This is Part II of a series where I take a non-partisan and brutally honest approach to examine the governing traits for the three major political labels in this country; Liberal, Conservative, and Libertarian. In Part I of this series, I examined Liberals. Today’s installment will focus on Conservatives.
As I said at the beginning of Part I, as much as I said this would be a non-partisan examination, I cannot ignore the link between Republicans and Conservatism. Just like the link between Liberals and Democrats, the relationship is not all-inclusive, nor is it absolute, but it is of sufficient strength that it must play a role in any such discussion.
Another point from Part I we must remember heading into this installment is the difference these sides have in the way they view arguments. As previously stated, “Conservatives” believe that facts frame any discussion, and “Liberals” believe ideals trump facts. Again, regardless of political or ideological stripe, it is ideals that frame discussions, and facts that prove or disprove them. It is both the misunderstanding of this truth and/or the deliberate twisting of it which give all sides the ability to legitimately believe they can claim the “moral” high ground.
The last point I need to make before getting into the body of this piece is one of nomenclature. Since I tabbed the union between Democrats and Liberalism as the “New American Left,” I do need to offer a similar branding for the intersection of Conservatives and Republicans. Through the remainder of this piece, I will refer to it as the “Stagnant American Right,” and the substance of this piece will be an examination as to why I chose such a label.
Having said that, I’m going to state some inviolable rules concerning modern American conservatism.
1) Conservatives don’t know how to play to their strengths.
I’ve watched this play out almost constantly over the last twenty-five years. The Newer American Left has succeeded in swinging this country further toward socialism, and it has done so because the “Stagnant American Right” has failed miserably it’s role to provide a credible alternative and to make Americans understand that alternative.
It’s no secret that the “mainstream” media in this country slants to the left; it’s also not a coincidence that the number #1 cable news outlet in America is Fox, which is decidedly not friendly to the New American Left. Rather than end up going down the “rabbit hole” of debating political bias in the American media, it’s more important to note that if the Conservatives/Republicans could simply accomplish two points, they could easily claim the sort of stranglehold on American politics the left has been enjoying.
The first of those points is to understand what they do well, what they don’t do well, and focus on their strengths. Another trait of the New American Left which has an effect on the Conservatives/Republicans is the fact that by playing nursemaid to the maintenance of their causes, the Democrats haven’t had an original idea in 40 years, and they haven’t had a good idea in 60. However, that also means the Stagnant American Right hasn’t added anything either because they’ve become the force for reactionism in American politics. That means they’ve been playing defense all this time, and they settle for stalemates as victories.
This also explains their fascination with fighting battles they’ve already lost. Right now, there are factions of the Stagnant American Right girding their loins to spend the next fifty years pointlessly fighting same-sex marriage in much the same way they’ve been fighting abortion for the last forty. This is because if one were to liken American politics to a hockey game, the Liberals have been playing in the Conservatives end of the ice for the last 50 years. It’s not enough just to change goalies every few years; the Conservatives need to go on the offensive.
The problem is they don’t know how to do it.
2) They are gutless.
Worse than that, even if they did know how to effectively fight the New American Left, one of the reasons why the Stagnant American Right has been backed into a corner is they’ve allowed themselves to be bullied. Even worse than that is the fact they’ve been bullied by the very same people who spend so much time founding anti-bullying campaigns. The New American Left campaigns against bullying in schools, but has conceived, formed and perfectly executed a cultural bullying campaign in this country, and it has effectively silenced not only conservatives, but a shockingly large chunk of Americans in general.
Call it what ever you will, there is a climate of fear amongst the middle class in America, if for no other reason than in the madness of today’s politically correct climate, one can suffer a great deal of serious trouble simply by being accused of something without a single shred of evidence to support such damning allegations. For example, if you want to destroy a “conservative,” just call him a racist, and keep doing it until it sticks. Josef Goebbels is the one who taught us that if you repeat a lie long enough, people will eventually believe it.
Another part of the Goebbels’ recipe for effective propaganda is to ensure nobody speaks out against the lies. The New American Left doesn’t have storm troopers; rather it has “political correctness.” In other words, when you can’t force people into acceptance of your beliefs, you simply change the language so speaking out becomes impossible. Couple that with two generation of middle-class Americans more willing to tolerate this New American Left nonsense than to speak out and risk getting one of those PC-Hate labels like “racist” or “homophobe” hung on them.
