I’m happy to be back with you in this annual event after missing last year’s meeting. I had some business in New Hampshire that wouldn’t wait.
Three weeks ago here in our nation’s capital I told a group of conservative scholars that we are currently in the midst of a re-ordering of the political realities that have shaped our time. We know today that the principles and values that lie at the heart of conservatism are shared by the majority.
Despite what some in the press may say, we who are proud to call ourselves “conservative” are not a minority of a minority party; we are part of the great majority of Americans of both major parties and of most of the independents as well.
A Harris poll released September 7, l975 showed 18 percent identifying themselves as liberal and 31 per- cent as conservative, with 41 percent as middle of the road; a few months later, on January 5, 1976, by a 43-19 plurality those polled by Harris said they would “prefer to see the country move in a more conservative direction than a liberal one.”
Last October 24th, the Gallup organization released the result of a poll taken right in the midst of the presidential campaign.
Respondents were asked to state where they would place themselves on a scale ranging from “right-of-center” (which was defined as “conservative”) to left-of-center (which was defined as “liberal”).
- Thirty-seven percent viewed themselves as left-of-center or liberal
- Twelve percent placed themselves in the middle
- Fifty-one percent said they were right-of-center, that is, conservative.
What I find interesting about this particular poll is that it offered those polled a range of choices on a left-right continuum. This seems to me to be a more realistic approach than dividing the world into strict left and rights. Most of us, I guess, like to think of ourselves as avoiding both extremes, and the fact that a majority of Americans chose one or the other position on the right end of the spectrum is really impressive.
Those polls confirm that most Americans are basically conservative in their outlook. But once we have said this, we conservatives have not solved our problems, we have merely stated them clearly. Yes, conservatism can and does mean different things to those who call themselves conservatives.
You know, as I do, that most commentators make a distinction between they call “social” conservatism and “economic” conservatism. The so-called social issues—law and order, abortion, busing, quota systems—are usually associated with blue-collar, ethnic and religious groups themselves traditionally associated with the Democratic Party. The economic issues—inflation, deficit spending and big government—are usually associated with Republican Party members and independents who concentrate their attention on economic matters.
Now I am willing to accept this view of two major kinds of conservatism—or, better still, two different conservative constituencies. But at the same time let me say that the old lines that once clearly divided these two kinds of conservatism are disappearing.
In fact, the time has come to see if it is possible to present a program of action based on political principle that can attract those interested in the so-called “social” issues and those interested in “economic” issues. In short, isn’t it possible to combine the two major segments of contemporary American conservatism into one politically effective whole?
I believe the answer is: Yes, it is possible to create a political entity that will reflect the views of the great, hitherto, conservative majority. We went a long way toward doing it in California. We can do it in America. This is not a dream, a wistful hope. It is and has been a reality. I have seen the conservative future and it works.
Let me say again what I said to our conservative friends from the academic world: What I envision is not simply a melding together of the two branches of American conservatism into a temporary uneasy alliance, but the creation of a new, lasting majority.
This will mean compromise. But not a compromise of basic principle. What will emerge will be something new: something open and vital and dynamic, something the great conservative majority will recognize as its own, because at the heart of this undertaking is principled politics.
I have always been puzzled by the inability of some political and media types to understand exactly what is meant by adherence to political principle. All too often in the press and the television evening news it is treated as a call for “ideological purity.” Whatever ideology may mean—and it seems to mean a variety of things, depending upon who is using it—it always conjures up in my mind a picture of a rigid, irrational clinging to abstract theory in the face of reality. We have to recognize that in this country “ideology” is a scare word. And for good reason. Marxist-Leninism is, to give but one example, an ideology. All the facts of the real world have to be fitted to the Procrustean bed of Marx and Lenin. If the facts don’t happen to fit the ideology, the facts are chopped off and discarded.
I consider this to be the complete opposite to principled conservatism. If there is any political viewpoint in this world which is free for slavish adherence to abstraction, it is American conservatism.
When a conservative states that the free market is the best mechanism ever devised by the mind of man to meet material needs, he is merely stating what a careful examination of the real world has told him is the truth.
