Robert Stacy McCain can’t make up his mind on whether I am a “Jihadist concern troll” or an atheist, “dogmatic Randian.” While he ponders the equally plausible alternatives, I dig through his past writings.
From the archives of The Other McCain emerges this nugget of information:
I think, I agree a 100% … about the motives or the hidden agenda, not too, not too deeply hidden I think of such groups as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They are dedicated to celebrating the Confederacy and rather thinly veiled support for white supremacy.
Kejda Gjermani is only 23 years old, as one lesbian detective has recently uncovered, and she needs no more than common sense to feel qualified to name a few inappropriate components of Americanism—tribalism, religious supremacism, and white nationalism are among them.
Unprovoked and unchallenged, Robert Stacy McCain has been harassing Charles Johnson of LittleGreenFootballs relentlessly over the past ten days—twenty posts and counting since September 15th and the archive of hatred and verbose distortions runs deeper. Yesterday, seemingly unsatisfied at the breadth and depth the coverage of Johnson’s evils had received from his own blog, he launched a new outlet for seething against him, carved out of HotAir with its administrators’ approval. From McCain’s inauguratorory remarks, we learn that creating the Green Room—as he colorfully calls it—had become necessary because both at his blog and at HotAir, “commenters have been hijacking every thread to discuss the disastrous self-immolation of Charles Johnson.” That HotAir and the Other McCain are plagued by hordes of commenters who care for nothing but trashing Johnson—to the point of needing a separate forum custom-made for this purpose—speaks more about these blogs’ readership and appeal than it does about Johnson.
But let me speak about Charles Johnson for a minute. He does not need me to defend him, but if I keep silent, a few facts may remain understated: For one thing, he never started a blog war with Robert Stacy McCain. All he did was note—in a discreet comment at his site—that Stephen Green of Vodkapundit was promoting McCain, whom Charles rightfully labeled a white supremacist. When Green responded with a passive-aggressive post making excuses for McCain, Charles providedsources to back his assertion. See that? Only two hyperlinks in the next-to-last sentence, because two posts, mainly consisting of outside sources and direct quotes—the most damning ones from McCain himself—were enough to establish McCain’s racist bona fides. Truth is succinct, truth is crisp. It does not seethe, it does not prevaricate, it is not affected.
What McCain has responded with are long-winded heaps of nothingness, shot through the ether in rapid succession. Does he ever address the direct quotes and facts Charles has laid out? No. Here is an example of what he does instead:
Johnson’s attack on me at LGF depends largely on convincing his readers that, because I am an obstreperous Southerner . . . well, nudge, nudge. You know how those people are.
Except when they aren’t.…People who hate the South—and I think Charles Johnson might fit that description—will not permit you the leisure of merely saying, “Well, we’re not all bad.”…
Charles Johnson was not [at the Tea Party]. I was. And so were lots of people from Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia… oh, wait. I forgot. All Southerners are ignorant racists, right, Charles?
One dull, pathetic lie that is…. Charles never said or suggested any of the above. He merely related a simple fact to his readers—that Robert Stacy McCain has been a member of the neo-confederate League of the South. Does McCain dispute this much? No. In fact, he digresses:
[T]he point is that I was pursuing my professional duty when I first came into contact with the League of the South, and of my subsequent involvement, there are many things that people think they know—on the basis of SPLC reports—which are not necessarily true. And there are many, many thinks [sic] that people do not know.
To what mysteries do you allude, Robert? Are you a member or not? Have you ever been? The League’s secessionist intentions are a matter of public record, as is her pro-slavery stance. One of her cofounders, Thomas Fleming, makes a cameo appearance in my exposé of Serge Trifkovic, where some of his blatantly racist pronouncements are quoted in full—no one can accuse me of taking him out of context when he openly defends the Klan and rejects the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So, Robert, care to elaborate on that subsequent involvement of yours in the League? Neither do you deny being a member of it nor do you wish to utter anything unflattering about it. Then why the caveat when you link to fellow-Leaguers (emphasis mine)?