Leaders of modern American conservatism keep bleating crap like their movement needs another Ronald Reagan. They couldn’t be more wrong. Reagan would have no chance of success in today’s political climate because the key to his efficacy was his ability to work with people. Today, there is no compromise; there is no “walking a mile in the other person’s shoes.” Rather, there is demogoguery, discrediting, and the most vile and base versions of discourse. There’s no debate, just name-calling and sloganeering. The art of the compromise was killed by the New American Left, and the Stagnant American Right watched it happen from their knees.
This is why Donald Trump resonates with a much larger number of Americans than people want to admit. Forget what the cultural bullies want you to believe, this is still a county which loves its movie heroes; the main character who isn’t afraid to take on a challenge despite the risks. Regardless of your opinions on Trump, there’s really no denying he’s got the guts to stand up and speak out. There’s a lot of people in this country who don’t agree with what he says, but they are drawn to a person brave enough to say it.
That’s why the calls for another Reagan are misguided. Before there can be a Reagan, there has to be the guy to restore the culture which allowed for Reagan’s success. To keep the move star analogy going, what the conservatives need is a “John Wayne;” a larger than life character who can out-bully the bullies. Trump stole that banner from the Republicans, which isn’t good for them, if for no other reason than Trump is NOT a conservative. Trump is a capitalist who threatens to morph into a populist. That’s a major difference which I will address later in this piece.
The bottom line here is that the Republican sector of the Stagnant American keeps looking at guys like Jeb Bush to be that “John Wayne” type guy. Jeb Bush is Eli Manning; a guy who despite his success later in life spent the first twenty years of his life getting “wedgies” from his older brother. Obama has spent the entirety of his term getting “wedgies” from the likes of Vladimir Putin, then taking out his angst on the very people who elected him.
Like it or not, there’s a large number of people in this country (may of them are Turtle Riders) who are tired of getting “wedgied” at every turn. They’re ready for a guy who they believe will start giving “noogies” to the “wedgie-givers,” and there’s people who think Trump is guy who can carry that banner.
The fact that Trump punched the Republicans in the mouth and took that banner exemplifies my point about their gutlessness.
3) They Have a Misguided Set of Core Principles.
Deep down in places they don’t want to admit, the real desire of the Stagnant American Left is to return this country to what I like to call “Leave it to Beaver” America. There’s nobility in a desire to return to a “simpler” time; there’s as much futility in it as that America never really existed. Sure, we can all build a place in our minds as to what the America of 60 years ago was or what the “ideal” America might be, but the Stagnant American Right is trying to go to a place that isn’t there.
That really explains why they seem to have no real direction other than to oppose whatever the New American Left is doing. Again, they are simply playing “defense,” and that’s why the New American Left has gotten away with as much clearly anti-Constitutional garbage as it has.
Earlier, I made mention of the fact the Stagnant American Right doesn’t know how to play to it’s strengths. When you couple that fact with a complete lack of direction, what you get is the Republican party of today. But after having said all that, the real reason why the Stagnant American Right is constantly getting de-pantsed by the New American Left is simple. The Left has a set of core principles and the Right doesn’t.
Think about it. Everything the New American Left has achieved in the last 60 years revolves around three basic points: Liberal Elitism, Anti-Industrialism disguised as Environmentalism, and pure, uncut Statism. Liberal Elitism is easy to sell, because it makes all the promises the Left loves with none of the expectations to deliver. The Marxist goal of of a classless, Utopian society falls apart once people realize that only liberal elites think this is a good idea because in the perfect world, they end up as the ruling class, which basically obviates the concept of a classless society. Anti-Industrialism is reflected in the way we’ve choked the life out of this country’s once great industrial machine through corrupt and politicized unionization and multi-layered regulation. The ever-encroaching statism is self-explanatory in a country where the government is more concerned about regulating the fat content of cookies over our crumbling infrastructure.
This is also why the time is now for the Stagnant American Right to take the initiative and seize what the Left is giving them. Liberalism isn’t running rampant in this country because it’ws such a great concept; it’s running rampant because nobody has been willing to take the trashing they’ll get for opposing it. The Stagnant American Right is chock full of Republicans who love to act just like Democrats and cave anytime they get even the slightest criticism.
