There was a strange, almost gloomy vibe among many of the National Review cruise-goers last week. Yes, the cruise arrived shortly after Obama’s announcement of the Iran deal, the Chattanooga shooting, and the Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and gay marriage. A lot of folks on the right feel like they’ve been smacked around by political events.
From the way conservatives talk, one would never know that Republicans have 54 U.S. Senate seats, 246 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (a majority that the party could easily hold for the next decade), 31 governors, and 68 out of 98 partisan state legislatures. Republicans control the governorship and both houses in 23 states; Democrats control only seven.
Abortions have dropped 12 percent nationwide since 2010 and are down in almost every state. The divorce rate declined significantly in the past generation and is staying down, while the marriage rate is up a bit. Slate concedes, “Most Americans have given up on achieving meaningful gun control in their lifetimes or in their grandchildren’s lifetimes.”
The president’s plan for an executive-order amnesty is effectively blocked:
On February 16, 2015, Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction blocking both programs from going into effect. Current DACA requirements and two-year terms were supposed to remain unchanged and DAPA has not been implemented.
On February 23, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked Judge Hanen to lift his injunction while it appealed his ruling to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. This request was denied. On May 26, 2015, the DOJ’s appeal of Judge Hanen’s injunction to the 5th Circuit was turned down, leaving the injunction in place.
Judge Hanen has required that the three-year work permits be returned by DACA applicants and two-year permits issued by the end of July, issuing another court order on July 7 requiring DHS Director Jeh Johnson and four other DHS officials appear at an August 19 hearing to confirm that this issue has been resolved or “be prepared to show why he or she should not be held in contempt of court . . .
As James of England observed over at Ricochet, total government spending, which includes federal, state, and local, is 34.63 percent of GDP — which sounds bad, until you realize that in 2010 it was 39.7 percent of GDP. In 1990, it was 34.84.
This year Wisconsin became the 25th Right-to-Work state. Public-sector unions did pick up some members in 2014, but they still represent just 35.7 percent of public sector works.
School choice has expanded dramatically in our lifetimes; now there are “21 voucher programs, 16 scholarship tax credit programs, one education savings account program, and two individual tuition tax credit of significant size” with “$1.2 billion in dedicated funding available for school voucher and scholarship tax credit programs nationwide in 2013-14.”
And Now, for the Dark Side . . .
I’ve been away; I haven’t heard from Ace in a while. I check his Twitter feed and see this:
An anti-collective coalition has disadvantages: 1, the coalition is based on a negative, opposition to collectivism.
1a. which means there is no real positive central politics, just an opposition to collectivism, and we don’t all agree on all oppositions…
Collectivists are always going to be pretty good at collectivizing and collective action. They are, by nature, herders.
Meanwhile, the conservative movement resembles the evil Enterprise in Mirror, Mirror, where advancement is through assassination.
The conservative movement is literally reactionary in the sense that it is a counter-reaction to socialism and cultural Marxism.
It is reactionary in the sense that it is the socialists who have been busy bees since 1932 pushing America towards their model.
We have always reacted to that, saying: Stop it.
But they never stop, ever. And if you beat them at the ballot box, they just infest the judiciary.
Karl Marx on the critique of the state: “Its essential pathos is indignation, its essential work is denunciation.”
“Criticism dealing with this content is criticism in a hand-to-hand fight, and in such a fight the point is… to strike him.” — Marx
He laid it all out, and they followed his game-plan: You simply attack society at every moment, denouncing with indignation, until it falls.
Honestly, I think America is done. I think Obama did it. I hate to give him the credit, but he murdered America. He won.
On the plus side, you can look like a first world country for a while, living off past accumulated capital. Britain managed it for years.
They say socialism works, until you run out of other people’s money. But if you’re ruthless enough, you can extract an awful lot from them.
On the cruise, my colleague Charlie Cooke offered a perfectly clear and depressing summary of the young, low-information, progressive-by-default mindset. (I’m paraphrasing here; refer to his columns for his precise words.)
A significant number of young people now conclude, “The government will pay for and take care of all the big things in life — health care, college education, retirement income, day care. This will require higher taxes, but all of those taxes cover all the important things. I’ll get to keep what’s left over. That’s my allowance.”
Does that make you want to punch someone in the face?
First, even if you think that’s a good idea and better than the liberty-minded free market we’ve had for most of our history . . . what makes you think the federal government is good at taking care of people? The VA scandal? How about the federal government’s program for the disabled?
The nation’s premier federal program that provides work for people who are severely disabled is mired in widespread corruption, financial fraud and violations of the law, numerous sources tell CNN. And instead of helping the severely disabled find work, the taxpayer-funded agency is at times allowing jobs to be taken away from the disabled, the sources say.
The government will legally require you to purchase health insurance, and then send you to a site that doesn’t work to buy it.
More importantly, government is not our father and not our mother. To view the government as the grownups, in charge and handling all of the really important decisions, is to choose to live in a state of perpetual psychological adolescence (a topic on my mind a lot lately.)
No, We Can’t ‘Let It Burn’ and Start Over
One other problem with conservative despair: It spreads the “let it burn” mentality.
Back in 2012, Drew M. summarized the philosophy well over at Ace’s site:
The fact is, a conservative country doesn’t “accidentally” elect Barack Obama twice. It doesn’t continue to send Democrats to the Senate who voted for ObamaCare and force the GOP to run as the saviors of Medicare.
People want the ever expanding welfare state, they simply don’t want to have to pay for it. They are happy to pretend they can “ask the rich to pay a little more” (it won’t work) or to pile on debt for some generation to be born later to pay for it. What they are very clear about in their votes is…”don’t you dare touch my “free” stuff”.
One foundation of conservatism is to see the world as it is, imperfections and all, and not the way we wish it to be. Unless we can admit the reality of the country we are living in, Let It Burn makes no sense.
We’ve tried to save the country from the folly of expanding liberalism and the country said, “we don’t want to be saved”. Let It Burn just means letting them have what they want and rebuilding later.
After 2010 I had some hope that we might be able to turn this massive welfare state around. The full implementation of ObamaCare means that isn’t going to happen. At least not absent a total collapse of our fiscal house of cards.
Let It Burn isn’t an option, it’s an eventuality. The questions are will we be complicit in it any longer and do we want to delay it? I say no. Let the liberals own it. Very few things are made better by delaying the day of inevitable reckoning.
The sooner it burns, the sooner we can try and rebuild.
I can’t help but wonder how many of the “let it burn” advocates also like to fantasize about how they would survive a zombie apocalypse. The problem is, we have to live through all the burning. Our kids have to live through all the burning.
In 2013, John Hayward pointed out that the “let it burn” philosophy embraces a certain sadism, or at least callousness:
Is it really conservative or Republican “leadership” to let the American people suffer for years, until they finally rise up and demand reform?”Let it burn” is not easy advice to give to people trapped at the heart of a raging fire.
This is why I can’t get behind the “to heck with all, let’s just move to Belize” thinking of some deeply frustrated conservatives.
Even if you look forward to the collapse of the welfare state, there are other threats lurking in the world and endangering our future beyond unsustainable entitlement programs. If both right-thinking and Right-thinking Americans just gave up, how different would our future look than, say, Robert Ferrigno’s Prayers for the Assassin series, or any other dystopian vision where the strong dominate the weak and liberty and individual rights are largely forgotten?
If we give up, just how long does that getaway home in Belize stay safe?
ADDENDA: It’s finalized — my pop-culture podcast co-host Mickey and I will be hosting a happy hour at Virtue in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, Friday at 5:30 p.m.. It’s one of my favorite places.