Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conservative Dad of the Year!

Putting a stop to bloated sense of entitlement . . .

The New Republican Party: Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion

In the election of 1884, a badly ethically challenged Republican candidate, James G. Blaine, stumbled towards an election day date with disaster. A Democrat had not won the White House since 1856.

This election featured nominees that resembled nothing more than Newt Gingrich split in half (Republican congressional leader with ethics issues and a "world historical" complex--Democrat with family baggage.) The only issue separating them was whether or not the United States ought to have a protective tariff. A Blaine supporter, in New York of all places, fired off a fatefully dumb rhetorical shot. He claimed that the Democrats were the party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion." The well-meaning fellow apparently forgot that liquor drinkers, Catholics, and Confederate supporters (not just a few in New York City) also voted.

In 2012, the Republican Party has turned full circle.

Rum. Republicans tended to support the temperance movement in the 1800s. This movement served as the model for several different successful progressive pushes in the early part of the past century. Progressivism tends to push for a better and healthier society at the expense of individual rights and liberties. In 2012, one probably sees more outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization in the conservative camp than elsewhere. Republicans also tend to be more consistently libertarian, which is leading towards agonizing debates inside the party and conservatism as well about issues such as gay marriage.

Romanism. This was one of many terms tossed about for years as a derogatory term for the Catholic Church. Opponents had a strange fear that the Pope intended to use Catholicism to usurp civil authority in the United States. Today, the Church and the GOP find themselves on the same side of many debates, including abortion and religious liberty.

Rebellion. In 1884, this term looked backwards at the Civil War with all of its bloodshed. Today, rebellion looks forward, anticipating what kind of civil disobedience may be necessary if the reigning party is allowed to continue its clamp down on freedom. Parents cannot pack their own children's lunch without reference to the government. Catholic organizations may be forced to violate centuries of belief. Liberals need to understand that Catholics and other Christians can look back to a variety of martyrs for inspiration if they wish to peacefully and effectively rebel. These go from Jesus Christ himself through Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The Tea Party is just the beginning.

Conservatives ought to be proud to be the movement of run, Romanism, and rebellion. Each means a strident defense of rights and the Constitution.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

University of Oxford Study: Libyans Wary of Democracy

They hated Gaddafi, but learned no lessons from him. After suffering for decades under the rule of a tyrant strongman, an Oxford survey of over 2,000 Libyans points towards likely restoration of authoritarian rule.

Libya has never experienced democracy for any real length of time in its history. For much of the past 2,000 years, the region was merely a piece of a larger empire under the Romans, Ottomans, Arabs, and Italians. United States and British forces liberated Libya in 1943, but it remained a United Nations mandate until 1951.

Moammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969, touting his Third Universal ideology. This proposed a synthesis between Islam, tribal practices, and socialism that relied heavily upon oil revenues for financing. Gaddafi actively promoted his ideology as an answer to African woes and aspired to continental leadership. However, propaganda about "mass" government cloaked typical strongman rule.

The area has a history of trouble with the United States. Libya's capital, Tripoli, once constituted a semi-autonomous city-state nominally under Ottoman Turkish rule. Pirates under its flag exacted tribute from the United States as part of a large scale protection racket. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both sent naval squadrons to successfully chastise Tripoli. Later, President Ronald Reagan used air power to get similar results when Gaddafi backed terrorists blew up a Berlin nightclub. George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq chastened Gaddafi who agreed to abandon weapons of mass destruction programs started in the 1980s. He remained ever abusive of his power over the people of Libya.

Libya experienced tyranny and international humiliation at the hands of their strongman. They used violence to rid themselves of him, and 16% still say that they would use violence again to achieve political ends. Only 29% of Libyans desire to live under a democratic government, according to the survey. A little over one-third would prefer a strongman over any other formulation.

The country, over two-thirds of it, agree that the people need some say in their government. This survey is not necessarily pessimistic. Libyans understand democracy as the European majority rule form, which does not protect the rights of minorities or establish strong checks and balances.

Oxford's numbers do indicate that Libya would be open to some modified form of the American republic style system. They mistrust (with good reason) the possibility of tyranny of the majority. After all, Gaddafi's dictatorship claimed to rest upon mass approval. A republic along Madisonian lines would satisfy Libya's desire for strong and coherent leadership while giving a say to the people. That country's population, still armed and obviously ready to fight for its rights, serves as the ultimate check on the power of any future Libyan president.

Will Libya take this path? Probably not. The United States has almost no track record after World War II of suggesting its own system to any nation emerging from tyranny, although it makes more sense than simple majority rule in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. People who have felt the persecution of government have every reason to fear that a system of one tyrant can evolve into one of hundreds of thousands of tyrants.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Notes From CPAC

Some impressions from the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend . . .

I always questioned why people would want a one term congressman to be catapulted into the vice presidential slot, until I heard Allen West speak for myself. West has the hardshell Baptist preacher style down pat. He rocks the house with his moves from soft spoken to fiery delivery.

Rick Santorum started off nervously, but picked up pace and delivered quite a good speech. He needed to. It was the most important of his life.

CPAC Chairman Al Cardenas sounds a lot like Dos Equis's "Most Interesting Man in the World."

I heard several people speak whom I thought would make finer presidents than the people running currently.

That includes European Member of Parliament from the United Kingdom, Daniel Hannan, who spoke with passionate intensity about his love and admiration for America. You never hear that genuine affection from our own president.

Rick Santorum accused CPAC of rigging the straw poll vote, which produced a slight Romney win.

Murphy's has incredibly good Irish food and a decent selection of beer. It alone is a great reason to keep CPAC at the Marriott Wardman Park