Now comes the part where people are going to call a conservative shill because I’m going to give the Stagnant American Left a step-by-step plan to fix their problems. Honestly, the reason why I’m doing that is because it is time for somebody in this country to care about the middle class again. Third-party politics have little more than a history of complete failure. The New American Left has a set of core principles which are decidedly anti-middle class. That leaves the Stagnant American Right, who by following these steps can become the dominant force in American politics.
Forget about trying to win battles in the media
The Stagnant American Right has this “moth to flame” syndrome when it comes to trying to get their message across in the traditional media. They can’t resist it’s call, but they only ever get burned. They keep getting sucked into debates they can’t’ win, because the traditional media is a world of sloganeering and 15-second sound bites. Complex ideas do not travel well in such a world, in fact, they are often hacked into sound bites which when taken out of context are used to portray such ideas in a negative light.
With a few exceptions, the traditional media in America caters to the left, so the right needs to take a page from the book of Bill Belichick and Gregg Popovich; simply stop feeding the machine. To do that, the Stagnant American Right needs to realize they are the show, not the media. In other words, imagine what would happen happens if they stopped showing up for interviews where they are just going to get trashed anyway? They really need to start creating their own content and distributing it via social media, and simply cutting out the traditional media entirely.
Define who you are, stop letting your enemies do it for you
This is really an off-shoot of the first point. It’s time for somebody in American politics to break the mold. It’s time for somebody in American politics to go straight to the American people with their message. Define what transforming the Stagnant American Right into the party of the American middle class will mean in five or less bullet points. They can expand on the details later, the key here is get a clear, concise message which will resonate. Get peoples’ attention first, then deliver the message.
The key to this is to stop reacting to attacks. Create your own vision with a positive message and stick to it. Americans are not a pessimistic people; they are a people who believe in hope and the future. This is why Ronald Reagan’s first “Shining city on the Hill” inaugural oratory was so wildly popular because it came in the wake of Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise” speech, in which he basically said “America sucks and it’s getting worse.”
Middle-class Americans are tired of having their current president tell them everything sucks and it’s their fault. Middle-class Americans want somebody with a vision, a positive message, and a realistic plan to make it happen. Nobody wants to go to work and hear the CEO of the company say the company is going broke because the workers aren’t working hard enough. Everybody follows the leader who says “Sure, we’ve got some challenges, but together we can fix them, and here’s how.”
Embrace the future
American politics is now too much of a “blame the other guy/not in my back yard” game. The New American Left has done a wonderful job of segmentalizing America into groups all of who have interests which at some point run counter to each other. That’s got to stop, and there’s an easy way to do it. More than anything else, working-class America wants a future for their children. Develop a positive, but realistic vision for the America of twenty years from now, then build a practical and attainable plan to make it happen.
Stop listening to people who don’t matter
The easiest way to determine that: anybody who complains about building a better America for the future. That’s in all our best interests, and those people who don’t believe that can easily be left behind. They don’t matter because they won’t contribute. It’s time to give the voice back to the producers in this country. If it turns out I’m wrong and there are more non-contributors than I thought, then they will get the country they deserve.
Stop fighting old battles
I hinted at this earlier. Fighting yesterday’s battles is not only a great way to stay stuck in the past, it wastes resources need for tomorrow’s conflicts. If you’re against gay marriage, you lost. Get over it. It’s time to make sure the next group of people to govern America understand they are beholden to the American people. That’s a much larger and more important battle.
This one is plainly obvious. Look at the current crop of “serious” Democratic presidential candidates. How many of them are not white people over the age of 60? Give the same test to the Republican field. It’s time to destroy the narrative which says the Republicans are the party of rich white people. It’s time for the Republicans to stop ceding minority votes based on a 50-year old paradigm. The American middle and working-class is not exclusively white, and they share a lot of common values.
Lose the religious fundamentalists
These are the people who make it easy to demonize the Stagnant American Right. Every time some idiot like Pat Robertson opens his mouth about God punishing America for its acceptance of homosexuality, and the Republicans don’t immediately excoriate him for saying such stupid crap, it becomes that much harder to take them seriously. Regardless of which god they pray to, religious fundamentalists are the greatest threat to world peace since the Nazis. There’s no room for them in any legitimate political party in a civilized country.