When a conservative says that totalitarian Communism is an absolute enemy of human freedom he is not theorizing—he is reporting the ugly reality captured so unforgettably in the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
When a conservative says it is bad for the government to spend more than it takes in, he is simply showing the same common sense that tells him to come in out of the rain.
When a conservative says that busing does not work, he is not appealing to some theory of education—he is merely reporting what he has seen down at the local school.
When a conservative quotes Jefferson that government that is closest to the people is best, it is because he knows that Jefferson risked his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to make certain that what he and his fellow patriots learned from experience was not crushed by an ideology of empire.
Conservatism is the antithesis of the kind of ideological fanatacism that has brought so much horror and destruction to the world. The common sense and common decency of ordinary men and women, working out their own lives in their own way—this is the heart of American conservatism today. Conservative wisdom and principles are derived from willingness to learn, not just from what is going on now, but from what has happened before.
The principles of conservatism are sound because they are based on what men and women have discovered through experience in not just one generation or a dozen, but in all the combined experience of mankind. When we conservatives say that we know something about political affairs, and that we know can be stated as principles, we are saying that the principles we hold dear are those that have been found, through experience, to be ultimately beneficial for individuals, for families, for communities and for nations—found through the often bitter testing of pain, or sacrifice and sorrow.
One thing that must be made clear in post-Watergate is this: The American new conservative majority we represent is not based on abstract theorizing of the kind that turns off the American people, but on common sense, intelligence, reason, hard work, faith in God, and the guts to say: “Yes, there are things we do strongly believe in, that we are willing to live for, and yes, if necessary, to die for.” That is not “ideological purity.” It is simply what built this country and kept it great.
Let us lay to rest, once and for all, the myth of a small group of ideological purists trying to capture a majority. Replace it with the reality of a majority trying to assert its rights against the tyranny of powerful academics, fashionable left-revolutionaries, some economic illiterates who happen to hold elective office and the social engineers who dominate the dialogue and set the format in political and social affairs. If there is any ideological fanaticism in American political life, it is to be found among the enemies of freedom on the left or right—those who would sacrifice principle to theory, those who worship only the god of political, social and economic abstractions, ignoring the realities of everyday life. They are not conservatives.
Our first job is to get this message across to those who share most of our principles. If we allow ourselves to be portrayed as ideological shock troops without correcting this error we are doing ourselves and our cause a disservice. Wherever and whenever we can, we should gently but firmly correct our political and media friends who have been perpetuating the myth of conservatism as a narrow ideology. Whatever the word may have meant in the past, today conservatism means principles evolving from experience and a belief in change when necessary, but not just for the sake of change.
Once we have established this, the next question is: What will be the political vehicle by which the majority can assert its rights?
I have to say I cannot agree with some of my friends—perhaps including some of you here tonight—who have answered that question by saying this nation needs a new political party. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future“. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)
[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” at Amazon.com]
Yes, Reaganomics Needs a 21st Century Update
“The GOP is debating whether Reaganomics needs an update” is a must-read piece by Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley. One side answers the “What would Reagan do?” question by offering a nostalgic return to the 1980s Reagan agenda. Another prefers to apply the Reagan principles — a dynamic private sector, strong families and neighborhoods, upward mobility, work — to modern economic reality with different conservative policy results. Tankersley:
Leading Republicans are clashing over a signature issue the party has treated as gospel for nearly 40 years: the idea that sharply lower taxes and smaller government are enough by themselves to drive a more prosperous middle class — and win national elections. That simple philosophy has been the foundation of every GOP platform since the days of Ronald Reagan. Now, some of the party’s presidential hopefuls — along with some top conservative economists and strategists — are sending strong signals that they believe today’s beleaguered workers need more targeted help, even if growth speeds up.
For some context, here are a few then-and-now stats:
1.) When Reagan was elected president in 1980, the top income tax rate was 70%. Today, the top income tax rate is 40%.
3.) When Reagan was elected, the bottom 90% paid just over half of all federal income taxes. Today it’s around 30% with 40% of households paying no federal income taxes.
5.) When Reagan was elected, 8% of national income went to the top 1%. Today, it’s nearly 20%.
6.) When Reagan was elected, inflation had averaged nearly 9% over the previous eight years. Today, inflation is less than 2% and has averaged around 2% the past 15 years.
