Ah, Libertarians. They throw out social conservatism because, you know, "that's what's holding the GOP back"...and then they start making philosophical and practical arguments for secession.
Because that'll really win over all the fiscally conservative, socially liberal folks they were appealing to.
I recognize the easy allure of going Libertarian. You get to be the contrarian, the one who can deflate any liberal without the hangups of defending wars or cops or Judeo-Christian morality. You get to laugh at Rick Santorum and yet get in arguments with Katrina VandenHeuvel. It's better than being a liberal because you're the rebel at the cocktail party. Maybe one who is unserious enough that you'll always get invited back. Maybe you can brand yourself with a badass leather jacket.
But there's another reason the Left loves you.
Your marketing sucks. Just when pro-pot libertarianism starts to attract Lefties to the cause and the numbers start to swell...Ron Paul starts arguing with a lamppost about the merits of secession: "If a people cannot secede from an oppressive government they cannot truly be considered free. "
That is asinine. Of course people CAN secede. The question is, SHOULD they? Are we really at that point? If not, why are we debating theoretical scenarios? Don't we have bigger issues at hand?
Now, I don't care if Libertarianism wants to shoot itself in the foot. But it is never a one-victim crime. Stuff like this mars the whole spectrum of the right wing. And that's just stupid.
I know so because Glenn Beck said as much. No, really, he did.
But it shouldn't take Glenn Beck to alert us to that. Look, the election was a shock. Got it. I didn't expect it to go the way that it did, that's for sure. And true, the Left was hardly civil about George Bush's presidency. But trying to Galt our way out of the country is not going to end well.
What is the answer? The principles of Federalism. Fight for returning power to the states. There is nothing wrong with Texas showing up California economically. Or Indiana showing up Illinois in unemployment. But this ship is not sinking. It's not in good shape, don't get me wrong, but...
We have elections every two years. We have recalls, impeachments, term limits. America has a culture worth saving, but the Right has largely abdicated it to the Left. If every American thinking about seceeding thought, instead, about teaching, blogging, infiltrating the news or entertainment media -- or starting up rivals to shows like Family Guy, studios like Paramount, news distributers like Yahoo, Google or even the AP that would be something.
Anyone that wants to lambaste Mitt Romney's comments about Obama's "gifts" to his constituents has no right to talk of secession. Because you can't claim to care about the inner city school debacle or crime rates or unemployment if you're just trying to get away from the problems, not fight to solve them. All Americans deserve the benefit of conservative principles. It's our job to show Doubting Thomases -- especially in the minority communities -- why.
Socialism, nanny statism, big Labor and a Leviathan-like big government are going to leave a lot of people hurting.
So will secession.
Neither is the way for a party that cares enough to actually fix problems, not just pander to them.
Almost finished with George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier. Not one of Orwell's better known books, but a really in-depth look at the working class miners in the northern England of the 1930's.
I know, I know, just what you were looking for.
And true, it's not a light read. But it is a fulfilling one. I've read it in fits and spurts for several months, mostly because I find myself highlighting entire pages quite often.
Essentially serving as Orwell's demystification of socialism, the anecdotes, the commentary and the sidebars are so loaded with relevent theories and perceptive analysis, I usually have to sit and just think on each page for a minute before I can start to process more. There is fat in it -- a full chapter on housing ads in the north is a little too detailed and pedantic to dwell on.
However, taken as a whole, it is probably the most startling and possibly timeless social analysis I've ever read. Orwell's fearlessness and commitment to the truth is rivaled only by his own surgical analysis of his own biases. It makes for an impressive and, of course, controversial read.
Orwell was a socialist at this time. But one who was acutely aware of his own discomfort with it. He spares no one in the book. Not the pompous bourgeois socialists of Eton. Not the upper class blue bloods and imperialists who won't deign to do the work they advocate. Certainly not totalitarian theorists. The only subjects that walk away somewhat unscathed are the miners themselves, whose epic physical endurance impresses Orwell to no end, although he is quick to point out their intellecutal laziness and the irreperable harm a working class life does to their ambition.