Again, it’s pretty easy to tell why the New American Left would never do any of this stuff, but they are more than welcome to. As I stated, this isn’t about “conservative vs. liberal.” On the other hand, for the Stagnant American Right to do any of this stuff, they are going to need guts, brains, and dedication; three things they haven’t had since Ronald Reagan.
4) They have allowed the confusion of Conservatism and Capitalism
One of the time-honored traditions in American politics is to confuse two separate issues into one so as to misconstrue one or both of them in order to make opposing the politics behind such a confusion nearly impossible. The New American Left has been quite successful doing exactly this with conservatism and capitalism, which is how they continue to portray the myth of Conservatives/Republicans being nothing more than old, white, rich people. In order to break out of their current political standstill, the Stagnant American Right must destroy that myth.
It matters little that conservatism is a political philosophy and capitalism is an economic system, and therefore by definition do not have anything to do with each other. What matters is the New American Left has become virtually dependent on selling that illusion both as a tool for furthering their own illusion of interest in the middle and working class and for recruiting American youth to their cause. In both cases, this is done through a deliberate confusion; and the Stagnant American Right has allowed that to happen.
The need for the clarification between conservatism and capitalism was identified over fifty years a go by a man named Andrew Galambos. He offers a distinction which not only clearly makes the distinction; but it is a distinction which offers no possibilities of this being compromised or misunderstood.
As I break down Galambos’ treatise on this matter, note how many times he makes reference to issues which are still pertinent today. He starts with a set of stark defintions.
Conservatism is the tendency to preserve what is established.
Capitalism is that societal structure whose mechanism is capable of protecting all forms of private property completely.
If you can’t accept those definitions, read no further as the purpose of the remainder of this piece is to challenge some common misconceptions, illustrate why they are wrong, then expose the rationale behind why they were deliberately confused in the first place. To understand the challenge to the conventional wisdom, taking those definitions as a given are essential.
The current confusion between conservatism and capitalism is not only nearly universal, but it is also a great danger to the development of a free capitalist civilization. So great is the confusion that most political conservatives sincerely think they believe in capitalism and most people who think they believe in capitalism are vigorously pursuing conservative political objectives, usually to the exclusion of other goals for which they find they have “no time.” This short article is intended to show that capitalism and conservatism are two different things. It is true that there is an overlap but this is minor contrasted with the basically different objectives and means employed by the two philosophies.
The line about “political conservatives sincerely think they believe in capitalism” is crucial because that is how so-called conservatives like George H. W. Bush signed into law what was at the time the largest hike in federal income tax in history, and George W. Bush exploded federal spending by enacting Medicare Part D. They falsely believe that you can promote capitalism by expanding the role of the central government. Not only is this a false belief, but it promotes the aforementioned confusion of these two philosophies.
From the definition of conservatism, it is evident that conservatism is a relative concept because what is established is dependent upon time, place, and circumstance. To be a conservative in mid-20th century America is not the same as to be a conservative in mid-20th century Russia or to be a conservative in late-18th century America. The first wishes to preserve the Republic as established in the 18th- century. The second wishes to preserve Marxism-Leninism. The third wished to preserve monarchy (decidedly, a different goal from the present American conservative’s goal to preserve the very Republic that once displaced monarchy). The reason it is easy to see why there is a confusion between present conservatism in America and capitalism is that the original Republic approximated a capitalist society better than any other society in history, and those who are satisfied that this is all there is to do to establish capitalism believe that “restoring the Republic” will do it. It is important to note, however, that only in the United States is it possible to associate even on such a superficial level conservatism with capitalism. Nowhere else is there anything worth preserving in terms of a capitalist heritage.
That last sentence is the genesis of why the New American Left really needs to sell the idea that America is truly a nation of racism, classism, and “socioeconomic injustice.” If one can claim that “capitalism” enacted by “conservatives” has done nothing but create oppression in the one country on earth with the “capitalist heritage,” then the concept of the evils of capitalism becomes an easy sell, especially to the uneducated or when used to appeal to the envy-driven “class warfare” approach.
