Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why I Haven’t Been Blogging

I haven’t felt like it.

On Iraq, I’m perfectly happy to give our military until September or November. But I really don’t how things are going, and I’m not up to taking easy shots at political posturing. A withdrawal--or one without a real plan--would be a prelude to chaos, and I think everyone really knows that.

On the presidential campaign, I’ve already advised the Democrats that Hillary would be better than Obama, and Richardson better than both. That’s from the old-fashioned running the country perspective, but from an electibility perspective I’d also go with an experienced Hispanic candidate with no obvious baggage. I would add that a top operative in Richardson’s camapign is a Berry College graduate, Wendy Davis, who’s run plenty of campaigns and is allmost always better than her candidate. But this time, comparatively speaking, her candidate is good. Most of all, of course, I like Rochardson because he looks like a regular, saggy older guy, and the turnout from the one "community" of voters I’m sure I belong to is excellent. I don’t think the Democrats have been looking for my advice.

Neither have the Republicans. But on their side, the credible candidates right now are Romney, Giuliani, and Fred Thompson. I think each of them has some potential for greatness, as well as personal and electibility flaws. I don’t anything new to add on those fronts. The campaign is boring at this point, and there’s no point to venturing a new opinion until something real happens (or is said). Giuliani--despite his impressive group of expert judicial advisors--is still tonedeaf on the Const. He might be the least flip floppy of the flip floppers, though. And from a "war on terror" perspective, my judgment is that they’d all might be fine. It’s impossible to tell which of the three would run most strongly in November 2008 right now.

On the new libertarian consensus issue revived by the good Lindsey book. He’s right. There is one. And I predicted it. I said in my books which you can buy that after the Cold War people would start to notice that Marx, purged of some wackiness, was an optimistic, techno-student of Locke, and that anyone who harbored any reservations about the progress of individualism (as opposed to egalitarianism) would be labelled a reactionary. It’s true enough that the country has been moving steadily in the individualistic direction on all the social issues (with the exception of abortion). Our prosperity and freedom seem to have resulted in a bourgeois bohemian reconcilation of unprecedented productivity, the overcoming of prejudice and repression, hedonistic self-fulfillment, common decency, designer tastes on coffee and other good things, and environmentally conscious postmaterialism. Even the Crunchy Conservative option so favored by Dr. Pat and Mr. Dreher presupposes unprecedented afflence or the techno-overcoming of scarcity, and the Crunchies, as Marx predicted, are able to farm without really being farmers and raise a sheep or two without really be shepherds, just as they have a mind. And our evangelical churches are often mighty therapeutic and consumer oriented.

I could now immediately start giving the rather huge downside of our libertarian consensus, but I will only begin by saying that in our "ownership society" each individual is in plenty of ways more on his or her own than ever. Mr Hayek was wrong about two things: First, that we’re clearly on the road to serfdom or soft despotism--it might be closer to the truth that all social safety nets are collapsing. Second, that as soon as socialism was defeated and discredited people in the newly liberated America and Europe would start reproducing like rabbits. The first principle of democratic political science, Tocqueville taught us, is that things are always getting better and worse.

Discussions - 8 Comments

The Richardson on the GOP side is Duncan Hunter.

If, as you recognize, we are on the road to serfdom or soft despotism, why give the prime movers of this -- the Democrats -- advice about whom to nominate? Richardson is not significantly better than the rest.

DF, I'm not so sure we're on the road to serfdom, but of course R's "policy preferences," you're right, are not better than the rest. I would be an evildoer if I really thought anyone, especially any Democrat, was listening to me. But they're not. So as a social scientist, I'm saying as a matter of fact that R. would be more prudent across the board as prez than H or O, and that he would actually get more votes than the other two. The Republicans have an outside chance of winning if he is not the nominee, but even then only an outside chance. And that's why it's impossible not to speculate on which D would be least bad in the White House.

Peter, I enjoyed this. I haven't felt like "blogging" either--and as you noticed stayed out of your interesting spat with Robert Alt. More fun teaching Shakespeare now. God, Antony and Cleopatra is a great work.... Can't say that Richardson has ever impressed me much. Who's birthday is coming up?

As I think David and I agreed on another thread, the "libertarian consensus" involves a radical redefinition of what it means to be libertarian. Hostility to the state has become largely a thing of the past.

The practical difference between individualism and egalitarianism is not that great. The same policies can be and often are justified on either ground. I've seen "libertarians" justify the massive state intrusion by the liberals that brought us busing and affirmative action on the grounds that they were conducive to individualism.

Sounds to me like Peter needs a frozen margarita.

Dan may be right.

Peter, you say Richardson has no obvious baggage? He's messed around way too much with aides and staff girls to say that, although his mentor Clinton still made it work.

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