Idealink

Icon

Ideas, Linked; Ideals, Inked.

Republican Schism: Ideology Vs. Political Philosophy

Great Slate article discussing how conservatives are going to have a hard time with this.

http://www.slate.com/id/2212893/pagenum/all/

Slate should be more clear though, when they say “conservatives”. There are really two somewhat-overlapping blocks of conservatives, and I think they really mean Republicans.

The modern Republican Party is a tenuous a marriage of convenience between two fundamentally incongruent ideas, politically. The case described in the above article tears at the heart of the tenuous relationship built by two very different types of “conservatives” to make the Republican Party:

Ideology: This is a focus on “traditional family” or “traditional values”. These are people who often fuse religion with political perspectives. All in all, these are generally connected to “social issues.”

Political Philosophy: This is the focus on “small government” and “states rights”, also known as “federalism”. In general, federalist thinking weights the balance of power between states and central government TOWARD the individual states. Essentially, this is a political belief in the supremacy of local government over central government. As such, they see the Constitution as saying power rests at the state level EXCEPT where explicitly stated otherwise. These are the “Live Free or Die” types.

Political conservatives are a dying breed within the Republican Party, but they view governance as bottom-up. The fundamental belief that government is at its best on a local level, and that each larger tier of government is a further removed from the people. Laws should have minimized and localized impact only.  This wing is no longer relevant, in terms of power, within the Republican Party (see Jim Jeffords).

Ideological conservatives within the Republican Party are currently led by ostensibly-Christian groups. As a bloc, they tend view the world through a top-down moralistic perspective, wherein morality literally “trickling down” from God and Jesus through government. Morals, therefore, must be enshrined in law and enforced from the top downward. This wing was strongest between 1996-2008. Since many “enemies” were ‘excommunicated” from relevance within the party, Republicans are floundering for a new voice that encapsulates both sides (e.g, Ronald Reagan), only to find there are no true political conservatives left.

Now, there are ways the ideology and political philosophy are congruent. Localities may have certain values (say, related to school prayer), where they believe the Federal Government has no say in the outcome. But when it comes to situations where conservative ideology comes up against conservative political philosophy, the Republicans are actually weighed down by ideology.

It should be interesting to see how this particular DOMA case turns out, because there is a strong politically-conservative Constitutional argument in favor of gay spousal rights.

It would take some intellectual gymnastics to say otherwise. But I have faith that Scalia, Roberts, and Alito will somehow be able to inject ideology into the SCOTUS. They always do, and claim it to be “original intent”.

Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Media) Blackout, Open Letter to John McCain

The new McCain has yet to emerge from his hole and tell us if it will continue to be winter or if summer is around the corner. So far, they feel as though a media blackout is the best way to go. The new McCain has been the opposite of the 2000 self.

Oh well. John McCain was once the guy who could reach through the chatter, across the aisle, and say the things that needed saying. He used to believe in country before party. He used to believe in doing the right thing, even if it was unpopular. John McCain was even considered by John Kerry for running mate, remember.

Open Letter to Senator McCain

Senator McCain, if you actually read this, I have only this to say: it’s too bad that you mortgaged your values for a campaign. You used to be the one to cut the crap, now you run with it. You used to be a Barry Goldwater Republican, and now you are a Dick Cheney Republican. I’m going to ignore the fact that you are running against Obama, and ask you this – what happened? You were an aisle-crosser. You called a spade a spade when you criticized Bush for pandering at Bob Jones University. Then you supported George Wallace Jr, a frequenter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a well-known white-supremacist/segregationist organization.

Senator McCain, I used to like you. I honestly believed that you could remake American politics. You were the honorable Republican in the room, yelling at the liars on both sides of the aisle. You were a critic, the check, the balance, that made the Republican party pause. You were Barry Goldwater’s intellectual heir. A true conservative who believed in state’s rights and libertarian values.

But no more. Your choice of Governor Palin is illustrative of this – she is a shoot-first thinker, with none of the qualities that made you a maverick. You were a maverick because you stood up for beliefs regardless of who agreed with you, and yet you worked with those who didn’t. She is a maverick because she refuses to cooperate with anyone who disagrees with her.  You were a maverick because you believed in radical transparency and government accountability. She is a maverick because she is shockingly opaque in her decision-making process, and tries to find ways to skirt accountability. You, on the other hand, were above such pettiness. That is why Democrats and Republicans alike used to think of you as a statesman.

No longer.

Your lies are shocking and obvious in the public, and your campaign reflects a Bush/Palin approach – opaque, divisive, and obfuscatory – and not the McCain we believed in. When it comes to the issues, I’m not surprised at some of your stances. But then you supported invading Iraq, despite the lack of intelligence. And you now no longer believe torture is torture? You, of all people?

