Category Archive 'Conservatism'
17 Sep 2018

Conservatism, According to Andrew Sullivan

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Andrew Sullivan, in last Friday’s weekly editorial, says “America Desperately Needs a Healthy Conservatism,” and tells us what he thinks that consists of.

In today’s America, this conservatism is completely under siege. The left will increasingly tolerate nothing that gets in the way of what it calls “social justice,” which far too often reduces individuals to their racial or class or gender identities rather than their merits, or character, or talents. The conservative approach to a multicultural and multiracial society is to keep our focus on the individual and do what’s best to help every individual, regardless of their race, gender, or whatever, to be part of our shared liberal democratic inheritance. Conservatism is about enfolding the new into the old, sustaining a society’s coherence and cohesion, while being extremely tough on particular injustices against particular individuals, vigilant about corruption, and anguished when the criminal justice system loses legitimacy, because of embedded racism.

But conservatism is more deeply besieged by the Republican Party, its alleged harbor. If you consider the themes I’ve emphasized above, it becomes clearer that the GOP is not only not conservative, but actually dedicated to destroying that tradition. Republicans pursue the ideology of free markets and lower and lower taxation, regardless of its brutal assault on fiscal solvency, human dignity, social cohesion, and community life. They have nominated and protected a president who assaults the norms that conservatives revere, has contempt for existing institutions and sees the rule of law as a means to advance his own interests, rather than that of the society as a whole.

This is a man and a party that has such disdain for conserving anything that it is actively despoiling our landscape, enabling a climate catastrophe. It is a party that has generated crippling and everlasting debt — even in good economic times — in a way that makes a mockery of any compact between generations. It is a party that actively endorses cruelty as a policy tool, deploys fear as its prime political weapon, and insists that the opposite party has no legitimate right to govern at all. It is the party of torture, the absolute nemesis of the liberal inheritance, the party of corruption, propaganda, vote suppression, and barely masked bigotry.

I despise it because I am a conservative. I don’t believe that conservatism can be revived on the right (it has been thankfully sustained, by default, by the Democrats in recent decades) until this hateful philistine would-be despot and his know-nothing cult is gone. And by revived, I do not mean a return to neoconservatism abroad or supply side crack-pottery at home. The 1980s and 1990s are over. I mean a conservatism that can tackle soaring social and economic inequality as a way to save capitalism, restore the financial sector as an aid to free markets and not their corrupting parasite, a conservatism that will end our unending wars, rid the criminal justice system of its racial blind spots, defend liberal education and high culture against the barbarians of postmodernism and the well-intentioned toxins of affirmative action, pay down the debt, reform the corruption of religious faith, protect our physical landscape, invest in non-carbon energy, and begin at the local level to rebuild community and the spirit of American civil association.

Andrew’s thesis is summarized perfectly at the point where he writes:

The goal is not to stand athwart history and cry ‘Stop!’, as William F. Buckley put it. It’s to be part of the stream of history and say: slow it down a bit, will you?”

RTWT

In essence, Andrew Sullivan is reacting with indignation and hostility to the populism of Donald Trump, but in the course of defining his own position of opposition to Trump, he makes it clear that his version of supposed Conservatism also rejects the Conservatism of William F. Buckley, Jr., Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.

Andrew’s “Conservatism” is really the “Me, Too, Just a Little Less” style of Republicanism of Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and all the Establishment, Country Club-style Republicans of the Bad Old Days before the Conservative Movement took over the GOP and equipped it with principles and a backbone.

Andrew’s Conservatism finds its compass, not in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the writings and debates of the framers, but in the editorial page of the New York Times.

Andrew’s Conservatism is intellectually uncritical. It accepts in every jot and tittle the consensus of the elite community of fashion. Junk science, Dualism, and the worship of Gaia, immolating billions to drive off this imaginary catastrophe or that? No problem. Andrew is on board.

Andrew’s Conservatism shares with our liberal establishment reliance on the radical hardcore Left as its conscience. Idealism and morality belong to that radical Left. Declining any of its edicts or demands endangers your moral standing and threatens the stability of society. We must wage war continually on intrinsically evil Bankers and Big Business. We must always regulate out of existence any stigmatized compound or element. We must always choose the emotional gesture expressing our love of Nature over energy or productivity, always disregarding crass calculations of costs and benefits.

