I will vote for the Republican nominee for President in 2012. I will only vote to send Republicans to Washington DC. I will take the opportunity to try and convince others to do likewise.
I make these statements enthusiastically and unequivocally. This may not be big news since I have always voted to send Republicans to DC. Not once in my life have I ever voted to send a candidate from the Democrat party, the Libertarian party, the Reform party, etc. to Washington DC.
It should go without saying that it is absolutely imperative that President Obama not win re-election in 2012. The stakes are incredibly high, and if we are to achieve this shared goal we will need to at least not deliberately insult each other. The anti-Obama coalition has to survive through November 2012. We either stand together, or the country will change in ways that are too horrible to fully fathom.
Many political blogs have included inspirational clips from the movie Braveheart. If that movie can’t get your blood pumping faster about the basic struggles that have existed throughout human history, nothing will. I confess that back when I was a litigator, I would play songs from the Braveheart soundtrack before court appearances in an attempt to distract me from the nervousness resulting from my inexperience.
This is not one of those inspirational clips. I think we need a different kind of motivation. The clip is an example of people who should be united against a common foe but instead are disabled from effective action as a result of unproductive infighting.
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For those who have not seen the movie*–it ends with the betrayal and execution of William Wallace. The people of Scotland could not unite effectively in their common interest against the English king. Their disagreements were real. I am not glossing over them. However, the interests and benefits of temporary unity far outweighed what divided them. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to realize that until William Wallace’s head was placed on stick for public display.
I am not calling for a “truce” on anything. People should stick to their principles, and be willing to defend those principles with rational argument and evidence. All I am asking for is that commentors not so quickly challenge the good faith of other commentors. Please remember that at the end of the day, we want everyone at Red State to vote Republican in 2012. Friends can disagree with each other. Allies can have different belief systems from each other. However, it is difficult to stay in the same foxhole with someone who impugns your character or insults you. There will be a lot of internal arguments between now and November 2012. We need to be aware that while the arguments can and should fly between now and then, we want the “other guy” to vote Republican in 2012.
We don’t want people sitting on their hands. We don’t want people making protest votes for third parties that we all know have no chances of winning. In short, we need to acknowledge that there is sufficient common ground that unites us that even those we disagree with be accommodated a certain modicrum of respect. At a mimumum, we don’t need to be picking fights, looking for ways to insult, etc. with those who share some very important common goals. At this point, I think most of us are aware of certain scars that need not be picked.
Some specific data points for consideration:
1. Reversability of Obamacare. In the history of the Western world, I am unaware of any nation that has instituted government provided universal health care and managed to repeal it. The US is an exceptional nation, but we should not fool ourselves into thinking repeal of Obamacare is an easy task. Once its tentacles are fully embedded into the fabric of the country (like SS and Medicare before it), it will become harder and harder to change, much less repeal.
2. Window of opportunity. If Obamacare is not repealed by 2014, the odds of it being repealed are low. There is only one presidential election between now and then. There will be only one more Congressional election between now and then. When the window closes, smart money says the window will stay closed.
3. The ability to truly “be conservative” will be permanently changed if Obamacare is not repealed. However you define conservative, the ability to actually pursue and implement conservative policies will be forever altered if Obamacare is not repealed. You can argue about the definitions of conservative, neo-cons, paleo, etc until you are blue in the face.
Those definitions will become meaningless in a post-Obamacare world. Conservatism as we know it here in the US in 2010 doesn’t exist anywhere else in the Western world. Limited government as known by Americans before the Wilson and FDR administrations is unknown to us here in 2010, and doesn’t exist anywhere on the globe.
A. Pre-Wilson Administration. There were people who supported limited government before the Woodrow Wilson administration. No doubt they believed passionately in their principles. However, the ideas and ideology of those individuals were permanently precluded from the political landscape as a result of the Wilson administration. To this date, no matter who was in power in DC, we have not been able to get even close for the limited government positions of people living in the early 20th century. The leftist and statist tilt of Wilson stands unreversed today. The ideologies of those Wilson opponents are irrelevant today. Whatever differences divided them, they all ended up as political losers—and their ideas and beliefs regarding the appropriate size of government have largely been vanguished from the face of the earth. No doubt they had disagreements as well, but in hindsight, can there be any doubt that what united them was far more important than what divided them? No elected official in DC in the year 2010 represents a position that Wilson’s opponents would recognize as “limited government” from their perspective. The ideology of those opponents is dead, and their internal disagreements died with them.
B. Pre-New Deal. The New Deal was opposed by a sizable percentage of the U.S. population. There were a lot of people arguing that our system of limited government was being threatened by FDR. The judicial system struck down so many of FDR’s initiatives, that the threatened to enlarge and then stack the court with less hostile justices. The ideologies of the individuals who opposed the New Deal are totally absent in today’s political landscape. Back in the day, elected officials actually disputed the validity of Social Security. Since that time, the landscape has changed. As conservative as Senator DeMint is, he is not willing to do what many Republican Senators did at the time that SS was enacted—to oppose the existence of Social Security as a federal entitlement. The viewpoints of those who opposed the New Deal have almost entirely disappeared from the political landscape of 2010. Whatever differences they had, their unity or lack thereof with regards to SS is the legacy that they leave behind. Put another way, being for “limited government” in 2010 is unrecognizable as the “limited government” position to those who opposed the New Deal. The markers have once again been moved, and they have been moved against.
C. UK and Canada. The UK and Canada are excellent examples of how a government healthcare system makes being “conservative” functionally impossible as we currently think of in today’s terms. Thatcher was undoubtedly the high water mark of conservatism in the UK. However, she did not even voice an attempt to junk the national health system. Give the huge expense of that health system and the contrary data point with respect to limited government, the best that Thatcher could do was privatize some industries and reduce some taxes. I am not saying her policies weren’t bold, but in comparison to the Reagan policies of the 1980s, it was small potatoes. The ability to do anyting that we would call conservative was simply made impossible by the national health system. The same can be said for Canada. Canada right now has the most conservative leadership than it has ever had during my lifetime. However, by American standards, Harper is a moderate Republican. In Canada, he is there version of Sen DeMint. National healthcare moves political markers in a way that will be very destructive.
The Bottom Line:
We can spend a lot of time in the next 2 years arguing about what the proper definition of conservatism is. However, if in doing so, we manage to break apart our 2012 stop Obama coalition, our arguments, values, and belief systems will ultimately become irrelevant. The yard markers will have moved.
Just as the positions of “limited government voters” pre-Wilson and pre-FDR are found only in history books, so to will the arguments we make today if Obamacare is not repealed.
We must stop Obama in 2012 and we must repeal Obamacare in 2013. Otherwise, none of arguments about “definitions” will ever matter again.
*Please note that I am not making an argument either way about the historical accuracy of the movie.