by David Beilstein
The above headline could be a cliché of large proportion, perhaps, but apt in Republican Party politics of late. Listening to GOP talking points here and there has become hard to stomach, especially when our nation’s pillars—things pertaining to individual liberty and autonomy—are under constant assault from progressive leftist policies.
Policies, therefore, that have been spearheaded by the domineering and authoritarian premises of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Out of the gate first, is a Republican from Georgia, determined to run a campaign against Darwinism and other cultural warrior issues. Issues, one would expect such a debate—a good one to be sure—if such issues were within classical liberal notions of state duties. But I cannot help but be angry. And I cannot help but find such a thrust of polemical discourse completely at odds with the duties and parameters of the Federal Government. If one is running for national office, the U.S. Constitution is not only the law, but also the measuring rod—or canon—for the issues therein discussed. If those issues fall outside the U.S. Constitution, they default to the 10th Amendment, thereby becoming state issues (Federalism) where more elaboration is needed within state politics.
First, the government is not the place to argue ultimate things—things pertaining to ontology, epistemology, but is purposely confined (by the Founding Fathers) to deal with penultimate—external things, as Martin Luther opined— issues that are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. People can believe whatever it is they want to believe for good or ill reason—a right protected by the First Amendment and the general principal of free minds inherent in liberal ideology of the classical model.
Instead of arguing for particular kinds of beliefs, Republicans would be wise to argue that the notion one can believe what he or she wants to believe is a foundational part of a particular ideological worldview under assault from progressive policies. Secondly, it would also help for GOP candidates crawling around on all fours in the muck of fundamentalism to understand quite clearly (and soon) conservatism is not fundamentalism. And it is not religious, but secular. America was designed to be a new secular order—designed purposely to be so. On a side note, I would argue, too, devout Biblical Christianity is neither fundamentalist nor modernist, but is altogether “otherworldly”—but that is another topic for another day.
It does amaze one’s thinking how GOP contenders can argue they stand as the party of “conserving” the principals of the Constitution, and then sprint violently (in some cases) against them (and in other cases) hammer lectern with spittle frothing at the corners of their mouth, concerning issues totally outside of the confines the U.S. Constitution limits the Federal Government within. It is no wonder, then, why our nations fortunes continue to plummet due to bad policy, and the leaders who have implemented those policies are not held to account.
They keep getting elected, regardless. Madness…
Some take aways might suffice. American voters continue to pull the electoral lever for Democratic candidates, especially nationally. Why? A simple reality check might work. Americans are not fundamentalists. Americans, though confused between positive liberty and negative liberty to some extent, are liberal in the classical sense. There is a sense the American people understand, more or less, what they think and do privately, is not the government’s business. They understand their religious opinions, sexual proclivities; their life and property, et cetera, are also none of the government’s business. Republicans do not, I repeat, do not seem to be the party preserving these principals or widely held convictions. Secondly, Democrats have used their conflation of negative liberty into positive liberty as a means to amplify a “conservation” of liberal concerns. Though contradictory, it has allowed Democrats to convince large swaths of voters it is progressivism, which conserves liberal democracy, and it is conservatism, which wars against such liberty inducing ideals.
The reason for this is simple. Over the last 30 years, Republicans courted and rode a wave of evangelical support to win landslide elections and further their leadership power in the U.S. Government. The problem, is, much of this support from so-called “conservative” evangelicals was “evangelical” to be certain, but was not conservative, i.e., classically liberal orientated. Many of this evangelical support did not really want to deal with the consequences of a liberal society, which of course, is precisely what the U.S. Constitution preserves and protects. Evangelicals were adamant that individual liberty meant what they wanted it to mean—but this stridently wars against any notion of the moral principal of the Constitution; that being individual liberty.
Hence, there was surface level support for aspects of classical liberalism within evangelical circles, but as pointed out before on Crede, ut Intelligas, surface level classical liberalism is just enough gasoline to buttress large problems down the road.
Tax cuts or supply-side economics, is not the scope of conservatism, i.e., classical liberal. Reductions in marginal rates are the result of conservative philosophical pillars, not a sum total. A strong military—the right to protect and defend American sovereignty and national security, is not “conservative”—but again, a result of a much larger mosaic of classical liberal philosophy.
The GOP is knee-deep in mud defending surface level consequences of classical liberal philosophy without addressing its philosophically rich premises. And an argument bereft of its foundational premises is weak sauce to cook with. Basic logic, folks. Such ideological expression is not only easy to misconstrue—purposely or not—but easy for opposing ideological conceptions to malign for the untidy mess it appears to be.