The conservation of liberty 2

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, March 14, 2012, two potential leaders of the Republican Party described their visions of the Party’s future. (Videos of their speeches in full here.)

We quote from a report /opinion column in Time magazine:

The back-to-back pairing of Rubio and Rand was seen as the most significant matchup of the annual conference, pitting two likely 2016 Republican contenders before the party’s conservative base. The result pointed to the growing schism in the Republican Party between resurgent libertarians and more traditional Republicans.

The two men – Paul age 50, Rubio just 41 – laid out divergent visions of an inclusive Republican Party. Rubio called for a focus on economic opportunity and a muscular role overseas. Paul called for a reduction in the size of the U.S. government … [and for] the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative foreign policy.

Actually, Paul did not “call for the Republican Party to shift away from neoconservative policy”. At least, not on this occasion. “Neoconservative foreign policy” means “the US acting in the world at large, including militarily”. The phrase also implies criticism of President Bush’s foreign policy which some libertarians and the Left believe was unduly influenced by “neoconservatives”. Time’s use of the word may convey, as some libertarians have intended it to convey, a flicker of antisemitism (though Rand Paul would almost certainly deny that he ever intends any such thing).

With almost all of what Rand Paul said we agree:

He warned that the Republican Party is “encumbered by an inconsistent approach to freedom”.

“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered — I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?” he said, though the target, Sen. John McCain, was clear.

‘The new GOP,” Paul said advocating for … a smaller government …, “will need to embrace liberty in both the economic and the personal sphere. If we’re going to have a Republican Party that can win, liberty needs to be the backbone of the GOP.”

He pledged to introduce a budget in the coming weeks to balance the budget in five years that would also slash the income tax in half, and create a flat tax at 17 percent.

The contrast between the pair couldn’t be more obvious or consequential for the party struggling to remake itself after two straight presidential defeats.

On foreign policy we agree with Marco Rubio. In general we like Rand Paul’s ideas.

An unavoidable question is: could a more libertarian Republican Party still be the party of conservatism?

Roger L. Simon, writing at PJ Media, considers the question.

He starts on a personal note:

Last month my ninth-grade daughter attended a conference for the Junior State of America. Almost none of the high school students, she told me, caucused with the Republicans. A throng went to the libertarians.

He makes the same criticism of libertarians as we do:

I can’t totally identify as a libertarian, since I find some of their more extreme views silly. (Someone does have to pay for the interstate highway system. And Islamic jihadists are quite serious about a world caliphate. Declaring ourselves the purest of free marketers and rolling up the gangplank will not deter them in the slightest. In fact, it will only encourage them.)

All this is the long way around to saying that the problems creating the current dissension [among conservatives] stem in part from the word “conservative” itself. It seems mired in the past — even when it is not. …

Young people particularly (and even some older folks like myself) like to see themselves as oriented toward the future. …

What should conservatives do? Declare themselves to be “classical liberals,” which many are? That seems a bit academic.

Whatever the case, new terminology should and must be found. And whatever it is, it should be forward looking. …

Conservatives and libertarians — whatever they are now called — should market themselves as the party of the future. Respecting the Constitution is important, but something more than that is necessary.

We don’t think the word “conservative” needs to be replaced. Not in America. The United States was founded on the ideal of liberty. It is supremely important that it stays that way. An American conservative is someone who believes in liberty and will act to keep his country and everyone in it free. (A point implied by Marco Rubio in his speech.)

Respecting and defending the Constitution is vital to that end. If more is needed, it is in pruning away dead wood rather than tacking on “something more”.

Conservatives who drag in extraneous ideas – religion and stuffy views on sex, marriage, and drug control – are the element needing to be changed.

It is up to a new generation of Republican conservatives to effect the change.

*

There has been criticism of this year’s CPAC which we think is justified:

This is a condensation (which we quote from our own Facebook page) of an article by Robert Spencer, the indispensable expert on Islam. Read the article itself here for the author’s full explanation of why he is and yet is not a conservative.

I am generally considered to be a conservative. It is a label I have used myself, as a way of distinguishing my position from that of the liberals and Leftists who have generally sold out to the jihad, so blind in their hatred of Western civilization and the United States of America that they eagerly cast their lot with the foremost enemies of both. Nonetheless, for all that, I am not a conservative. Mitt Romney is a conservative. He called for the creation of a Palestinian state and said that “jihadism” has nothing to do with Islam. Grover Norquist is even more of a conservative than Mitt Romney. His conservative bona fides are impeccable as the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, but he also has extensive ties to Islamic supremacists, supporters of Hamas and other terrorist organizations that are sworn enemies of the United States and our ally Israel. So I must not be a conservative. Then what am I? I am an advocate of freedom: of the freedom of speech, of the equal treatment of all people under the law. Consequently, I am a foe of the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, which are enemies of both those principles. I know that there are many others like me, but neither party seems interested in us right now, and neither does the conservative movement, such as it is. It is time for a new movement, a genuine movement of freedom, one that is not compromised, not beholden, and not corrupted. Are there enough free Americans left to mount such a movement? That I do not know. But I do know that if there aren’t, all is lost, and the denouement will come quickly – more quickly than most people expect.

We sympathize with Robert Spencer’s position. We are equally exasperated by Romney’s and (far worse) Norquist’s position vis-a-vis Islam and jihad.

But why should they be allowed to define what conservatism is?

We define it as loyalty to the Constitution; to five core principles; and above all to the ideal of freedom on which the USA was founded.