7.) When Reagan was elected, US publicly held debt was 26% of GDP. Today, it’s 74% of GDP with a whole lot of entitlement spending quickly headed our way.
8.) When Reagan was elected, more than 19 million Americans worked in manufacturing. Today, just under 12 million Americans work in manufacturing.
9.) When Reagan was elected, health care spending was 10% of GDP. Today, it’s 17% of GDP.
10.) When Reagan was elected, China’s GDP, in nominal terms, was 3% of America’s. Today, China’s GDP is over half of America’s and about the same based on purchasing power.
Let me also add (a) there is good reason to believe that faster GDP growth is not lifting all boats, (b) upward mobility is stagnant, (c) slowing labor force growth and productivity suggest it will be harder to generate fast growth in the future than in the past, (d) automation has taken a toll on middle-class income and jobs, (e) labor force participation by high school-only graduates has fallen by 10 percentage points over the past 25 years, and (f) inflation-adjusted market income for the top 1% has risen by 174% since 1979 vs. 16% for the bottom 80%. Read the rest of this entry »
The Roots of the Republican Party’s Conservative-Establishment Divide, Revealed
Jay Cost writes: I had a bad dream the other night that I still cannot get out of my head. It’s January 20, 2017. Inauguration Day. The Republican candidate for president has triumphed over Hillary Clinton, ushering in the largest Republican majority since 1929. The inaugural balls are finished, the parties over.
The new president retires to the Oval Office, and sits down with the top leaders of Congress to ask: “Okay. We have the largest majority we’re ever going to see again. What do we do with it?”
“Let’s accelerate depreciation!” somebody says
“Let’s repeal the inheritance tax!” another chimes in.
The new president, nodding solemnly, responds, “Okay, okay. These are good. But what we really need to do is quadruple our guest-worker visas.”
“The last time the GOP had complete control over the government, 2003-07, it massively expanded Medicare and enacted more pork-barrel spending than any prior Congress in history.”
Nightmarish? Yes. Fanciful? Maybe a little (bad dreams are like that), but it still derives from a stark truth: the Republican Party, while far preferable to the unchecked liberalism of the Democrats, is not all that conservative.
Sure, it has conservative members, important ones who cannot be ignored. And it talks a good game about small government; just about every Republican candidate for every office is duty-bound to aver his fidelity to Ronald Reagan’s brand of conservatism.
[Check out Jay Cost’s book “A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption” at Amazon]
However, if we understand conservatism as advocating smaller government that treats people impartially, many in the party struggle mightily not to act on those principles. Instead, the recent history of “conservative” governance has been one of ever-larger government, and an expansion of the cronyism and corruption built into the system. The last time the GOP had complete control over the government, 2003-07, it massively expanded Medicare and enacted more pork-barrel spending than any prior Congress in history.
“Conservatism really began to develop as a political force in the wake of the New Deal, which effectively inverted the constitutional schema. Previously, the federal government was only allowed to do what the Constitution expressly authorized…”
Political parties are not coterminous with ideologies. They are big, broad, unwieldy coalitions that contain lots of factions and varying traditions. Oftentimes, these forces are in direct conflict with one another.
“…From the New Deal onwards, the government could more or less do anything that the Constitution did not expressly forbid. This inversion gave birth to the conservative movement.”
Conservatives are part of the Republican Party, but so are other forces that—while they might call themselves “conservative”—are actually something quite different.
From Slavery Defeaters to Business Defenders
Conservatism as we know it today did not really exist before the twentieth century. Prior to that, it was just the way things were done. The powers of the federal government were limited, states and localities were dominant, and people did not look to Washington DC to solve every last problem. Granted, the scope of federal power increased during the nineteenth century—for example, during the Civil War—but conservatives today are wont to celebrate those expansions.
Even if we didn’t have proof that Lois Lerner and the IRS had deliberately targeted conservative non-profit groups whose names included words like “Tea Party” and “patriots,” this could just been seen as another example of big government inefficiency and incompetence. Thing is, we know that conservative groups’ applications were held up through several election cycles to keep them from influencing the vote.
