Posts tagged ‘Congressional Republicans’

The West Has A Continuous History of Becoming more Liberal Only Because We Have Changed the Definition of "Liberal"

Kevin Drum writes, "the entire Western world has been moving inexorably in a liberal direction for a couple of centuries."

If this is true, it is only because the definition of "liberal" has changed.   After becoming increasingly less authoritarian and intrusive and controlling for hundreds of years, government is again becoming far more authoritarian and intrusive.  Only with a change in the definition of "liberal" over time can one consider attempting to ban, for example, the eating of certain types of foods as "liberal"

Until a few years ago, I would have said that Drum was right that there is a continuity of liberalization in the social realm.  I celebrate the increasing acceptance of differences, from race to sexuality.  But even here people who call themselves "liberal" are demanding authoritarian limitations on speech and expression, try to enforce a dictatorship of hurt feelings.

The whole post of his is a really interesting insight into the Progressive mind.  Apparently, the (purported) lack of compromise in government is the fault of just one of the two sides.  I am not sure how that is possible, but that seems to be the Progressive position (you will find an equal number of folks on the Right who believe the same thing, though they blame the opposite group).

Essentially, you can see in this post the strong Progressive belief that the default mode of government is to constantly generate new prohibitions, rules, strictures, taxes, regulations, and penalties.  And that anyone who stands in the way of this volume production of new legal entanglements must be overcome, even if one has to break the law to do it.

A few days ago Matt Yglesisas wrote a #Slatepitch piece arguing that Hillary Clinton "is clearly more comfortable than the average person with violating norms and operating in legal gray areas"—and that's a good thing. In a nutshell, Democrats can't get anything done through Congress, so they need someone willing to do whatever it takes to get things done some other way. And that's Hillary. "More than almost anyone else around, she knows where the levers of power lie, and she is comfortable pulling them, procedural niceties be damned."

Unsurprisingly, conservatives were shocked. Shocked! Liberals are fine with tyranny! Today Matt responded in one of his periodic newsletters:

A system of government based on the idea of compromises between two independently elected bodies will only work if the leaders of both bodies want to compromise. Congressional Republicans have rejected any form of compromise, so an effective Democratic president is going to try to govern through executive unilateralism. I don't think this is a positive development, but it's the only possible development.

So Democrats are within their rights to lie, cheat and steal -- to do whatever it takes -- to break through the gridlock.  I wonder:  The worst gridlock this country has ever had was in the 1850's, when no compromise could be found on slavery.   If Democrats are empowered today to lie, cheat, steal to break the gridlock, should they have been similarly empowered in 1850?

Of course, no one would want that.  But it raises an important point.  If you define the game as one with nietzsche-ist / Machiavellian rules, no one ever seems to consider that it is just as likely the other side will win as yours will.  In fact, if you truly represent liberality, I am not sure this kind of anything-goes game is stacked in favor of the truly liberal players.

For folks who think that the end justifies the means here, and that we need to break the rule of law in order to save it, I would offer this paraphrase to an old saying: you can't sell your soul and have it too.

A Difference Between Republicans and Me

Both I and most Congressional Republicans want to defund NPR.  Republicans want to do it because they perceive it as a government-funded liberal partisan voice;  I want to do it because broadcasting is simply not a role for government.

But note -- Republicans who want to count coup on NPR out of spite and frustration should recognize that defunding it could very likely make NPR a more, rather than less, potent leftish voice  (insert Star Wars quote "if you strike me down.... yada yada).  NPR's government funding is all that is really keeping it in sight of the political center.  Pull that funding and it will be free to tack left - in fact, this likely will be an imperative given its likely sources of additional private funding it will need.

All of which is fine by me, but I think the Republicans are expecting an Air America-type crash and burn, and I think they are mistaken.  There is a lot about PBS and NPR that are vital and unique -- their supporters are not wrong about that -- which I think will make them viable private (though still non-profit) entities.

Libertarians are Screwed

There are those of a libertarian bent who want to believe that the current bitch-slapping that Congressional Republicans are being handed right at this moment portends well for libertarians:  I beg to differ.  Don't get me wrong, the Republicans deserve what they get.  But this election should not be taken as a sign that the electorate is going all libertarian.  Forget exit polls and what the news says about why people are voting the way they are -- that stuff is always garbage.  Look past the people races and look to the ballot initiatives.

All over America, I don't think voters are punishing Congress for wielding too much power over their lives.  Because when the voters themselves are being offered legislative power via propositions to use the full coercive power of government to compel their neighbors to do the majority's bidding, they are jumping on the statist bandwagon gleefully.  Minimum wage hikes, smoking bans, new regulations, bans on gay marriage, restrictions on immigrants; heck, we even have ballot initiatives with micro-regulations for animal cage sizes.   They are all passing in Arizona and across the country. 

Currently 77% of Arizonans have voted to make Arizona prisons mini-Gitmo's for illegal immigrants, denying them bail for any crime.  75% want to make sure no Spanish is spoken in the statehouse.  66% want to interfere in employer/employee wage negotiations.  55% want to give bar owners no choice in whether they allow smoking in their own private establishment.

Note that there is no consistent theme of conservatism or liberalism in these issues.   The first two might be seen as "conservative" issues and the second two as "liberal" issues.  But the same 2/3 are voting for each.  This is not a victory for the left or the right, but for big government populism.  The voters are getting a taste of bending their fellow citizens to their whims via the government, and they seem to like it.

Update: I am trying not to get mad, but 75% - 3/4 of the people in this state - are voting to not allow illegal immigrants to collect punitive damage awards.  I'm sorry, I understand that people are frustrated with the immigration topic, but there are certain things that strike me as basic under any notion of equal protection, that should apply irregardless of citizenship status.  Protections we should offer to any human being that happens to be in our borders.  And the ability to seek redress for damages in court should be one of them.

In addition, 57% are currently supporting the initiative to ban probation for meth users, so that even minor meth possession charges will lead to a jail term.  This means that the hugely enlightened and highly successful policy of filling up jails with marijuana users is going to be emulated and applied to meth use.

On the positive side, so far the gay marriage amendment is not passing, and the proposition to put limits on Kelo-type eminent domain takings looks like it will pass.

There just seems to be a huge philosophical muddle behind the voting here.  The electorate votes to limit kelo-type government takings and to require compensation in zoning cases where private land values are reduced, but at the same time votes strongly to ban smoking in bars and to raise the minimum wage, both of which are effectively government actions that takes value away arbitrarily from certain private individuals and businesses.

For years I have lamented tthat the average American has no philosophy -- he or she only has a hodge-podge of inconsistent political views stitched together from his/her parents, from peer pressure of their social group, and from random encounters with the media.  Never have I felt this as strongly as I do tonight.