And now you think the judicial system rules by fiat? Those justices you now admire believe the Constitution doesn’t apply to all people, and the government can do whatever they want to those people. That’s fiat. And the ones you don’t like are saying government should be small, and should protect people from those with power. That’s protecting individual liberty. Saying you “oppose judicial activism” is code for saying you only support people who agree with you. I recommend you read the Barnette case. And Marbury vs. Madison. You clearly don’t understand the role of courts, and how they always scale back government power. You’re talking now like the anti-Goldwater, a watered-down version of Bush. You’ve become the person you didn’t like.

If you are willing to forego your beliefs for victory, then you clearly deceived me, and America. “Straight talk” indeed. It doesn’t really matter to me now which one of you is the “real” John McCain, because you clearly showed your willingness to put party unity, and electoral victory, above the needs and wants of the United States of America. Senator McCain, I said in 1996 that you would have been a more compelling candidate than Bob Dole, I said in 1998 that I hope you are the 2000 Republican candidate because then it is not a choice between two evils, and I said in 2000 that I hope you hold Bush accountable.

Senator McCain, you failed me. If you win in November, it will be in spite of people like me, who used to think you were better than the bunch.

Best regards,

Vijtable

Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Empire in Decline: Waning SCOTUS Influence

Interesting article using data (!) to show that the influence of the Supreme Court Of The United States (SCOTUS) is waning, and quickly.

Among the reasons – foreign and international tribunals are more sophisticated, they are quoting each other, and the US decisions are less in keeping with foreign beliefs. However, there is a strong anti-foreign influence (I call it “the Pat Buchanan effect”). From the piece:

The adamant opposition of some Supreme Court justices to the citation of foreign law in their own opinions also plays a role, some foreign judges say.

“Most justices of the United States Supreme Court do not cite foreign case law in their judgments,” Aharon Barak, then the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, wrote in the Harvard Law Review in 2002. “They fail to make use of an important source of inspiration, one that enriches legal thinking, makes law more creative, and strengthens the democratic ties and foundations of different legal systems.”

Partly as a consequence, Chief Justice Barak wrote, the United States Supreme Court “is losing the central role it once had among courts in modern democracies.”

So what our staunchest ally‘s Chief Justice is saying is this: xenophobia is ruining American jurisprudential influence over the world. 

Thinking historically, the US Supreme Court is the oldest Consitutional court in the world, making its influence significant. That means we have been giving our ideas away. Moreover, we have always taken ideas in from other countries and adopted and adapted them. Fast forward to today, and Justices Roberts and Alito have said, unequivocally, that they oppose using foreign court opinions to influence their thinking.

WHAT?

A good idea is a good idea no matter where it came from. A thoughtful perspective is thoughtful no matter what language it was said in. Imagine if our Founders (who the forementioned Justices claim to be reading the intent of) refused to take ideas from the French, or English, or the Native Americans. We would have no law. No common law. No civil law. No Constitutional law. Heck, the very concept of habeas corpus, written into our Constitution, is a principle articulated in another document – the Magna Carta – and articulated through over 500 years of British jurisprudence until the exalted Founders were born.

So I call bullshit on not sharing. It’s selfish, stupid, and a sure sign of the end of American superiority. If we’re so afraid that borrowing other ideas dilutes American ones, then “these colors DO run”, to turn a phrase around. The whole point of the American Constitutional design is that the power of ideas weighs more strongly than blood, creed, or nationality. The American dream that I learned about was the one where merit matters, not citizenship.

Ask a good professor, inventor, or economist if sharing ideas is good. They will all say yes. American innovation is borne out of synthesis. It is borne from something being greater than the sum of its parts. It is borne out of the fundamental kindergarten idea – sharing is good. Why? It also reflects an American idea, that participation is good, and necessary. Americans, particularly our supposed intellectual leaders, need to participate in the worldwide marketplace of ideas, lest WE become the 21st century version of the old world our Founders extricated themselves from: slow, plodding, and selfish.

To my mind, this thinking is indicative of an empire into decline. The moment an non-expansionist empire (which we are) thinks itself so superior that it does not need to even consider the points of views of outsiders, the decay is well under way. If that superiority is borne out of xenophobia, then the empire is already afraid that it can no longer sustain itself.

Luckily, there are ways to forestall the decay, intellectually speaking.  Share. And share some more. Foreigners who meet Americans always find them to be among the most hospitable people they’ve ever met. That is because we like to share. But sharing is a two way street – we need to take as good as we give.

Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Politics, , , , , , , , ,

Things On My Mind

Archives

Idea(mobile)link

Blog Stats

  • 7,896 hits
Creative Commons License
Idealink by vijtable is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work by various sources, as cited.