If It Ain’t Broke…
September 17, 2016 10 Comments
Yes, I know I haven’t posted for a while, nor am I sure this isn’t the last. I started writing this blog because I had something to say, and I’ve said it over and over and over again. There’s little point that I can see in saying it anymore.
The title comes from that old saw: If it ain’t broke; don’t fix it. But there is a corollary: If it is broke; do fix it, or find another, or do without. And America isn’t.
There has been a lot written about Decius’ Claremont article The Flight 93 Election, of you haven’t read it, you really should. He has quite a lot to say, all of it cogent, and I think right. I’m only going to quote a couple of paragraphs.
If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff. […]
Yet we may also reasonably ask: What explains the Pollyanna-ish declinism of so many others? That is, the stance that Things-Are-Really-Bad—But-Not-So-Bad-that-We-Have-to-Consider-Anything-Really-Different! The obvious answer is that they don’t really believe the first half of that formulation. If so, like Chicken Little, they should stick a sock in it. Pecuniary reasons also suggest themselves, but let us foreswear recourse to this explanation until we have disproved all the others.
Read the whole thing ™The Flight 93 Election.
I think he’s exactly right. There was a lot of blowback, as you might imagine, and recently he issued a Restatement on Flight 93, And I also want to quote from that.
Some also complained about the aptness of the analogy: the plane crashed! Well, yes, and this one might too. Then again, it might not. It depends in part on what action the electorate chooses to take. The passengers of Flight 93 roused themselves. They succeeded insofar as that plane did not hit its intended target. The temptation not to rouse oneself in a time of great peril is always strong. In another respect, the analogy is even more apt. All of the passengers on Flight 93—and all of the victims at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—died owing in part to a disastrously broken immigration system that didn’t then and still doesn’t serve the interests of the American people. Which also happens to be the core issue at stake in this election.
And as we have always held here, the passengers of Flight 93 staged a counterattack, yes, they died, but they made sure in doing so that the terrorists’ mission did not succeed. And you know what, they were going to die anyway, because of their counterattack, others lived. That is why they are and remain American heroes. Just like the defenders of the Alamo.
A point from the earlier essay is worth repeating. Conservatives have shouted since the beginning of Trump’s improbable rise: He’s not one of us! He is not conservative! And, indeed, in many ways, Trump is downright liberal. You might think that would make him more acceptable to the Left. But no. As “compassionate conservatism” did nothing to blunt leftist hatred of George W. Bush, neither do Trump’s quasi-liberal economic positions. In fact, they hate Trump much more. Trump is not conservative enough for the conservatives but way too conservative for the Left, yet somehow they find common cause. Earlier I posited that the reason is Trump’s position on immigration. Let me add two others.
The first is simply that Trump might win. He is not playing his assigned role of gentlemanly loser the way McCain and Romney did, and may well have tapped into some previously untapped sentiment that he can ride to victory. This is a problem for both the Right and the Left. The professional Right (correctly) fears that a Trump victory will finally make their irrelevance undeniable. The Left knows that so long as Republicans kept playing by the same rules and appealing to the same dwindling base of voters, there was no danger. Even if one of the old breed had won, nothing much would have changed, since their positions on the most decisive issues were effectively the same as the Democrats and because they posed no serious challenge to the administrative state.
Which points to the far more important reason. I urge readers to go back through John Marini’s argument, to which I cannot do anything close to full justice. Suffice to say here, the current governing arrangement of the United States is rule by a transnational managerial class in conjunction with the administrative state. To the extent that the parties are adversarial at the national level, it is merely to determine who gets to run the administrative state for four years. Challenging the administrative state is out of the question. The Democrats are united on this point. The Republicans are at least nominally divided. But those nominally opposed (to the extent that they even understand the problem, which is: not much) are unwilling or unable to actually do anything about it. Are challenges to the administrative state allowed only if they are guaranteed to be ineffectual? If so, the current conservative movement is tailor-made for the task. Meanwhile, the much stronger Ryan wing of the Party actively abets the administrative state and works to further the managerial class agenda.
This is exactly what I see, as well, and I do want to quote Decius’ final paragraph.
One can point to a few enduring successes: Tax rates haven’t approached their former stratosphere highs. On the other hand, the Left is busy undoing welfare and policing reform. Beyond that, we’ve not been able to implement our agenda even when we win elections—which we do less and less. Conservatism had a project for national renewal that it failed to implement, while the Left made—and still makes—gain after gain after gain. Consider conservatism’s aims: “civic renewal,” “federalism,” “originalism,” “morality and family values,” “small government,” “limited government,” “Judeo-Christian values,” “strong national defense,” “respect among nations,” “economic freedom,” “an expanding pie,” “the American dream.” I support all of that. And all of it has been in retreat for 30 years. At least. But conservatism cannot admit as much, not even to itself, in the middle of the night with the door closed, the lights out and no one listening.
I tried to tell it, and it got mad.
Again, read the whole thing: Restatement on Flight 93
I’ll tell you something, this is exactly what drove Brexit, this summer. Jess won’t agree, but everything I read says that the people that voted to leave the EU did so to restore the sovereignty of Great Britain. Some are as the BBC tries to paint them all, but most are not even against immigration, they are against uncontrolled immigration. But most want Britain to be governed in Britain’s interest, not Europe’s (or increasingly, Germany’s).
And that brings me to this. I have no idea when or if there will be another post here. I will take up my pen (I’m getting a little old for the sword) and my ballot to fight the left at any time. But when most of the right makes common cause with the left against America’s interest, well…
It really is our Flight 93 moment.