From the definition of capitalism, it is evident that capitalism is an absolute concept. It does not depend upon time, place, and circumstance. It is the societal structure that produces freedom by ensuring that each individual is fully (100%) in control of his own property (property being individual man’s life and all non-procreative derivatives of his life). Either each individual controls his own life and all of its derivatives or he does not. If he does, capitalism is the societal structure that prevails by definition. There are no possibilities of this being compromised or misunderstood.
Which explains why an environment which would allow for such confusion needed to be invented…
Thus, capitalism, an absolute, requires new ideas to bring it into existence. How do we know this? Because it doesn’t exist at this time anywhere on this planet. Furthermore, it has never existed to this date anywhere on this planet. Before you jump to the false conclusion that it is impossible, consider that the reason for this is not that it would violate any law of nature (the condition for impossibility), but that the social technology to establish it has not been known in the past. Thus, capitalism requires the constant search for new ideas, new theories, and new applications. It is, therefore, a progressive and liberal development because it requires forward-thinking and increased individual freedom (liberation from property interferences and controls). Capitalism’s only tie with the past is the American Revolution and its ideological antecedents.
Which explains why the New American Left has this maniacal need to paint every white European from Christopher Columbus to George Washington as a “dead, white slave-owner” while completely ignoring the fact they helped create the country which allows them to say such things publicly.
It is in this domain that the tenuous connection with conservatism is sought. But remember that conservatism is preservative of the American Republic only in the United States. And also remember that the mechanism of restoration sought is the same one whereby we lost the original Republic of limited interference with the individual. We lost it through political action based upon majority rule whereby a small minority of politicians accumulated power by pretending “to promote the general welfare” by offering the people en masse gratuities and doles. Most people (not understanding the laws of nature) fervently seek the utopian and unattainable goal of “something for nothing.” So they favor those politicians who offer the most with the reward of being voted into the seats of state authority. Later, the politicians, in attempting to deliver on their promises, have to seize more and more of the property of the people thereby negating individual freedom. The people wishing something for nothing end up with nothing for something (something seized).
Does that sound familiar? Like the current president of this country, and his three immediate predecessors? Like 95% of your current congress?
Those who abhor this trend have attempted to reverse it by “restoring the Republic.” Their goal is a commendable and worthy one. However, the means employed are not compatible with the end sought. Therefore, it cannot succeed. The error in the conservative approach is that innovation is not natural to it. This is because conservatism has its roots in the past only. The past did not produce freedom for a good reason: it was beyond the social technology of our predecessors. The conservative approach, in the end, always resorts to political action. This is because the conservative is not seeking new methods, and political action (rule of all by a few) is all that is known to him. The conservative believes that if more enlightened men are appointed or elected to high office and if the present restrictive laws are repealed then we will achieve freedom. What is wrong with this argument is that the trouble is not with men, but with a system that can do nothing but coerce. Regardless of who holds the reins of power, the individual is still at the mercy of the state authority. It is not true that good men will reform the state. It is true that the state will corrupt the best of men. No one, and this includes the most sincere and well-meaning conservative politicians, is immune to Acton’s disease. Acton first defined the symptoms of the world’s foremost political disease: Power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.
Remember when I discussed the Stagnant American Right’s desire to return America to a place that never existed? Galambos was all over that even then, and he’s absolutely right as to why it’s wrong, and he’s about to explain the true futility in it.
Conservatism is easily held to political ridicule by its opponents. Because of their anchorage in the past, conservatives are usually accused of “facing backwards,” of being opposed to the mainstream of America, of marching into the Dark Ages, of feudalism of retrogression. The capitalist, being the only true liberal and true progressive of history, is not burdened with this image. Conservatives tend to harm their own cause by calling collectivists and socialists by names such as liberal, radical, progressive. They usually are content with talking about the “good old days” and the “wisdom of the past ages.” But to most people the old days were days without TV, without washing machines and automobiles, days of hard manual toil for low wages and personal low standard of living. They don’t want to return to these things.
By contrast, a true capitalist does not seek to emulate the past. He is content to learn from it. Capitalism does have a conservative component but no more than a component. The capitalist studies the past to find out what errors were made and what progress was accomplished. Then he strives to avoid making the same errors and to learn from the progress what it takes to continue it and improve it. The capitalist does not look to the past, but to the future. He wishes to preserve only as much of the past as was creative, and then he endeavors to build a progressively better and durable world.
