Monday, July 20, 2009

No, but you might be a Progressive

by Smitty

Jesse Hathaway has published an attack on Ron Paul's policies, RePaulicanism is not the answer. Hathaway offers some history on the John Birch Society and then says:
Ron Paul is a relic, a holdover from a time when the Birchers held sway, and when "conservatism" meant economic and political isolationism, xenophobia, homophobia... all those things that so-called "little 'r' republicans" and "non-partisans" believe in. They like to bloviate about "empire-building" and how "socialist" and "totalitarian" the government is. They are often either disinterested in foreign policy, as in Ron Paul's case, or have liberal-esque foreign policies as Pat Buchanan does.

Further on:
Libertarianism is not the same as Buckleyist Conservatism, and it annoys me when liberals use Libertarians like Paul as a bludgeon against Republicans. He is a Republican In Name Only, and I wish he'd at least be honest with people and identify as Libertarian.

As is so often the case, a clarification post follows. I Must Be A Communist:
When I say "fetishizing the Constitution," I was refering to the Repaulican maneuver of holding it up and opposing anything that isn't expressly spelled out in the Constitution. For example, there is no literal right to privacy in the Constituion. There is nothing in the Constitution about a federal highway system, or publicly funded schools. Birchers would point to these things as examples of creeping fascism, examples of how we live in a totalitarian state.
I submit that a bit more historical detail may help.
  • "We the People" have been running a 233 year experiment.
  • The Declaration of Independence was revolutionary on a variety of levels.
  • The Articles of Confederation (AoC), by comparison, make the European Union look relatively strong. The federal government was notional.
  • The 1787 Constitution, while awesome, was not flawless, talking its way around the topic of slavery as it did. It was relatively stronger than the AoC, and there was a federal government with some teeth.
  • 74 years later, that flaw shattered the nation. In restoring the country and abolishing slavery, the federal government took on increased strength.
  • The Progressive movement came in the late 1800s. Ideas such as the Federal Reserve Act and the Sixteenth Amendment marked 1913 as a turning point in American History.
  • The Federal Government, especially since FDR, has increased its power, at the expense of the 50 States. Vastly expensive bureaucracies employ armies of point-headed little bureaucrats, and pile up debt on a scale that literally escapes comprehension.
You might have thought that the Information Age would have allowed for decentralization of power. Quite the opposite. The country is being emptied of value by our "political class", the very existence of which is antithetical to what "We the People" areshould be about.

Seen from the standpoint where the US is a tub, power is water, and Washington, DC is the drain, Ron Paul is quite valuable as a rubber ducky for tracking the drainage. Sure, I think his neo-isolationist approach to foreign policy amounts to wishful thinking. No, I'm unconvinced that his gold standard solution actually buys much. However, the fact that we have any breath of intellectual fresh air in Pelosi's House of Horrors is crucial.

Is Ron Paul a RINO? Arguably, from a libertarian standpoint. RINOs like Stacy's cousin, in my mind, are Progressive squishes who've failed systematically to uphold the three-branch/three-level Consitution that I hold rather close. Am I a Constitution fetisher? Guilty as charged. Watching the presidential debate, and hearing Senator McCain talk about having the Treasury work directly with lenders to "solve" the mortgage crisis, I was thoroughly pissed to hear such a non-grasp of the chain of command coming from a retired Navy Captain. WTF, Senator? Where is the analysis that says the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was a giant, steaming, and expensive load of fertilizer? Oh, that's right: we're talking about a Progressive RINO here.

Is Jesse Hathaway a Progressive? Here is a litmus test. Do you think that the Federalism Amendment makes sense? Nothing is perfect, but I submit that this is an idea that any actual, no-kidding, ant-RINO conservative should consider supporting substantially.


  1. I strongly support the Federalism Amendment, heart, mind and all. I will sign up today.

    I have a doubt. I suspect you guys have already raised it and factored it into planning, but I feel I should express it at least for my own peace of mind. (My usual well-over-the-horizon radar is as much a curse as a blessing, as I am sure some consider even the mechanical ones.)

    The doubt is that, whereas the looters in the White House and their supports are known to want a "Constituent Assembly" to turn their "government" into an official reign by rewriting the US Constitution to legitimate themselves in perpetuity -- as the looter in Honduras intended and as the looter in Venezuela did and said should be done here by the looters now in the White House -- is it possible that the Constitutional Convention called to reestablish the US Constitution and reinforce it against subverters could be co-opted into said "Constituent Assembly" and redirected to the goal of the looters and their supporting subverters?

    If it is, that should not impede or suspend a Constitutional Convention, but it does underline the requirement for sealing the perimeter to disruptors, which would be something you guys have considered already.

    The Federalism Amendment begs, deserves and needs establishment. My shoulder is against the cart, pushing forward.

