This column by Andrew Coyne is very good. You should read it.
Coyne’s thesis, I think, is this: Canadian conservatism is really a mixture of different groups, including libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and social conservatives. These groups don’t have a lot in common, but they can, under the right circumstances, put aside their differences to support a political party. Right now, that party is the Conservative Party of Canada. That party, however, isn’t giving the different groups in the coalition anything in exchange for their support. Eventually, this will destabilize the coalition of different groups that makes up the conservative movement. Or at least, it should.
Social conservatives aren’t getting any new restrictions on abortion.
Libertarians aren’t getting fewer regulations or a smaller government.
Fiscal conservatives aren’t getting a balanced budget.
In fact, if one had to pick the one salient idea still holding the different conservative groups together, it would be this: the alternatives — including the dreaded Coalition of Opposition Parties — would be worse.
There is that, and then there is Stephen Harper himself.
Because my guess is that many conservatives still believe that, deep down, Stephen Harper is still one of them. They believe that he believes in their ideas, and will implement them when the time is right.
When the time is right. When he can. When the Conservative majority is big enough. When the opposition is even more divided than it is now.
Then, and only then — the budget will be balanced, economic regulations will be eased, and abortion will be restricted. Maybe we’ll even get some privatization in health care!
I think I know why social conservatives persist in trusting Stephen Harper, while forgiving his mistakes. All social conservatives believe two things about morality: that it is objective, and that it is difficult. The world makes it hard to do the right thing. Because of this, hypocrisy is easier to forgive and more challenging to identify. What looks like hypocrisy on the surface may just be weakness of will, a failing we all experience at one time or another. And it can be overcome, especially with the support of one’s community.
Thus, the Prime Minister, or any politician, should receive the benefit of the doubt. He will get it right eventually. When the time is right.
What I do not understand is why mature libertarians would grant the Conservatives this kind of leeway.
Let me describe the mature libertarian. The mature libertarian does not think of his government as one big, unitary thing that can easily be opposed. He does see a difference between the government of a liberal democracy and, say, the Nazis. If he were going to pick a label for his government, the first word on his lips would be “incompetent” and not “evil.”
He recognizes that the government is made up of different kinds of individuals, just like any other organization. Some of them are crusaders, trying to “make the world a better place,” according to their own ideologies. Some are schemers looking to line their own pockets. Some are addicted to the status boost that comes from being a politician. Some have been in politics so long they wouldn’t be good at anything else.
Some are just morons.
What the mature libertarian also knows is that this diversity doesn’t really matter. Not in a liberal democracy.
It doesn’t matter because any politician — crusader, schemer, status-seeker, seat-filler, or moron — has to play by the same set of rules in order to be politically successful. And the rules aren’t that complicated. Even a moron can realize that he’ll have to buy off certain interest groups to gain their support. Even a crusader must eventually recognize that compromising with the enemy is an essential political skill. A seat-filler from a rural riding won’t be filling his seat for long if he doesn’t invite the dairy farmers to join him at the table.
Politicians understand this. They may even understand it better than libertarians.
Stephen Harper grasps it better than almost anyone. I don’t know if he’s a crusader, bent on turning Canada into a libertarian paradise (or, as the left seems to believe, the Republic of Gilead) or a status seeker who loves the prestige of his position. But I don’t need to know. Because whatever his other motivations, what he really wants is to win the next election.
In this sense, mature libertarians and social conservatives should agree on the inevitability of political hypocrisy. It will happen. Only the left seems to believe otherwise.
But unlike social conservatives, I do not believe libertarians have any room to forgive politicians for their sins. So-cons have the hope that, one day, Stephen Harper will be able to rise above his circumstances and bring about the policies they desire. They believe this because, while they believe in weakness of will, they also believe that weakness can be overcome. Forgiveness is motivation to try again, to be better, to finally do what is right.
For libertarians, political hypocrisy is not just inevitable, but insurmountable. We are, or should be, like atheists who have finally come to grips with the fact that evil will often triumph and never be punished. There is no possibility of grace in our view, no divine intervention that can prod the conscience of a politician until he does what is right, instead of what is merely expedient. There is nothing outside the system to do any prodding.