Meanwhile, keeping in mind that a link is not necessarily an endorsement, League of the South blogger Old Rebel offers his own idiosyncratic [sic] of Chronic Degenerative Lizardmania: [Deranged screed follows—ed.]
Do hedge your bets, Robert. Leave those modifiers dangling too—they make it easier to claim later that you’ve been misunderstood in whichever way it conveniences you to be misunderstood….
In response to my husband—the “an anonymous a—hole”—who calls him out on the friendship and business relation with Richard Spencer of TakiMagazine, McCain retorts:
Richard Spencer, as I have written before, is a young radical intellectual who has read too much Nietzsche. Should he be shunned therefore?
Oh dear…. I will gladly capitulate to Godwin’s Law if it means pointing out that Hitler started out as a young radical intellectual who had read too much Nietzsche (and Schopenhauer). Spencer, McCain’s friend and intermittent source of paychecks, is a notorious white nationalist—he will freely reveal himself as such if you meet him in person; at least he has to me and to MPH, the “anonymous a—hole.”
[Johnson’s] attack on me at LGF is a classic “ransom note method” attack—the assembling of this, that and the other to create a collage, like a kidnapper glueing [sic] together words clipped from magazines.
Pretty vivid imagery there… of a collage… stitched together from quotes and facts. The horror! But who would dare ransom this quote from McCain?
[T]he media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sister-in-law, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.
This, from someone who feels reluctant to shun Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and other assorted bigots, primarily out of strategic considerations:
You cannot build a successful political movement by a process of subtraction, and building a winning coalition is impossible if you organize on losing principles. Allowing your opposition to dictate the terms of acceptable discourse is a losing principle, as Jeff Goldstein has striven to explain. Ergo, Johnson manifests a defeatist tendency when he pronounces Geller and Spencer “untouchables” because they attended a European conference whose promoters included some unsavory characters.
Robert, I assure you: If only you could discriminate less against people of different skin color, you would safely afford to discriminate more against would-be allies of stained character or reputation. And on aggregate, the numbers in your winning coalition would not suffer one bit from this shift—trust me, I’ve done the math. McCain further writes:
The point is that, in attacking me as a “neo-Confederate,” Charles Johnson arrogantly supposes that the facts he knows (or rather, believes he knows, as there has been so much misinformation propagated over the years) are the only facts that matter, and that whatever facts he doesn’t know must be irrelevant.
This is where the Hayekian insight comes in handy. Friedrich Hayek understood that central economic planning could not work because the information contained in prices is too complex, diverse and localized to be supplanted by decisions made by “experts.”
In the same way, our individual opinions on subjects of controversy—including, but not limited to, public policy—are shaped by our personal experiences and knowledge.
A bridge is built. If it is built to meet an insistent public demand, if it solves a traffic problem or a transportation problem otherwise insoluble, if, in short, it is even more necessary to the taxpayers collectively than the things for which they would have individually spent their money had it had not been taxed away from them, there can be no objection. But a bridge built primarily “to provide employment” is a different kind of bridge….
The bridge exists. It is, let us suppose, a beautiful and not an ugly bridge. It has come into being through the magic of government spending. Where would it have been if the obstructionists and the reactionaries had had their way? There would have been no bridge. The country would have been just that much poorer. Here again the government spenders have the better of the argument with all those who cannot see beyond the immediate range of their physical eyes. They can see the bridge. But if they have taught themselves to look for indirect as well as direct consequences they can once more see in the eye of imagination the possibilities that have never been allowed to come into existence. They can see the unbuilt homes, the unmade cars and washing machines, the unmade dresses and coats, perhaps the ungrown and unsold foodstuffs. To see these uncreated things requires a kind of imagination that not many people have. We can think of these nonexistent objects once, perhaps, but we cannot keep them before our minds as we can the bridge that we pass every working day. What has happened is merely that one thing has been created instead of others.