Orwell's growth throughout the book is palpable. He essentially argues with himself from chapter to chapter. His heart is with the working man, his blood is with the "lower upper middle class" and his mind is torn on how to rectify the two. He has seen too much to romanticize the workers. But he knows too much to applaud the status quo. His semantics are left wing, but his conclusions aren't. I'd like to think this was the work of a conservative in chrysalis.
Over the next few days, I'll post some passages from the book.
It's trite to say he's more relevent now than he was even then. After all, the US has never had the degree of class snobbery that the UK has, and that is the main target of Orwell's work here. But there are a lot of timeless passages that are worth digesting -- if not politically, maybe just personally.
I'll also include exactly what the passages meant to me. You'll probably have your own experiences to compare and contrast.
I'll kick it off with this one:
"This business of petty inconvenience and indignity, of being kept waiting about, of having to do everything at other people's convenience, is inherent in working class life. A thousand influences constantly press a working man down into a passive role. He does not act, he is acted upon. He feels himself the slave of mysterious authority and has a firm conviction that "they" will never allow him to do this, that and the other...
A person of bourgeois origin goes through life with some expectation of getting what he wants, within reasonable limits. Hence the fact that in times of stress, "educated" people tend to come to the front; they are no more gifted than the others and their "education" is generally quite useless in itself, but they are accustomed to a certain amount of deference and consequently have the cheek necessary to a commander...
In almost any revolt, the leaders would tend to be people who could pronounce their aitches."
This parallels my own Army experience where I assumed command of my unit only a year and a half into my enlistment. (I was in a job field where there were no officers, in case you're wondering why an enlisted man is taking "command"). The guys in my unit complained incessently about our job conditions, the inattention our command paid to us, etc. Morale was shit. People showed up for assignments when and where they wanted.
But no one sought to change anything.
Why? Because: "It won't matter," "They won't let us," "You can't fight the Army."
So I took over, almost by default, because I was damned if I was gonna waste my whole enlistment watching sexual harassment videos and waiting for the day to end. Call it my own "lower upper middle class," entitled attitude. I argued with our HHC Lieutenant. I lobbied our Battalion Lt. Col. I politicked our admin folks. Soon, my guys were going to schools, doing PT twice a day and being volunteered for federal missions. It was never smooth sailing. It was like pushing a car with no gas. We started at a dead halt and got it to around twenty miles an hour by the time I left. Now 20mph ain't gonna set many land-speed records, so I don't pat myself on the back too hard.
But the point is, I'd never thought about that working class mindset until I read Orwell. I understood enough about it to work it, motivate it and push it -- but I'd never classified it or understood it to that degree of specificity.
More to come...
I've been dragging my heels to write this because, well, I was hoping I would never have to. But the increasing rash of mass shootings (and attempted mass shootings) are getting to the point that they barely register on the news radar anymore. Just in this year, we've had Aurora, the Sikh temple and the Fresno shooting which you probably didn't notice because it was a day before the election.
Now we find out a shooting was thwarted in Missouri. It was planned for the opening of Twilight. No mass shooting is comforting. But it's especially disturbing to think that you now have to second-guess your plans to see a major movie on it's opening night.
The good news is that DHS has moved authoritatively since 9/11 to consolidate information and give free training to state, local and private elements in order to prepare for future incidents. But, of course, that only goes so far. At some point, we need to pro-actively and pre-emptively dig into the root causes. And this is as good a time as any.
The simple question with all these increased shootings is, "Why?"
The answer? Not so simple. Certainly there is no one-size-fits all answer. But here are a few ideas to set the parameters.
Mankind's greatest desire is not to be free. It is to be safe. Hey, you can't be free if you're not safe. Don't think so? Go to Skid Row in LA at 3am and start doing some street theater. See how far you get into your interpretive dancing.
Any society is a see-saw between freedom and safety. Skew too far towards freedom and you have anarchy. Skew too far towards safety and you have totalitarianism. The key is balance. Sometimes, you have to shift weight more to one side than another. Let's not forget that Abraham Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the Civil War because Confederate spies were so prevalent and effective.
Let's walk through the variables.