The conservative, by resorting to political means, actually attempts to convert the majority to his cause. He can do this only by trying to compromise the very principles he holds dear. The conservative, by political means, gradually becomes indistinguishable from his collectivist opponent. He seeks the same state authority that the collectivist does. He does this in the vain hope that he can run the apparatus of coercion more justly and more efficiently. But an apparatus of coercion can do nothing but coerce. And the conservative in this predicament becomes gradually increasingly coercive. This leads to charges of fascism and nazism. Actually, this is resident not in the conservative goals, but in the usage of collectivist means to eliminate collectivist ends. Thus, the conservative in politics (the only approach he knows) finds himself embedded in a self-defeating mechanism. If he loses his political prize, he becomes frustrated and the next time tries more frantically and more hysterically to convert the majority to his side. To do this, he must compromise still more of his original principles. If on the other hand, he wins his political prize (a rare event, but it does happen occasionally), then he tries to convert the coercive apparatus of the state to his own set of rules and thereby causes the same political errors in the long run that his opponents were making.
Pretty hard to refute that, but wait…here comes the final nail…
The conservative has a party line as rigid and as disciplinarian as any other political dogmatist. He tolerates no individualism in his political goals. The conservative will challenge his opponents, but once in power, he disfavors challenge to his authority with the same vigor as any other political overlord.
Moreover, conservatives worship tradition. Capitalists, on the other hand, honor the knowledge of the past, but believe themselves capable of improving upon it and do not succumb to self-derogation by assuming they can do nothing but repeat the processes of the past. The conservatives who concern themselves most with the rituals of the past traditions and their codification into a party line become the major conservative politicians. The capitalists who concern themselves most with improvements and progress become the major innovators and entrepreneurs. Conservatism is concerned with codifying past controls of property, the improvement of property, the protection of property, and the moral utilization of property.
This is why earlier I stated the banner of “conservatism” being carried by Donald Trump is exceptionally misplaced. By the definition we’ve just gone through, Trump is a capitalist of the first order. It is also time to take a hard look at who is really trying to move this country forward versus who is simply attempting to increase the power of the state.
The final point to be emphasized is that capitalism is not a political concept and that the purpose of capitalism is to construct a society wherein man is free by controlling all of his own property all of the time. Because property does not have a political origin (but oftentimes it has a political destruction), capitalism does not concern itself with improving the state or any of the political apparatuses employed either to run the state or to exchange the administration of the state. Politics, at best, is a game which never ends. First, the “ins” and “outs” play until the “outs” get “in.” Then they switch sides and play it again. And so on, until man loses all his property and ends up enslaved. Capitalism is the vehicle of progress and the builder of civilization through property sanctity. Freedom is its attainable goal. Freedom is not a game. Freedom is a man’s loftiest goal and the prerequisite for all his other permanent goals.
The last sentence sums it up. It won’t take long for anybody who is being intellectually honest to realize that finding politicians in America who are interested in the freedom of the middle class is an exercise in futility, largely because Americans haven’t demanded that quality in politicians for at least two generations now.
It’s not hard to see why the Stagnant American Right keeps losing elections to a Democratic party that really taken on Galambos’ definition of “conservative.” You can hear it in their very own campaign rhetoric. Everything is about”what the Republicans are going to take away form (insert demographic they are appealing to a the moment). It’s an exceptionally flawed political strategy, but it’s been effective because the Stagnant American Right hasn’t been able to effectively counter it.
What it comes down to is as they currently exist, neither the New American Left or the Stagnant American Right don’t care about the interests of the middle and working class, and they won’t until those classes demand somebody who does. That’s really the goal behind this series is getting the middle and working class people of America to take back their country through forcing either the New American Left or the Stagnant American Right to take up their cause. I know at the beginning of this series I said I would include Libertarians, and I will. But the fact of the matter which I will explore in detail in the next installment of this series is that Libertarians don’t matter.
When he’s not contributing to the TurtleBoy Revolution, J-Dub actually preferes to avoid real issues by running his own sports blog.