There is nothing conservative about identity politics:The NJ Christie-alization of DemLib big government union, identity politics
I never cease to be amazed at how so many Democrats truly think they are conservative but really aren't and at how so many more want to be seen as conservative, when they know they aren't.
Many of the latter are found under the category of "drawl and that's all" mythical moderate, Southern and/or "blue dawg" Democratic Party candidates and office holders, most all of whom have been discredited by their votes for Pelosi as Speaker, the Obama non-stimulus bill and two ObamaDem budgets that quadruple the worst Bush deficit.
But many of the former Democrat, non-office holders also suffer from the rightful discrediting of the classic liberal label by the actual race-based, class envy-based, and aggression-inviting weakness-based policies pursued by actual post-JFK, modern day liberal Democrats. No, Karl Rove and Rush didn't "demonize" the liberal label. Democrats did.
Then there are the special examples of trial lawyers and unions, which, along with the above, were brought to the fore for me by the reactions of two old friends of mine by a recent DeVine-Gamecock column concerning Obama's respect for Louis Farrakhan and NJ Governor Christie's budget battle with the government employee teachers union (NJEA).
Conservative epiphanies anathema to practicing trial lawyers?
Most DeVine-Gamecock readers know of my pre-2000 trial lawyer and Democratic Party activist/official history in SC and my conservative epiphany after moving to Atlanta in 2000 to pursue corporate work.
We finally mustered the courage, after leaving our hometown, to admit the reality-mugging wisdom of failed liberal policies when Reagan's supply-side tax cuts and peace through strength felled inflation and the Evil Empire. Even Bill Clinton, with Newt's belt at his butt, declared the era of big government over and eventually cut taxes to keep the recovery going, but I digress.
What is so sad is that my best friend from that hometown, seems to have had a reverse epiphany after leaving the insurance business to eventually enter general law practice.
But that can be fairly easily written off to the cult of trial lawyers thinking they are looking out for their own livelihoods, which they are, to a certain extent. Even in my own case, while a trial lawyer in SC, I rarely spoke out against draconian criminal laws or court decisions anathema to the Constitution if they made my services more valuable or more likely to be employed.
I was, in short, a coward, for while still in my hometown, I would have had to admit that many silver-spoons were right all along. Note the class-envy? More on that later.
But I did feel revulsion when fellow Democrats laughed at Reagan's use of the phrase "Evil Empire; eschewed wealth-creating tax cuts; and played the "race" card against obviously non-racist Republicans. And I always hated the litigious mentality and "victims" that really weren't hurt.
What I find ironic is that so many Democrat trial lawyers don't understand that what really made the 80-90s boom possible, even more than liberal tort policies, was the Reagan recovery that put more money in people's pockets with which to hire lawyers. Obama is helping them concentrate their minds on that reality just now, so stay tuned.
But for now, however, my lawyer friend is so ensconced as a Democrat that, for the first time, he asked that I not send him anti-Obama columns, after I sent one that documented, chapter and verse, Obama's use of the honorific "Minister" when referring to the country's most prolific racist and anti-Semite that was honored in Obama's church by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Denial is a major coping technique for many Democrats, especially those that want to be conservative
Pro-life, ok? But pro-union conservative? Not so much.
The next long-time friend to balk at the obvious and reveal decidedly non-conservative tendencies of the identity/class envy-politics of the Democratic Party, unlike the trial lawyer, is one that declares himself a conservative, voted for Bush; and continually calls out Republicans for their rare liberal votes, highlights the even rarer Democrats who cast conservative votes; insists on feigning offense when tagging Democrats with the obvious import of their national policies by seeking cover under the banner of his state legislature Democrats that are supposedly conservative (as if that has anything to do with what is happening in D.C.); and never ceases to try and make distinctions between the far left and regular liberals, in attempts to rehabilitate the regular liberals and blue dawgs.
Reminds me of me, before the epiphany
But at least when I protested as such in the 90s, there was the then-present example of the post-Newt Clinton. In the 80s there were actual democrats that voted conservative more than twice a term.