1) GUNS. Let's stipulate that guns are a problem. They can't not be. They may not be THE problem. But they are certainly A problem. If a toddler keeps smacking her playmate on the head with a squeaky, plastic hammer, what's the first thing you do? Take away the hammer. Sure, the potential is there for the toddler to pick up the plastic shovel instead and keep hitting the playmate. But, at least, you'll have removed the most immediate weapon and possibly that will be enough.
So am I advocating gun control? Actually, no.
Historically, gun control is the gateway drug to governmental tyranny. But Libertarians and I do come to a fork in the road. And I take the one more traveled: if the government has to track rifle/bullet sales, in my mind, it's worth it. If there are background checks, mental health checks and state-mandated re-certifications, licensing or training -- just like with owning a car -- I don't have a problem with it.
Let's just not pretend that will solve the problem. Ammonium nitrate (fertilizer bombs), IED's -- those are all out there and haven't yet been used en masse. Yet. I wouldn't be surprised to see gun control quickly lead to the development of car bombs. But allowing law enforcement to track and certify gun/ammunition ownership and sales seems like a common-sense degree of due diligence.
2) POLITICS. Byron Williams in a shootout with the California Highway Patrol en route to the Tides Foundation. Floyd Corkins shooting up the Family Research Council. The former was blamed on Glenn Beck, the latter on the Southern Poverty Law Center. But neither accusation held much water because, hey, it just takes a special kind of person to actually arm themselves and go hunting over politics.
In other words, watching our rhetoric is not going to lead to less mass shootings.
3) TERROR. Let's exclude this altogether, because it is a whole different kettle of wax or ball of fish, as they say. I only mention it because, um, Fort Hood? Yeah, that was terrorism, not workplace violence. Same with the Beltway Sniper incidents. More on that in another piece. But for now, let's put these in a different category.
4) THE NUCLEAR FAMILY. Now we're starting to get warm. Two-parent nuclear homes are, by far, statistically-speaking, the best for successful, healthy, stable child-rearing. The lack thereof, obviously, produces varying degrees of dysfunction at much greater rates. So that's why all mass shooters come from single-parent families.
The Columbine killers? Two-parent, upper-middle-class homes. The Virginia Tech shooter? Hard-working, middle-class, tight-knit immigrant family. The Arizona/Gabby Giffords shooting? Two-parent, middle-class home.
Look, statistically, it is indisputable that two-parent family homes are better for society. But, apparently, they don't factor as greatly in mass shooting sprees. Bottom line? The jury's out on this. Even with all the case studies done on so many major mass shootings, it's been tough to examine each family for what variables were askew or dysfunctional -- or not -- to track cause and effect. But on its face, it doesn't seem like the family structure is to blame -- at least, not predominantly.
5) VIOLENCE IN ENTERTAINMENT. Always a popular culprit. And for good reason. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has written about this at length and I won't try to sum up all his extraordinary research here. But suffice to say that if you numb kids to violence, torture, horror, don't be surprised if they lose empathy for their fellow man because they are, you know, numbed to violence, torture and horror.
Again, this clearly isn't true for every kid. But, as Dave Grossman articulates from the studies of ammunition-to-kill rates throughout wars of the 20th century, we have much less hesitancy to kill now than we used to. Something is helping to facilitate that change. In my previous post, I wrote about the dangers of conflating sex and violence in society. Societal influences from entertainment media is a real thing. If the media (by which I mean -- movies, TV, music, video games, etc.) informs your fantasies, don't be surprised if you take the opportunity to realize them when given the chance in life.
6) MENTAL HEALTH. Finally. This, to me, is the culprit.
Look, we're all affected by violence in media to some degree. But we're not all affected to the same degree. Otherwise we'd all be executing mass killings, right? To me, the real killer (pun intended) is the mental health issue.
Now I can't chicken-and-egg this for you. I can't say uniformly that bullying or drug use or prescription abuse or childhood trauma caused each shooter's mental problems or if the mental problems fed the social problems that ultimated in the killings. But clearly, our treatment of mental health issues needs to be examined thoroughly if we're going to push past this problem.
