Looking at Ramesh Ponnuru at The Corner at NRO today got me thinking that most conservatives and Republicans don't know what they hell they are saying as he looks at Ross Douthat's piece on where conservatism should go, and I will put the short piece in full as follows, and bold those parts of interest:
In developing an agenda, Republicans and conservatives need to figure out what the top challenges facing the country are and how to meet them. But it would be pointless to devise an agenda that could not possibly win over a majority of the voters. And of course the same type of politics that might attract one group of voters will repel another. To generalize wildly: Upper-middle-class, college-educated voters tend to find the Republican party's economics attractive and its social positions less so; vice versa for lower-middle-class voters without college degrees. Which group should the builders of a center-right coalition try hardest to get? I largely agree with Ross Douthat's take on this question, but I would make an additional point.
I don't think many people are arguing that if Republicans just emphasized their social conservatism more, they would attract enough additional lower-middle-class voters to win a majority. The argument that Douthat, his co-author Reihan Salam, and I (among others!) are making is that it is possible to craft conservative economic policies that would serve the interests of this group. These policies need not drive away upper-middle-class voters. The Democrats' promises to help downscale voters have been compatible with an increased appeal to upper-middle-class voters, after all.
And if Republicans can appeal to lower-middle-class voters on domestic policy—health care, taxes, etc.—then they will have less need to make the type of cultural appeals to these voters (we disdain arugula, wave the flag a lot, etc.) that seem to drive some upper-middle-class voters batty. Such an economic agenda might thus help the party directly with the lower middle and indirectly with the upper middle. So I think the party's best bet is to keep, while doubtless modifying in some respects, its social conservatism while searching for free-market economic policies that would help lower-middle-class voters. I am doubtless biased by the fact that this approach would also be best for the country.
So the first paragraph is telling us that the Elite Conservatives are pushing a conservative economic agenda and that this isn't appealing to the working class. They are?
From the party that wanted 4 day work weeks in Congress during its time in the majority? And then signed on for a 3 day work week under Democrats? This is an ECONOMIC CONSERVATIVE AGENDA?
Hold your horses right there, what ever happened to a good old 'work ethic' and showing up 5 days a week, 8 hours a day and putting in over-time? What the hell ever happened to THAT? Because that *is* as econmically conservative as you can get and just where is the Republican Party in Congress? On FOUR DAY WEEKENDS!
Now look at the 'conservatives' pushing the 'social conservatism' agenda. See the lovely degrees by their names. They are over-educated and under-worked. Those social conservatives who do have degrees will have to put forward in common, every day terms *why* their ideas on social conservatism are good. And then try to explain a party that doesn't have a work ethic at its highest levels.
Lotsa luck on that, I tell you.
I am sorry that Mr. Ponnuru is missing the point: a good set of ethical values that you actually LIVE THROUGH and demonstrate day-in and day-out is far, far more appealing than just campaigning for this or that cause. He sees where the appeals need to go but then does not correctly formulate that the Party does not hold the basic and underpinning values to sustain them. How do we know that? Take a look at the party leadership, particularly in Congress. Any group as money grabbing and willing to roll over on issues like that group, and then not even bother to have a full work week is not 'Conservative' by any stretch of anyone's imagination: it is Elitist, putting itself above other groups to try and dictate down to others what their agenda should be.
So lets flip this around, a bit, and see what comes from this formulation of the Republican party and see if it better serves to define what is going on: the Conservative Economic and Social Elite is disconnected with everyday Americans and prescribes ideas that are not connected to daily lives, do not reinforce basic ethical concerns, and then uses 'hot button' issues and 'litmus tests' to remove those that disagree with the Elite from the party.
Hey, not too bad, as it pretty much describes how such a group of slackers can utilize a minimal set of agenda topics to slowly cut themselves off from a voting base. The Elite enforces no working class ethics, enforces all sorts of strange social ethics that have little to do with politics and then wants to run on that mess? Why should anyone vote for people who are unwilling to treat public service as a job, who are willing to fill the coffers of their supporters and brown-nosers with federal funds, always pushing at topics that have little chance of succeeding in the way they have been formulated on the social side and then decide to eviscerate their own party when members who have committed no crimes are drummed out because they had problems of fidelity with their home lives? Can't you folks realize that we have that in everyday life, out here in America, and people going through messy divorces don't QUIT THEIR JOBS, by and large, because they can still *work* while having to take care of that mess at home? So a member is found out to be gay and married straight. So what? Can the person do his job? Yeah, if its too much of a distraction in public service, then do leave, but if the member can still demonstrate that he or she holds basic concepts of governance to be their guiding light and that they have failures as an individual, then guess what? They are 'normal'.
I refuse to vote for Angels.
And even *they* had a falling out.