Only the voters. And if enough of them were libertarian, we wouldn’t need to hope for libertarian politicians. If people were libertarian, libertarian politicians would not be necessary; because they are not, no libertarian politician is possible.
Thus, forgiveness and continued community support is pointless, because it will not produce the change we seek. The hypocritical politician is simply an excellent example of his kind, in the way that ebola is an excellent example of a deadly disease.
What, then, can we say about Stephen Harper? He is very good at failing to live up to the standards he at one time avowed. He is an excellent politician. And for precisely that reason, he cannot be forgiven.
I’m posting this strictly for the lulz. Eric Dondero, a self-described libertarian Republican who once worked for Ron Paul, is spitting mad about President Obama’s victory.
And when I say spitting mad, I mean that literally.
If I meet a Democrat in my life from here on out, I will shun them immediately. I will spit on the ground in front of them, being careful not to spit in their general direction so that they can’t charge me with some stupid little nuisance law. Then I’ll tell them in no un-certain terms: “I do not associate with Democrats. You all are communist pigs, and I have nothing but utter disgust for you. Sir/Madam, you are scum of the earth.” Then I’ll turn and walk the other way.
This is even funnier if you imagine Daffy Duck saying it. Which you probably are, now that I’ve mentioned it.
Daffy Dondero’s “personal boycott” gets even funnier (and pettier, if you can believe it.)
Have a neighbor who votes for Obama? You could take a crap on their lawn. Then again, probably not a good idea since it would be technically illegal to do this. But you could have your dog take care of business. Not your fault if he just happens to choose that particular spot.
Yes, well. I believe some jurisdictions may also frown on pet owners letting their dogs shit on other people’s lawns. Then there’s that whole respect-for-private-property thing.
When not befouling his neighbor’s yard, Dondero is doing his part to dismantle the “libertarians are all assholes” stereotype.
When I’m at the Wal-mart or grocery story I typically pay with my debit card. On the pad it comes up, “EBT, Debit, Credit, Cash.” I make it a point to say loudly to the check-out clerk, “EBT, what is that for?” She inevitably says, “it’s government assistance.” I respond, “Oh, you mean welfare? Great. I work for a living. I’m paying for my food with my own hard-earned dollars. And other people get their food for free.” And I look around with disgust, making sure others in line have heard me.
Keep in mind: this isn’t something he’s planning on doing; it’s something he’s already doing. Imagine how many converts he’s made.
No, not to libertarianism. To the libertarians-are-all-assholes point of view. Well done, sir! Well done!
If all libertarians were like Dondero, Gary Johnson would have received at least five percent of the popular vote. You know it’s true.
Dig into the comments for even more fun.
Hint: when Dondero’s not glowering in disgust at people in the line at Walmart, he’s predicting “Nazi-style concentration camps” in two or three years. What a guy! We need more like him!
Ron Paul is driving the neoconservative right crazy. For them, a Ron Paul presidency signals the end of America. His foreign policy will be the final nail in the coffin of the United States.
They often lament that many of Ron Paul’s views are driven by wacky conspiracy theories. In particular, they focus on a one-time event in which Ron Paul refused to dismiss 9/11 “truthers” out of hand, saying that he just didn’t have time to follow the issue.
In the minds of neoconservatives, this is tantamount to Ron Paul being a truther himself. Which is unsurprising, since that’s simply how neoconservatives work. There is right and wrong. And no in between. If you’re not solidly on their side, then it goes without saying that you’re solidly on the other side.
That said, one should dig a little deeper into what exactly is behind the neoconservative thought process that leads them to the inescapable conclusion that a Ron Paul foreign policy would be the end of the United State.
Well, to understand that, you must consider that the right versus wrong dichotomous thinking that neoconservatives are so comfortable with. And then you must consider their worldview which is, to say the least, highly conspiratorial.