Here's step one. DON'T LEGALIZE DRUGS. Jared Loughner was reported to have been normal and well-adjusted until he dove headlong into pot culture. Suddenly, his paranoia increased and his rational thought decreased. His social skills deteriorated. And, well, you know what happened.
I'm not trying to sell Reefer Madness II: Son of Reefer Madness. (Which is different from Reefer Madness III: Reefer Madness Goes to Paris. Or Reefer Madness IV: Requiem). But I shouldn't have to. The threat of Ganga Gone Wild is real and obvious. While alcohol was legal before it was illegal, making it far too idealistic to enforce prohibition of it, marijuana has never been legal here and to legalize it would open up its debilitating effects on the brain, memory, sexual potency, etc. to a much greater population.
Are there functioning pot users? Sure. Will every pot user become a mass killer? Of course not. But it doesn't help. Pot will increase paranoia, it will heighten, broaden and expose psychological flaws that otherwise would have been very manageable. As much as you may want a serious conversation about gun control, you should be prepared for an equally adult conversation about the dangers of legalizing weed.
Again, I'm tapping my toe on the border of the legalization debate that I'll tackle more down the road in another post. But this is just one facet of that argument. An important facet, though, no?
OK, shifting gears back to the mental health issue…
Involuntary commitment to mental hospitals has been abandoned. And understandably so. But maybe it's time to rethink our more libertarian approach. The pitfalls are numerous -- if your behavior or speech can get you committed, we all have something to worry about. But assessing how to implement checks and balances and allowing those that need the care to get it, especially when they don't know they need it is a crucial step. (Again, part of a larger issue, but this also has relevance to the homeless issue. Dog-ear this for a future post…)
7) GLORIFICATION. I've tried, where avoidable, not to use the names of any mass shooters. You should too. The repetition of their names and their horrors is a perverse honor to a perverse mind. Hence, the copycatting. These are not heroes, there is no need to honor their names by remembering them. If there are impressionable and weak minds among us that need to grope for three-named heroes, I'd rather they think of Martin Luther King than, say, Barack Hussein Obama. But either one is a hell of a lot better than the killers we'd be forgetting.
Made you look.
I don't blame you. Ronda Rousey is hot. By which I mean, her Q rating is skyrocketing. Oh, and she's also gorgeous and a total tomboy wiseass, which just happens to really do it for me.
So, in other words, if you don't know who she is, you're in a shrinking minority. Over the past year, she has been the face of women's MMA. And yesterday, Dana White confirmed that she, in fact, has now signed with the UFC, an act which pairs the top MMA organization with the top female fighter on the planet.
It is also the first time a woman has been signed by the UFC. So it's kind of the high-roundhouse kick that shatters the glass ceiling, if you will. Cool chick, hot body, great fighter, great sport, all fitting together like Legos to build something epic. So yay all around, right?
I wish I could say Yes.
Because I've got a problem. ("Just one?" You ask). Let me get the name calling out of the way. You can call me sexist, chauvinistic, patronizing or maybe just old school.
But I'm not comfortable watching women fight.
Aren't I enlightened enough to appreciate their talent, ferocity, skill, desire? Aren't I in favor of equal opportunity? I am. Ronda Rousey is AMAZING at judo. AMAZING. The fact that she's armbarred her way into every MMA win is remarkable. That she trains with the animals at Hayastan is super-impressive. I get it -- what else is she supposed to do, go off an knit in the corner? She's a badass and deserves everything that's coming her way.
There are three reasons I can trace why I'm not digging women's MMA. Here they are in order of importance to me:
1) I don't like watching women get beat up. There I said it. Am I chauvinistic or patronizing for feeling this way? I don't know. When I bounced in nightclubs, no women in the domestic disputes I broke up ever accused me of being either of those. And too often, I saw guys stand around and shrug while women got in fights or were beaten up. I don't know -- a few more of us "chauvinists" and maybe a few less women would have broken noses now.
But the issue rubs me the wrong way because I don't WANT to get comfortable with women fighting. I don't want to numb myself to being OK with women's mouths bleeding or eyes blackened or noses busted. I think "bystander-ing" is enough of a danger without desensitizing yourself to violence against women. Maybe that makes me a total chauvinist. But in another context, I think I'd be seen as a very enlightened, sensitive, pro-woman advocate.