Take that, and apply it to your strategic reasons for tolerating fascists, white nationalists, and religious supremacists in polite company. Their presence in a movement is palpable—hey show up in a head count—but how many sane thinkers who might otherwise sympathize with a cause or idea will never join, out of sheer disgust with its co-optation by fascists and bigots? We’ll never know…. This consideration applies not only to the involvement of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, or Ann Coulter in the “conservative movement,” but also to your own trafficking in Austrian circles—Hayek is rolling in his grave as neo-confederate cranks twist his ideas in their defense.
Now, back to Charles Johnson… I may disagree with him on any number of issues and still find debating ideas with him a pleasure. He has never given me reason to doubt his integrity or his sanity, and for enduring—without so much as a flinch—the storm of excrement blowing his way from “conservative” quarters of the blogosphere, my hat goes off to him. Refusing to break bread with outspoken bigots should not constitute a tense moral dilemma. It’s basic decency—the kind we should safely take for granted in others and in ourselves. As Charles’s alter ego Lao Stinky put it, “Refusing to dive into a sewer doesn’t mean you’re cleaner than everyone else.” No one deserves a medal for refusing to descend into vitriol and bigotry, but basic virtues are becoming so hard to come by on the Right that they must be spelled out anew. And it’s embarrassing that it has come to this.
White nationalist Robert Stacy McCain now prominently blogrolls lgf2, a hate site run by a couple of dangerous whacks prone to physical violence—and encourages its commenters to congregate at Hot Air. He brings up the nicknames of commenters banned from LGF—apparently, they’re no longer “anonymous a—holes” when they play his game—and encourages them to seethe at his site. Could there be a move pettier than cultivating disgruntled ex-commenters banned for good reasons from another site? I mean, at least from “one of the top Hayekian public intellectuals in America”?
To all those “pundits” who should know better—Vodka, Allah, Insta, I am pointing at you—some candid advice: Get your neo-confederate protégée to shut up, because the more he talks, the deeper the hole he digs himself into, and the more uncomfortable you will feel when you come to his defense.
UPDATE: I’ve learned that Hot Air‘s “Green Room” was not created specifically for hosting Robert Stacy McCain’s diatribes against Charles Johnson. It’s rather a platform for all “outside bloggers” who contribute to Hot Air. I did not know this because I have not read Hot Air in a long time. What McCain did was use an existing platform to publish a thread exclusively dedicated to trashing Charles Johnson. There… is that better?
UPDATE: Over at “The Other McCain,” Stacy is already reacting by, you guessed it, weaseling his way around my arguments. He pretends to respond by quoting a sentence of mine—cherry-picked for its relative irrelevance to the charges against him:
White nationalist Robert Stacy McCain now prominently blogrolls lgf2, a hate site run by a couple of dangerous whacks prone to physical violence—and encourages its commenters to congregate at Hot Air.
Then he proceeds to “debunk” it by informing me that “there are these things called facts,… and there are witnesses to those facts.” These “facts” Stacy links to and their respective “witnesses” are nothing but photos of his son with his football teammates, of whom some are black and one is Asian. So his offspring has been caught on camera looking friendly among blacks, in front of witnesses. Stacy, you’ve humored me. If this is the best you can muster in your defense, I rest my case. The idea of having blacks for in-laws still repulses you. But to your credit, you have established that not only you don’t mind transacting business with a black bank clerk, but you will even tolerate your son playing with black kids. You are much more open-minded than I had realized and I am not above admitting it.
From another update:
Now we see where Kejda Gjermani is getting her misinformation. A commenter identifies her husband as software entrepreneur Michael P. Hussey…[so MPH was not an anonymous a—hole after all—ed.] Apparently “mph” encountered Richard Spencer—perhaps at a libertarian event? some sort of Paulista gathering?—in New York, where they both live, and words were exchanged…. Alas, “mph” has made serious mistakes by recycling materials of dubious credibility, and—if it is true that “mph” is Hussey—he has committed an even more serious error by involving Gjermani in what appears to be some sort of personal feud with Spencer.