We must become deficit hawks during any Republican Administration and deplore tax cuts. We must embrace Isolationism and Pacifism in our Foreign Policy, unless the Left wants to go after some reactionary regime.

Identifying exactly what is conservative in Andrew’s Conservatism is not easy. The best I can do is to point to Andrew’s implicit conviction that the national establishment inevitably is made up of the wisest and best people and therefore possesses the mandate of Heaven. Opposition to establishment culture and politics is intrinsically revolutionary and just plain bad form. Andrew’s Conservatism is really the Conservatism of the Vicar of Bray.

He tells us in the opening of his essay that he had just read Roger Scruton on Conservatism. If he did, he certainly was not really paying attention.

23 Dec 2017

#NeverTrumpers Need to Reconsider

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Despite Donald Trump’s surprising list of real accomplishments, which I am obliged to admit distinctly exceed those of several recent legitimate and respectable Republican presidents, there are still a lot of carping, sneering professional conservative commentators out there, clinging to now pointless #NeverTrump irredentism.

Roger L. Simon argues that these people ought to start admitting they’ve been wrong, give the devil Trump his due, and close ranks with fellow conservatives. Winning major political battles and the culture war is a lot more important than Donald Trump’s aesthetics or continued proof of the superiority of certain people’s souls.

[I]t is time for the remaining NeverTrumpers to apologize for a reason far more important than self-castigation or merely to make things “right.” Donald Trump — whose initial victory was a shock, even, ironically, to those of us who predicted it — has compounded that shock by being astoundingly successful in his first year, especially at the conclusion. (He’s a quick study, evidently.) More conservative goals have been achieved or put in motion in eleven months than in any time in recent, or even distant, memory. It’s an astonishing reversal for our country accompanied by the beginnings of an economic boom.

But that same success is causing, it’s becoming increasingly clear, an equally determined, even virulent, reaction from the left. At first they too thought Trump was an ineffectual blowhard who would shoot himself in the foot, ultimately redounding to their advantage. Now that they have found that not to be the case, they are in a state of panic, fearing a defeat for their ideals that would set them back years, even decades. They cannot let this stand and are marshaling all their forces from the media to Hollywood to the academy, not to mention at least some of the investigative units of the FBI.

NeverTrumpers Ignore Trump’s Accomplishments

The next year seems poised to be an ideological duel as close to the death as we have seen in a long time. If the right does not win, the gains of 2017 will be stymied by the election of 2018 and completely washed away in 2020.

It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation and we need the NeverTrumpers’ help. We need — to borrow a hoary leftist term — a united front.

RTWT

11 Oct 2017

Fully Automatic Establishment Gun Control Demands

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Matt Purple, managing editor of American Conservative, responds to recent demands for Gun Control from sort-of-conservatives Brett Stephens and David Frum writing respectively for those famous conservative organs The New York Times and the Atlantic.

Stephens and Frum aren’t technocrats calibrating the machine of progress; they’re Wayne Wheeler and Carrie Nation, throwing open our saloon doors and smashing our tumblers. Theirs is a moral crusade against what they perceive to be a national vice. America is sick and only they are enlightened enough to make it better. Perhaps that’s a bit flippant—some of our nation’s best (and worst) work has been done by those who set out to mend grand societal ills—but we should at least stop pretending that the kids-cup prescriptions of a Senator Chris Murphy can ever accomplish his jumbo-size ends. This is a nation with one firearm for every citizen, a thriving outdoorsman culture, a history of violent lawlessness, a frontier, a Second Amendment. Jamming those spokes is going to require a far larger stick than anything that fits through the ludicrously exaggerated “gun show loophole.”

The reason many of us take the (authentically) Madisonian view—in addition to our leeriness over a total government monopoly on arms—is that we reject such a crusade as impractical. We see it as premised on a fundamentally false conception of America, one that glosses over her indelible traditions of individualism and defiance. We worry it will result in more polarization and violence rather than less. We observe, too, that the public has lately grown weary of elite designs on their values, their pronouns, their national anthem—enough to elect Donald Trump in the hopes of making it all stop. Presumably an additional betterment campaign against their guns would be met with the same aggravation and pushback. It’s your move, gentlemen, but is this really where you want to go right now?