2) I'm not a psychologist, but I'm gonna wade out of my depth on this one and see if I can articulate this clearly. There is a danger in our culture of tying sex to violence to stimulate two of our most powerful and primal urges. A lot of the selling of Ronda Rousey (and women's MMA…except Cris Cyborg, maybe) is the selling of sex. It's an easy sell. I mean, I totally buy into it -- between her body, attitude and lack of clothes, there's a lot I like about how it looks. But then it gets violent. Like watching BDSM videos, this numbs our senses and blurs the line between sex and violence. I don't know about you, but that's not a line I want blurred in my head.
I know, I know, so why don't I just NOT watch.
And that's the answer. I won't. (Or if I do, it'll be with a frozen wince on my face). Whatever. I don't expect anyone to care: I'm not pushing for government regulation or sponsorship bans. I mean, I'm not the Taliban. I'm just a concerned voice screaming in the wind, I guess.
3) Now, if you already think I'm a caveman, go ahead and stop reading. Because the final -- and least important of my three reasons -- is essentially philosophical. But it's really gonna piss you off.
I don't like the erosion of gender. From "LGBT rights" to sexual harassment training to Angelina Jolie/Kate Beckinsale movies, there has been a real push to feminize men and masculanize women. Well, metaphorically. (Well, except in West Hollywood).
I can't believe this needs to be said, but, um, men and women are different. Equally strong, sure, but in different ways. And there are exceptions (like Ronda Rousey, of course). But the cultural/societal push to erase the difference between the genders is unfair to men, unrealistic to women and de-stabilizing to society in the long run.
Now that seems like an awful lot to read into Ronda Rousey signing with the UFC, I'll grant you. And it is. All I'm saying is that a small portion of my discomfort is due to a philosophical prejudice against treating women the same as men in such a violent area of life.
Now the obvious argument against my feelings is that clearly Ronda Rousey isn't a petite, delicate girl getting slapped around by her man. She is fighting other women -- by choice -- and is completely professionally suited to the task. And that is absolutely true. But, watching MMA as I do -- as most do, intensely, avidly and with a deep rooting interest -- I don't want to ever grow numb to seeing a fist hit a woman's face. Much less get a dopamine rush from it.
That's all I'm saying.
"Do you know how the Chinese fight?"
I knew this woman. Have known her for almost a decade. She is sweet. Concerned about the world. And rabidly Leftist.
"I know a lot of Army men you know because of New Mexico and they told me and they were serious that the Chinese will send in a million poor dumb farmers with rifles but no bullets and they'll use them to attack until they're all dead then they'll send in a million sharpshooters and THEY'll have the bullets and..."
She was in a Faulkner-esque stream of consciousness, punctuationless rant. I nodded politely, eyed the people passing by and looked for a pause to extract myself. None came.
"I mean, it's George W. Bush! He's the one. I wrote him and my husband said "You're crazy," but, you know, you have to stand up to tyranny so I wrote to him and I said, "Stop exporting lumber to China! What you need to do is get it all made into furniture and send it to China, then. That would be the smart thing to do, but, of course, you know how George Bush is about smarts..."
Apparantly, I'd caught her just as her hysteria was nearing the peak of its Bell Curve. Wait. That's not true. I hadn't caught her -- she had caught me. I'd been talking to someone else. A former Ranger captain, actually. Someone who actually knows about warfare. But neither one of us were a match for a frazzle-haired tornado with a subscription to Atlantic Monthly.
"It's Chemical-Biological warfare, that's what scares me. They have to take the President's glasses, you know, and smash them, and his pens -- anything he touches -- because otherwise they'll get his DNA and who knows what they can do with it? I mean you're in the Army, you should read the article I read about this Chemical-Biological warfare --"
I was tempted to say that I was actually the honor grad back when I took a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high Explosive Defense course at Ft. Leonard Wood. But anyone who is confusing DNA theft with CBRNE warfare probably wouldn't know enough to be impressed.