Leaving aside the misogynistic presumption that it must have been my husband who fed me “misinformation” or “involved” me in anything, I must correct Stacy’s allegation that it was at a libertarian event or “Paulista gathering” that my husband and I met Richard Spencer. For someone so ostensibly committed to not jumping to conclusions without knowing “the facts,” Stacy is sure making up a lot of stuff from thin air. For the record, we met Spencer at a debate titled “Is Zionism Racism?” There was a show of hands, and guess which way Richard Spencer voted? To this day, I remain wholly confused as to what his vote revealed about his attitude to Israel, because he seems to consider racism a good thing.
To top it off, Stacy taunts us:
Pay close attention, idiots: Just because I haven’t bothered to deny something doesn’t mean it’s true. The burden of proof is on the accuser, and good luck proving some of the things you have so flatly asserted. There are facts. And there are witnesses.
He doesn’t bother denying any of the charges against him. But he does bother writing dozens of articles, each over 1,000 words long, to harass whomever brings up unflattering facts from his past. Facts that he doesn’t deny, but pleads with his readers not to believe…. I need some Advil….
That the GOP is experiencing an identity crisis is self-evident. Over the last few months the Party cannibalized herself as one candidate after another tripped over his feet trying to climb on top of her shaky political pedestal. No one can convincingly say what Republican voters were looking for, but we must infer they’ve pretty much found it in John McCain. Yet there is restiveness in the so-called Conservative sector, once hailed as the core ideological constituency of the Right but now finding itself marginalized to the peripheries of the Republican Party whose political headquarters are being rebuilt Leftwards.
Most Conservative icons have criticized the Arizona senator’s controversial Conservative credentials, but some have gone as far as to boycott the Party over his nomination, thus translating the Conservative tantrum into a highly leveraged ultimatum. So Conservatives indeed feel betrayed by the GOP’s leadership, but have they ever scrutinized their faithfulness to their own principles? Most importantly, have they ever coherently articulated what Conservative principles represent? …Can they?
The notion of a true Conservative is farcically reinvented ad nauseum by the latest self-proclaimed specimen, the same way that “change” has become a politically prostituted mantra for the Left, devoid of any substance or pretense thereof. Yet change can ultimately mean anything to Leftist “revolutionaries” preaching overhaul for the sake of overhaul: nothing ideologically uncomfortable about it. While the Party of perpetual “progressive” reform need not be bothered with the intricacies of well-defined “change,” conserving for the sake of conservation just doesn’t fly as well. The future is necessarily open-ended, but anyone invested in preserving valuable aspects of a supposedly cherished past, ought to be able to coherently pinpoint what is worth preserving (or even restoring, if the past is remote enough) and fluently articulate why.
The Conservative movement has lost its conceptual anchor into the essence of America’s greatness and is now consumed with merely conserving the Conservative movement. The future has historically been unkind to reactionaries; hence Conservatives’ recent fall from relevance should come as no surprise.
Vague platitudes of a Conservative golden era are ludicrous. There was never such a thing as a glorious way of life Americans ought to have preserved like an insect captured in the amber of history. Allusions to morally airbrushed “good old days” founded in sound “Judeo-Christian” values are nothing but blurred second-hand collective hallucinations of a generation disastrously failing to grasp modern-day ideological challenges. Before ever being entitled to a dominant voice in this country’s future, Conservatives must sever their romantic attachment to this idealized fabricated past.
American traditions and lifestyles always have and always will be in a vector of flux and experimentation toward modernity. However, the political recipe for human flourishing and sustained prosperity is timeless. America’s founders lucidly articulated it throughout the Founding Documents and embedded it in the early American institutions. This philosophical prescription for maximal individual liberty and limited government has transcended centuries as America’s fundamental nature.