The boll weevils became Republicans, and the votes of the far left, left, liberals and blue dawgs were mostly identical in the 90s and 2000s, and are indistinguishable under Obama. There hasn't been a dime's worth of difference between liberals and/or Democrats for decades when you look at their actual votes on laws that affect us.
But on one Democrat, my friend proved correct, but then didn't appreciate it.
In response to my fact-based diatribes against "Democrats", after the accusation that I slandered "his state's Democrats", supposedly being inferentially lumped in (despite numerous explanations that I only referred to national democrats,ad nauseum over the years), came the exception insisted upon for his particular Democrat Congressman.
Admitting that his congressman's vote for Pelosi as Speaker empowered the left, he still insisted that its best for conservatives to stay in the Democratic Party. Then, last year, his Congressman first announced that he would not vote for Pelosi again, and then went ahead and switched parties.
But is my friend happy that his congressman, that voted against all of ObamaDems' major bills last year, switched to join forces with the like-minded? No.
When the virtue of loyalty becomes a vice
My friend proves that loyalty, like most other virtues, can be demonstrated to excess, and sometimes indicates latent, un-admitted, obeisance to orthodox modern day liberal views shared by the near and far left.
What appears to be more important to my friend, and I assume not insignificant numbers of Democrats, is loyalty to party; rather than right principles and taking actions that might actually have those principles implemented in law and repealing those passed by his party that are diametrically opposed to same, that even he would admit are so opposed.
Of course, we then have to be reminded that Republicans had budget deficits and "Clinton balanced the budget" along with the price of tea in China. Never mind that the two Clinton-Newt surpluses; Clinton's six deficits; Reagan's deficits and Dubya's deficits are all insignificant when compared to ObamaDem's deficits, when the absolute numbers of same are looked at, but I digress.
Christie's fight with the NJEA crystallizes these issues nationwide
But as strong as my friend's loyalty is to the Democratic Party, it rarely caused any guards to come down on actual policies, even if it did cause unspoken sympathy for same.
Not so with the union loyalty and more that reared its head when I sent my friend this George Will column about possibly the most courageous, elected conservative since Ronald Reagan governed the Golden State against hippies on campus in the 60s. An excerpt:
The bridge is a tutorial on a subject this government has flunked -- economics, which is mostly about incentives. At the Pennsylvania end of the bridge, cigarette shops cluster: New Jersey's per-pack tax is double Pennsylvania's. In late afternoon, Gov. Chris Christie says, the bridge is congested with New Jersey government employees heading home to Pennsylvania, where the income tax rate is 3 percent, compared with New Jersey's top rate of 9 percent.
There are 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey, but in November Christie flattened the Democratic incumbent, Jon Corzine. Christie is built like a burly baseball catcher, and since his inauguration just 13 weeks ago, he has earned the name of the local minor-league team -- the Trenton Thunder.
He inherited a $2.2 billion deficit, and next year's projected deficit of $10.7 billion is, relative to the state's $29.3 billion budget, the nation's worst. Democrats, with the verbal tic -- "Tax the rich!" -- that passes for progressive thinking, demanded that he reinstate the "millionaire's tax," which hit "millionaires" earning $400,000 until it expired Dec. 31. Instead, Christie noted that between 2004 and 2008 there was a net outflow of $70 billion in wealth as "the rich," including small businesses, fled. And he said previous administrations had "raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years alone
Partly to pay for teachers' benefits -- most contribute nothing to pay for their health insurance -- property taxes have increased 70 percent in 10 years, to an average annual cost to homeowners of $7,281. Christie proposes a 2.5 percent cap on annual increases.
Challenging teachers unions to live up to their cloying "it's really about the kids" rhetoric, he has told them to choose between a pay freeze and job cuts... Christie notes that the $550,000 salary of the executive director of the teachers union is larger than the total cuts proposed for 190 of the state's 605 school districts.
We later learned that a high-ranking employee of the Teacher's Union sent out an email praying for Christie's death. She still has her job.
My friend's reaction to all this was suspicion of New Jersey's governor because he has an "R" after his name; blind loyalty to a far away NJEA union; and justification for union demands since "teachers are under-appreciated."
No mention of the dire severity of the budget numbers. No mention of the fact that Christie is asking only for smaller pay increases in the future. My friend knows that most states governed by Democrat majorities over the past 20 years are faring far worse than those governed by Republicans.