"And my son was going to go to the CIA, you know. They really wanted him because, you know, one-third of the CIA quit after George Bush invaded Iraq. I mean a third of them? That's what Bush did! And they told my son, "You won't come back from Iraq. I mean, you're a Democrat, they'll make sure you don't come back." I mean, isn't that just George Bush for you?"
Now there are crazies on both sides. I'm told. But I've never seen any like this on the Right. Never. I'm sure there's a few somewhere, in some log cabin in Montana or some place where they influence only the deer and a few gophers. But where I usually hear this kind of hysteria and foaming-at-the-mouth lunacy is in places like Boston or New York or LA. Urban, sophisticated environments. With a lot of college grads. Often sitting around a table read for a stageplay. Or in a UCLA classroom. That's where I've heard the most unhinged political talk that I've ever heard.
Slight detour: my latest theory is that round, tortoise-shelled glasses are to the provincial, close-minded, sheltered Leftist stereotype what a gun rack and a pickup truck are to the provincial, close-minded rightwinger stereotype. And I find the former more disturbing. In my experience, small, thin-boned men with tortoise-shelled glasses carry an arrogence unique to those whose physical cowardice is camoflaged by the urbane, erudite cities that they live in and give an unhealthy rise to a degree of passive-aggressive disdain and snobbery that makes me want to break something, preferably inside one of them. They are a class that I feel like is always well-represented on Morning Joe, know what I mean?
Let me get back to the sweet, hysterical, herbal tea-and-marmalade Leftist that had so un-self-consciously interrupted an otherwise adult conversation.
I smiled and nodded and waited for her to finish embarrassing herself. But it didn't end until twenty minutes later. The captain and I had said nothing more than, "Uh?" the whole time. She floated away, promising to email me an article or seven that would prove, beyond doubt, how right she was so I could also be as enlightened.
I've said before that while the Right thinks the Left is naive, the Left thinks the Right is evil. Which makes it very difficult to bridge the difference. As in this case. I rolled my eyes to the captain. "Sorry, bud. I don't know what the hell just happened." He shook his head. What else was there to say? "Too bad you went to Ranger school. You could've just read the Atlantic Monthly and saved yourself a lot of sleep."
With a woman like her, there is no hope. No conversation, no discussion, no debate that can assuage her. I feel like she needs politics to attack the pain in her own life, the bad finances she's complained of in the past, the poor health that has plagued her occasionally. For her, politics is a badly needed distraction, a punching bag on which she can superimpose her own demons. It is enthusiasm, antagonism, stimulation and catharsis.
But that wasn't what politics was to Carlos. Carlos worked room service at my hotel and I'd met him the night before when he brought in my late dinner. He glanced at the TV where I had Fox News on.
"Man, I'm so glad Obama won," he said with the political naivete of someone who doesn't know enough not to share that with a Fox News viewer who is responsible for his tip.
I nodded vaguely. It wasn't my place to correct him. I'd had a nine-hour bus ride to the hotel. I wasn't in the mood to lay out macro or micro political arguments at one in the morning.
"I mean, he got a tough deal when he got in and he's only had four years to clean it up. It's only right to give him another four," Carlos said in his thick Boston accent. I noted it as my unofficial entry into exit polling. "I mean, ain't you glad for him?"
Sure, I wasn't about to proselytize. But if you're gonna twist my arm...
"Hey, bro, I'm an Army guy. So I ain't a fan."
Carlos nodded earnestly. "Oh yeah? Why's that?"
"This guy --" I pointed at Obama on the screen. "He's pulling us outta Iraq and Afghanistan. So what the hell were we fighting for all these years?"
"Oh, yeah..." Carlos' face became thoughtful.
"I mean, if we'd pulled out of WWII after the Battle of the Bulge, then we might as well have never gone in the first place. That's what we've done here. We've made all this progress in Afghan and Iraq, and we're handing it all back to the bad guys before the job's done." I shrugged. "We still got troops in Japan and Korea and Germany, you know."
"Wow, I never thought of that, man. That's a good point." Yes it was. Be nice if someone with a louder megaphone that me made it more often. "You know, my nephew's in the Army..."
We talked for five more minutes.
