Friday, October 05, 2007

Look Out For the Boogie Man!

In my last post, I wrote about the current divisions racking the GOP and how that discord plays into the hands of Ron Paul.

One constituency that hasn’t quite settled on a candidate is the leadership of the Religious Right.

James Dobson, who has been frequently criticized here in the past, is standing up and saying “No” to Giuliani and Thompson. It is interesting that he was blowing kisses to Newt Gingrich, but we’ll set that aside for another day. My concern with Dobson is that he has criticized Thompson, McCain, and Giuliani because he’ll wind up backing Mitt Romney. I hope that I’m being too cynical.

In any case, Dobson was criticized by his former underling, the diminutive neo-con Gary Bauer. Bauer said, “So I hope that we can, as a movement, be very wise about this, and not savage candidates that we may very well have to support in 2008 if they’re running against Hillary Clinton.”

Ah nothing like the specter of a Clinton ascending the thrown to send Bauer into spasms. This is what John Lofton has rightly called “Boogie Man Politics.”

Meanwhile, the omnipresent Dr. Richard Land also criticized Dobson’s remarks as “harsh.” Land went on to compare Thompson to Saint Ronald, a sure sign of the direction he is leading.

I also noticed yesterday this essay by Land where he discourses on the “complexity” of ethical considerations when considering how to vote. Here is an excerpt:

But consider a much more complicated scenario in which voters with a particular worldview are facing a decision about which candidate to support in a field where there is Candidate Baker, with whom the voters have 100 percent agreement on moral issues; Candidate Jones, with whom the voters have 80 percent agreement on moral issues; and Candidate Smith, with whom the voters have 10 percent agreement on moral issues.

This slate of candidates does not provide a clear choice between two
starkly contrasting candidates. Instead, the voters are faced with a more complex choice among several candidates. In fact, the candidate the voter has the most in common with (Candidate Baker), may be the weakest candidate across all voting blocs.

Thus, you have a scenario in which the voters are faced with supporting a candidate they agree with 100 percent of the time while fully recognizing the fact that in supporting Candidate Baker, they will help ensure the success of another candidate they agree with on moral issues only 10 percent of the time (Candidate Smith), and the defeat of a candidate they agree with 80 percent of the time (Candidate Jones), as well as their "first choice" (Candidate Baker).

However, if they choose to vote prudentially for Candidate Jones (80
percent agreement), there is a very good chance that their support might ensure the defeat of Candidate Smith (10 percent agreement) and the victory of Candidate Jones (80 percent agreement).

If they know this and still vote for Candidate Baker, do they become
morally responsible, at least in part, for Candidate Smith's win? Also, in the general election that follows, voters would be faced with the grim choice of not voting, voting for Candidate Smith (10% agreement), or voting for a candidate 100 percent opposed to their values.

In such a hypothetical scenario, if they choose to vote for candidate Jones in the primary, are they choosing the lesser evil -- or the lesser good?

Is it more moral to choose prudentially to vote for the candidate who
agrees with them 80 percent of the time on moral issues (Candidate Jones), knowing their support will ensure that candidate's victory, thus giving the nation a choice between someone they agree with 80 percent of the time and a person they don't agree with at all?

OK, so I’m guessing that in our little allegory that candidate Baker is someone like Brownback or the Huckster, candidate Jones is Fred Thompson, and candidate Smith is Rudy. There is also a Boogie Man (Hillary) hiding out over the next ridge (November, 2008) who we find no agreement with on any “values” issues.

What Land is arguing is the old canard that we have to choose the lesser of two evils even in primary elections, not merely in a general election campaign featuring Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

So what has the “lesser of two evils” politics practiced by religious conservatives wrought? Well, it has joined them at the hip with the Republican Party. How has that marriage fared?

Since 1968, GOP presidents have nominated 12 of 14 Supreme Court justices and Republican appointees now control 75% of federal appellate jurisdictions, too. Since 1968 abortion and sodomy laws have been struck down, affirmative action programs have expanded and the courts have blessed the theft of private property via eminent domain, to name just a few of the more egregious dictates of our “justice system.”

After controlling the White House for 20 of 28 years, when Bush II leaves office we will have the largest, most intrusive, debt-ridden, fiscally irresponsible, un-Constitutional government in history.

You want more of this? Then follow Dr. Land into the voting booth and pull a lever for Fred Thompson. Had enough? Send a check to Ron Paul.


Blogger John Savage said...

Good post. Yes, this whole argument that we have to move to the Left doesn't hold much water. If Hillary is going to be the nominee for the other side, whose vote do we lose by nominating a more conservative candidate? Why should Giuliani be more electable than Romney or Fred Thompson, for example, or even someone like Duncan Hunter?

Now, nominating Ron Paul seems a bit different. I can't imagine the prowar folks going for Paul, even to stop Hillary. They'd probably run their own candidate, sort of like Joe Lieberman ran as an Independent after he lost the Dem primary in '06. But I doubt any of the Christian Right leaders were even bringing up Paul as a possibility. I don't imagine they'd ever get on board with an antiwar candidate, especially since they find Paul too anti-Israel as well.

I think there's some ulterior motive that's being covered up by this whole "electability" defense. I just haven't figured out what it is yet.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

"I think there's some ulterior motive that's being covered up by this whole 'electability' defense. I just haven't figured out what it is yet."