American Center for Law and Justice attorney Miles Terry writes today that two more conservative groups have had their tax-exempt applications approved — after a more than four-year delay.
Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.
Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.
C’mon, IRS. Get it together…(read more)
The fact that it took the Administration FOUR YEARS to approve this group’s tax status is shameful. http://t.co/RKlQEG5Yeq
For TownHall.com, Kurt Schlichter writes: Conservatism is the Ramones at CBGB – loud, fast and alive. In contrast, liberalism is the headliner at a state fair concert. It’s Foghat, serenading its anesthetized fans as America slow rides into decline.
“Liberals want to see themselves as punks. They aren’t. They are sad conformists.”
Back in the 70s, the Ramones put a steel-toed boot into the behind of a fat, flabby rock ‘n roll world that has lost its way. That’s what conservatives are doing today to American politics and culture. And the dinosaur rockers of the status quo hate it.
“Everything about liberalism is stodgy, everything is old, everything is about control.”
But some things have changed. Back in the 70’s, it was alienated young people leading the way, yet today’s Millennials support the very liberal status quo that keeps them down. What’s pathetic is that they are so eagerly complicit in their own serfdom.
Dead-end jobs, innovations like Uber sacrificed to protect established Democrat corporatist allies, and tons of student debt for their degrees in Feminist Interpretive Dance – you Millennials have been, and will be, fooled again. And again and again.
Look at ancient Hillary Clinton, that improbable Millennial heroine. She’s the Bachman Turner Overdrive of American politics, out there literally taking care of business – especially the businesses who take care of her by paying her hundreds of thousands a pop to come talk to them. Read the rest of this entry »
This is good news. Not surprising, I read about this when it the lawsuit first emerged, and was impressed by how solid Adams’ case is, his rights clearly violated, in a provable way. Which is not always very easy to demonstrate, and helps explain why there aren’t more cases like this.
The Daily Caller‘s Robby Soave reports:
First Amendment enthusiasts are thrilled that Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, won his lawsuit against administrators who denied him a promotion because of his conservative, Christian views.
“To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”
— Travis Barham, attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom
Adams joined the university in 1993. He was an atheist at the time. By the year 2000, he had converted to Christianity and become an outspoken political conservative. He eventually wrote columns for Townhall.com.
In 2006, he was denied a promotion. Administrators were retaliating against him for his conservative views, he claimed.
The jury agreed.
NYT Ross Douthat’s Post-CPAC Conclusion: The Candidate Best Suited to Unify Republican Factions: Senator Marco RubioPosted: March 10, 2014
Ross, You lost me at hello.
“…But let me conclude with one that seems a little more likely: a rerun of Bush’s 2000 path, in which Marco Rubio wins by uniting religious and moderate conservatives.
Rubio had a tough 2013, thanks to his unsuccessful immigration push, and he lacks the ideologically committed support of a Paul or Cruz or Huckabee. But his domestic-policy forays (first on poverty, soon on taxes) have gotten smarter since the immigration debacle, and events in Venezuela and Crimea may be making his hawkish foreign policy vision more appealing to conservatives.
Moreover, as much as the party and the country have changed since the Bush era, the best way to unify the G.O.P. is still to build bridges between religious conservatives and moderate conservatives — in effect, to seem relatable to Santorum voters while reassuring Romney voters. And Rubio, in affect and background and positioning, may be the right politician for that task…”
Not the most original insight, but a funny reminder about an unavoidable media reality: the conservative movement faces a lose-lose situation whether they’re getting along or not.
From this morning’s Fox News Sunday:
“If they’re harmonious, the media says, ’stultifying, monochrome, oppressive, no diversity. Then when they argue with each other, they say, ”Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war’ — it’s perfect nonsense.”
Kurt Schlichter writes: If you’re a conservative, you don’t need to silence the opposition.
In fact, we conservatives want liberals to talk, to make buffoons of themselves, to prove their folly. We want liberals to expound upon their ridiculous ideas, to show the world exactly what they’re about. Nancy Pelosi? Give that tiresome woman a microphone. Chatty liberals are the best advertisement for conservatism.
But liberals just can’t have conservatives speaking. We’ll tell the truth, and that’s why liberals need to shut us up.
