So, the other day a friend tagged me on FB with this article and explained “This is why I left the GOP during the Reagan years.” I understand and sympathize with him, that's when I started becoming politically aware but stayed politically quiet for the same reasons. I don’t know if he followed my suggestion to read my thoughts on Trickle-down economics, but here it is again anyway. The Ultimate Strawman.
Let’s get right to the article in question, What don't most conservatives realize?
First of all, I commend Mr. Kruger for coming to his own conclusions, despite being raised in such a uni-polar household and community. I disagree with his assessments on a core level. Let me explain.
In the 80’s, the Conservatives made a large and fundamental error that has since been corrected. They attached their religious philosophy to their political ideology. This was a case of "I believe in God, therefore everything I think and say is good and proper.” And thus was born the Moral Majority. That backfired on Conservatives, just as the rabid beliefs of Liberals concerning global cooling warming cooling climate change, transgenderism, guns or Trump are alienating huge sections of the American populace from having calm and rational discussions on those subjects and more.
Today, Conservatives on the personal level are returning (unknowingly) to William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman and others. I agree with Mr. Kruger and the philosophy of Buckley, “Let’s take our time and think through all the ways any proposal could backfire.” I think any change to a new (or return to an old) way of doing things should be discussed openly, frankly and sincerely. I am totally against instances where one side hurls epithets to the other or exercises the “Heckler’s Veto” when opposing voices want to speak. Once a method is clear, try it with the intent of doing it more when it works, abandoning it if it doesn’t work. And it shows your bias if you say, “It didn’t work because we didn’t have enough funding or didn’t try hard enough.”
Let’s get on with the point-by-point:
Before I begin, I just want to note that I believe a large part of Mr. Kruger’s anger and resentment might flow from his disdain of his brother-in-law, who’s evidently a Ben Shapiro fan. The BIL has a Shapiro “Liberal Tears” travel mug.
1. You’ve redefined conservatism to mean “reactionary.”
I haven’t seen an original, forward thinking idea out of conservative circles since I was a kid.
Obviously, he hasn’t been reading my blog. ;-)
They don’t see the concept of conservatism as tapping the brakes on the wide-eyed and sometimes overly idealistic utopianism of liberals. They see it as their mission to undo it all. To say not only no, but to actively undermine and dismantle anything done by liberals because it was done by liberals.
“Tapping the brakes” won’t do the job when we’re ready to launch off a cliff like Thelma and Louise. From Common Core math, to mandating Americans purchase overpriced and inadequate government healthcare (and pay for it even if they don’t want it), to out-and-out abolishment of the Second and Fourth Amendments, the list goes on-and-on. These major changes came almost overnight, forced by government and without discussion or heeding the will of the People. You don’t think stopping anything that occurs like that is worth stopping? If a Republican administration started using the power of the Executive branch to mandate the actions of the Press, or a Republican Congress made laws for “reasonable restrictions” on news organizations, I would oppose that just as actively as I oppose what I mentioned earlier.
And the bit about Alan Alda’s “tax cuts” from The West Wing, seriously, do you believe that was anything approaching reality? That was a caricature of a straw man, written and produced by people with openly liberal views, which was performed by an actor who also holds liberal views. Another caricature of a straw man was when in season 5, President Bartlet’s daughter Zoey was kidnapped and he stepped down via the 25th Amendment, leaving the Speaker of the House (John Goodman) as Acting President. His first comment as President? “Let’s blow some shit up.” Bad examples that only proves my point, not his.
I am not for “undoing the 20th Century.” Women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Acts, the continued elimination of discrimination (not just racial) are all good things. I stand against any act of government, or social more that I believe, when sifted through my core principles, hinders the individual unnecessarily or without justification.
2. You have a nostalgia for that which never really was.
Conservatives love to wax poetic to me about the great halcyon days when America was the shining city on a hill. When the markets and the men were free and liberty flowed in every stream. When the families were nuclear and divorce was rare and people had morals by gum.
It’s bullshit. It was always bullshit.