Yet, the revealing reaction to a real conservative acting as such in such a hostile and extreme environment is to scurry away from the facts to the comfort of identity politics, emotion, party loyalty, and union loyalty.
This from one that insists they are a conservative?
When we challenge such a notion we are reminded by our friend that he is "pro-life" and for a strong defense. Again, the cost of tea in China? Fine and dandy, as I am pro-life and most that are pro-life are conservatives.
But before Roe v Wade there liberals and conservatives. Before doves like Obama and Pelosi, there were conservatives.
Back in the 50s and from 1776-1949, hardly anyone was for abortion, gay marriage or appeasement abroad. But for all that time there were many liberals and many conservatives.
The basic definition of a conservative is one that favors private property rights, free markets, liberty-empowered pursuits of happiness made more possible and likely by smaller government budgets, regulations and taxes. Conservatives favor equal protection of the law, not spread less wealth equality. Conservatives favor the right of workers to organize and form a union pursuant to a free election, not card check thuggery.
A conservative is not one that is for whatever tax increase is necessary to pay for bigger government.
So then, here is a governor that walks the talk in the Garden State against a whining government union that can't deal with the reality of the Greece/GM-like results of decades of union-induced age 53 early retirement, and pay increases despite increasingly poor results.
New Jersey hasn't the money to afford all it has in the past! Duh!
And I must amend my earlier statement to say that I do not believe workers paid by the taxpayer (this includes teachers) should be allowed to organize a union, much less strike. Government employees have a pay negotiator with clout. He's called your elected representative. He can negotiate with your employer, We the People.
At this point my friend reminds me (ignoring the facts of the NJ budget and union demands) that Government Motors and Chrysler's management agreed to those outrageous union contracts; suggests there has been a lack of attention to the sins of Big Business, despite the near ubiquitous press of the past year assigning disproportionate blame for cause of the recession to Wall Street; and that I benefited from the increased wages of my father and grandfather thanks to their union.
Yes, the main private companies that ObamaDems considered too big to fail, and thus get their outrageous contracts bailed out by the taxpayers, did have Boards of Directors that caved to unions. And?
The Greece-ian formula for permanent recession
Taxpayers don't bail out non-union non-banks whose Boards haven't caved to unions. The federal government and all state governments in budget crises, have all caved to unions. Like Greece.
Then, we are supposed to support pay increases during a great recession for a bunch of irresponsible union education "administrators" supporting teachers at the rate of 5:1 and already well-paid actual teachers because of my family legacy or that the supposed maxim that "teachers are under-appreciated" is true and must be addressed even if it bankrupts the state?
I think not.
Firstly, not all unions are equal, and one should not do anything just because Daddy did, and in my case, my father came to loathe the union many years before he retired due to the increasing inability to fire incompetents under the union contract.
The railroad worker unions didn't bankrupt railroads and weren't susceptible of being used to raid taxpayers to achieve "appreciation." Railroad Workers' appreciation was in the paycheck and their spiritual life. And if we were to judge this supposed metaphysical certitude of "teacher under-appreciation" by their pay checks, then they would have to stop the whining. We have increased education spending nationwide by the trillions since the 70s and teacher pay exponentially. Teachers are appreciated.
What is not appreciated is politically correct liberalism anathema to Judeo-Christian values that is practiced in schools. They are paid plenty.
But even if God told us that teachers were under-appreciated and even if we had teacher shortages and teachers were objectively under-paid, that would not justify blind loyalty to the NJEA demands.
Teachers were greatly appreciated in 1792 in a poorer Nation. Earth to Democrats: America is poorer today than yesterday.
There has been a great recession on since 2007 (one year after ObamaDems took over Congress and declared war on small business and free markets even while Bush was in).
Have you heard about it?
New Jersey can't print money. People that don't get bailed out by Obama are LOSING there jobs, not just not getting pay hikes.
Reagan, the maximum union hero also not appreciated
One more vignette about this class of pro-life, blindly pro-union Democrats concerning more cognitive dissonance, their hatred of the pro-life, Screen Actors Guild union hero that dodged bullets to keep communists out of the union, i.e. Ronald Reagan.