So big deal. It was too late to change Carlos' vote. And maybe his vote wouldn't have changed anyway. I mean, he works for tips, remember. Either way, let me still oversimplify and try to delineate between two kinds of liberals: the marmalade ladies for whom liberalism is a personal catharsis, and the Carlos' for whom liberalism is the only option they ever hear.
And it's for the latter that an argument should be made.
I'm never comfortable when the Right starts talking about which demographic groups it needs to "win" over. The Right is about ideas. It's the Left that worries about skin color and genetalia.
I've often felt the future for the GOP is in urban issues. Not black. Not Latino. But truly urban issues. Paul Ryan touched on this when he said that education is the civil rights movement of our time. That is a winning message among lower/middle class urban families. (Yes, and other families too, but that goes to show: tack for the urban voter and you'll catch a lot of suburban and rural voters as well. Not sure it works in reverse).
Immigration fits into this vision. We need to straddle the nuanced reality that many illegal immigrants are good people and hard workers that do a lot for the country, yet, need to follow the rule of law. The difference between us and Latin America is our adherence to the rule of law. In much of Latin America bribery and relationships are the law. We need to incorporate all of our immigrants into our view of the law, not cater to their expectations -- which is the whole reason they fled where they were from in the first place.
The GOP needs to appreciate the growing tension between black and Latino communities. Illegal immigration has hurt the black community far more than any other. Our immigration enforcement needs to be illustrated as a defense of our American urban classes, as much as a necessary protection for the exploited illegal workers. For the Latino community, a hard pitch to their social conservatism and work ethic would go a long way.
The GOP has the answers for urban problems. From Oakland to Detroit, Leftist ideals have plagued the inner city. African-American unemployment under Obama is worse than it has ever been. Ever. When conservatives are given a chance (Rudy Giuliani) cities do seem to grow more Athenian, in the best sense of the word.
Foresightful GOPers would do well to target the inner cities. They won't be won in a day. But making long term investments from New York to Los Angeles would be attacking liberalism in its nest. And if the Right means to keep American culture from going off the cliff, there are worse places to make our stand than with those who are already about to fall.
It's been quite the night for marijuana in several ballot measures across the country.
Maybe this is stating the obvious, maybe not. But these wins are not unrelated to Obama's re-election. Dog-ear this as further proof that this is not the same country it has been. This country has gone through changes before, to be sure. I mean, when was the last time you voted Whig?
But unlike, say, the development of the social safety net or interstate highways, there is a destructive, indulgent, narcissistic feel to this. Gravity tugs us down the slippery slope and it's tough, uphill fight to be the party of the adults.
To expand on Dana Loesch's tweet from earlier: it's freedom vs. free stuff...being debated for an audience that increasingly cares only about the titillation of the moment.
This country's culture matters.
Last point -- the work conservatives have to do is not the work of one election...or maybe even three. It is the work of re-establishing the American narrative. That means launching counteroffensives in academia, entertainment media and, last and least, news media.
If we don't...and we wave the white flag of libertarianism...I think we'll soon find that low taxes and individualism lead closer to anarchy than resurgence. From marriage to abortion to ganga to isolationism -- you can't strip conservatism of its moral underpinnings and expect it to work to mankind's benefit.
Yesterday, we took a big leap away from Plymouth Rock. And a much closer one to Greece. Both the Greece of 400 BC and the Greece of 2012AD.
...I am not.
But I'm still going to go to the mat on this one point -- this was a very, very strange election.
This was a status quo election -- Republicans kept the House, Dems, the Senate and, of course, Obama in the White House.
So what's so strange?
Well, for one thing, the status quo sucks. And the voters know it. Per polls, they trusted Romney more on the economy, only 25% said the country was going in the right direction and Romney (at the moment) is only 335 votes behind Obama in the popular vote. Gas prices are at record highs. Unemployment still hovers around 8%. The median income has dropped $4000. For a start. And the voters don't shake things up?
Just for the record, I'm not implying anything illegal. Although, true, the Black Panthers were back outside Philadelphia polling sites, which is still intimidation no matter how you slice it. Oh, and, not that I expected my vote in NYC to count but, just for the record, I was able to vote without showing any ID -- not even a utility bill or even my voter information card -- today. I purposely didn't show any to see if I'd be prompted to provide some. Does it matter? Maybe not in this election. So let me instead look over the smouldering husks of electoral ruin and try to explain this strangeness.