Then comes the (semi-rhetorical) question
First and foremost, freedom and prosperity for whom?
Human beings, as part of our physical and mental composition are imperfect. We never get it right the first time, and rarely even through the 25th time we try. There was still racial discrimination, and sexism, and a whole lot more back then. Then we came to a point where things like that became unacceptable and they changed. It doesn’t matter where the first push for change came from, it only matters it happened.
Freedom is a zero-sum game… to the Left. In the past 20 years, they have been systematically expunging any non-Liberal belief from universities across the country. Liberals (the big “L” kind) are acting like they believe that any position on any subject that does not coincide to six decimal points to the Groupthink must be destroyed, even if it’s a fellow Liberal. Just ask Rebecca Tuvel. It’s especially important to take heed of the quote at the end of the article.
Could you lose your job at a higher education institution for saying the conservative thing? Yeah, you could. Guess what? For most of U.S. history, that’s what it was like being a black guy saying something about racial injustice. It’s funny how conservatives didn’t seem to have a problem back then and were enshrining that lack of a freedom into law.
For this, Mr. Kruger is correct. From the 1950’s and before, any Black man who became angry and voiced his displeasure over his treatment would be branded an “Uppity N*****” and have the crap beaten out of him and/or lynched. It started changing in the 60’s and we don’t see that any more, do we, Mr. Kruger?
Today we have college groups like the Young Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation who invite speakers like Ben Shapiro, Andrew Klaven, Allen West, Dinesh D’Souza and more to a campus. The more Leftist campus organizations would hold protests with physical disruption (blocking halls, taking up auditorium seats, yelling during the event, etc.) at a minimum. The more extreme end is the threat of or actual violence, making the damage or security costs prohibitive and the event gets cancelled.
Now I call on anybody to show where this was done by Conservatives against a Liberal speaker. Not just on a university campus, but anywhere.
To get on to his next point:
Ah, all those regulations, you say? You’re mad because you wanted to drain that wet patch on the back 40 for a few extra acres and some gubbmit stooge came around and fined you over it. It’s your property, right?
Yes, it is my property. That’s one of the cornerstones of the United States. I should be able to do with my property as I please. In this case, you have a patch that floods occasionally and you want to build drainage in so you can use it. Then an EPA (who has SWAT teams by the way) inspector declares that occasionally wet patch as “protected migratory bird wetlands” and now you can’t get near it.
I do a lot of work with administrative law. Every regulation is written in blood. They all exist because someone decided to be an asshole and caused damage saying, “Well, it wasn’t illegal!”
I hate to tell Mr. Kruger this, but every regulation is not “written in blood.” I could write a 4,000 word treatise about federal regulations and their unconstitutional impact on citizens, but this article is not that time or place. Here’s one rule not “written in blood.” In the 80’s, The BATF just made up a regulation that “Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant” (APCP for short) was a “low explosive” and they had the power to regulate it. APCP deflagrates, but does not explode. This compound is used as solid rocket fuel and was used in the Space Shuttle’s two SRB’s. It’s the only solid propellant that is “man-rated,” meaning it’s safe enough for people be launched into space on it. BATF didn’t even follow their own rules to determine if this was a Low Explosive or not. This meant citizens interested in high power rocketry had to have licenses, special containers to store and transport APCP, were subject to inspections and more. It took over 20 years and millions of dollars in legal fees to slog through the federal court system to get a judge to vacate that regulation.
I will agree that every safety regulation is written in blood, I’ll give him that. I am naturally distrustful of unelected bureaucrats who write regulations that have criminal penalties attached to them. I don’t care if Congress passes a skeleton bill which includes an “All federal agencies tasked with regulation and enforcement of this law may pass, as they deem necessary, additional regulations.” My elected officials are accountable to me for their actions every so often. If they have angered myself and my fellow citizens enough he's out of a job. I have no such authority over a bureaucrat. So by default, I don't want him to have such power over my life.
The very Framers that conservatives so often revere to me believed in ordered liberty. Not just the famous Jefferson quote about your right to swing your fist ends at my face. They generally agreed that all liberty came with responsibility, and I’ll happily point you towards the writings of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau that they were directly influenced by regarding that.