RTWT

09 Sep 2017

Woke Conservatives

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Kurt Schlichter says conservatives are now woke and recognize that a lot of Republicans have a standard operating procedure of double-crossing us.

“Oh, George W. Bush was a true conservative!” Good guy, yes, but he brought us two unwon wars (only one of necessity) and “compassionate conservatism.” Of course, “compassion” always means that normal people get another rock in their ruck. Then there was John McCain, who lied to our faces on Obamacare’s repeal so more Senate hacks wouldn’t have to go on record doing so. And last, and arguably least, there’s Mitt Romney, Mr. Thank-You-Candy-May-I-Have-Another, who never misses a chance to virtue signal for the benefit of the same people who said he gave someone cancer. Oh, and their bright idea for 2016? Jeb! He was an act of love upon us normals all right.

See, we’re done. We’re woke and feeling about you hacks just like you feel about us. Think about that. The clock is ticking. Look at Jeff Flake. At this point, I don’t even care if his opponent, somewhere down the road, will have to deny being a witch. In fact, his primary opponent could get up at the first debate in a sweatshirt reading “PROUD HOGWARTS GRAD,” wave a wand, announce without irony that “The sorting hat assigned me to Hufflepuff!” and I’d still send her money. Because even if she was crazy (and she’s not – she seems like a very nice lady who actually believes in conservative stuff ), she would still be a million times better than that back-stabbing, braying doofus she’s running against. Heck, she’s already crushing the Arizona squish into utter squishiness in the polls – think of what she could do with some spells.

The GOP establishment will never learn, partly from denial and partly because a lot of its members are kind of dumb. For example, that smarmy dope Paul Ryan, when he isn’t trying to make sure foreigners are treated better than Americans, is still pushing the moronic “You could do your taxes on a postcard!” hack cliché when, of course, everyone knows that all those extra pages are filled with the deductions that make people who work pay less. I’ll toss my taxes to my accountant and keep my home mortgage, charitable, and state tax deductions instead of losing them so big GOP donors can pocket some more dough – thanks though, Passive Paul! Postcard taxes – sheesh, 1996 called and it wants its total defeat back.

Look normals, we’re in for the long haul here – hopefully not one that ends violently for our divided country, which it absolutely could. Those are the stakes, and that is why we can’t just walk away from this game. We can’t hide and wait it out. We either get in there and win or we lose everything. Step One was getting woke. Step Two was electing Trump. Step Three is regulating the Republicans. Slowly and surely, we’re going to need to purge these punks from our team.

RTWT

The Establishment GOP elected George W. Bush who threw away our political advantage and elected Obama. The Establishment GOP nominated John McCain and Mitt Romney who couldn’t beat Obama. We have them the White House and both houses of Congress and they still wouldn’t kill Obamacare.

What choice do we have? We have to go with the Alt-Right over them.

22 Oct 2016

The 2016 Crisis in Conservatism in Perspective

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Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr.

Matthew Continetti, in a must-read essay, reviews the often-fraught relationship between mainstream intellectual Movement Conservatism and its populist New Right allies.

Republicans have walked this tightrope for decades. When the party has integrated the issues, goals, and tactics of the New Right into its campaigns, it has been remarkably successful. Think 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1994, 2010, and 2014. But there also have been signs, on the presidential level most clearly, that the alliance with populism is bringing diminishing returns. The GOP is on the brink of losing the popular vote in six out of seven presidential elections despite its current nominee running precisely the type of campaign the New Right has wanted to see for years. And this election is likely to return to office a Republican House majority that is more anti-Establishment, more hostile to compromise, more suspicious of institutions and elites than the one we have today.

This is the crisis of the conservative intellectual. After years of aligning with, trying to explain, sympathizing with the causes, and occasionally ignoring the worst aspects of populism, he finds that populism has exiled him from his political home. He finds the détente between conservatism and populism abrogated. His models—Buckley, Burnham, Will, Charles Murray, Yuval Levin—are forgotten, attacked, or ignored by a large part of the conservative infrastructure they helped to build. He finds the prospect of a reform conservatism that adds to our strengths while ameliorating our weaknesses to be remarkably dim. …

From the Panama Canal to the Tea Party, from Phyllis Schlafly to Sarah Palin, the conservative intellectual has viewed the New Right as a sometimes annoying but ultimately worthy friend. New Right activists supplied the institutions, dollars and votes that helped the conservative intellectual reform tax, crime, welfare, and legal policy. But that is no longer the case. Donald Trump was the vehicle by which the New Right went from one part of the conservative coalition to the dominant ideological tendency of the Grand Old Party. …

