Explaining my position on the election

Richard W. sent the two devastating items on McCain that I posted yesterday, a column by former New Republic editor Peter Beinart predicting that a McCain victory would ruin the Republican party, and an editorial by a pro-open immigration group saying McCain would be far better for their agenda than Obama. Later I wrote back to him:

May I ask, what do you think of my new, compromise position, where I say, “I’m still convinced that McCain will ruin conservatism, but I understand that the majority of readers are strongly convinced that Obama will ruin America and that McCain must be elected to stop him. While I don’t agree, I’m not going to argue against them on that.”

Richard W. replies:

Thank you much for responding to me and for posting my items. Also, I appreciate your soliciting my advice regarding your new “compromise position.” I am getting on in years and do not write anywhere near as well as I used to when I was younger, but here goes.

I think you are making a big mistake. The fact that the majority of your readers “are strongly convinced that Obama will ruin America and that McCain must be elected to stop him” does not mean that you should yield to this view (even if only to the extent of passively refusing to argue against it), if, like me, you believe that it is clearly wrong and that it matters greatly who wins the election. I am, frankly, surprised that you WOULD respond this way given that you have so often in the past rightly criticized others for passivity and defeatism. Certainly, you should respect your readers and not offend, harangue, or bore them, but is it not possible for you to continue to attempt to persuade them—gently and patiently, but persistently—that (contrary to their most heartfelt emotions) the election of Obama is much to be preferred over the election of McCain?

One problem I see is that your most recent argument for an Obama victory, that it would help to alleviate liberal “rage” was—to be blunt—quite feeble, almost flaky, and unworthy of a man of your powers of reasoning and argumentation (as your Jeremy G., said, “Why should liberal despair be a concern of ours?”). There are—I hope—much more persuasive reasons why an Obama victory would be a good thing for both America and conservatism and you need to communicate them to your readers.

First, why do your readers think that an Obama victory would “destroy the country?” Do they really believe this? It sounds like hyperbole to me. What exactly do they think he will do—appoint Louis Farrakhan as Secretary of Defense? We survived the totally incompetent Jimmy Carter; could Obama be worse? Judging by what I have heard and read about him, Obama would govern in much the same manner as Biden or any other liberal democrat. Obama is where he is because of establishment support; if he steps seriously out of line and pursues an extremist path, they will turn on him and he will be out on his ear faster than you can say “Richard Nixon.”

Are your readers aware that (according to Wikipedia) one of Obama’s backers is the estimable Jeffrey Hart, senior editor and eminence at National Review, founder of the Dartmouth Review, and a man who has been defending the interests of the West longer than many of them have been alive? Do they know something about Obama that has escaped Mr. Hart? [LA replies: talk about weak arguments! Hart has been a watery conservative for decades, and more recently he has simply gone over to the liberal camp. His support for Obama is not a guide for us.]

One important argument for Obama’s election, not already advanced by you or. Beinart, is that it may help to alleviate the greatest continuing threat to America’s existence—not terrorists or elite leftists—but a guilt-ridden electorate too timid and apathetic actively to defend their own country’s interests for fear of being labeled as “racist.” It has gotten so bad that even up here in conservative north Georgia (where I am now retired), almost everyone I meet who objects to the immigrant invasion that is rapidly transforming our area feels compelled to preface their comments with “I don’t want to sound like a bigot, but…” Although an Obama victory will not stop the elite’s constant racial guilt-mongering it will provide ordinary people with a ready and effective answer, “We elected a black president, for God’s sake,” and will stiffen their resistance to further intimidation of this kind. (I am not claiming that the idea that America needs to elect a black president to prove something makes any logical sense at all, but this is the way that people have been made to feel and that is what matters politically.)

In addition to popular feeling, a liberal Democratic president might actually be better situated to deliver a more restrictive immigration bill (if the subject comes up) than his liberal Republican counterpart. Unlike Republicans, the Democrats are practically immune to charges of racism, and as long as they deliver on the inevitable “amnesty,” they can take the Hispanic vote pretty much for granted. Even more significantly, unlike the Republicans, they are not controlled by big business interests who seek the importation of tens of millions of cheap laborers despite all the destructive effects that will ensue. If a “conservative” Republican could establish relations with Red China and a “liberal” Democrat could sign a bill to curb welfare abuse than it’s entirely possible that a non-white “diversity” candidate would accept a bill that sharply limits future immigration in exchange for letting everyone already here stay. Many Hispanics would accept this arrangement—they don’t want more competition either—and this is the best that we can reasonably hope for. (Even if this doesn’t happen—if the Democrats do pass an “open borders” bill—the mere fact of amnesty will arouse public fury which will then be directed exclusively at them).