The fathers of Modern American Conservatism—Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and William Buckley Jr.—are now all dead. Instead of bemoaning their loss as tragically irreplaceable and praying in vain for a second coming, Conservatives better adjust their intellectual rear-view mirror until the founders of the American Nation come into clear sharp focus. Ironic corruption of language notwithstanding, it is Liberalism, as it is classically understood, that Conservatives better get in the business of conserving, and in so doing, shed some ideological dead-weight of their own.
The inane treatment of Judeo-Christianity as a proxy for Western Civilization should be first to go. Tying the moral foundations of the American Nation with cultural archetypes of prehistoric Biblical Jews, or with those of devout Europeans emulating them is beyond preposterous. The dogmatic authoritarianism inherent in Judeo-Christianity and its ubiquitous tradition of framing Man as a wretched sinful creature fallen from grace since birth, are antithetical to a societal infrastructure built around individual freedom and dignity.
Judeo-Christianity provides no coherent moral justification for why humankind deserves freedom. The Bible presents men and women as fundamentally unequal and incorrigibly flawed, offhandedly condones slavery, and offers absolute monarchy as the sacrosanct form of government prescribed by God.
The reference to the Creator in the Declaration of Independence by the Deist Thomas Jefferson was appropriate in so far as it further legitimized the proverbial self-evident truths through divine pedigree. Free enterprise is not the coincidental result of collective utility maximization by enlightened social engineers. It is rather the inescapable byproduct of the enshrinement of individual rights, which are inalienable and morally absolute, and which deserve philosophical protection as such. The loose mention of a non-denominational Creator served as a rhetorical shield to the indisputability of natural rights, through appealing to Colonialists’ lowest common philosophical denominator. But nothing in the founding documents insinuates individual rights to be derivatives of religious dogma.
The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion. —John Adams
Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together. —James Madison
Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than on our opinions in physics and geometry… The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. —Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson casually defines the protection of citizens and their property from aggression to be the only legitimate domain of government intervention. Such negative rights retain their internal consistency even when scaled up for large complex communities and are always straight-forward to enforce.
Social Conservatives seeking to use government to legislate morality to the masses have been poisoning the well for too long by destroying the consistency of negative rights, thus opening the door to government co-optation by demagogues with various agendas and malignant vested interests from all sides of the political spectrum. Their religiously inspired diatribes against full American freedoms continue to alienate people in droves, particularly because most Americans today are rightfully oversensitive regarding matters of conscience, religion, social institutions, and private behavior.
Until it extirpates this reactionary faction, the Conservative movement’s defense of free markets is hopelessly doomed to intellectual impotence. Economic self-reliance through free proud enterprise on the one hand, but moral paternalism in matters confined to the bedroom or uterus on the other hand, are ideologically irreconcilable positions both of which sound hypocritical when preached by the same voice.
Judeo-Christian values are neither sufficient nor even necessary components of Americanism. Conservatives with a mental blind spot to this reality often try to justify the institutionalization of Judeo-Christianity by deeming it to be the only absolute ideological shelter for freedom. Plato alone has spoken with more clarity and conviction about absolute transcendental values such as Justice and Goodness, than there can be found throughout the entire Bible. Natural Law has enjoyed a fertile tradition in Western Philosophy, originated by Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, carried out by the Stoics, and augmented by many great thinkers up to the present day.
Not only is the firm binding of natural law with religion not dictated by any philosophical necessity, it is also a strategically self-defeating position for Conservatives to take in the ongoing battle for hearts and minds. I cannot think of a more dangerous proposition for the future of American institutions than the prospect that their desirability and justification depend on the dubious existence of Abraham’s God.
Didn’t Conservatives get the memo? Organized religion is dying at a head-spinning rate not only in this country but across the entire Western world. The proverbial writing on the wall could be seen for decades but reality checks for Social Conservatives come with a time lag. The Religious Right has been running on very tenacious fumes against the demographic tide of events thanks in part to the politically convenient tendency of its base to vote as a block on pet issues. The levels of bi-partisan pandering Social Conservatives have enjoyed in the past are no longer sustainable.