  2. @Graham,
    It's hard to imagine any Article 5-compliant activity being hijacked.
    One anticipates that the Tea Party movement would be a ready source of voices to keep things "transparent" according to a definition that you and I understand, if not the White House.

  3. @Smitty
    Good points, thanks, settles doubt.

    Possibly notable point on the Tea Party movement and hijacking: "America's Re-Tea Party":

    Not finding the links now but late last month I traced it to a Theresa Amato originally of Chicago area, who managed the Ralph Nader campaigns of 2000 and 2004.

    Seattle Re-Tea Party had their own event on 04JUL09 in Seattle when the original (Keli Carender-sourced and attended) Tea Party area events were on Mercer Island and I think Everett:

    The Seattle Re-Tea Party site especially struck me as a bit too slick for the speed with which it seemed to appear. Funding, design and IT people, dedicated server appeared to be there immediately, all of a sudden. Seemingly instant resources such as a Tides Foundation-supported operation would have.

    Perhaps I am overly suspicious. I have been looking for Tea Party hijacking after the manner of the KGB-and PLA-planned and hijacked "demonstrations" and disruptions of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The thought is on my mind always given that earlier experience.

    Carender's website is in the spirit of the Tea Party movement, and I support that:

    I have attended six Tea Party events so far, including at Mercer Island on 04JUL09, a fine, fun, full event.

    Anyhow, thanks, I am so very grateful you guys are doing the Federalism Amendment!!!

  4. Well, I have to say, this is really the first time I've been called "progressive," usually because people are too busy calling me various epithets for "conservative and "person I disagree with."

    Anyway, in reference to the Federalism Amendment, I have to say I read it, and I like it a lot. Especially #3-10. I'm not as sure about 1 and 2, but I don't have any immediate objections.

    In any event, thank you for linking me, and I hope I haven't offended RSM too much, he was the man who personally convinced me to start blogging!

  5. If the Founding Fathers were here today, all would probably be most at home in beliefs as a small l libertarian.

    Ron Paul has extremely strong conservative credentials. It is a shame that the R party and most conservative talking heads don't cheer on any of his ideas more.

    Sure, I think his neo-isolationist approach to foreign policy amounts to wishful thinking.

    I think this idea needs serious rethinking. Surely we can get out of Europe and Japan? We do not need to be the policeman of the world. Teddy Roosevelt and Woody Wilson were Progressives. They started this world police nonsense. I would much prefer a Monroe Doctrine style of interaction with the world. Don't tread on us or you will see the business end of the gun. We are not here to save the world, as it cannot be saved. It is more sensible to retract to certain extent how much can be debated) and we can not forever fund adventures abroad.

  6. @LLM,
    I would prefer a Monroe Doctrine foreign policy, as well. Alas, I don't think it existentially possible in a climate of globalization.
    When you have any sort of large-scale crisis, be it natural disaster or military in nature, the question on the collective lip is WTF the US military?
    Now, by the end of a second Obama administration, when we're all cozying up to the Amish neighbors, to recall subsistence farming and do stuff like eat, we shall have achieved sufficient impotence that the Monroe Doctrine will have teeth. Albeit false ones of wood.

  7. I do not see how replacing 1 tyrant with 50 is a fantastic step in the right direction.

  8. " neo-isolationist approach to foreign policy "

    That's what's known in politics as a baldfaced lie.

    Ron Paul is no isolationist; he's a non-interventionist. If you don't know the difference, you have no business discussing foreign policy.

  9. Amen to this post, Smitty.

    To those who are worried a Constitutional Convention would be hijacked: when Randy Barnett first proposed it, he suggested it would never actually result in a new amendment -- but that's okay, as the threat alone would be enough to bring Washington to heel.

    A gamble but one worth taking.

  10. There is nothing in the Constitution about a federal highway system, or publicly funded schools.

    Art. I, Sec. 8:

    Congress shall have the Power . . . To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

    Since the federal highways are used to deliver the mail, there is some Constitutional basis for Congress being involved in the matter.

    Contrast this with, say, a national health insurance program, a provision of which abolishes certain insurance contracts currently in existence.

  11. A federal highway system?

    How about: "To establish Post Offices and POST ROADS" in Article I Section 8?

    As far as I can tell a LOT more mail has moved over the Interstate Defense Highway System than military equipment has.

  12. Armed Citizen, at least with 50 tyrants I can vote with my feet on which is worse.

  13. It's amusing that some think a convention is safe from hijacking, since that's exactly what happened to bring about the 1789 constitution.

  14. @Anonymous,
    What's even more helpful is when you put up a hyperlink that goes somewhere. At a glance, this Gary North text seems completely at odds with stuff like Amar's Book.

  15. "Ron Paul is no isolationist; he's a non-interventionist. If you don't know the difference, then you have no business discussion foreign policy".