Ok, now I'm going to tackle a 'social conservative' topic that has been a loser as it has been formulated. It doesn't get votes. It hasn't gone anywhere for decades. Those 'leading the charge' are not flexible enough to try something else and the old arguments just aren't doing it. Here's the lovely thing about America - you can try a different approach to reach ultimate ends and still keep conflicts in society down! And as I've written on this before, I will extract from that piece as a demonstration on how to do this, which is not a backing for the idea but a demonstration that a different approach can yield valid outcomes:
In looking at Freedoms, Rights and the People I started looking at the actual framework of the issues involved and then a whole lot more in When do your rights start? Now in this I do *not* try to figure out when someone is or is not a human but *when* there is a passing point *into* Citizenship. Now why did I do that? Because it is imperfect, of course! Far, far less than ideal but... it does head towards the common ideal of Citizenship and upholding all rights and all responsibilities. Citizenship is a damned important thing in this Nation and the Supreme Court has created a two-tier system of 'Due Process' that actually violates the outlook of the Constitution for one form of justice for All of the People. Here is what it boils down to:1) The SCOTUS has put a 'viability test' on when an abortion may be performed,
2) What does 'viability' measure? It measures the ability to be sustained outside of the mother or host.
3) What happens when an Individual is outside the mother or host and sustainable? They are 'born'.
4) Being born of Citizens of the United States within a State of the United States or within limits set externally by Congress for such things under its Immigration and Naturalization powers makes one a Citizen.
Short, sweet and to the point: viability is a measure of Citizenship.
Yes, very reductio ad absurdum and all of that, but it does point out the thing about working with imperfect law: one can use its imperfection to achieve things that locking horns forevermore will not do. And in this extremely imperfect ruling the SCOTUS has now set up a 'two tier' system upon fetuses based on positional sustainability outside the mother or host. If a fetus is born prematurely, it gets full Citizenship Rights and coverage. At that exact same gestation point for another fetus going through normal gestation that is NOT the case. Say, that just can't be right, can it? Imperfect law, imperfect ruling leading to a non-Due Process procedure for Equal Protection. Pure idiocy, when you come right down to it. If a 'viability' test is put in place then the requirement, since it is viability to become a Citizen is being measured, then ALL such fetuses at that same point in gestation should get Equal Coverage and Due Process under the Law.
Painful, isn't it?
Enacting State-based legislation on that would *then* require *proof* that a fetus was not in the viability stage and appropriate developmental buffer zone to afford protections to unequal development due to circumstances beyond control of mother or fetus. Under this regime one can, indeed, get an abortion, but only with *proof* that the fetus was not in the gestational viability period. What that then requires is *record keeping* of sexual activity! Yes, more Red Tape! Sworn affidavits, medical exam and post-abortion exam to determine status would then be *required* so that anyone that LIES about their history in this regard can be prosecuted for murder. On the other side society, at that point in time, must afford full minor citizenship rights to such children who are gestating normally and ensure that these new Citizens are properly tracked and accounted for until their full 'birth date' or emergence from the mother or host. This infringes upon no existing set of Rights and applies responsibility to sexual activity because of its paramount importance to Citizenship. And various doctors can be appointed by the State to perform dual exams upon an individual that did NOT keep such records, and then they would attest to gestational period and abortion made available for the non-viable fetus.
This provides full rights to the unborn at the point of viability. Anything *else* then gets one looking at 'when does life begin' which really isn't a question society is set up to deal with. What society *is* set up to deal with is when an individual becomes a Citizen, so using that is not only perfectly reasonable, but then sets new standards of conduct and accountability for sexually mature individuals. That knife cuts across *both sides* of the debate as it is neutral to the debate and looks to uphold society and *not* find some sort of perfect solution. Totalitarian governments are very good at perfect solutions and their eponymous 'Final Solution'. Really, if life 'begins at conception' then it is not the abortion clinics that are mass murder facilities but In Vitro Fertilization clinics that have large numbers of fertilized eggs from generally infertile couples that need to destroy such after a period of time as they become non-viable for *anything* after a couple of years in the deep freeze. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of fertilized eggs are destroyed via that route and yet I see very little protesting around those places for doing so. Somehow that 'perfect' viewpoint needs to be adjusted to the actual, real world of a common society held by the overwhelming majority of Citizens.
What can be done, however, is to find better ways to sustain premature infants, identify better ways to identify developmental stages of gestating fetuses, and afford a bit better help to expectant mothers or hosts so as to get children that are better cared for, generally healthy and, perhaps, have some early intervention for treatment of genetic illnesses and deformities. If all the money that had been funneled into this glacially locked 'debate' had been put to something *useful* for the commonly held public society, then we might have fewer premature births, a better understanding of genetic disease and pre-born deformities and actually hold life to be a bit more sacred than we do now as an entire society.
