I’ve addressed this issue many times, with great expatiation in the past. But now I will give it a name. It is the neocon gambit, and it goes like this: if you care about a fiscally responsible government then the choice is between conservatives and everyone else.
The neocon gambit asks that, say libertarians and free market types suspend their other political convictions on gay rights, foreign policy, the war on drugs, abortion rights, and so on. In exchange, we get lower taxes and a “smaller government” with a much bigger military, more prisons, more police, and harsher sentencing for all crimes.
The neocon gambit is advanced by various people in various ways.
Stephen Taylor of the National Citizens Coalition advances it as a matter of practicality — the art of the possible, as he fondly puts it.
Then there is Lance over at Small Dead Animals. He takes issue with what he sees as the left demonizing the right over racism and other bigotries, when as he puts it, the real issue is “Fiscal Responsibility”.
Nobody needs to convince me about the problems America faces. I’ve blogged, written and tweeted a lot about the coming American fiscal crisis. Anybody with a grade school understanding of math and the ability to work a spreadsheet can see the fiscal problem in the US — and indeed, much of the Western world. But my question to Lance is simply this: if the real issue is fiscal responsibility and not the social and foreign policy issues I enumerated above, why don’t conservatives compromise on them, instead of asking socially progressive small government types to be the ones who do the compromising?
This is the nature of the neocon gambit; neocons own fiscal conservatism and everyone else, wherever they are on other issues should swallow their pride and embrace the criminalization of abortion, war with Iran, and a double-down on the war on drugs.
People learned in the art of argumentation have heard this one before.
Conservatives perhaps, instead of begrudging the fact that minority groups more and more do not want to vote for you, you should — oh, I don’t know — compromise with them instead of ask them to compromise with you. Spouting anti-immigrant rhetoric isn’t exactly doing wonders with this constituency.
After the Ron Paul “Revolution” such as it was called, many conservatives have come to the conclusion that libertarians should be excommunicated from the conservative movement. While they paradoxically hold that libertarians should vote conservative, for no other reason than, as Lance says, that they’re the fiscally responsible option.
The problem with the neocon gambit, of course, as Obama’s re-election demonstrated, is that its developed a bit of problem of late: it’s not working very well.
I have several American friends who voted Democrat. And quite frankly, they didn’t do it because they’re socialist. In particular, one of them lamented openly to me about having to choose between socially progressive policies and fiscal conservatism. He is, what you might call: a swing voter.
It may be impossible for people like Lance to imagine, but there are people who will vote for LGBT rights and/or against war, even it means their taxes will go up. I’m one of them. And I certainly don’t support my taxes going up. But if it’s between me parting with another $5000 a year, and having a guided bomb that my tax dollars paid for leave some kid in Iran lying on the ground with his intestines spilled out while his parents try to comfort him as he dies — an innocent casualty of war on my dime — you know what? I’m much happier giving that $5000 to some “moocher” or government-dependent.
That is in fact the nature of the neocon gambit. I am to make a selfish choice, based on completely financial grounds, regardless of the impact that choice will have on the rights and lives of others.
Moreover, the neocon gambit is entirely dishonest. If, like Lance says, the principle issue is fiscal responsibility, then how about shelving your support for the drug war, drone attacks overseas, and for “traditional marriage” codified in law? That will prove to me that fiscal responsibility is the most important issue to you. And maybe, just maybe I’ll consider voting for you.
But, for the record: I don’t vote.