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Smashing the Tyranny of the Democrats' Cliches Obama's Togetherness

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A Pre-revolutionary Situation

by Christopher Chantrill
June 13, 2012 at 12:00 am

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ONCE UPON a time there was a nation that had trouble paying its bills. The people were restless. So the king called for his advisors, and they advised a little inflation to stimulate trade. A few months passed, and the people were still restless. So the king called for his advisors once again and asked them what was wrong. It’s those extremists and radicals, they said. They are sowing radical ideas and extremism among the people.

Wouldn’t you know, the bookstores are groaning these days with pompous titles about the radicalism of the Republican Party. Court pundit E.J. Dionne, Jr. is out with Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent. He argues that Republicans have abandoned any thought of community in a mad crush on individualism. In an interview with Hugh Hewitt E.J. worried that the Tea Partiers owe too much to the ideas of the John Birch Society and have reneged on the “long consensus” about the role of government in society.

I think they emphasize our individualistic side, which is very much part of us, the individual liberty side, to the exclusion of that side of us which both believes profoundly in community, and sees it as essential to preserving liberty.

Thomas E. Mann from Brookings and Norman J. Ornstein of AEI have written It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. Jay Cost tells us what they think has gone wrong.

[T]hey argue that the GOP “has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

When a ruling elite starts to fail you’d expect this sort of thing. How dare, how dare those peasants challenge our divine right to rule!

The United States is entering a pre-revolutionary situation where a significant faction in one of the political parties has said: We’re getting screwed; the deal’s off.” And that is exactly what James Piereson is arguing in “The fourth revolution” in The New Criterion. We are entering a period of revolutionary upheaval, he writes, caused not just by the Crash of 2008 and budget deficits but by “the exhaustion of the post-war system of political economy that took shape in the 1930s and 1940s.” Cue Margaret Thatcher: “They always run out of other peoples’ money.”

There are several strategies open to an elite in a pre-revolutionary situation. It can opt for confrontation. That was the tactic attempted by the progressives of Wisconsin, and it failed. Another approach is co-option. You figure out what the rubes really want and give them just enough to make them go away. That was the strategy of the Clinton years and the Third Way. It almost worked.

Then there is always marginalization: don’t listen to those whack-jobs and extremists. This method worked on Ronald Reagan, for a while.

But how about an approach that would appeal to the vast majority of Americans? How about re-energizing the sense of American identity, of America as a community of free men and women, “self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility.”

Community? It’s not just what E.J. Dionne, Jr. wants; it’s what everyone wants.

It is in the definition of community that the difference between liberal ruling class and the conservative extremists arises.

For liberals like E.J. Dionne, Jr., community means top-down government programs to advance the common good, helping people and correcting injustices. That’s because liberals believe that government can be a force for good, as long as enlightened, educated people are in charge.

For conservatives community means free men and women joining together responsibly to advance the common good, helping people and preventing injustice. That’s because conservatives believe that government can very easily become a force for evil, even when enlightened, educated people are in charge.

Every new dynasty takes power on a moral crusade for justice, and the liberals a century ago were determined to bring justice to the working man who’d drawn the short straw at the birth of the industrial age. But it always ends in the cesspools of corruption, with all passion spent, trying to stay in power by shoveling loot out to supporters that are only in it for the money.

The private sector is doing fine; what’s needed is more money to avoid government employee layoffs. Of course President Obama feels that way. The private sector, at a pinch, can look after itself. But the president, at any cost to the nation, must hang onto his supporters.

But if the private sector can look after itself, who needs liberals?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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