Trump deploys New Right symbols and tropes. His antagonism toward the Eastern establishment is obvious. …

Immigration, which emerged as a social issue at the turn of the twenty-first century, was key to Trump’s success. So was his role as outsider, independent critic of the rigged system, scold of elites, avatar of reaction. The apocalyptic predictions, the dichotomy between makers and takers, even the idea of seizing Arab territory and “taking the oil” comes straight from Bill Rusher’s 1975 Making of the New Majority Party. The relentless hostility toward the media, both liberal and heterodox conservative, the accusation that it, the government, and the financial sector is engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Hillary Clinton, the denigration of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the appeal to supporters of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, the charge that the “global power structure” has “stripped” manufacturing towns “bare and raided the wealth for themselves”—this is adversarianism in its purest, most conspiratorial, most totalistic form.

The attacks on National Review, on George Will, on conservatives with elite educations, on conservatives granted legitimacy by mainstream institutions is a replay of the New Right rhetoric of the 1970s. Names have been added to the list of Republicans in Name Only, of false, cuckolded conservatives, but the battle lines are the same. On the one hand are the effete intellectuals based on the East Coast, shuttling up and down the Acela corridor, removed from the suffering of the average American, ignorant of the social issues, amenable to social engineering, fat and happy on a diet of foundation grants, magazine sinecures, think tank projects, speaking engagements. On the other are the blue-collar radio and television hosts with million-dollar contracts, the speechwriter for Wall Street banks who uses a pseudonym to cast aspersions on the feckless conservative elite, the billionaire-supported populist website that attacks renegade Jews, the bloggers and commenters and trolls estranged from power, from influence, from notoriety, from relevance, fueled by resentment, lured by the specter of conspiracy, extrapolating terrifying and chiliastic scenarios from negative but solvable trends.

It is the same discourse, the same methods, the same antinomianism, the same reaction to demographic change and liberal overreach that we encountered in the 1970s. The difference is that Donald Trump is so noxious, so unhinged, so extremist in his rejection of democratic norms and political convention and basic manners that he has untethered the New Right politics he embodies from the descendants of William F. Buckley Jr.

The triumph of populism has left conservatism marooned, confused, uncertain, depressed, anxious, searching for a tradition, for a program, for viability. We might have to return to the beginning to understand where we have ended up.

Read the whole thing.

05 Oct 2016

The East Coast-West Coast Schism in Conservatism

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Harry Jaffa — Allan Bloom

Jeet Heer has an interesting article, in the New Republic, on the coastal divide between Straussians.

Charles Kesler, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and the editor of the Claremont Review of Books, wrote in the spring issue of the journal that America may be facing “the Weimar problem”: “Has the national culture, popular and elite, deteriorated so much that the virtues necessary to sustain republican government are no longer viable? America is not there yet, although when 40% of children are born out of wedlock it is not too early to wonder.” It’s no accident that this question is raised in an essay making case that Donald Trump isn’t as terrible as mainstream conservatives like William Kristol fear he is. If you live in the Weimar Republic, Kesler implicitly argues, a figure like Trump could come as a relief.

A similar mood of crisis was voiced by Angelo Codevilla, a retired professor of international relations, in a recent online essay for the Review. Codevilla argues that regime change of a terrible kind has already occurred, with the American elite destroying what was great about the country. By this account, America needs a new revolution. Codevilla supports Trump but fears that he’s not up to the task of revolutionary change required:

    In fact, the United States of America was great because of a whole bunch of things that now are gone. Yes, the ruling class led the way in personal corruption, cheating on tests, lowering of professional standards, abandoning churches and synagogues for the Playboy Philosophy and lifestyle, disregarding law, basing economic life on gaming the administrative state, basing politics on conflicting identities, and much more. But much of the rest of the country followed. What would it take to make America great again—or indeed to make any of the changes that Trump’s voters demand? Replacing the current ruling class would be only the beginning.