I think that the alleged electability factor allows the elites, the establishment which by definition crosses both "competing" political parties and major ideological boundaries, to in a sense set the parameters for "responsible" debate.

Hence Hunter or Tancredo are not "electable" so we don't really have to talk about immigration or trade (given your views, by the way, I'm surprised that you prefer Tancredo to Hunter...but we can sort that out some other time). If Ron Paul can't be elected than you can ignore his salient points about the size and scope of government, the perfidy of the Fed, the folly of interventionism, etc.

With the debate circumscribed by the elites, through the mechanism of the media primarily, disparate voices of the right and left are largely shut out of the equation by either a) ignoring them, or b) attacking and destroying them.

So the editors of The New Republic and the NY Times are not very different from their counterparts at the Washington Times or National Review. Ultimately, Jim Wallis and Richard Land aren't really that different either. The function of all of these characters seems to be to stifle dissent.

3:44 PM  
Blogger John Savage said...

Darrell, interesting to see how you think of someone like Land as part of that elite. Yet he has the credibility, it appears, to sway the grassroots into voting for the establishment candidates.

On your question of why I personally prefer Tancredo, I think Tancredo has been quite outspoken in his understanding of Islam, making me think he's open to an exit strategy. He opposed the "surge" and spoke at one of the early debates about turning over the defense of their nation to the Iraqis. He has also impressed me by talking about how we're importing the jihad by allowing immigration of Muslims, many of whom are unlikely to assimilate.

I do like Hunter's views on trade, but he hasn't shown the willingness to criticize the neocon consensus on the war. I have to question the traditionalism of anyone who still thinks promoting democracy in Iraq is the answer. I do like Hunter's views on trade, of course, as do most of Tancredo's supporters as well. I wouldn't say I dislike Hunter, and I've tried to avoid speaking unfavorably of him on my blog. However, he seems like just as much of a longshot as Tancredo, if not more so. When I polled my readers a few weeks ago, I came up with only a trickle of support for Hunter, so I got to doubt whether he had a significant following.

With Paul showing signs of life, I may have to reconsider him. I still tend to believe his appeal has more depth than breadth, though.

Thanks for the good discussion!

4:42 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

You describe yourself as a former Leftist, which I assume was a college illness of a sort. You may have noticed from my above comments, however, that I'm making an argument often heard from Noam Chomsky (though I lack his flair). That the elites are able to manufacture consent by limiting and constraining the options.

I infer from your remarks that Tancredo is hawk on the trade issue? I've never heard him discuss the matter, but I'm probably just failing to pay attention.

Per Land, yes he is basically part of the establishment. He has a Princeton degree and the largest Rolodex of anyone on the Christian Right.

When it comes to social issues, he is of course not in agreement with the liberal faction of the elite, but on questions related to trade, immigration, foreign policy and other questions at the heart of national identity and purpose he is broadly a part of the elite.

I'm not sure that you're average Southern Baptist pays much attention to Land. I attend an SBC church near a large seminary and I'm always saddened by the lack of sophistication that pastors, professors, and students show when trying to bring Biblical principles and law into the realm of social ethics.

On Paul, I agree that his support is deep and may not yet be broad. I have thought from the beginning, and I think it is being confirmed as the election cycle moves onward, that he is the only "minor" candidate that might be able to break through. I like Hunter and have a high regard for Tancredo, but I just don't see those guys being able to get their message out.

7:30 AM  
Blogger John Savage said...

Darrell, I have no evidence that Tancredo has bucked the free-trade consensus. I would have to doubt that he is really prepared to reverse our free trade policy. So on that issue, I probably do disagree with him. Indeed, a large proportion of his supporters probably do.

I just suggested that I, like many of Tancredo's supporters, found it important that he understood the jihad in a way that Hunter seems not to. Unlike Hunter, Tancredo has consistently said that Muslims attack us because their religion commands them to make jihad, not because they "hate our freedoms". Of course, I think our intervention has something to do with it too, but to me, Tancredo has consistently had the most sensible message on the war.

I was never sure how sincere Hunter was on trade, anyway. As much as I would like one, I don't think we're likely to get a genuine economic nationalist as a choice from the GOP anytime soon, no matter what.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I'm something of an agnostic on the trade issue. As a one time libertarian, I was infect with the free trade virus. On the other hand, I have no sense that our political class would pursue a policy of enlightened protectionism rather than one which rewarded campaign contributors.

You have probably been able to discern a wide Buchananite streak in me. Pat is the public figure with whom I would most readily identify myself. He is clearly an economic nationalist and I think there is some support for that message in the GOP. The polling data I have seen indicates that Republican voters are more likely than Dems to support protectionist policy. But the money men, and the arm-chair ideologues, don't allow it.

5:11 PM  
Blogger John Savage said...

Darrell, regarding free trade, Tancredo's stated position in the Oct. 9 Michigan debate was that he opposed NAFTA and CAFTA, but only because they contained a lot of provisions unrelated to trade. So he appears to be trying to have his cake (opposition to NAFTA and CAFTA) and eat it too (not be against free trade in principle). Disappointing from my point of view, but as I said previously, Hunter, who's right on trade, has shown no inclination to question the neocon line on the jihad.

I hope to write up a full post on the debate and the free trade issue later today. Thanks for your interest!

12:57 PM  

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