April 20, 2011
No Time for CivilityBy Steve McCann
Most of the current leaders and many of the rank and file within the American conservative movement have as their defining characteristic a bottomless pit of pessimism and timidity, combined with an overarching fixation with civility. Their political opponents, the liberals, have as their defining characteristic an air of confidence that they are always right as well as the smartest people in any room, combined with the knowledge that they can intimidate and exploit the aforementioned natural proclivity of the conservatives. There is an obvious cause and effect at play.
Those on the left side of the American political spectrum have latched onto political theories and philosophies that stress the importance of a collective or strong central government as the primary solution to man's need to survive and prosper. These concepts have as their core the need for a central ruling class, theoretically benevolent, which dovetails nicely with the innate superior mindset of the left.
In order to govern and control the levers of power, the left must obtain the consent of at least the majority of the citizenry. That is relatively easy to do, as the preponderance of the population will choose the path of least resistance in order to acquire security and prosperity. Thus the left has an easy sell when they promise that they, in charge of the government, will guarantee a substantial standard of living for all.
Never mind that the centralized approach to governing by a dominant ruling class has ultimately failed throughout the history of mankind, whether it was designated as a monarchy, oligarchy, or dictatorship, or in the modern era, adherents of Marxism, socialism, or communism. For these philosophies to succeed, they must have an economic underpinning that can provide the foundation for massive social spending.
Conservatives, on the other hand, have a much harder sell. They must tout the fact that only limited power granted to government combined with a capitalist economic system can produce sufficient wealth to underwrite a social safety net for the public and finance the wealth and security of any nation.
Capitalism does by its nature celebrate the success of the individual, not the collective. Individuals, separately or together, driven by the motive of self-enrichment, produce goods or services desired by others. In the process, jobs and wealth are created, thus benefiting society as a whole.
This is an intellectually difficult argument to make when set side by side with the blissful and easily manipulative premise that the government will take care of everyone. It is made doubly difficult when those who advocate conservative principals and are the titular leaders of the movement view the task as nearly impossible, the populace incapable of understanding and their political opponents as invincible.
In times of great prosperity it is a given that the people will prefer to focus on personal pleasures and entertainment and ignore, to a large degree, where a nation is headed, leaving that to its leadership. But those who should have fought with the left on the battlefield of ideas chose instead to get simply get along while they too reaped the benefits of unprecedented peace and prosperity. It was far easier to believe that the good times would last forever and overwhelm any damage an accelerated shift to a powerful central government would create.
All civilizations will at some point begin a painful and accelerating slide into insolvency and ultimate obscurity. It is at that point when some societies begin to wake up from their stupor and question their leaders as to the how and why. Unfortunately it invariably takes a crisis of massive proportions and the potential loss of a way of life before the population becomes alarmed. The United States is now at that critical juncture.
Yet the leaders of the conservative movement and its political party, the Republicans, are still unwilling and apparently unable to forcefully take on their opponents. The left and their political party, the Democrats, are loath to recognize the cliff just over the horizon. They are instead reveling in winning the game of one-upmanship and regurgitating the rhetorical flourishes that highlight the kabuki theater that has been the relationship between the two political entities over the past 80 years.
The times, however, have changed beginning with the mid-term election in November 2010 and the grassroots emergence of the Tea Party movement. The majority of the American people now recognize the reality of the country's situation and the folly that are the machinations of the governing class in Washington D.C.
President Obama, despite a well crafted and media driven cult of personality, is falling miserably behind in his handling of virtually all key issues. Despite an innate poll advantage in sampling that favors Democrats, 60% of voters disapprove of his actions regarding the economy, on the deficit 64% object and with health care 57%. More than 69% of likely voters say the country is on the wrong track; just 23% approve of the direction the nation is taking.
Nonetheless Barack Obama has made it clear he is drifting further to the left rather than the political center, a move which could further alienate independent voters who abandoned him and the Democratic Party in November. However, based on recent votes by the Senate Democrats backing his most unpopular policies, among them the repeal of ObamaCare and the EPA carbon regulations, it is apparent that the Democrats are willing to follow Obama anywhere he might take them. The Democrats and the left are so certain that the Republicans and many Washington based conservatives will revert to form that they are willing to risk re-election to back their President whom they believe will win easily in 2012.
The United States is being held captive by an ideologically driven president, not because he has the support of the people but because the opposition is too cowed and browbeaten to offer more than token resistance and threadbare platitudes. The surrender on the government shutdown, the premature waving of the white flag over the issue of raising the debt ceiling, and the woeful lack of support of the Ryan budget plan by the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party have emboldened Obama and the Democrats. They are comfortable in the knowledge that their opposition will always play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules while they are willing to revert to a street brawl.
Despite the protestations of Obama and his sycophants in the media, the United States has stalled and tipped over into a long-term death spiral. It is no longer sufficient for the opposition party to use excuses such as they only control one House of the Congress or that they need to capture the White House to make a difference. If they do not have the stomach for a fight now, when the handwriting is so clearly on the wall, why would they then when matters will be much worse and more difficult to cure? Their inaction and passivity could well re-elect President Obama.
There is not the time to develop and staff a third party throughout the fifty states before the current crisis becomes a catastrophe. The Republicans in Congress, those running or contemplating a run for the presidency, the titular heads of the conservative movement, the conservative media, and the Tea Party movement must adopt a much more aggressive stance and demeanor toward the left and its allies, be it the media, unions, or their elected politicians. Their playbook is 80 years old, dog-eared, and open for all to see. The left and Obama will cower and retreat when confronted with a new and fearless conservative movement.
If the battle is fought on those terms over the next nineteen months and the electorate chooses to re-instate Obama and the Democrats, then the choice of the American people will be to participate in the decline and fall of the United States. It will not be because the opposition did not do all it could to save the country. As it stands today, the conservative movement and the Republicans are more to blame than the left for the state of the nation due to their past and current passivity, pessimism, and obsession with civility.