Kesler and Codevilla are West Coast Straussians, one of two rival factions of intellectuals who revere Leo Strauss, the German-born political philosopher who died in 1973. Whereas East Coast Straussians have been heavily oriented towards establishment Republicans like George W. Bush, and thus tend to be #NeverTrump—Kristol’s Weekly Standard has been sharply anti-Trump and Paul Wolfowitz has said he might vote for Hillary Clinton—there’s considerable support for Trump among West Coast Straussians. They justify their support of Trump by saying that America is in such deep trouble it needs regime change. To borrow a Trumpian phrase: “What do you have to lose?”

In these West Coast Straussians we see the emergence, for the first time since the Southern secessionists of the 1850s, of a group of conservative American intellectuals who advocate overthrowing the existing political order. Under Bush, Americans saw what Straussian ideas of regime change could do abroad. Under Trump, we might see the same urge for regime change applied to America itself. …

After Leo Strauss died in 1973, his followers divided into two factions, creating the infamous “Crisis of the Strauss Divided.” And the best way to understand the divide between West Coast and East Coast Straussians is through the quarrel between Harry Jaffa and Allan Bloom, who were the respective heads of the rival schools. …

The disputes between Jaffa’s West Coast Straussianism and Bloom’s East Coast Straussianism can be discussed along philosophic lines: Is America, as Jaffa believes, grounded in ancient philosophy or was the American founding, as Bloom would have it, built on the low but solid ground of early modern philosophers like Hobbes and Locke? Does the survival of America depend on the virtue of the people, as West Coast Straussians believe, or in the maintenance of constitutional norms, as East Coast Straussians believe? But the dispute can also more easily be understood in terms of the familiar social divide in the Republican Party. West Coast Straussians are the grassroots activists, grounded in social conservatism and ultra-nationalist in foreign policy. Sociologically, East Coast Straussians are more aligned with the party elite, and tend to be found in Washington think tanks and serving as career bureaucrats.

Read the whole thing.

I’m not a Straussian myself, but the nomination of Donald Trump has certainly similarly divided me from a long-time blogging kindred spirit who, coincidentally perhaps, lives on the West Coast, and many others.

I’d say, “If you live in the Weimar Republic,” you had better be pretty damned careful about allying with the ignorant and resentful mob to put into power a demagogic populist and narcissistic strongman determined to supplant previous legitimate sources of leadership and authority and contemptuous of traditional ethics as well as of constraint on the basis of theory and ideas. They elected somebody of the sort in 1932 in the real Weimar Republic, and the results were not pretty.

20 Sep 2016

The Conservative Dilemma

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dancingglacierpoint

Escapism is laudable, perhaps the only truly honorable course for humane men — but only for them. Those who remain in the world, if they will not surrender on its terms, must maneuver within its terms. That is what conservatives must decide: how much to give up in order to survive at all: how much to give up in order not to give up the basic principles. And, of course, that results in a dance along a precipice. Many will drop over, and always, the cliff dancers will hear the screaming curses of those who fall, or be numbed by the sullen silence of those, nobler souls perhaps, who will not join the dance.

–Whittaker Chambers, Odyssey of a Friend, p.83.

22 Jul 2016

GOP Nominates a Liberal Democrat This Year

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Ben Shapiro has some choice words about what the Republican Party has done.

The irony of Donald Trump’s nomination for president of the United States is that the same establishment that he supposedly opposes has been praying for a candidate of his ilk for decades: a social leftist, a secular materialist, a big government activist. In other words, the establishment has drooled about nominating a Democrat for years.

They finally did it.

Trump’s new Republican Party has nothing to do with the Constitution or conservatism – he mentioned the Constitution one time this week, conservatism zero times, freedom one time, liberty zero times, the unborn zero times, God zero times, and himself some 83 times. As he said, America is broken and “I alone can fix it.”

Trump promises to fix your problems; Hillary promises to fix your problems. Freedom means fixing your own damn problems. It’s their job to get government out of your way.

Or at least that used to be the conservative line.

No longer, in Trumpservative America.

Read the whole thing.

20 May 2016

The Losing Fight With Entropy

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At Ricochet, the King Prawn is simultaneously pessimistic and consolatory.

Even by the time of the formal creation of the governmental structure employed in this nation we had already started on a long downward slope, pulled inevitably through decline and toward destruction by the great weight of human nature. This trend should come as no surprise to conservatives because we have studied history. We know that from the pinnacle of our founding everything else would be downhill. At the close of the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin said:

    In these Sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such; because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

The cry for socialism and despotism has been long coming, but not unforeseen. The problem for Franklin wasn’t that we had created an inadequate government but rather we would become an inadequate people. He was right. He looked to the past and saw what had gone before, then looking to the future he foretold what would be the fate of this nation.

