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Posts Tagged ‘conservatism’
February 7th, 2012 at 5:21 pm
“The New Debate in the Republican Party Needs to be Between Conservatives and Libertarians”
Posted by Troy Senik Print

So says South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint in a wonderful new interview with Reason TV. And on that point he’s precisely right. While the farthest reaches of Ron Paul’s political philosophy (an isolationist foreign policy, drug legalization, etc.) are both ideologically imprudent and political non-starters, the Texas congressman has ignited an important discussion that has the potential to bring the GOP back to its first principles of limited government.

Unlike Paul, however, DeMint is not content to be a legislative voice in the wilderness. His work with the Senate Conservatives Fund has been essential in bringing Tea Party principles to Congress’s upper chamber. Have a look at the video and be thankful that we still have a few more years of service forthcoming from this principled conservative leader.

January 24th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
The Nub of Romney’s Problem
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Writing today in Politico, Reagan biographer (and now Newt Gingrich chronicler) Craig Shirley gets to the very heart of the difficulty Mitt Romney faces in trying to persuade a Republican electorate desperate for an epochal shift in a party that they (rightly) perceive to have been insufficiently inattentive to limited government:

The former Bain Capital chief is the elitist heir to Rockefeller and the malapropistic heir to Ford and George H. W. Bush. Watching Ford speak extemporaneously was like watching a drunk cross an icy parking lot — and the same can be said for the exuberantly monosyllabic man from Massachusetts…

No one goes around calling themselves a Nixon Republican or a Ford Republican or a Bush Republican. But plenty now proudly call themselves Goldwater Republicans and Reagan Republicans.

One need not share Shirley’s enthusiasm for Gingrich to recognize the sagacity of his diagnosis of Romney. It’s not that conservatives don’t want a manager. It’s just that they want so much more. At this moment in our history — when all sense of principled restrictions on the power of the federal government seem to be eroding — they want someone to draw a line in the sand. Convincing conservative voters that he’s the man for that job is probably beyond Mitt Romney’s ability. To remain a serious candidate, however, he’ll at least have to convince them that he’s not a closet sympathist for their ideological adversaries within the party.

April 1st, 2011 at 12:02 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Senik:  Running on Empty with a Full Tank: The Incoherence of Obama’s Energy Policies
Lee:  2012: Electoral Map Tighter Than One Might Assume
Ellis:  Obama’s Proposed Tax Increases Wage War on Civil Society

Freedom Minute Video:  The Case for Conservative Optimism
Podcast:  SCOTUS: The Walmart Suit and Other Pending Cases
Jester’s Courtroom:  It’s a Litigious World After All

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

April 1st, 2011 at 9:48 am
Video: The Case for Conservative Optimism
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this week’s “Freedom Minute,” CFIF’s Renee Giachino makes the case for conservative optimism.  Giachino points to the continued public backlash against ObamaCare, the growing movement against government excess, and widespread opposition to Cap-and-Trade and Net Neutrality, among other big government regulations, as evidence that the nation is committed to restoring to America’s founding limited-government principles.

January 11th, 2011 at 10:49 pm
Paul Krugman Officially Departs Polite Society
Posted by Troy Senik Print

In the world of punditry, the difference between an ideological hack and a graceful partisan can be granular. On a daily or weekly basis, it may be nearly impossible to discriminate between the two. After all, even the most vapid political mercenary can summon reasonable talking points through a Google search and even the most discriminating scribes can at times fall prey to intellectual tribalism.

The acid test usually comes in moments that require grace and restraint. The tragic shootings in Tucson over the weekend presented such a moment. And Princeton economist, New York Times columnist, and liberal paragon Paul Krugman failed the test.

Krugman immediately took to his blog at the Times to decry the environment of hate created by conservatives, despite the fact that no tangible aspect of the Arizona story supported his thesis. It was an utterly revolting spectacle that revealed a man whose optic for all of life is partisan politics. But don’t just take my word for it. The Economist, a magazine which prides itself as the publication of note amongst the brandy and cigars class, comes down as follows:

In a blog item on Saturday, before any significant details about Mr Loughner’s motivations had come to light, Paul Krugman wrote:

You know that Republicans will yell about the evils of partisanship whenever anyone tries to make a connection between the rhetoric of Beck, Limbaugh, etc. and the violence I fear we’re going to see in the months and years ahead. But violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.

This struck me as irresponsibly premature, and one might have thought that, given a little more time and information, Mr Krugman would change his tune, or at least turn down the volume. Nope. In today’s column on America’s alleged “climate of hate”, Mr Krugman reports that he’s been “expecting something like this atrocity to happen” since 2008, conjures in his fevered imagination a “rising tide of violence”, and spots his hated political foes behind it all:

[I]t’s the saturation of our political discourse—and especially our airwaves—with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right.

What’s more, unless the ranting right reins in the kind of talk that leaves Mr Krugman “with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach”, “Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.” Welcome to crazytown, my friends, where it does not seem crazy to disgorge toxic, entirely evidence-free rhetoric about the mortal threat of toxic rhetoric. Does the man honestly think he’s helping?