Their traditional intimidation tactics are wearing out. Calling someone a “racist” used to be a devastating moral indictment. Liberals’ promiscuous employment of the word first turned it into a cliché and then into an ironic punchline.
I know, saying that out loud is racist. And sexist. And cisgender heteronormative, whatever the hell that means.
So now liberals have stepped up to formal governmental repression. Take the IRS scandal – or ex-scandal, in the eyes of the mainstream media. The Obama administration, at the urging of red state Democrat senators who are about to lose their seats because of their track records of failure, are doing everything they can to turn the taxman loose on the organizations that are pointing out their track records of failure.
Matthew Continetti writes: The school of literary criticism known asreception theory holds that a text should be studied in light of its effect on its contemporaries, that a reader should be aware of the “horizon of expectations” in which a text is produced. I was reminded of this the other day as I observed, in amusement, fascination, and occasional pity, the reaction of the so-called mainstream media to Alana Goodman’s lengthy and rock-solid report on “The Hillary Papers.” This trove of previously unexamined transcriptions of conversations between Hillary Clinton and her best friend Diane Blair had been collecting dust at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville for years. Not anymore.
As far as Bill and Hillary Clinton are concerned, the media’s horizon of expectations is stunningly narrow. It encompasses on the one hand the belief that the “secretary of explaining stuff” is a national treasure beyond reproach, and on the other hand the expectation that the former secretary of state will be our next president. Stories that fall outside of this horizon are problematized, scrutinized, ascribed to partisanship, and read with the sort of incredulity reporters are supposed to apply to public figures such as the Clintons.
Goldberg writes: The Beltway consensus seems to be that 2013 was a bad year for the same reason nearly every other recent year was bad: polarization and partisanship. Personally, I can think of plenty of more important things to worry about than partisanship. Democracy is about disagreements, and partisanship is often a sign of healthy disagreement.
But polarization is a bit different. It speaks not just to a lack of basic agreement about what kind of society we should live in, but a breakdown in understanding and respect among Americans. There’s a lot of them-vs.-us talk these days on the left and the right. And while I’d never want to live in a country where we all join hands and sing “Kumbaya,” maybe a bit more understanding wouldn’t be all bad.
So I have small suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for both the Right and the Left in 2014. For liberals, maybe you should try to accept the fact that you’re not the non-conformists you think you are. And for conservatives, perhaps you should consider that you’re not necessarily the irrefutable voice of “normal” Americans.
This is the first installment of a new series: a Frenchman reads Democracy in America and investigates how it applies to the contemporary United States.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes: In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville doesn’t waste any time letting you know what impresses him most about America. To Tocqueville, equality and, to a slightly lesser — but very important — extent, religiosity, are the two foundations of the American experiment. His understanding of them certainly challenges both liberal and conservative sensibilities. But what does it say about America today that these two aspects of the American experience seem to be at all-time lows? And does Tocqueville point to a way forward?
The importance of economic and social equality
Tocqueville praises equality in his very first sentence: “Among the many things which drew my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck me more than the equality of conditions.” Two paragraphs later: “As I went on studying American society, I saw more and more in the equality of conditions the main fact which seemed to cause every other particular fact, and I kept seeing it before me as a central point to which all my observations led.”
Conservatives might not enjoy Tocqueville’s praise of economic and social equality as key to the success of the American experiment, but with some thought, you realize that Tocqueville is giving us a welcome way out of our incredibly dreary debates on the topic. A lot of conservatives claim that while the Left believes equality means equality of outcome, the Right is for equality of opportunity — but that’s a load of hooey. Everyone agrees with equality of opportunity, and all non-communists agree equality of outcomes is not desirable. The question is whether too much inequality of outcome leads to a greater inequality of opportunity. It’s a stubborn fact that, as a matter of dollars and cents, American society has gotten more unequal over the past 30 years. Does it mean that it has also become unequal in other ways? And if so, should we do anything about it? And what? Does Tocqueville show us a way?
