by David Beilstein
President Obama made the presumptuous comment that Americans are not in favour of armed guards in schools. Problem is, 55 percent of Americans polled disagree.
In order to take advantage of such data, the National Rifle Association has ran an ad criticising the president as an “elitist hypocrite” – in favour of his own children protected by armed guards, but not the American people’s children. Whether we are discussing ObamaCare, government spending, or possible anti-Second Amendment legislation, President Obama presumes his party and himself hold the high ground.
But they don’t.
What Mr Obama and the Democratic Party do have is simple: they are not Republicans. Republicans have lost the people’s confidence and trust – Democrats have not won it. We could say that is the consequence of Republican collapse, and in a sense those who opine such logic would be partly right.
But there is a difference between one party losing, thus collapsing, and another party winning. Polls indicated quite clearly the American people were not pleased with the last four years of Mr Obama’s first term. But the more Republicans opened their mouths – all over the electoral map – the more voters tilted away from pulling the lever for the opposition to the Obama administration, and instead, settled for a “do-over” for the coffee-colored young president.
Mr Obama is a sham – a tyrannical politician, with few skills – able, sure, to exploit a Republican Party that migrated against its principals over twenty-years. So, the American people finally said enough. But that does not mean President Obama’s skills are presidential.
They are reactively commonsense. It requires few skills to pull a group of people away from a party of scold. If the American people look at the Republican Party as a bunch of uptight, hard shell Baptists – desirous of imposing cultural hegemony upon the nation at large – it becomes quite easy to malign such a political party. It is not a great skill to make much of what calls itself conservative in our day look odd, reactive, and intolerant.
Because much of it is those negative things. Matters of fact, cultural (slash, social) conservatives are a moody, upset group. They want something they cannot have and has not been true of America for generations.
Neighbors and co-workers agreeing with them dot and tittle.
That does not bold well for inspiring the masses. There is a real sense, ladies and gentlemen, that as much as the statist Democratic Party is anti-Constitutional and thus anti-American in a Burkean sense, the GOP is too.
Just in different ways.
But there is more. President Obama will have an equally difficult time in his second term with worse results if he keeps presuming the American voter shares his values down to the letter. They do not. What the American people have bought into – against the harangue of the religious right and her minions, is – Mr Obama is a president of a secular nation (which is true) with teeming diversities (also true) and attitudes toward a great many things.
His appeal becomes: he is not a fundamentalist. Mr Obama appears liberal.
Never be confused. The Obama administrations progressive policies will atrophy our liberal society. They already have. Mr Obama’s spending has cut American resources and opportunities for expansion – increasing wages, stabilising currency, and a host of other elements, which give a liberal society its juice.
America is a liberal society, too. Conservatives have forgotten that. They have forgotten conservatism is an adjective related to liberalism in the classical sense. Conservatives are preserving a liberal society, not a one size fits all moralistic society. Of course, we might want to admit upfront the American voter is also confused about a great many things. But they have no political party working with a strong engine explaining these ideological issues to them. One such issue is the difference between positive and negative liberty (thank you, Jonah Goldberg).
But the Republican Party has never explained that. The GOP has spent the last twenty-years trying to turn national politics into an evangelical social gospel; a religion able to bind all together without understanding people’s differences in circumstance and culture. In doing so, the Republicans come off as charlatans to blacks, minorities of all stripes, and especially educated men and women. And now, traditional working class whites.
If Constitutional scholar Dr Roger Pilon is correct – and I believe he is – the moral principal of the U.S. Constitution is individual liberty. The political principal of the Constitution is self-government. The parameters of the Constitutional are civil, not moral. At the national level, then, it makes little sense to run rough shot over such confines and run the type of campaigns Republican candidates have been running of late.
Individual liberty is going to mean liberty towards a plethora of consensual behavior. Some good, some bad, and some ugly. The point of the U.S. Constitution is to protect individual liberty, which means protecting a lot of behaviour that is immoral.
Any good conservatism protects these liberties – where it looks to intercede government is when government intrudes upon individual life, and in our times preventing the Federal Government from paying for – thus promoting worst practices in society.
But the popular face of the GOP and its so-called conservative base wars against many of the consequences free individuality will produce. This has happened to such an extent and been articulated by so-called conservative candidates to such a degree, conservatism is no longer conservative – the conservation of liberalism in a classical sense.
That is what President Obama defeated Nov. 6. He defeated a self-imposed caricature of free markets and free minds. And it is hard to look at the modern conservative movement and describe it as a movement trying to preserve and animate free minds and markets. Nor has the Republican Party in recent history been a party wedded to free minds and markets to any discernible degree.
So we are now stuck with Mr Obama. He continues to rule with a heavy hand. But in large sense this is our fault. We have not waged ideological war correctly or wisely; we have not stood on firm Constitutional ground to make our case to the nation.
We have not preserved Burkean liberalism.
And that is why opposition to the statist DNC, lose.