwarzenegger for setting up stem cell corporate welfare in California. Even the California LP's take on the 2004 ballot initiative was short and sweet

Prop 71 -- Stem Cell Research. Funding. Bonds.
NO. Not a proper function of government.


The libertarian disagreement with Bush policy on this is generally twofold. 1) Bush has set stem cell research aside as a separate narrow class of research it won't fund when it should be part of a very broad class of research the fed shouldn't fund. And 2) many Bushies think that stem cell research ought not be done at all (though Bush has never "banned" it, hysterical lefty claims to the contrary notwithstanding), whereas most libertarians have no problem with the science itself, just how it is funded.

Anyway, I enjoyed your blog. Keep it up. :-)