January 3rd, 2011 at 11:05 pm
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest … and Into the Washington Post’s Offices
Posted by Troy Senik Print

File E.J. Dionne’s new column paying nominal tribute to the incoming Republican class of congressmen under articles we didn’t finish. The reason? This passage:

There is already a standard line of advice to Speaker-to-be John Boehner and his colleagues that goes like this: Democrats overreached in the last Congress by doing too much and ignoring “the center.” Republicans should be careful not to make the same mistake, lest they lose their majority, too.

This counsel is wrong, partly because the premise is faulty. Democrats did not overreach in the 111th Congress. On the contrary, they compromised regularly. Compromise made the health-care bill far more complicated than it had to be and the original stimulus bill too small. Democrats would have been better off getting more done more quickly and more coherently.

Seriously, folks … he gets paid for this.

October 19th, 2010 at 1:20 am
Texas Still Thumping California on Economic Policy
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Last month, we profiled how federalism is alive and well in economic policy — as exemplified most explicitly in the sharp contrast between California and Texas (a topic we’ve been exploring for nearly a year).

As John Steele Gordon points out in the Contentions blog over at Commentary’s website:

It is often pointed out that the states make great laboratories for political-science experiments. And an experiment has been underway for quite a while testing the liberal model — high taxes, extensive regulation, many government-provided social services, union-friendly laws — against the conservative model — low taxes, limited regulation and social services, right-to-work laws. The results are increasingly in. As Rich Lowry reports in National Review Online, the differences between California and Texas are striking. Between August 2009 and August 2010, the nation created a net of 214,000 jobs. Texas created more than half of them, 119,000. California lost 112,000 jobs in that period.

California has always prided itself on being a leading indicator for the rest of the nation. We’ll see how well they like that designation when it turns out to mean being the canary in the coal mine.

August 17th, 2010 at 2:02 pm
The Tea Party Movement’s Cliff’s Notes
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Nearly 25 years ago, Thomas Sowell wrote “A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles”, perhaps the single best volume on the fundamental philosophical differences between modern liberals and classical liberals (the progenitors of today’s libertarians and most conservatives). If your summer schedule doesn’t allow time for Sowell’s 350-page treatise (and it should), then you could do worse than turning to today’s Wall Street Journal.

Today’s edition of the Journal’s opinion section carries a piece entitled “A Tea Party Manifesto” by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe (authors of the new book “Give us Liberty”). Contained therein is the best concise distillation of how Sowell’s conflict is playing out in Tea Party America:

The many branches of the tea party movement have created a virtual marketplace for new ideas, effective innovations and creative tactics. Best practices come from the ground up, around kitchen tables, from Facebook friends, at weekly book clubs, or on Twitter feeds. This is beautiful chaos—or, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek put it, “spontaneous order.”

Decentralization, not top-down hierarchy, is the best way to maximize the contributions of people and their personal knowledge. Let the leaders be the activists who have the best knowledge of local personalities and issues. In the real world, this is common sense. In Washington, D.C., this is considered radical.

The big-government crowd is drawn to the compulsory nature of centralized authority. They can’t imagine an undirected social order. Someone needs to be in charge—someone who knows better. Big government is audacious and conceited.

It’s a war of voluntarism and freedom on one side against coercion and statism on the other. The Tea Party crowd should prepare for battle. Armey and Kibbe will provide the ammunition (as will other Tea Party authors, like CFIF’s own Ashton Ellis). Come November, it will  be time to take to the field.

August 11th, 2010 at 12:21 am
Jacksonians, Jeffersonians, and Wilsonians: Three Foreign Policy Views on the Right
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Over at the American Conservative, Associate Editor W. James Antle III (apparently they pay by the number of letters in the byline over at the AC) has an insightful piece up today about the shift in foreign policy thinking on the right.

Antle’s key insight is that, as the war in Afghanistan increasingly comes to be defined as a creature of the Obama Administration, many conservative foreign policy hawks are managing to stay aggressive on national defense while divorcing themselves from the nation-building pretensions of the Bush Administration (this author is among that group, which Antle — taking a page from Rich Lowry — calls the “to hell with them hawks”).

As Antle notes:

There have long been three main foreign-policy tendencies on the American Right: old-style conservatives who agree with Randolph Bourne that war is the health of the state and therefore favor less military intervention abroad; neoconservatives who want to preserve the United States’ global hegemony and engage in armed proselytizing for democracy; and defense-minded conservatives who believe the U.S. should strike forcefully at its enemies whenever it perceives itself, its interests, or its allies to be threatened.

Roughly speaking, these groups can be described as the Jeffersonians, the Wilsonians, and the Jacksonians. Among rank-and-file conservatives, the Jacksonians are by far the largest group. In the postwar era, the Jacksonians have tended to align with the Wilsonians. But there is no reason why that conjunction is inevitable.

For the record, Antle and the folks over the AC (the foreign policy followers of Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul) consider themselves Jeffersonians, a term that deserves some criticism (this is, after all, the man who aggressively promoted the French Revolution and went after the Barbary Pirates). But on the broader point, Antle is right. The grand nation-building associated with counterinsurgency theory is basically liberal domestic policy extrapolated abroad. And as George Will has perceptively noted, the very idea of “nation building” makes about as much sense as “orchid building”.

In an age of microwavable punditry, Antle has done a great job of thinking long and hard about the foreign policy divisions on the right. Anyone who cares about the future of the conservative movement and international relations would do well to read his piece in its entirety.