Religion never provided a particularly satisfying map of reality for its subscribers, its main redeeming quality being community building. Churchgoing used to be an essential social event for millions of interaction-starved Americans. It is no longer so. With new lanes being added to the information highway, increasing opportunities for remote social networking, and free access to scientific materials, the Church cannot compete with the sophisticated social outlets Americans can afford today.
That is not to say the new generation is ready to live without dogma, but modern outlets for mysticism cannot be so blunt. The religionists’ children are rejecting their parents’ stale Judeo-Christianity only to fall prey to “secular” new-age religions. These new cultural bubbles can be harder to burst than organized religions because proud “secularists” aren’t self-aware of their own mysticism and violently resist being called out on it. Reality escape-routes unmarked by 6,000-year-old Earths and Noah’s Arks are necessarily and conveniently more elusive.
If religion ever was the opiate of the masses, the “secular” Left is crack cocaine for the ideologically-vulnerable apostates of organized religion. New generations are laughing Judeo-Christian superstitions out of the cultural scene but are also rejecting economic freedom and limited government by association. The Religious Right nearly drowned the baby in the filthy bathwater, and the “secular” Left is ready to throw both out altogether.
Many thumbs sticking in the wind are becoming increasingly sensitive to the “spiritual hunger” aspect of the Zeitgeist. Al Gore and Barack Obama are already successfully exploiting it to bootstrap their own glamorous personality cults. Feminism, radical environmentalism, animal rights, anti-globalization, anti-Americanism, global-warming hysteria, and all-encompassing Statism, are all very much in vogue.
Such developments should attune Conservatives to the cultural necessities of our times: Americans are experimenting with many templates of morality, but they would rather succumb to nihilism or moral relativism than return to the “caves.” Judeo-Christianity is going to die and unless Conservatives genuinely reform their movement to develop enticing modern ideological propositions, the Left will undoubtedly win by default and civilization will succumb to the void.
The name Conservatism should be second to go. Its taxonomic subtleties don’t scale well across long periods, as the ideological reference-point can be easily lost with such a term that doesn’t directly address what it is conserving, but only that it is conserving it. This inherent vaguery is a potential melting crack pot for multidenominational reactionaries. The mental associations are not sexy either in a world where Saudi Arabia can claim conservative as a label.
Liberalism may be a suitable replacement, though I am not convinced enough Conservatives can be de-programmed to call themselves Liberals. It would certainly be an interesting exercise in ideological self-assertion, forcing a public fight over what true classical Liberalism stands for and who deserves to call oneself a Liberal. Putting the Left on the defensive would allow today’s Conservatives to define the boundaries for tomorrow’s battles.
The stance on abortion must also go, and I don’t care about the order in which it does. There are intelligent arguments on both sides of the fence, but in so far as the anti-abortion cause is religiously inspired, it is lost. What is worse, Conservatives are earning compounded surpluses in the hypocrisy department with shady political maneuvers. Nowhere does the Constitution address the issue of abortion, therefore the Tenth Amendment spells doom for universal anti-abortion activists.
Lacking the kind of demographic muscles needed to erect a Constitutional Amendment for their pet issue, Social Conservatives have repeatedly tried to pressure the Supreme Court as a backdoor toward their ends. Conservatives who spiritedly call out Democrats on their big-government insinuations that flagrantly violate the Tenth Amendment need to look in the mirror first. There will never be popular support for an anti-abortion amendment, and such political middle-ground is clearly unsustainable. Abortion is an unfortunate issue for Conservatives to tarnish their reputation as committed defenders of the Constitution.
Indeed, the sanctity of life is a moral topic deserving great political attention. Just as there may genuinely remain environmental issues to be dealt with collectively after, but not until, full property rights are conferred and enforced, there may remain hues of uncertainty to be settled politically (preferably at the state level), as to when an embryo becomes a fetus and when a fetus becomes a person. However, this issue is hardly worth political priority until full Constitutional rights are restored for non-uterus-bound citizens, or at least a general contraception/early-abortion alternative is secured for all women. In any case, no cause is worth the corruption of Constitutional channels.