The Founding Fathers believed in maximum personal freedom and minimal government interference. They also believed that the laws should be written in such a way as to be understandable while running. I can’t comprehend most bills passed by Congress today sitting down and with six weeks uninterrupted reading time. Open up any volume of the Federal Register and you will quickly understand.
Responsibility is an internal thing. A person who has the moral code to “do the right thing” has that responsibility within himself, to be imposed on him by himself alone. Accountability is the term used to describe the result of the government imposing penalties on a person for violating a law or regulation.
3. You are a lot more racist than you really understand, and your tolerance of open racism in your coalition makes you complicit.
First point here: If I see discrimination of any kind, imposed on any person, I promise you I will be in the asshole’s face like R. Lee Ermey. I’m pretty sure I speak for most Conservatives as well.
On the liberal side of things, we have the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” How condescending do you have to be to believe things like “These Black people can’t do it on their own. They need our help” while actively engaging in malfeasance. Just to be clear, misfeasance is when you see a disabled person in a wheelchair tumble out of it and fall to the ground, and you walk by without helping. Malfeasance is when you give them a swift kick to the head or break their chair while they’re down.
The biggest malfeasance done to Black society was committed by just the simple rule of denying Welfare to a married couple, but giving it to an unmarried mother, the more kids the better. This more than anything (but public schools are a close 2nd) has led to most of the racial divide today. Blacks in the 1940’s had an illegitimacy rate of 14 percent. Today it’s 75%.
4. You have just as much a problem with “identity politics” and “virtue signaling” as liberals, if not more.
Before I get in on this section, Mr. Kruger’s examples are all virtue signaling, no identity politics. I don’t have a problem with virtue signaling, as that falls under the whole “freedom of expression” thing. As far as identity politics goes I do have a problem with that, because when a political party does that, because it means a voter’s skin color or any other externally measurable demographic is more important than the actual thoughts, beliefs or needs of the individual.
Pre-COVID, Trump boasted “the lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks since the numbers were kept.” I don’t see that as identity politics because the unemployment numbers were at historic lows for everybody, not just Blacks or minorities in general. Trump didn’t work to lower just the unemployment for Blacks, he did it for everybody. Contrasted with the Democrat message to Blacks and the elderly, “VOTE FOR US OR ELSE THE REPUBLICANS WILL CUT YOUR BENEFITS!!!!!”
I’ve been told by prominent conservatives on Quora over and over again that they don’t like liberals because of the “identity politics” and “virtue signaling.” The implication of this is that conservatism is purely merit-based and doesn’t play identity politics at all.
This is bullshit. This has all the self-awareness of a dog licking its balls in public.
Conservatives openly complain that the United States should be a theocracy based on Christianity.
Um, not that I’ve heard of since Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. Get with the times, dude.
The ones that are more subtle about it talk about “religious freedom,” but when it’s time to protect religious freedom for Muslims, they’re dead silent or pushing resolutions to ban Muslims from holding party leadership. (This was an actual caucus proposal at a Republican caucus in Minnesota and it almost passed.) [Note from Mark, this happened in 2018]
Two points on this: First, it DIDN’T pass, so a majority of Republicans involved didn’t like that idea. Second, I’ve looked at several news stories on it. It was introduced at the precinct caucus level (Coon Rapids-Brooklyn Park, find it without Google, I dare you) out of the 4,000+ precincts in Minnesota. So 0.00025% of precincts has a person who liked this idea. If it passed the district caucus, from there it would have had to go through a Congressional district caucus before making it to the state caucus. I can’t find where it was voted down.
Now with any large group (Left and Right) there will be some fringe people. When a supporter of Bernie Sanders shot up the GOP Congressional softball team, I don’t know of any Conservative who blamed anyone other than the shooter for the tragedy. No Conservative tried to say “Bernie told him to do it!” So don’t blame all Minnesota Republicans for the bad actions of a few.