Kevin D. Williamson writes: The conservative project has two main parts: first, winning the argument, and, second, winning elections. The first is a job for what we call the conservative movement, meaning everything from magazines such as National Review to think tanks, advocacy groups, talk radio, and book publishers; the second is mainly the job of the Republican party and organizations such as the Club for Growth, which helps to ensure that victories for Republicans are victories for conservatives. There’s always a great deal of tension between those two goals, as we can see in everything from the current intramural fight over shutdown tactics to the ongoing debate over how much weight we should give to philosophical rigor versus “electability” when it comes to the nomination of candidates. NR’s principle of supporting the most conservative viable candidate is a way to try to balance those priorities, but the best way of proceeding under that guideline is not always self-evident.
That conundrum is worth thinking about right now in light of this astonishing fact: When it comes to the policy opinions of American voters, there have been three peak years for conservatism: 1952, 1980, and . . . right now, according to Professor James A. Stimson, whose decades-long “policy mood” project tracks the changing opinions of the U.S. electorate. Americans have grown more conservative on the whole, but the even more remarkable fact is that the electorate has grown more conservative in every state. As Larry Bartels points out in the Washington Post, the paradoxical fact is that Barack Obama was first elected in a year in which the American policy mood already was unusually conservative, and he was reelected in a year in which it had grown more conservative still. And so the question: Why did an increasingly conservative electorate elect and reelect one of the most left-wing administrations, if not the most left-wing, in American history? Read the rest of this entry »
Cornell political scientist Peter Enns reports: Recently on this blog, Larry Bartels drew attention to an astonishing fact: the public is as conservative as it has been in 50 years. To highlight this point, Professor Bartels presented the public’s policy mood — James Stimson’s measure of public support for government programs—from 1950 to 2012. In a recent article, Julianna Koch and I generated measures of policy mood for each state from the 1950s to 2010 (our measures our here). What we found is that the conservative opinion shift Professor Bartels highlighted repeats itself in every state.
The figure below presents one illustration of this pattern. Here we compare the policy mood in each state in the early 1960s (hollow dots) and in the early 2000s (solid dots). Higher values indicate a more conservative policy mood. In each instance, the solid dot is to the right of the hollow dot, suggesting that the public’s policy mood has moved in a conservative direction in every state. Furthermore, most of these increases are statistically significant. Read the rest of this entry »
The predictable results of the progressive-left’s corruption, deception, and arrogance: the slow painful death of liberalismPosted: September 30, 2013
Reality Index: Americans are more conservative than they have been in decades
Larry Bartels reports: James Stimson knows as much about public opinion as anyone in America. He has been tracking the nation’s policy preferences for more than 20 years using a “policy mood” index derived from responses to a wide variety of opinion surveys involving hundreds of specific policy questions on topics ranging from taxes and spending to environmental regulation to gun control.
The latest update of Stimson’s policy mood series suggests that the American public in 2012 was more conservative than at any point since 1952. (Actually, since mood in each year is estimated with some error, it seems safer to say that the current level of conservatism roughly equals the previous highs recorded in 1980 and 1952.) While the slight increase in conservatism from 2011 to 2012 is too small to be significant, it continues a marked trend that began as soon as Barack Obama moved into the White House. Read the rest of this entry »
So, let’s say you realized, that, try as you might, you’re not like the rest of them.
You’re different. You don’t instantly agree with them. Their assumptions are no longer yours. Maybe, secretly, they never were. But now, you find yourself the odd man out as they rant, they rave, they ridicule.
You realize–in a quiet, private moment–that you aren’t a liberal. What next? What do you do? Can you let go from the safety net of agreeable party conversation and follow your own path? It’s quite a leap. Anyone who has done it will tell you–it’s never easy. See: David Mamet.
And I know–I know–you’ve never considered, ever, that you might be a conservative. Because, for the longest time, being a conservative was met with edgy derision and mockery. The “typical conservative,” as identified by the media and those in entertainment, is a cloddish clown–a humorless scold devoid of contemporary cache and hip fashion. Some of them make you angry. Some make you laugh at their earnestness. Some… you just don’t get. They’re weird.