1) The media. Duh. They didn't want Benghazi, the economy, gaffes, foreign policy ineptness -- nothing -- to touch Obama. None of them did. Mazel tov.
2) On the tactical level, the GOP had a great turnout. What is amazing is that, despite all signs and indications of flagging enthusiasm, so did the Dems.
3) On the bigger picture: it's still Bush's fault. Enough people still believe that all of our economic problems began with Bush and Romney didn't try to dissuade them of the notion. I don't blame Romney. He had enough ammo to riddle Obama's excuse making and turn it into swiss cheese. I'm just amazed Americans needed more proof that Obama had only made things worse.
4) On the biggest picture: it is Bush's fault. Not the economy. The damaged GOP brand. Bush's epic inability to articulate conservative principles -- and the fact that no articulate, rock-ribbed Republican assumed leadership -- has dogged the GOP since, well 2006. Iraq, Afghanistan, supply-side economics -- they need articulate defenders and Mitt Romney was too little, too late to salvage the GOP brand.
5) More micro-issues, by which I mean ones that should have been micro, but may have made the difference:
Romney was up 5/6 points nationally on Obama last Monday. After the hurricane, they were tied again. Wearing a bomber jacket and posing for a few pictures in New Jersey may have won him the election. Which may say more (or less) about us as a country.
The War on Women.
It was always a myth. Fabricated out of thin air by a desperate Obama campaign who feared the laser-like focus on the economy. But it may have worked.
The black thing.
No way this mattered as much as in 2008. But, in this hyper-PC'd age, we are a country that will cut a black guy with 7.9% unemployment a lot more slack that a white guy with 7.9% unemployment. Can you disagree?
6) I hope I'm wrong about this. I really hope this is not the case. But there is more than a fair chance that the election swung to Obama despite all reason because America has changed. We've been dancing close to a tipping point, where the entitlement society has matched numbers with the hard-working, rugged individualists, to paint it with broad brushstrokes. This may be the election where we first saw the entitled outnumber the workers.
Obama, to me, is the candidate for those that are too narcissistic to get off their butts and put on a uniform to serve their country; for those that are too entitled to work any job they can get their hands on; for those that are too smug to fall in love with the freedoms this country provides.
If we are now have, in fact, tipped in this perverse direction, if we have a nation that is now more isolationalist, socially liberal, greedy, entitled and expensive, it's gonna take a lot to put the breaks on this runaway train. There are riots in France when they try to raise the retirement age to, wait for it, 62. If we're planning on going down the same path, it will be even worse because we're not France. Things that happen here matter globally, not just within our borders.
If the GOP has to respond to the changing demographics and, worse, the changing American psyche, then the GOP starts moving closer to the Tories and further from a party of ideas, not skin color or gender or demographic slotting.
It makes me worried about immigration, the Supreme Court and, oh yeah, national security. I guess we'll get to see what concessions Obama had in mind for Medvedev and Putin now, huh? Or how much Iran fears Obama. And we will be out of Afghanistan and Iraq, so the vipers can safely return to their nests. And start planning again...
Is there a silver lining? Sure. A few.
1) For one thing, from here on out, Obama will have no one but himself to blame. He won't, of course. Everything will still be the House Republicans fault, but Americans should know better.
2) The Benghazi hearings need to go at full tilt. Obama was more than negligent. He is impeachable. And the House GOP should go for the throat over it.
3) I was never a big Romney guy. He was by far the most articulate GOP candidate since Reagan, but he never sold me on his staunch conservatism. I don't see myself having the same issue in 2016. Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Susanna Martinez, Mia Love, Ted Cruz...there are a lot of bright stars to gaze at now. Notice I left off Chris Christie. His backstabbing of Mitt Romney will cost him. And it should. Maybe it wasn't backstabbing. Maybe it was just friendly fire. Either way, it didn't help.
It's gonna rain ugly over the next four years. Bring an umbrella.