Yet, these Democrats want to be thought of as "conservatives"?
Reagan brought pro-lifers into electoral politics after Roe. Reagan wrote a book against abortion while President. Reagan greatly slowed the growth of discretionary domestic spending; inspired the Newties that would freeze such spending in the late 90s; killed inflation and saved the economy and defeated the USSR, all after nearly being killed by communist union thugs in the 50s and failing his first marriage mainly due to his loyalty to the union.
But all that conservative heroism goes for naught because he fired air traffic controllers who broke the law. Mind you now, this concerns union workers, not private sector railroad workers. But not only does this concern union workers, it concerns government workers. But not only were they government union workers, they were security related workers prohibited by law from striking against the public.
They broke the law, knowing their union contracts allowed them to be fired for same. Reagan fired them. Upholding the rule of law is conservative. Ignoring it is liberal.
But Reagan is the villain to these "conservatives." Its ok to talk conservative. That's what the drawl and that's all version they have been fooling Southerners and other with for years.
I have argued for years that many conservative democrats have been voting against their own beliefs for years by sending these fake blue dogs to DC for years because they empower the leftist majority that will always rule the Dems.
But here is a case where pro-union loyalty eschews actual conservative action against law-breakers simply because they are "union."
Christie gets the same treatment as Reagan by this crowd. How dare Christie do what he said he would do when campaigning?
Mikhail Gorbachev said that when Reagan fired the illegal PATCO strikers, it caused them to take Reagan's strong defense rhetoric more seriously and was a major factor in the fall of the USSR.
God knows that America would benefit from the fall from power of government unions in New Jersey and nationwide.
Labels, policies, and results
Much of the arguments in politics revolves around semantics as humans seek to simplify issues by reducing them to labels. I am not averse to this and think it is made necessary by the 24-hour day and communication to the non-political masses.
But I am not loyal to a word, for the word's sake.
When I was a liberal, I was Democrat. I favored liberal policies and Democrats were the party that was then and now, the far more liberal party.
When I admitted the obvious truth of what policies work based on results of 5000 years and the past 50, I declared myself a conservative and joined the party from when all conservatism has come since JFK was shot, and even before.
I cared about the poor when I was a Democrat. I still care and that is a major reason I switched to the GOP even before 911. I always knew the Democrats were a bunch of weenies on defense since 1975, but I digress.
I am loyal to the truth, God, America and my friends. I want good policies that make more Americans wealthier and that keep us safe.
A union is but a means to an end, that may or may not, in particular circumstances, advance a good end. And anyone, especially after the ObamaDem deficits that dwarf all the deficits since WWII doesn't convince one that there are major differences between the parties, then I suspect that person doesn't care as much about good results than they do about defending tired old institutions out a false sense of loyalty.
For didn't our fathers throw off failed old policies to make America the Shining City on a Hill as they embraced new ones?
Most of the arguments I get from Democrats to justify loyalties to their party and to unions, go back decades and even to the 19th Century, while I can point to what happened last week and everyday of the last 40 years to justify my conservative epiphany.
The word conservative has a meaning, and it is economic. There is no room for identity politics in modern day conservatism.
Liberalism has plenty of room for that word. It is based upon group politics; race-based grievance politics and class envy. And every time those Democrats open their mouth to declare themselves conservative (and thus, able to enjoy the cover of that word by clueless drive-by media types) they belie their non-reason based liberal tendencies.
Post-script: Had I never left my hometown and/or trial law, would I have ever declared a conservative epiphany and joined the GOP?
Maybe not to the extent I did in Atlanta, but I am sure I would have voted GOP beginning in the early 2000s anyway. I know how hard it is to kick against the shins. So, I am sympathetic with the similarly-situated.
But I have never made it a secret where I stand on the issues. I used to be in denial about the positions held by other democrats, so as to help me save face to myself.
Denial is the name if the river, and one of the greatest things that happened to me after I threw off the Democratic Party was that I was then free to state the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when discussing political issues, history and the news.
Feels great Democrat conservative wannbes!
Will you join me?
"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson
[Cross-posted at The Minority Report and all column links at Examiner.com link above]