Monday, June 13, 2005

Liberals of the Future

Responding to Boomr's letter on Barking Dingo, Pedro at The Quietist's essay raises useful doubts:
I agree, on the policy level, with so many Democratic issues, like the environment, same-sex marriage, tax cuts, etc. So why haven't I voted (D) in 4 years (I voted for Gore in 2000)? Because they have sold their dignity in return for the short-term benefits of the 19th-century rhetoric of class, race, and gender warfare. What a turn off! I would welcome a third party that offers sound policy without all the leftist nonsense that appeals to rich 19-year-old teen-angsty campus "revolutionaries," and speaks to the voters like the (generally) intelligent people that we are. (By the way, that's another reason I dislike leftism -- one of its fundamental premises is the assumption that "the masses" is big drooling mass of idiots. That's why it so easily turns totalitarian. Leftism --> philosopher-king (rule of the intelligent and qualified) --> benevolent dictatorship --> despotism.)
I'm less liberal than Pedro, but he captures many of the reasons I quit the Dems and became a neo-con before the label was invented.

I've long argued that liberals and conservatives agree on goals but not means. But few liberals agree. And, in view of America's winner-takes-all elections, plus the Electoral College, no third party could ever succeed.

Still, Pedro's right about the centrality of the vote. But MaxedOutMama's correct in distaining either Constitutional amendment or referendum (referendum--so, you know, "euro"). All that's necessary is returning to the 10th Amendment.

I doubt today's Dems could do it. My hope lies in a transformation of the left to a party that rejects nihilism, distrust of the Constitutional process, post-modernism, intolerance in the name of tolerance, preferring pointless demonstrations while opposing use of force, averting their eyes to fact, ignorance, dogmatic secularism, prejudice toward the faithful, paternalism, isolationism--and, most crucially, anti-Americanism. What's the timeline for all that?

SC&A think Boomr's seeking a middle ground. Boomr does turn down the rhetoric and avoids demonization. But discriminating against the faithful isn't the middle. Nor are his mooted restrictions on speech and political campaigns. (Dutch blogger Steeph has similar, concrete, but hugely overbroad, ideas.)

I genuinely believe I, and the majority of my fellow Republicans, are reasonable and moderate. I think the Dems aren't. That doesn't preclude debate. It doesn't imply I'm opposed to change. It does mean I'm unlikely to vote for any third party. And it means I favor the existing Constitutional process--especially against rule by "oligarchy" or "elites."


MaxedOutMama said...

But how do we get to the position where the 10th once again means something?

I don't think our present judiciary is willing to go along with that. The only way I can see to do it is to amend the constitution to reassert the rights which have been judicially bargained away. This seems weird and radical, even to me, but what other option do we really have?

@nooil4pacifists said...


Responding to an earlier plea to respect the 10th Amendment, reader Michael Y had this suggestion:

"If you must have an amendment to preserve the states as laboratories . . . I propose something more general: 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people, AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT!'"

Dingo said...

"I genuinely believe I, and the majority of my fellow Republicans, are reasonable and moderate. I think the Dems aren't."

This is why nothing will ever get done. People can't see past their own noses.

Boomr said...

This is the whole problem -- it's an "us versus them" issue. You're the former Democrat, now neo-con saying his way is "moderate" and the current Democrats are full of "nihilism" and "anti-Americanism." The Dems are saying the say things about the Republicans. Neither budges, and we get what our country has turned into: a political mess that is more about the battle than the reason for fighting in the first place. It's political bloodlust.

Again, we need a third, centrist party to check this two-party war, and maybe the name-calling rhetoric on both sides would lessen to some extent.

By the way, I'm really getting tired of people saying I'm "discriminating against the faithful" just because I want a government that isn't run by religious doctrine. I like people of faith -- most of them are nice, well-meaning people, and large parts of my family are included within that definition. I don't reject religions or seek to eliminate them -- most of them do great works and are pillars of strength for many individuals out there. There is absolutely nothing wrong with religion as a personal system of belief.

That said, what you believe is not necessarily better or more worthy than what I believe. That I choose not to become one of the "faithful" doesn't mean I'm persecuting you or excluding you from society in any manner. And because all of those equal protection laws you've quoted previously, as well as the First, 10th, and 14th Amendments, all apply to me as well as to you, I have the right not to be forced to live according to your belief system. This is why I want government free of religion, because eventually a government influenced by religious doctrine will become government telling me to live by a certain belief system.

You've previously stated, "For example, in supporting gay marriage, boomr claims the First Amendment bars laws lacking a secular justification: 'There is simply no non-religious purpose to the law. Such a viewpoint should not control the government.' Put differently, boomr advocates adding a legislative burden unequally to some viewpoints but not others." You then quote the equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

First, the 14th Amendment applies to the states, not the federal government. Second, prohibiting either state or federal legislators from making religious-based law does not discriminate against the religious (i.e., it does not prevent them from exercising their religion as one of the "privileges or immunities" outlined in the 14th Amendment); it merely prevents them from enshrining their religion in the lawbooks. Third, there has long been a doctrine of requiring legislation that restricts liberty (as, say, denying one group of people the right to marry) to be "narrowly tailored to a legitimate government purpose." Following religious doctrine is not a "legitimate government purpose." There is no other justification for denying gays the right to marry -- if you find one, please let me know and I may revise my comments.

None of these arguments restricts your right to practice your religion, or restricts your right to speak about religion in the public square. None of these arguments "discriminates" against a viewpoint -- all that is required is a "legitimate government purpose." The statement "because the Bible tells me so" is not a legitimate government purpose for your imposing your belief on me.