Yes, why don't you actually SUPPORT the SCOTUS on abortion, use its own damned test at the State level to determine Citizenship and then *dare* the Court to throw that out and explain *why* their original argument is invalid in one area and valid in the other? You know? Actually hit the opposition by undercutting it and then putting in the mechanism to finally allow all of those citizens interested in ending abortions a valid way of doing so that is civil and DOESN'T require protests. Like the Left does on so many things? And notice that the outcomes, of actually making ADULTS responsible for their SEXUAL ACTIVITY is a perfectly valid outcome as the State has a vested interest in citizenship. Plus note that there is more than a bit of hypocrisy on the 'pro-life' side of things: someone hasn't thought these positions out to reconcile fertilized eggs as having 'souls' and then doing nothing at IVF clinics. Perhaps we should leave this 'soul' business up to the Creator and figure out how to deal with it as best we can in the imperfect world that is the Creation? You know, civil discussion about what is and is not valid for all of society and taking in the widest possible set of social input so as to draft good laws.
Like we agreed to do in the Constitution, in the Preamble.
Whenever you get a 'litmus' test from social conservatives, it means they want their view of the world absolutely upheld across all of society. That has been losing voters and now elections.
On the economic side there needs to be some fundamental education going *both ways* in the Republican Party. Yeah, 'free trade' and all that. I have some deep problems with the nostrums for 'free trade' and the non-alignment of outcomes with those self-same nostrums. All that wonderful 'free trade' in NAFTA was supposed to *help* Mexico. Instead it uprooted its workforce, killed its agriculture sector, made it dependent upon the US and derivative jobs, saw jobs go away to the Far East and factories close, then food prices skyrocket and then had a major slow down turn its people that had been flowing northwards into criminal concerns. This will now leave President-elect Obama with a budding criminal insurgency in Mexico that is even now spreading over into Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and other States even further inside the US seeing MS-13 in such places as Nebraska. Good job on that 'free trade' stuff! Didn't know it meant expanding the criminal sector inside the US freely. And those self-same free traderites don't want to shut down the border and control it as that would *ruin* economic efficiency... which has lost jobs in the US and increased foreign criminal and terrorist organizations in the US.
Have to love how that plays out, no? I wish the Democratic Party would own up for their part in this idiocy as President CLINTON signed this junk into being via treaty.
Say, just why do those in favor of 'free trade' just support holding Mexico to its TREATY OBLIGATIONS towards the US?
Oh, it might hurt the economy... can't do that! Economy uber alles.
But that is not the Law of Nations: we agree that as a Nation we will have some inefficient areas, economically, so as to protect the whole of the Nation. And, yes, I've read Adam Smith and actually have a disagreement or two with his basic arguments. But even HE recognized the economic necessity of protecting a Nation REQUIRES that some inefficiency develop so as to better insure the survival of the overall Nation. The radical 'free trade' folks don't seem to recognize this, and yet it is a bread-and-butter blue collar worker issue, when important and vital jobs go overseas and the Nation loses internal productive capacity for some vital goods and, even worse, war material production.
Both Economic and Social Conservatism have gone way too far in their interpretation of some things over others, and both refuse to hold to the basic concepts that make our Nation and allow us to interact with other Nations in a manner that will not open our Nation up to being weakened, perhaps critically, during wartime. We have already had some overseas concerns not wanting to continue supplying us with vital war components due to Iraq. Things like the ruggedized equipment interfaces in aircraft... you know the stuff that allows you to actually know and program in what you want to target with 'smart bombs'? That doesn't even begin to address things like bullets and batteries...
Understanding the working class culture means that you have some 'bread and butter' issues, some jobs issues, and a number of other concerns at a social level that grow out of wanting to raise a family and keep food on the table and a roof over your heads. These folks also want to see the country protected, are willing to sacrifice some increased wealth to have security and want the rule of law enforced and *don't* want people from any government telling you *what* to do all the time. These are the people hit by 'regulations' in the way of lost jobs, lost productivity and having to face the ladder they were on pulled out from under them whenever good jobs go overseas. Yes, in 5 years they *might* make more, but they have to get through 5 years of lower income, lower living standards and still keep a family together. And deal with foreign criminal and terrorist organizations starting to bring lawlessness to the heartland.
Suddenly that promise of a better job doesn't carry the promise of a better tomorrow with it.
Whatever happened to the 'law and order' Republican Party?
I would vote and happily on those issues, so long as you keep the laws few and prosecutions high and even across all strata of life.
You know: equal protection under the law?
That is, apparently, too much to expect out of the Economic and Social Elite in the Republican Party.
Maybe it is time for the party to ease those losers and slackers out.