I decided to try and make some coherent sense of my increasingly dystopian thoughts about modern politics. Mostly American politics, however a lot of this would apply in other nations as well.
We have heard all of the adjectives before, politics today are too shrill, too partisan, ineffective, broken, etc. I will try to make some sense of it all.
Since I have called myself a conservative-libertarian I will begin by critiquing those on my side of the fence. The problems with conservatives. First of all, conservatives are very divided, there seems to be no consensus within conservatism as to what really is conservatism. The second thing to note is that today, CONSERVATIVES ARE POWERLESS.
Yes, you heard me right, conservatives have almost no power in Federal politics, although there are a few conservatives in power in State offices. The reason for this is simple. Conservatives do not yet control the Republican Party. Moderates are in firm control there. Although there has been significant push-back by conservatives they do not control very many of the key spots in the legislature.
This internal struggle has caused bitterness and division and the root of nearly all of this divisiveness is the Bush clan. From 1988 to 2008, a very long time in politics, The Bush’s and their followers controlled the Republican party. They were in many ways the worse of all possible worlds. They ran as conservatives, governed as big spenders. Talked up the social issues without really doing anything about them, and worked almost tirelessly to increase the power and scope of government over our lives. The Bush’s were also the ONLY Republican leaders to get us into wars since the nineteenth century.
Conservatives are sometimes frustrating to talk to, there are the Social conservatives who are many times one (or two) issue voters. They are of course waging a war against evil. The problem with that is you sometimes have to compromise in politics, but you can never compromise with evil can you? Such conservatives often oppose many things even when you can show overwhelming evidence. For instance the increasing militarization of our police forces, unconstitutional asset forfeiture laws, and just the general mayhem caused by the War on Drugs. Any suggestion that some sort of new approach is needed is usually met by belligerent moralizing and a lack of facts.
There are the War Hawks who are similarly convinced that only the constant use of American power abroad keeps the world safe. Notwithstanding that the more American force has been used in recent years, the more chaotic things have become. War Hawks can be extremely fiscally conservative but never let it bleed over to either the State Department or the Military. They are resistant when you point out that the Military is perhaps the most bloated, and least efficiently run part of our entire government (especially procurement where there is always a lot of fraud and sweetheart deals).
Then there are the moderates. What can I say about them? Well they are mostly LIARS that’s what I can say. Moderates in positions of power within the Republican party are mostly a pack of liars. They constantly give lip service to fiscal sanity but undermine it each and every time.
I suppose you can say that they are not really moderates at all. Now someone like Chris Christie is a true moderate. That means he is a hard nosed conservative on some issues and not conservative on others. Someone like that can be a very good political ally, because at least on the things you agree on he will be reliable.
But most of the so called moderates we have in the legislature are not really moderates at all because the are squishy on nearly every issue. What they are is simply lying, pandering, earmarking politicos. They should be defeated. The party would be much better off if they were replaced by people with real convictions even if they were only conservative on 60-80% of the issues.
Then there are the Libertarians. Although many conservatives have a visceral dislike for libertarians, in my opinion they represent a growing constituency that will be an increasingly important part of the coalition. But Libertarians are by nature not very political. By nature the libertarian mind is better suited to philosophy and increasingly esoteric ideas about natural law and free market economics. As a result libertarians are not practical. They are not pragmatic and they always overestimate the power of their views.
They also can be, unfortunately, extremely doctrinaire. They would most often rather abandon any candidate in which they might not share even 50% of their views even if that means that someone who holds none of their views comes to power.
Even when libertarians have some good ideas such as auditing the Fed, or changing some of the drug enforcement laws, they are likely to go too far, and push for too much. Both in viewpoints and rhetoric nearly every libertarian is extreme (at least the ones with a national audience).
This brings us to the Left wing. Many of my conservative friends would say that all lefties (liberals, progressives, pinkos, whatever you want to call them) and all of their ideas are wrong. But this is simply not true.
The left has an impressive list of issues in which at the beginning they were on the correct side while conservatives were opposed. This would include civil rights, conservation, consumer and worker safety, and even a social safety net.
The problem is not that the left are always wrong, the problem is that they always have the wrong instincts, and they never know when to stop. What I mean by that is, the BIG centralized government program is not just their preferred solution to every problem, it is the only one.
And, they don’t know when to stop, they have no self-regulator, that is why every achievement in the past century has turned into garbage. Civil rights has become a racial spoils system and quota regime. Consumer safety has become a nightmare of litigation expense and endless regulation. Environmentalism has become a haven for apocalyptic extremists and a war on industry. The social safety net has become ever growing entitlement that are rapidly bankrupting us.
Even when they have good intentions or good instincts the left are simply too dangerous, like a child with a flamethrower. Unbridled progressivism always leads to disasters like Detroit, Greece, Spain and California.
And left wing politicians are simply incapable of ever downsizing any aspect of government. You might expect a left administration to at least stop funding most of the war on drugs since that has long been part of their rhetoric. But instead, this administration has doubled down and even sold guns to drug lords! You would expect them to decrease the foreign commitments, but instead we had new police actions. They just are not able to say no to any part of government. Government is their God, it really is that simple, they worship the power of Government.
Increasingly we talk past each other. All sides are filled with the rightness of their cause and the infamous “known facts”. Increasingly both sides are filled with indignation and insult. Conservatives are far from immune, although in my opinion the left are the more extreme. I can say that with some evidence. At least there are some right leaning opinion websites where you can still come on with a reasoned opinion from the other side and not get slammed too hard.
I know of no left wing website in which evidencing even a mildly right wing view in a very polite way won’t get you pilloried with the most extreme abuse. The reason for this is simple. It pervades all left wing writings and left wing thought, it is simply that they not only think they are right, they also think they are better people than anyone who does not share their views. They really really do think that they are both smarter, more rational, and more moral. Even though when you try to engage them on issues more often than not you get the most shallow sloganeering and easily debunked myths.
But neither the right nor libertarians are immune to some of this as well. The problem with the Rah-Rahing for your side is that your side might not always be right. And even when right, there is always a danger of going too far. So you can see my problem. Being “pure” in your ideology will usually fail, being moderate usually means you are not strong enough in your convictions so the left wins by default. Being pragmatic, picking and choosing ideas, will leave you open to attacks of not being pure enough.
I don’t have a solution, all I have now is problems.