The fire this time
South Carolina reader asked
me last Friday for my opinion about whom to support in his state’s primary, I said that I hoped that Gingrich would win, not (obviously) because I supported him, but because I wasn’t ready for the contest to be over at this point. I wanted the two main candidates to have it out.
Well, Gingrich did win in Caroline, and the two sides sure are having it out. The passions Gingrich’s victory has unleashed are scorching, as can be seen everywhere in the conservative Web, including the comments posted today at VFR in “Why do people hate Romney?”, as well as in “Why they’re going for Gingrich.”
What a spectacle. Conservatives are now in a civil war over two candidates neither of whom is a conservative in any serious sense. - end of initial entry -
James R. writes:
Subject: We didn’t start the fire
In “The Fire This Time,” you wrote “What a spectacle. Conservatives are now in a civil war over two candidates neither of whom is a conservative in any serious sense.”
I think that’s true. I think the passionate intensity has less to do with the candidates involved than with the perceived stakes, combined with the fact that there are no worthy candidates. So people are lashing themselves to the available flotsam and attacking the other flotsam, and those who have attached themselves to it. All the arguments against the main candidates strike home and people who support X wonder how anyone in their right mind could support Y.
As for my part, even though I perceive the stakes as unusually grave indeed, I can’t get impassioned about any of these guys—though I admit a serious temptation to vote for Paul because he represents the most fundamental change and, despite his woeful and blind foreign policy perspective, has at least some understanding of just how we got where we are now and just what it would take to fix it all. (Yes, yes, I know you don’t want to hear anything good about Rep. Paul, and all the arguments against him strike home. No one in his right mind could support Paul. I agree—when I said “all the arguments against the main candidates strike home” I include Paul in that).
If Santorum stays in the race, I might end up pulling the lever for him. Without enthusiasm. If I vote. I suppose I’ll vote. “The stakes are too high for you to stay home.” But we’re presented with a field totally, completely, abjectly inadequate to the stakes—which are much grander than simply “replace Obama” or even “repeal the bill commonly called ‘Obamacare.’” When it comes to the survival, much less revival, of the things we care about, none of that will make the least bit of difference. It won’t even delay things.
And let me add that I find Obamacare as abominable as the next person. It’s a complete outrage. It should be declared unconstitutional, and if the Supreme Court refuses to do so, the states should defy the federal government. Defying the federal government shouldn’t just be reserved for objectionable reasons, like the “sanctuary city” movement. But a thousand things need to be done or undone and Obamacare is only one of them. Undoing it will be like going down into the bowels of the Titanic and nailing a two-by-four across the gash in the hull.
That’s not a correct comparison. Obamacare can be repealed by a majority vote of both houses of Congress and the president’s signature. All that’s needed is a Republican-majority House, a Senate with 60 Republicans to get cloture, and a Republican president. Alternatively the Supreme Court could declare it unconstitutional.
James R. replies to LA:
In response to my statement that undoing Obamacare “will be like going down into the bowels of the Titanic and nailing a two-by-four across the gash in the hull,” you wrote: “That’s not a correct comparison. Obamacare can be repealed by a majority vote of both houses of Congress and the president’s signature. “
I think it’s a correct comparison because in the big picture of our situation that is nailing the two-by-four into place and admiring the handiwork while water floods in from a thousand other points. I mean, sure, it’s necessary to start somewhere. But I think you’re over-emphasizing the importance of ridding ourselves of the liberty and constitutional abomination that is Obamacare.
Getting rid of it, while important, still leaves us inside a sinking ship with a lot more to do; part of which is rolling back the precedents and perspectives that made an increasing number of people think that things like Obamacare are good ideas. (Just as so many Republicans over-estimate the unpopularity of Obama, many people over-estimate the unpopularity of Obamacare. Sure a majority disapproved of it, and how it was passed. But not a clear and permanent majority, but a bare and shrinking one).
Well, now you’re demanding everything at once, which of course is impossible. We cannot turn everything around with this election. The various bad trends have been in existence for many decades, and will continue. This election will not affect them. But this election WILL affect whether Obamacare is repealed or not. I am troubled by people’s refusal or inability to identify priorities. To repeat: nothing decisive is going to happen in relation to various other long-term national ills as a result of this election. But something absolutely and irreversibly decisive is going to happen regarding Obamacare. Either it is stopped and repealed as a result of this election, or we INSTANTLY become a substantially less free country than we have ever been before, and there will be no turning back. Could people please snap out of their global anguish about the innumerable evils encompassing America and recognize this single, irreducible fact?
I don’t mean to reduce things to Obamacare. The various unlawful and economy-killing things Obama is doing also need to be stopped, and only the election of a Republican can stop them. But Obamacare is unique in its decisive effect on the nature of the country.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 23, 2012 12:24 PM | Send