Pamela Gellar, a neoconservative anti-Islam blogger, and a stalwart of “protecting liberty” — at least in the minds of other neoconservatives — advances the conspiracy theory that Muslims all around the world are engaged in a highly organized and insidious plan to bring down Western civilization from within and replace it with a global Islamic Caliphate. And worse, even so-called moderate Muslims might be involved and are merely practicing Islamic lying to decieve us all.
Let us not forget the atheist and homosexual conspiracies to take away your right to practice religion and destroy your family.
Now, it turns out that I think 9/11 truthers are pretty crazy. But it’s pretty rich for your average neoconservative, I think, to dismiss these people purely on the basis of being conspiracy nuts since it’s pretty clear to anyone paying attention that much of what defines the current neoconservative worldview is itself, pretty damned conspiratorial in nature. That is, the belief that there’s all these ideological opponents of conservatives that are, in cloak and dagger fashion, plotting the downfall of our cherished Western way of life.
On Iran, the conspiracy theories fly unmolested by neoconservatives as well. For these right-wing hawks, it goes without saying that the first thing Iran will do if and when they develop a nuclear weapon and make it deliverable through a missile system is launch it at Israel. It’s clear as day. That’s what will happen. These neoconservatives know the minds of these Mullahs. And what they know is their primary motivation in developing a nuclear weapon is to reduce Tel Aviv to nuclear ashes as soon as possible.
Neoconservatives are also relatively sure that Tehran is so unshakably committed to this course of action, that the Iranian government is not even cognizant of the consequences. Because their Muslims. So they’re all suicidal, you see.
Thus, it stands to reason, in the warped mind of neoconservatives, that what really needs to happen is to bomb Iran and bomb them right now. Before it’s too late. Every day that goes by brings us inextricably closer to the second Jewish holocaust.
Now, once again, it is Ron Paul who is the conspiracy nutcase. Because all of these neoconservative worldviews are apparently self-evident and reasonable.
But don’t take my word for it that this worldview might be a little detached from reality — what does Israel’s own Mossad have to say on the matter?
According to three ambassadors present at the briefing, the intelligence chief said that Israel was using various means to foil Iran’s nuclear program and would continue to do so, but if Iran actually obtained nuclear weapons, it would not mean the destruction of the State of Israel.
Wait a second. The non-naive neoconservatives in North America just finished explaining that the very opposite is true, giving us no choice but to go to war.
In fact, if I’m not mistaken from what I understand about neoconservative foreign policy doctrine, by the very virtue of being against war with Iran, it necessarily implies you’re for the destruction of Israel. This is how neocons like Newt Gingrich know that Ron Paul is an anti-Zionist extremist who counts down the days until he can celebrate the nuclear annihilation of five-million-plus Jews.
Remember, the number one thing you should always do as a neoconservative is take one position, and then pigeon hole every other position as manifestly the same as the extreme opposite position. This will provide you a reliable guide to taking various opinions on just about anything.
Practical example: Same-sex couples want to get married.
Same sex couples want to get married? Well, since you’re against that, and believe only in opposite sexed marriage, what it really tells you about these homosexuals is: they not only want to get married, but they want to destroy your opposite sex marriage. And not only that, they want to brainwash your kids into becoming homosexuals.
See? Pretty simple. Because they don’t agree with you. It stands to reason that they’re actually against you and have malicious intent against you.
Practical example #2: Atheists don’t want Christian symbols on public property.
Well, this is easy. Since atheists don’t want Christian symbols on taxpayer-funded property, it stands to reason that their intention is to wipe out Christianity. In fact, they will soon seek to make it illegal for you to go to church. The attribution of this extreme view to the atheists who seek to keep religious symbols of public property is pretty simple; you’re a Christian, and you’d like those symbols there. The fact these atheists don’t want them there proves — without question — that these atheists hate you, your religion and your way of life. They also hate freedom. And probably have a sweet spot in their heart for Stalin and Hitler.
Conclusion: There is no in between. Either America military engages it’s perceived villainous enemies now, or it is the end of America. As Newt Gingrich has said, “as goes Israel, so goes the United States”. That is to say, the rabid defense of these threats against Israel — ignore that Mossad guy — is the last line of defense against Iranian global domination. Or gays. Or liberals. Or gay atheist liberal Iranians.