The five core principles of our conservatism are: individual freedom, small government, low taxes, the free market, strong defense.

Islam is the enemy waging a war of conquest against America. How conservative can Americans be who do not even acknowledge that that is the case?

It’s past time for real conservatives to fight back with passion against its enemies: Islam, and the pro-Islam anti-America Left which managed to get one of its own elected to the presidency.

Winston Churchill and the men in buckets 0

While we’re delighted that the tax deal Obama has had to reach with the congressional Republicans infuriates his leftist base, we don’t like much else about it.

True, it would extend the present rates (what the left calls “the Bush tax cuts”), but only for two years. And – very bad – it would revive the wholly unjustifiable and positively iniquitous inheritance tax, at 35 percent on estates worth more than $5 million. It would also pay the unemployed to stay unemployed for an extra year. A further $700 billion would be added to the ever-rising national debt. Obama and the Democrats still believe that high taxes and high government spending will repair the economy. But as Winston Churchill said: “For a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

What particularly irks the mean, envious left is, of course, that Obama has broken his vow to end “the Bush-era tax cuts” that benefit “the rich”. The Democrats were reluctantly willing to let the present rates be extended for “the middle class”, but not for “millionaires and billionaires”. But on that point the Republicans stood firm: no tax increases for anybody. Obama gave in, apparently because he feared a stalemate.

We regret that the Republicans did not play more on Obama’s fear of stalemate to negotiate all that they wanted, including and especially no inheritance tax.

If only they had the feisty fighting spirit of this article by two optimists, Ernest S. Christian and Gary A Robbins, in Investor’s Business Daily:

The new-style, newly empowered Republicans in Congress should follow the advice given by Winston Churchill in 1941 to the graduating class of the Harrow School:

Never give in — never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Superb legislators like soon-to-be Speaker of the House John Boehner have no reason to make Faustian bargains with Barack Obama and the menagerie of union-made pols whose destructive policies so thoroughly still dominate the Democratic Party. Neither do Republican wise men in the Senate like Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch.

Republicans do not need the approval of gauzy-minded pundits at the Washington Post and the New York Times who are stuck in a 1932-65 time warp. The left-wing think tanks that once dominated thought in Washington are now intellectually bankrupt. Why listen to the architects of a failed federal government now so large, dumb and clumsy that it does more harm than good?

Ultra-bright young Republicans in the House and Senate — such as Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryanmust not sacrifice the clarity of their new ideas on the phony altar of “bipartisan” compromise. They and their pro-individual, pro-prosperity, small-government policies are what the voters want and America needs. Why not have the best, instead of some diluted version?

These young Republican leaders are by intellect and character far better equipped to be president of the United States than the present incumbent. They are at the cutting edge of a reawakening in America that demands intellectual competence and moral integrity in public affairs. …

Congressman Dave Camp, soon-to-be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, understands taxes. He and Ryan know that the present tax code — largely designed and built by Democrats — does at least $2 of damage to the private economy for every $1 of tax revenue collected. And they know that raising job-killing taxes, stifling business capital investment and running up the debt are not the ways to restore prosperity to America.

In our daydreams some conservative leader in power one day makes the revolutionary proposal that people who reach the point of earning – say – over $2 million a year start paying a lower rate of income tax than anybody else. It would a terrific incentive to grow rich!

We also dream of the abolition of income tax. And sales taxes too. As Winston Churchill also said: ‘There’s no such thing as a good tax.”

But dreams aside, we’d be glad enough of a low flat rate for everybody.

Cheers! 0

These are our favorite quotations from speeches made yesterday and today (February 18 and 19, 2010) at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC ) being held in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the American Conservative Union.

Mitt Romney (find the transcript of the whole speech here):

On our watch, the conversation with a would-be suicide bomber will not begin with the words, “You have the right to remain silent!”

We will keep America, America, by retaining its character as the land of opportunity. We welcome the entrepreneur, the inventor, the innovator.

American patriots have defeated tyrants, liberated the oppressed, and rescued the afflicted. America’s model of innovation, capitalism and free enterprise has lifted literally billons of the world’s people out of poverty. America has been a force for good like no other in this world, and for that we make no apology.

Marco Rubio (find the transcript here):

There is no greater risk to this country than the risk posed by radical Islamic terrorists. Let me be clear about something. These terrorists aren’t trying to kill us because we offended them. They attack us because they want to impose their view of the world on as many people as they can, and America is standing in their way. We need to make it unmistakably clear that we will do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to defeat radical Islamic terrorism. We will punish their allies, like Iran, and we will stand with our allies, like Israel.

The final verdict on our generation will be written by Americans who haven’t even been born yet. Let us make sure they write that we made the right choice, that in the early years of this century, faced with troubling and uncertain times, there were those who believed that the great American story had run its course. But we did not agree. Fear did not lead us to abandon our liberty. Uncertainty did not lead us to abandon the entrepreneurial spirit. We fought for and held on to those things that made us exceptional. And because we did, there was still one place in the world where the individual was more important than the state. Because we did, there was still at least one place in the world where who you come from does not determine where you get to go.

Mike Pence (find a report of his speech here):

Some people around here like to call this the ‘party of no.’ Well, I say no is way underrated here in Washington, D.C. Sometimes no is just what this town needs to hear.

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose your job, and a recovery is when [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi loses her job.

Posted under Conservatism by Jillian Becker on Friday, February 19, 2010

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