I get it. I was there, once, facing a new terrain of oddballs. It’s important to note, however, that this stereotype–although true in some parts–in the larger sense is false. And it is a stereotype created by a movement and it’s proponents in the media that has owned the narrative since I was in diapers (at least ten years). The idea that conservatives are somehow more intolerant and angry than liberals is a lie. Both have their fair share, but the nature of conservatives is “live and let live.” It’s a shame that a few of them still don’t get that part. But all in all, the oddballs are oddly cool. Read the rest of this entry »
Emails released this week sweep the Federal Election Commission into the conservative-targeting probe.
Congressional investigators this week released emails suggesting that staff at the Federal Election Commission have been engaged in their own conservative targeting, with help from the IRS’s infamous Lois Lerner. This means more than just an expansion of the probe to the FEC. It’s a new link to the Obama team.
In May this column noted that the targeting of conservatives started in 2008, when liberals began a coordinated campaign of siccing the federal government on political opponents. The Obama campaign helped pioneer this tactic.
In late summer of 2008, Obama lawyer Bob Bauer took issue with ads run against his boss by a 501(c)(4) conservative outfit called American Issues Project. Mr. Bauer filed a complaint with the FEC, called on the criminal division of the Justice Department to prosecute AIP, and demanded to see documents the group had filed with the IRS.
Thanks to Congress’s newly released emails, we now know that FEC attorneys went to Ms. Lerner to pry out information about AIP—the organization the Obama campaign wanted targeted. An email from Feb. 3, 2009, shows an FEC attorney asking Ms. Lerner “whether the IRS had issued an exemption letter” to AIP, and requesting that she share “any information” on the group. Nine minutes after Ms. Lerner received this FEC email, she directed IRS attorneys to fulfill the request.
Douglas Shulman, former IRS commissioner (left), Lois Lerner, the then-director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations office, and Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of the Treasury, at a congressional hearing, May 22.
This matters because FEC staff didn’t have permission from the Commission to conduct this inquiry. It matters because the IRS is prohibited from sharing confidential information, even with the FEC. What the IRS divulged is unclear. Congressional investigators are demanding to see all communications between the IRS and FEC since 2008, and given that Ms. Lerner came out of the FEC’s office of the general counsel, that correspondence could prove illuminating.
It also matters because we now know FEC staff engaged in a multiyear effort to deliver to the Obama campaign its win against AIP. This past week, FEC Vice Chairman Don McGahn, joined by his two fellow Republican commissioners, wrote an extraordinary statement recounting the staff’s behavior in the case.
Even as I chuckled at Ian’s post about Democratic hysterics over the farm bill, I realized that the leftist response is no laughing matter. I have three thoughts:
First, excepting an exceedingly cynical minority, leftists use this rhetoric because they really, truly believe it. They truly believe we don’t care about kids. They truly believe we conservatives want people — especially minorities — to live in poverty if it means preserving our perceived wealth and privilege. In part they believe this because they tend to live in more concentrated monocultures than conservatives, and are more used to talking about us than talking to us.
Second, as intensely as they believe we are evil, they believe in their own ideological virtue. Thus, they often take a critique of their ideas in the same way that others take personal insults — as direct frontal assaults on their character. This makes civil disagreement difficult and causes dialogue to degenerate quickly to an exercise in public shaming.
Third, conservatives are sick to death of this nonsense. It’s tearing our nation apart — one tweet and Facebook post at a time. At the dawn of the modern era of political correctness, my conservative friends (especially my conservative Christian friends) tended to respond with shock and consternation when facing accusations of racisim, sexism, homophobia, etc. “No, no, I’m really a nice guy!” Now, the response is either derisive or — more likely for the less political among us — sullen, seething silence. This is not how great constitutional democracies are nurtured and maintained.
I don’t mean to say that conservatives are immune from these failings — and I’ve certainly seen an unhealthy amount of the same tactics from some on the right — but there is simply no comparison between conservatives and liberals in the level of tolerance for dissent or in the assumption of the worst of motives for disagreements. Depending on the issue, from the Supreme Court to the academy to a disagreement between “friends” on social media, the unshakeable assumption is that a person who isn’t in favor of our bloated, poverty-perpetuating welfare state or isn’t an enthusiastic participatant in the sexual revolution is merely a cruel, vicious, greedy, self-seeking bigot.
And that brings to mind this golden oldie from Jon Stewart