The Conservative position on immigration is also overdue for a makeover. The need for secure borders is a forgone assumption, but most other problems and solutions are open-ended and politically challenging. Under current arrangements, illegal immigrants largely subsidize a thoroughly corrupt Mexican government, thus indirectly supporting a vicious cycle: destructive socialist policies keep Mexico’s economy paralyzed–in turn further promoting more employment-seeking adventures across the border.
America has invaluable leverage for pressuring Mexico’s government to reform. Here the proverbial stick is not as effective as a politically-engineered carrot. Offering realistic guest-worker programs contingent upon Mexico meeting well-defined milestones could spark an economic renaissance in Mexico and greatly discount economic despair as a motive for illegal immigration. Only the cream of the crop of today’s Conservatives could devise a coherent platform of concentrated classically liberal measures for Mexico.
Other pro-capitalist templates for combating the roots of illegal immigration are available. Undocumented workers are attractive to American employers because as a source of labor, they exhibit none of the problematic rigidities of the domestic labor pool: they don’t unionize, are not owed social security or other benefits (though millions of undocumented workers pay payroll taxes), absorb below-minimum-wage positions, cannot sue the employer over work-related damages, and provide much needed overall labor liquidity. Undocumented workers are meeting a demand which only a free labor market could satisfy by itself. Domestic reforms dismantling labor’s internal barriers are not only very American per se, but would also essentially dissolve the comparative advantage illegal immigrants currently enjoy.
Such proactive solutions require leadership of a level currently unknown in the Republican mainstream. Even if immigration reform were successfully implemented, it would not be more than a patch-up solution. Establishing a principle of citizenship is the only final answer.
The Constitution outlines an implosion-proof political structure that leaves virtually no channels for economic parasitism by any groups or individuals. To an American it isn’t supposed to matter much who her fellow citizens are, their culture, customs, race, or language, because the only way they can legitimately affect her is through voluntary trade and cooperation, which are mutually beneficial by definition. The corruption of American institutions through collectivist meddling in general and welfare statism in particular, turns every American into a partial slave to his fellow citizens. It is not fashionable to resent such arrangement, but who wants the collective pool of burden to grow!
Nativist immigration policies chronologically coincide with the rise of the Welfare State, but this is more than a coincidence. Aspiring Americans get the short end of the stick, which is regretful because Americanism by choice is nobler than merely by birth. Immigrating to America is itself a highly entrepreneurial act and the Right ought to welcome the many millions of worthy aspiring Americans from across the world.
The Left has astutely cultivated the victimization, destructive subsidization, and exploitation of every under-class into a politically lucrative enterprise. When Democrats screech out for unconditional amnesty for the twelve million illegal aliens, don’t think they mean it! The Left needs this permanent under-class to remain such, but these outbursts earn sympathy from minorities and force Republicans into the ugly nativist role, a role which many have displayed great natural talent for.
Republicans cannot afford to be the anti-immigration Party, and no, insincerely squealing against “only anti-illegal immigration” will not cut it if they are clearly unwilling to propose any practical channels for foreigners to legally settle into the country. Until these rhetorical attitudes are drastically revamped, the Left will win over new Americans by default.
Full circle back to the current election…
The brief taste of political relevance Conservatives enjoyed with Reagan may be ironically preventing them from moving forward. Their movement seems tragically chained to the past by a delusion of bygone grandeur. For many, the Reagan administration symbolized the triumph of unadulterated Conservative principles, a golden era they nostalgically evoke the return of, a glorious legacy not to be compromised. Having once had it their way, the prospect of ideological reformation is now an unpalatable concession, akin to selling out.