(Just as an aside, Liberals love to blame the NRA for mass shootings, even though none of those mass shooters were NRA members. I’m moderately sure most of the armed citizens who stopped mass shooters mid-rampage are NRA members)
5. You seriously have a problem with corruption and skirting the law.
Really. I am all for equal application of the law. I don’t check for political affiliation at all when it comes to bad actors. The difference between “skirting” and “breaking” the law are just like tax avoidance and tax evasion. In both cases, the former is legal and the latter isn’t.
Tell me, how many major news reports have you seen concerning Tara Reade? If you haven’t seen it, Ms. Reade has accused then-Senator Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993. Just as a comparison, how many reports did you see about a teenage Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulting a girl in the early 80’s? Don’t you think that such a serious accusation against a presidential candidate should get as much, if not more investigative reporting and coverage than a Supreme Court candidate?
As far as two GOP Senators who sold stocks after a meeting and before the market dropped from COVID (Richard Burr, Kelly Loeffler), Burr has asked for an Ethics investigation into his actions and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty (that’s another cornerstone of the United States, just in case you haven’t heard of it).
Then you bring up case after case of Republicans who violated the law, were tried and convicted, removed from their office and sent to prison. Other than a slight mention of the “Caucus Scandal in the early 2000’s,” you don’t bring up any Democrats walking the line.
In fact, you say this:
Over the last 30 years, a stunningly high number of conservative Republicans have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar and ended up with prison sentences compared to their liberal counterparts. If you want to complain that liberals do it just as much, then you have to at least tacitly admit that conservatives are just that much more incompetent at hiding it. [Bold is me]
So you’re tacitly admitting Dems do break the law, but for whatever reason don’t face prosecution. You’re putting better criminals into office than we are. Is that really a boast you want to be proud of?
The first step to solving any problem is to admit you have one. Conservatives, you have a hell of a problem with your own ranks when it comes to law and order.
Yes, we do. We admit it, confront it and send the guilty away. We don't cover it up like a cat does his business in the litter box. Mainstream Republicans disavow racists like the KKK and other groups. Democrats can’t seem to disavow violent Leftist groups like Antifa, Black Lives Matter and more. You might want to start admitting to those problems on your side.
6. Your demonization of intellectuals and science is going to get us all killed.
I’m not demonizing scientists. I can get behind the demonizing of agenda-driven intellectuals who distort and mischaracterize falsehoods meant to goad regular people into advocating for a position based on “sound good” soundbites, rather than “good, sound” facts. Like the whole “97% of climate scientists…” line. Invariably, it’s con jobs like that (big problem, need to act now, no time to think) which result in more power for government and less power for people.
I also have a problem with the NOAA guessing for massive amounts of climate data, or ships at sea being used to collect ocean temperature data (the ships are hot, so they distort the data. That’s kinda important to know), or “proving” global warming using data from a weather station that wasn’t even built at the time.
The rest of it is all poorly-made strawmen. I don’t want polluted air or water for my descendants, nor do I know of anybody that does. The United States is getting cleaner, because we’ve found ways to minimize or reuse byproducts that used to be just dumped. When was the last time you heard of a river catching fire? I also realize that renewable energy technology is not to a technological level that can replace our current infrastructure. I fully support renewable energy that does not negatively impact the environment. It’s just not economically feasible right now. To totally stop or vastly curtail the use of fossil fuels will kill billions from starvation, because the trucks that bring food, medicine and other goods from farm and factory to table will stop running. Forcing the current renewable technology to replace fossil fuels will likewise crash the economy, again leading to mass starvation.
For Conservatives banned from speaking on college campuses, here’s some articles on it. 1 2 3 4 5. Just as a note, when The New Republic and Washington Compost notices and says something about it, it’s probably pretty bad.
And for the record, here’s a video of Ben Shapiro being an asshole as he’s turned away from speaking on campus.
Of course, Mr. Kruger ends his rant with a disclaimer. “You, you’re okay. It’s all of the other assholes saying they’re Conservative that is why I’m ranting over this.”
Mr. Kruger is entitled to his opinion. I’m just showing up with facts.