I Want a President That Won’t Stiff the Opposition

So Hillary Clinton has been nominated as the candidate for President of the United States, the first woman ever so nominated by a major party.

But let’s talk about something more important. It’s the reason that the era of gentlemanly conservatism is over, as I wrote last week. When a gentlemanly conservative like Jonah Goldberg is angry and depressed you know that something big has happened.

I blame President Obama. His reaction to the 2010 election, in which Republicans won the House, and the 2014 election, in which Republicans won the Senate, has been to stiff the opposition. Instead of recognizing that the voters had spoken and wanted a more conservative direction to national politics he turned to “phone and pen” and “Dear Colleague” governance in one last progressive Big Push, and tried all he could to prevent Republicans in Washington from making a difference.

Contrast that with President Bush, who worked with Nancy Pelosi in 2008 to pass a stimulus bill. The voters had elected a Democratic Congress -- damn them -- and so Bush understood that he had to compromise with the new facts on the ground on Capitol Hill.

The consequence of Obama’s intransigence is that the good-old-boy Republican Party is done for, and I prophesy that liberals will live to rue the day. The effect of Obama’s refusal to work with Republicans on Capitol Hill has been to make the perfectly ordinary and reasonable GOP establishment look like ineffectual lapdogs. And voters don’t want lapdogs to represent them; they want good solid guard dogs that can show their teeth. So Obama achieved the remarkable result of humiliating the GOP leadership and enraging the GOP rank-and-file, and stampeding the white working class into the GOP. Nice going, Barack.

And now the Democratic Party has nominated Hillary Clinton. President Obama has said that there has “never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president[.]” I’d say that the Democrats have never nominated anyone more likely than Obama to stiff the opposition and divide the country. Like Obama’s intransigence? You’ll love Hillary Clinton, boss of the secretive Hillarycare task force in 1993-94 and inventor of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

What is wrong with Obama and Clinton? Haven’t these educated leaders ever studied the founders and the whole point of representative government? Don’t they know what the separation of powers is all about? The clue is, of course, that both Obama and Clinton are devotees of Saul Alinsky and his activism politics. Their heads may know about Montesquieu and Tocqueville but their hearts belong to Saul, and Alinsky cares nothing for consensus and bipartisan deals. He only knows about the fight, to push and fight and take out the enemy, “to pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Okay, but what about after the election when it is time to end the war and hold the peace conference up on Capitol Hill where you re-establish trust and confidence? You won’t find that in Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, you won’t find it with Obama and Clinton, and you won’t find it in any of the endless legions of liberal activism. That’s why the civil rights organizations insist to this day that Jim Crow is ready to descend on black voters tomorrow and the gay organizations must still beat the drum against “hate” after the Supreme Court has legislated “marriage equality” for them.

At least governments demobilize their armies when the war is done, and politicians demobilize their campaign workers after the election. But not the liberal activist organizations. And not Alinsky followers like Obama and Clinton. Their fight is never won, because their very reason for being is the fight.

And now good little girls all over America are being taught the faith of activism in our schools and colleges. They are taught to believe that politics is a protest group marching on City Hall with non-negotiable demands, rather than voters voting for politicians to cut deals and get them half a loaf in the political bazaar.

The point of human society, as for social animals in general, is to stop the fight and replace it with cooperation, even if it is cooperation tainted by inequality and pecking orders. But there is no suggestion of cooperation in the faith of the activist. Hillary Clinton made the point perfectly in her acceptance speech. As a Childrens Defense Fund activist she agitated for a government program to force schools to provide for disabled children. Very nice. But couldn’t we have sat down together and helped the disabled without government force?

I know what you are saying. Would Donald Trump as president treat his political opponents any better than the two Alinskyite opponent-stiffers? We don’t know.

But we still need a president that treats the opposition with respect instead of scorn. For the children.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

So Hillary Clinton has been nominated as the candidate for President of the United States, the first woman ever so nominated by a major party.

But let’s talk about something more important. It’s the reason that the era of gentlemanly conservatism is over, as I wrote last week. When a gentlemanly conservative like Jonah Goldberg is angry and depressed you know that something big has happened.

I blame President Obama. His reaction to the 2010 election, in which Republicans won the House, and the 2014 election, in which Republicans won the Senate, has been to stiff the opposition. Instead of recognizing that the voters had spoken and wanted a more conservative direction to national politics he turned to “phone and pen” and “Dear Colleague” governance in one last progressive Big Push, and tried all he could to prevent Republicans in Washington from making a difference.

Contrast that with President Bush, who worked with Nancy Pelosi in 2008 to pass a stimulus bill. The voters had elected a Democratic Congress -- damn them -- and so Bush understood that he had to compromise with the new facts on the ground on Capitol Hill.

The consequence of Obama’s intransigence is that the good-old-boy Republican Party is done for, and I prophesy that liberals will live to rue the day. The effect of Obama’s refusal to work with Republicans on Capitol Hill has been to make the perfectly ordinary and reasonable GOP establishment look like ineffectual lapdogs. And voters don’t want lapdogs to represent them; they want good solid guard dogs that can show their teeth. So Obama achieved the remarkable result of humiliating the GOP leadership and enraging the GOP rank-and-file, and stampeding the white working class into the GOP. Nice going, Barack.

And now the Democratic Party has nominated Hillary Clinton. President Obama has said that there has “never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president[.]” I’d say that the Democrats have never nominated anyone more likely than Obama to stiff the opposition and divide the country. Like Obama’s intransigence? You’ll love Hillary Clinton, boss of the secretive Hillarycare task force in 1993-94 and inventor of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

What is wrong with Obama and Clinton? Haven’t these educated leaders ever studied the founders and the whole point of representative government? Don’t they know what the separation of powers is all about? The clue is, of course, that both Obama and Clinton are devotees of Saul Alinsky and his activism politics. Their heads may know about Montesquieu and Tocqueville but their hearts belong to Saul, and Alinsky cares nothing for consensus and bipartisan deals. He only knows about the fight, to push and fight and take out the enemy, “to pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Okay, but what about after the election when it is time to end the war and hold the peace conference up on Capitol Hill where you re-establish trust and confidence? You won’t find that in Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, you won’t find it with Obama and Clinton, and you won’t find it in any of the endless legions of liberal activism. That’s why the civil rights organizations insist to this day that Jim Crow is ready to descend on black voters tomorrow and the gay organizations must still beat the drum against “hate” after the Supreme Court has legislated “marriage equality” for them.

At least governments demobilize their armies when the war is done, and politicians demobilize their campaign workers after the election. But not the liberal activist organizations. And not Alinsky followers like Obama and Clinton. Their fight is never won, because their very reason for being is the fight.

And now good little girls all over America are being taught the faith of activism in our schools and colleges. They are taught to believe that politics is a protest group marching on City Hall with non-negotiable demands, rather than voters voting for politicians to cut deals and get them half a loaf in the political bazaar.

The point of human society, as for social animals in general, is to stop the fight and replace it with cooperation, even if it is cooperation tainted by inequality and pecking orders. But there is no suggestion of cooperation in the faith of the activist. Hillary Clinton made the point perfectly in her acceptance speech. As a Childrens Defense Fund activist she agitated for a government program to force schools to provide for disabled children. Very nice. But couldn’t we have sat down together and helped the disabled without government force?

I know what you are saying. Would Donald Trump as president treat his political opponents any better than the two Alinskyite opponent-stiffers? We don’t know.

But we still need a president that treats the opposition with respect instead of scorn. For the children.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.