Hooking & Jabbing, Mr Robert Luke Capehert, Status quaestionis, Weekly Politikos



By Robert L. Capehert

Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher, crunchy-con fire-breather, stepped in it, writing,

They are [Republicans] a barking-mad pack of ideologues, is what they are. I haven’t written much about the ObamaCare thing because I don’t follow policy closely. As far as I know, ObamaCare is a bad idea. But here’s the thing: it’s the law. 

It was passed, signed by the president, and upheld in the Supreme Court. There is no way the House Republicans, or Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, is going to overturn it. The best they can do is to delay it. And then what?

Guess what: the 2012 elections were their last, best chance to overturn Obamacare, and the country didn’t go for it.

Few classical liberal websites compete with this humble rural berg of a blog when it comes to animus toward the GOP, but that criticism fundamentally presumes a classical liberal critique of the Grand Old Party. Moreover, Beilstein and I’s angst toward Republicans and the establishment periscopes onto where GOP rhetoric and political action stray from liberalism of the classical perspective.

Mr Dreher has written intelligently of the more nuanced aspects of classical conservatism, aptly revealing where popular conservatism ran amiss either in ignorance of those attributes, or in stark contrast to it.

Still, Dreher of late has too often presumed leftist premises in his antagonism of the Republican Party and conservatives, good, bad, and ugly, within it.

This becomes intimately clear when we read his above sentence, calling out Republicans for being ideologues. It should be stated if ObamaCare is not ideological, I am unsure of what can be rightly deemed ideological.

First, it does not seem Dreher presumes ObamaCare itself is an immensely and all encompassing ideological piece of legislation. It radically empowers the State to take control over healthcare, a non-public good, which is the definition of socialistic, to be sure. Socialism is ideology.

To be sure, the passing of a law which completely transforms the relationship between citizen and government, empowering the State to control the most private aspects of an individual’s life, turning a man or woman into a subject of a State, rather than a sovereign individual – a free citizen of the United States – is tyrannical.

And it is ideological. Yet, Dreher is so caught up trying to look like he’s not a Republican he fails to aptly tear into the rear end of this statist legislation – which whether one is libertarian, paleo-conservative, or any other ideology of the American right – should be of the highest ideological priority.

To concede to a law which allows government to force citizens to purchase a government product, and the first complaint one makes in a column is to blast Republicans for being a “barking-mad pack of ideologues” is  jackassory of large proportion.

I am sorry. It’s true. Mr Dreher should know better.

Republicans (in general) are a lot of things, many of them not good, but ideological is hardly one of them.

One of the strongest reasons Mitt Romney lost in ’12 is his campaign was without ideological conviction. Yet, Pres. Obama’s campaign presumed statist ideology, while simultaneously denying it.

Like dramatic exposition in a screenplay, we could concede Republicans, unlike Democrats, fail to dramatically relate ideology and it’s importance to American life on an individual basis.

But ideology is not always bad thing.

ideology is simply the premise and political priorities behind political action and policy proposals. It could be Dreher (being a gentleman) simply understands ideology in the Russell Kirk tradition – but that makes little sense given what wrangles conservative and libertarian angst against ObamaCare.

There is also the idea that if Dreher means ideology in the Kirk-ian manner, he should say that is how he means it. Still, the problem with Dreher riffing on Russell Kirk’s description of bad ideology is the classical liberal arguments against ObamaCare fail to uphold Kirk’s critique of ideology, which is merely obstructionism.

Secondly, Dreher’s concession of ObamaCare being the “law” is not a conservative approach to understanding legal matters.

Slavery, at one time, was the law. So was segregation, and forced integration, which violates freedom of association clauses in the Constitution, and the notion of free minds.

Conservatives, understanding themselves as classical liberals fought to overturn slavery because it violated Constitutional inalienable rights.  Conservatism does not mean, “it’s the law, that settles it” – especially, when that law violates the letter and spirit of our constitutional social contract!

There is much confusion on the right – and Mr Dreher, oddly, seems to express it in a different way from culture warrior conservatives. Cultural conservatives often presume government must enforce moral standards the Constitution in no way enforces, whereas Mr Dreher seems presume conservatism is not rocking the boat when established “law” is at risk.

Notice, however, that Mr Dreher does not ask why states which forbid (legally) same-sex marriage, or drug prohibition (think Colorado), are senseless for overturning such legislation. Why? It was the law. A whole storm of things used to be the law that does not make them constitutional nor wise policy. And it is the wisdom and whether or not laws animate and preserve constitutional freedoms conservatives have fought to overturn or uphold laws.

Obviously, the point of Constitutional government is to allow reform of laws, hopefully, more and more consistent with the classical liberal philosophy of our country.

ObamaCare, whatever it’s chances of repeal, is destructive to every conservative principal, and Dreher is beneath himself in attacking Republicans in the face of such a fascist law.

There is nothing wrong with Dreher believing Republicans ought to fight ObamaCare differently than they have, or are. But it is quite another to sit down at the computer terminal and hunt and peck a column that seems to ask why Republicans are so upset about ObamaCare – cause, as Dreher puts it, it’s the law.



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