I think it’s mostly because they are (understandably) enamored of Sarah Palin that your correspondents suddenly feel obliged to vote for McCain. They are reacting emotionally and do not perceive that as vice-president she will be playing Humphrey to McCain’s LBJ—and not the other way around. McCain is even likely to use her obvious charm, attractiveness, and energy to lobby for open-borders castigating opponents as un-hospitable and therefore “un-Christian.” How will your readers then feel about the way they have voted? [LA replies: Seeing their abashed responses to that will be a small consolation for the horror of a McCain presidency.]

One reader argued plausibly that a McCain victory might bring about the election of additional Republicans who would effectively oppose open borders, but this “coat-tail” effect did not occur for Republicans even in the presidential landslides of 1956, 1972, and 1984. Given the closeness of this election we are far more likely to see a McCain victory with an overwhelming Democratic majority that will prevent even the appointment of those conservative judges that McCain is promising. This is the worst possible configuration as it means liberal legislation (which, as Beinart states, McCain is unlikely to veto) with a Republican administration conveniently available to take the blame for the terrible results. On the other hand, an Obama victory will greatly diminish McCain’s influence in the GOP and encourage the growth of the restrictionist bloc.

I apologize for going on at such length. Brevity has never been one of my strong points. I am also aware that there may be many flaws in my reasoning which I am sure that you can uncover, but I do hope that you will reconsider your position and again I thank you for seeking my input.

LA replies:

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

To address your objection to my position:

First, I misspoke when I called it a “new,” “compromise” position. It’s not new because it’s not really different from what I’ve said all along, but is a clarification of it. And it’s only a compromise in that it is stated in a way that I hoped would lessen the tensions between some readers and me on this issue.

Second, the reason I state it a personal view, and not a view I argue positively that people should agree with, is that my own reasons for having that view are based on guesses and intuitions about the future, not on knowledge. Very simply, while I believe that McCain will be worse for the country in the long run than Obama, I do not know that to be true; while I believe that Obama will not cause grave or existential harm to America, I do not know that to be true. Therefore I do not have the right to urge other people not to vote for McCain.

What I do know (or at least am convinced of to the point where I feel confident positively arguing for it) is that McCain will be a disaster for conservatism. Yet the fact that McCain will be a disaster for conservatism does not mean that Obama will not cause grave damage to America.

The net result of the above is my position of continuing to point out what’s bad about McCain, while simultaneously acknowledging the possible truth of the view held by many readers (which, I make clear, I do not share) that Obama will be so terrible for America that McCain must elected notwithstanding how bad McCain will be.

I realize this is a complicated position. So I want to ask you: leaving aside whether you agree with it, does it make sense to you? Does it seem internally coherent?

Terry Morris writes:

Richard W. wrote:

If a “conservative” Republican could establish relations with Red China and a “liberal” Democrat could sign a bill to curb welfare abuse than it’s entirely possible that a non-white “diversity” candidate would accept a bill that sharply limits future immigration in exchange for letting everyone already here stay. Many Hispanics would accept this arrangement—they don’t want more competition either—and this is the best that we can reasonably hope for.

I respectfully disagree with Richard. It’s not the best we can reasonably hope for as is evident in the recently released Census numbers showing that 1.3 million illegal aliens self-deported from the country between July 2007 and July 2008. State initiated legislation such as Arizona’s, and Oklahoma’s, and Richard’s state Georgia, as well as others denying illegal aliens social benefits and employment, are cited as being primarily responsible for this exodus.

What Richard is suggesting is that now that we’ve begun to deal effectively with this dire situation at the state and local levels of government, and these policies are effecting the desirable results—self-deportation of illegal Hispanic aliens in large numbers—the best that we can hope for is to give amnesty to the numbers of immigrants who remain here while placing severe restrictions on bringing in more.

But why do we need the federal government to pass any immigration reform package at all, and why would we want it to, when in fact we’ll be forced to give up, in any case, way more than is necessary?

If federal immigration law remains as it is and the states continue to act in their own behalf, as has been happening even in “sanctuary states” such as Utah, we will continue to see more and more illegals self-deporting because there will be little or no incentive for them to stay here. Why not just give it some time? Just two days ago the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s very tough legislation which forces Arizona businesses to register with E-Verify to determine employment eligibility of all new hires. The Arizona law is very tough on unscrupulous non-compliant business owners, providing that their business licenses may be revoked. (To my knowledge this is by far the toughest legislation in the nation as concerns businesses and the hiring of illegal aliens.) And the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the provision.

As I’ve said many times before, if the federal government will get out of the way of the states, we’ll take care of this (illegal) immigration situation quick, fast, and in a hurry. And we won’t need to yield any ground on amnesty. Why should we when we don’t have to?

LA replies:

Richard was speaking of deal whereby future legal immigration is sharply curtailed in exchange for amnesty for those already here. Mr. Morris is speaking of tough policies resulting in attrition of illegal population, but his scenario doesn’t include sharp curtailment of legal immigration.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 20, 2008 02:20 PM | Send

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