I don’t think most Conservatives have an appreciation for the unrepeatable constellation of historic factors, all the odd stars perfectly aligning to momentarily propel their movement into prominence in the 1980s. As powerful as Reagan’s appeal was, the 1980 election was equal parts a rejection of Nixon and Carter’s destructive Statism. Even the supposedly untainted Conservative principles implemented during the Reagan years were largely divergent elements cobbled together in an unstable mandate. Those times will be no more because they can be no more. “True Conservative” principles are too ideologically explosive for any Republican executive to handle consistently (e.g. the failed Contract with America). Something’s got to give. Unless they are content with perpetual scraps from their own Party (i.e McCain), Conservatives need to challenge the nation to get excited about freedom, individualism, entrepreneurship, the dignity of self-reliance, and the future.
Instead Conservatives have chosen to overextend their electoral reach with a stubborn bluff from which their movement can only emerge bankrupt. The tantrum is unsatisfiable because their demands are helplessly incoherent. They won’t get their cake and are politically starving no matter how obnoxiously they want to both have it and eat it: low taxes but swelling deficits, individual freedoms but moral paternalism, limited government but virtuous intervention, a strong military but the equivalent of suicide in the battle of ideas, attacking terrorists overseas but refusing to coherently communicate how and why.
Amidst resentment and overall stupefaction, the GOP’s ideological foundations are cracking louder and louder as the presidential election approaches. One thing is clear in this mess: The GOP is haphazardly dragging her dirty political consciousness further to the Left with her candidate choice, despite sparkling friction from the Conservative base.
Judging by the relatively far-fetched and often unrelated or even contradictory explanations presented over the course of the nomination race, I suspect that even pundits are just as confused as everyone else by what’s happening. Some rightfully emphasize that none of the more ideologically appealing candidates were interesting or inspiring; others contend that the leadership has fallen out of touch with the base over core issues, and cite the Republican record on spending in recent years to corroborate their case.
This macro-scale shift to the Left cannot be blamed on any renegade political actor usurping the electoral spotlight. Unhappy Conservatives are giving too much credit for the Republican fallout to John McCain, the reheated electoral left-over from the 2000 campaign. The nodes on the cause-effect chain can be elusive to trace, but we must not get this pivotal issue backwards: The shift to the Left has already happened in America, the witnessed reflection into politics being a mere manifestation of this deeper sadder reality.
Eight years of vacant leadership, blurred sense of purpose, and compromised half-measures by the Bush administration have left America confused, disheartened, and hyperpolarized. Republicans simultaneously slammed on both the gas and the brakes of their political machine through very curvy terrain.
A politically expedient immigration plan was unconvincingly presented and quickly swept under the carpet. The administration halfheartedly fought Democrats over spending, only to outdo them with reckless Republican deficits, thus absurdly equivocating the principles behind the otherwise greatly beneficial tax cuts.
George W. Bush sleepwalked through his ambitious mandate in the Middle East, unwilling or unable to communicate to the nation the strategic purpose of the fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, failing to defend the many successes, and refusing to provide assertive counter-narratives to the “Bush lied, people died” hysterics. Unchallenged, the Left has monopolized nearly all communication channels assessing the progress of American foreign policy and has compoundingly invested its political comeback in the debasement of America’s efforts abroad in general, and in the framing of Iraq’s war as a meaningless failure in particular.
And now a giant sore economic boil is imminently bursting, leaving many intelligent and well-meaning Americans confused, vulnerable, and in many cases helpless, from their last taste of this politically constipated Republican rule. The themes running through Barack Obama’s campaign are evidence to how attuned the vanguard Left is to this moral void. Soothing tales of collectivist utopias are creeping into the nation’s cultural subconsciousness through the widening cracks of the Republican status-quo.
America is the world’s highest-philosophical-maintenance institutional experiment, but many of her traditional defenders are unworthy of today’s challenges. The problem is that the Right doesn’t know what it is fighting for. Freedom isn’t free, but until freedom is even properly understood, let alone defended, America’s future is in urgent jeopardy.