While arguing in favor of our new form of government even its most ardent supporters feared the havoc which would be wreaked by those entrusted with power. As James Madison stated it in Federalist 51:

    But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. [emphasis mine]

We could imagine the founders would be shocked if they saw the state of our nation and our people today, but I doubt they would find it so surprising that we proved them wholly correct. Government is a reflection of human nature, and the government we have (and are about to get) reflects perfectly the character of those who inhabit this nation and make up a majority of the votes cast. We elected a despot with his pen and his phone because we’ve become incapable of electing any other kind of leader. In a few short months we’ll elect another, only this time our choices are limited to an even more corrupt and criminal politician or a conman who promises to be an even more effective despot than the last. Neither candidate sees as the problem the concentration of power in one branch or one person. They believe the only flaw is the concentration of power in the wrong person.

I said in the beginning that conservatism acts as merely an anchor. Some may see the nation foundering on the rocks of human nature and believe that conservatism has failed. It has not. In any other time or place the crash would have come sooner, the destruction more violently, the catastrophe more severe. We’ve done the job well, and we will continue to do what we can until the whole thing comes apart, or until the chain breaks and we lie useless on the bottom as the nation sails unhindered across the seas of time to its inevitable end.

Read the whole thing.

19 May 2016

Why Trump Cannot Be Identified Ideologically

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TrumpPolicyShifts

19 May 2016

Reminding Trump Supporters: Trump Is Not a Conservative

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Gerard van der Leun yesterday reached down into a comment thread at to pull out this pearl of wisdom from artfldgr:

Remind me again where Trump, at least currently, is not a conservative?

Taxes, check.
Deficit, check.
Immigration, check.
Sanctuary cities, check.
Strong defense, check.
Supreme Court, check.
Veterans, check.
Common core, check.
Iran deal, check.
Israel, check.
Healthcare, check.
Pro-life, check….
Oh, yes, Planned Parenthood.

Taxes ? Healthcare? Trump is on the record on both sides on nearly all of these issues but, although he does talk about reducing some taxes on businesses and lowering the top tax rate, he has also been promising to raise taxes on the wealthy, and he has, more decisively than on any other issue than the Wall, come out for single-payer Universal Health Care. “I’m going to take care of everybody. … The government’s gonna pay for it.” (Breitbart)

Immigration? Well, Trump plans to build that ridiculous and symbolically-atrocious Wall, and I believe he would probably do that, but he also (unrealistically) has promised to deport 12 million people. The vision of weeping women and crying children being herded at bayonet-point to deportation cattle cars probably does please some of the Alt-Right Nativist crowd, but artfldgr is overlooking the fact that Trump has also, in the course of making those promises, repeatedly also promised that “the good ones,” i.e. the illegal immigrants lacking criminal records, would be allowed to return on “an expedited basis.” (Hot Air)

Pro-Life? Planned Parenthood? Well, the old, pre-presidential candidate Donald Trump was a basically religion-free, high-living playboy, who was, as of 1999, “very pro-choice” and probably a donor to Planned Parenthood. (On the Issues) What with running for the GOP nomination and all that The Donald “has evolved.” But he hasn’t evolved so much that he did not have five different positions on abortion in three days.

The argument that Trumpshirts most commonly employ in demanding that more discriminating conservatives should fall in line and start supporting Trump has to do with the alleged superiority of his Supreme Court appointments to Hillary’s, and just yesterday Trump released a list. That list was a good list, but… did that list really mean anything?

Ilya Somin, this morning, responded, pointing out that you just cannot trust Donald Trump about those appointments, any more than you can trust him on anything else:

I see little cause for rejoicing. That’s because there is little reason to believe that Trump will actually stick to the list. A list released as an obvious campaign ploy is a far less compelling indication of Trump’s intentions than his many years of commitment to using the power of government to censor his critics, and trampling on constitutional property rights. Just last week, he threatened to use the IRS to harass the owner of the Washington Post if that paper continues to cover him in ways he dislikes. Unlike on many other questions, on these two Trump has been remarkably consistent since long before he ran for president. Trump also plans to undermine the Constitution in numerous other ways.

