by T.L. James | 8:44 am, February 25, 2013 | Comments Off
Angelo Codevilla at Forbes published an excellent analysis last week exploring the real nature of the Republican Party’s internal divisions and the repeated failures those divisions produce – As Country Club Republicans Link Up With The Democratic Ruling Class, Millions Of Voters Are Orphaned
In a nutshell, the problem is that the bulk of Republican voters hold small government, low tax, low regulation views at odds with the leadership, which really only wants to be part of the Democrat-led ruling class. It’s a provocative thesis, and indeed it would even seem crazy if it didn’t fit a tragically large amount of available evidence. Case in point: Karl Rove’s recent declaration of war on Republicans who advocate for and field candidates who support small government and reduced federal and state spending and the like – under Codevilla’s explanation, Rove is doing what Rove always does: further the GOP elite’s interests as a sliver of the statist ruling class. Here he is working to eliminate challenges to GOP elites’ scattered incumbencies and the power and money associated with them, much as he previously worked to destroy the Goldwater-Reagan-Kemp flavor of conservatism that questioned the power and scope of government, re-casting this philosophy of governance as “uncompassionate” compared to his big-government, big-spending “Compassionate Conservatism™”, whose Democrat-lite prescriptions satisfied the criteria of oxymoronicity by being neither conservative nor compassionate. One could laugh his “New Coke” debacle, but for the damage did and continues to do to the Republican and conservative brands (and ultimately to the country itself).
The article also touches on something that I’ve been thinking about since Rove’s declaration of war: the result when a large group of people are shut out of political discourse by those in power, in the extreme case being denied any voice in public discourse whatsoever:
Representation is the distinguishing feature of democratic government. To be represented, to trust that one’s own identity and interests are secure and advocated in high places, is to be part of the polity. In practice, any democratic government’s claim to the obedience of citizens depends on the extent to which voters feel they are party to the polity. No one doubts that the absence, loss, or perversion of that function divides the polity sharply between rulers and ruled.
Representation can be perverted. Some regimes (formerly the Communists, and currently the Islamists) allow dissent from the ruling class to be represented only by parties approved by the ruling class. Also, in today’s European Union the ruling class’ wide spread and homogeneity leaves those who do not like how their country is run with no one to represent them. Though America’s ruling class is neither as narrow as that of Communist regimes nor as broadly preclusive as that of the European Union, the Republican leadership’s preference for acting as part of the ruling class rather than as representatives of voters who feel set upon has begun to produce the sort of soft pre-emption of opposition and bitterness between rulers and ruled that occurs necessarily wherever representation is mocked.
“Mocked” being the key word here. Anyone who follows left-dominated hashtags on Twitter (#copolitics for one) can see an example of this in raw action if they pay attention to how Progressive activists “argue” online. As below so above, in real life as well as online, from your bleeding-heart sister or perpetually-aggrieved neighbor all the way up to national media figures, politicians, and political and cultural leaders. They know they can’t make rational arguments, so they don’t – instead of facts or rational persuasion, they mock, shame, distract, deflect, blame, emote, and otherwise attempt to shut down any voices with whom they disagree, and to demonize or marginalize those who fail to be intimidated into silence, assuring that others ignore them and reject their views out of hand:
The common, unifying element of the several country class’ sectors is the ruling class’ insistence, founded on force rather than reason, that their concerns are illegitimate, that they are illegitimate. The ruling class demonizes the country class piece by piece. Piece by piece it cannot defend itself, much less can it set the country on a course of domestic and international peace, freedom and solvency. None of the country class’ politically active elements can, by themselves, hope to achieve any of their goals because they can be sure that the entire ruling class’ resources will be focused on them whenever circumstances seem propitious. In 2012 for example, the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms seemed politically safe. Then, one disaster brought seemingly endless resources from every corner of the ruling class to bear on its defenders.
Dissent is no longer to be considered an admirable activity or a natural aspect of a free civil society, it isn’t even to be tolerated. Instead, Progressives preemptively declare their enemies’ positions as unworthy of discussion, and treat those enemies – us – as beneath contempt and unworthy of the niceties of normal civility. The usual rules don’t apply: for instance, it’s acceptable for them to lie about their enemies and distort the truth, knowingly and brazenly. In practice we see this with how they portray their enemies’ actual beliefs – on the national stage there are Rachel Maddow’s corrupt portrayals and transparent lies about the Tea Party movement as a modern equivalent of the Klan, at the personal level we experience family and coworkers and (supposed) friends who – following such examples – can turn on a dime, abandoning otherwise collegial or intimate relationships to blatantly mischaracterize our views, casually insult our character, and even threaten our relationships and livelihoods by mendaciously imputing to us the most offensive and reprehensible views they can conjure up, merely for daring to dissent from received wisdom and without an honest hearing of our views and a rational consideration of those views on their merits.
Knowing that most people can be easily cowed into silence by a little ridicule or mockery, that’s what they use. Recognizing that those not so easily cowed can be marginalized with a little demonization, that’s what they use. Five years ago dissent was the highest form of patriotism; today, dissent is to be viewed as the lowest form of moral and intellectual degeneracy, and its practitioners shunned accordingly.
So, let’s say the left (now joined by the execrable Karl Rove, it seems) succeeds in excluding a large class of people from involvement in civic institutions and civic discourse. Banishing their enemies from the public sphere won’t succeed in extirpating the pro-liberty ideals which animate them, because however imperfectly understood or lived, those ideals are ingrained in what it means to be an American. We’re supposed to have a small and limited government constrained to specific roles and enumerated powers, not an obscenely bloated leviathan which recognizes no limits – it says as much in out Constitution and Bill of Rights. We’re supposed to have rights to our property, including wages and wealth alike, the right to dispose of it as we choose, and the right to experience the successes (and failures) of those freely-made choices – it says as much in our Declaration of Independence. Central planning, forced wealth redistribution, bread and circuses, social engineering, and welfare states do not work - this much is obvious from the failures of history, those our own Founding was a rebellion against, those which murdered over a hundred million people in the last century, and those threatening now to bankrupt whole nations. These truths don’t evaporate simply because one uses every opportunity to silence their advocates by painting them as crazy, creepy, and menacing – the moral equivalent of child molesters in clown suits, monsters who deserve nothing more than to be banished utterly from the public sphere.
Where Codevilla notes that the “opposition” in Europe has been neutered like the GOP elite into a me-too enterprise content to quibble over how best to run the institutions and implement the policies whose existence they dare not actually challenge (should it any longer occur to them to do so), Americans are not like Europeans and will not be so easily shushed and mollified with an intellectually-captured representariat. Contemptuously denied real representation of their interests, marginalized and silenced as kooks and racists and idiots even by the party they once thought was their champion, and witnessing the accelerating corrosion of the rule of law, what investment would such people retain in their once-legitimate civic institutions? Why play along with a system that has utterly abandoned its legitimacy and laughs at them while ruling ever more aspects of their lives and consuming even more of their wealth? Betrayed, why would one feel loyalty to such a government?
To state it simply, what the left and Rove’s country-club coterie of “loyal oppositionists” apparently fail to see is that if they succeed, they lay out the welcome mat for a civil war.
Is that overwrought? Perhaps. Let’s hope so. But remember that this is the environment in which Progressives are also ramming through laws to restrict and outlaw civilian firearms, which just shows that our rulers really are stupid enough to make something like that happen.
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