When he discovers that most, if not all, the people on the list would be at odds with his longstanding commitments, a President Trump could decide to nominate other jurists, who are more in line with his own longstanding preferences. And he could easily find any number of excuses for deviating from the list.

Longstanding commitments count for more as an indication of Trump’s (or any candidate’s) real intentions than campaign ploys. Moreover, as co-blogger Orin Kerr points out, Trump admits that the list is not a true commitment but merely one that he plans to use as a “guide” because it is “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value.” A “plan” to use the list as a “guide” is not the same thing as a commitment to choose only people whose names appear on the list.

In sum, we should not be fooled. Trump’s list is not a true commitment, and it does not outweigh a consistent record of opposing important constitutional rights and limitations on government power. There is still every reason for principled advocates of limited government to continue to oppose Trump.

Strong Defense? Under Trump, it’ll be Yuge. It’ll be the greatest, the absolutely best Defense. Trump will have a wonderful Defense. After all, he was sent as a teenager to military school, and he has the equivalent of combat experience, he has assured us:

Draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”

In a 1997 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around.

“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era,” Trump said in a video that resurfaced Tuesday on Buzzfeed, “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Some may be uneasy, of course, entrusting Defense decisions to a guy who doesn’t actually know what the nuclear triad is.

Israel? Well, Trump has doubtless promised to be a friend to Israel. (He certainly is not going to offend Jewish voters in New York City.) But… Trump has also associated himself with Isolationism, and invoked the (thoroughly discredited) pre-WWII America First movement. There obviously a certain large quantity of historical illiteracy at work here, but that kind of talk was quite adequate to alarm a large number of US allies (Reuters) including Israel (Haaretz).

Basically, when you come right down to it, Trump has been on both sides of most issues. Trump has only the dimmest understanding of policy issues. Trump is poorly educated, not well-informed, and un-intellectual by temperament. Trump is unprincipled. He values fame, money, and success, and he is indifferent to ideology and ideas. Trump is very, very obviously extremely selfish and the crassest kind of pragmatist. He isn’t conservative, because he isn’t anything in the political ideology department. He is just for Trump. If he slipped into office, Donald Trump would have a great time. He’d bang more White House interns than Bill Clinton ever did, possibly occasionally on live television. He would feather his own nest, and he’d do things for people in a position to assist him or the Trump Empire.

He would probably forget everything on artfldgr’s list the morning after the Inauguration, and when it came time to appoint the next Supreme Court justice, he’d be about as likely to name his sister, former Apprentice Omarosa, Judge Judy, or Kim Kardashian as anybody on the list some right-wing expert drafted for him to release yesterday. By then, Trump will have forgotten all about that list and lost the original copy. He will have completely different fish to fry, and he will no longer need your vote. Once he no longer needs you, the Art of the Deal says you are irrelevant.

16 May 2016

Does Academia Discriminate Against Conservatives?

, , , ,

WilliamHSimon
William H. Simon, Columbia Law

Nicholas Kristof recently editorialized on liberal arrogance and the general absence of conservative opinion in Academia:

We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us. ..

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?” …

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

If anybody doubted that Kristof had a point, this particular letter-to-the-editor in response from a snotty self-complacent Columbia Law professor provides excellent confirmatory evidence. All you under-educated and wealthy out there take heed!

To the Editor: Nicholas Kristof exaggerates the problem of liberal bias in the academy. It is not the job of the university to represent all the views held in the surrounding society. The commitment to critical inquiry requires it to disfavor some views based on religious dogma, social convention or superstition. The goal of a community of mutual respect requires it to disfavor others, including those that are explicitly racist, misogynist or homophobic. Such views can be expressed in the university, but it is not a cause for concern that academics do not espouse them in their teaching and research. Much of the disparity between views in the academy and in the Republican Party is attributable to their varying social bases. Academics tend to be educated and middle class. The current Republican Party is constituted disproportionately of the undereducated and the wealthy.

That education leads people to different views is neither surprising nor, on its face, disturbing. And if it is a problem that the views of rich people are underrepresented in the academy, they have had little trouble making up for this disadvantage in the media and the political system.

WILLIAM H. SIMON

Stanford, Calif.

The writer is a professor at Columbia Law School.

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