Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Return of the Old Guard

One little-noted aspect of the recent elections is that it restores American government to what most of our elites, particularly the political and intellectual class, considers to be the norm--rule by Democrats. Perhaps the best example of this idea is Peter Jennings’ remark after the 1994 elections that "The voters had a temper tantrum last week."

Most of the people who staff government agencies in Washington (and most government employees throughout the republic) are Democrats. Similarly, most of the people who work for national media organizations are Democrats. These people tend to have attended the same group of colleges and universities and read the same newspapers and books, and listen to the same radio. They are trained to think of themselves asour governing class. Now that the Democrats will be in charge of the House, Senate, and the Presidency, they should, in theory, think that the proper state of affairs has returned. The Republicans held Congress long enough, and have held the Presidency regularly enough for the past forty years, that some of that presumption has broken down.

The glaring exception might be Congress. This week’s news that the Democrats in Congress will repeal several of the reforms that Republicans made in Congress when they took over in 1994--notably term limits for committee chairmen--suggests that the situation President Obama faces will be complicated by the return of the old guard. Many of the major powers that be in the House particularly, but also in the Senate, first took office when those were Democratic fiefdoms. The Democrats controlled the House, virtually without interruption from 1933 to 1995. They controlled the Senate from 1933 to 1981. To them, the period of Republican control was an interregnum, not part of the normal state of affiars in a nation with a two-party system. Hence we should not be surprised if we see Congress trying to reassert power, and making life rather hard for President Obama. They will not be grateful for Obama’s victory, and hence defer to him, because all they now have is what, they think, is properly theirs.

Discussions - 23 Comments

What you are saying is all fine and good except that top level conservatives have the same training. How did this like minded group of individuals come together, meaning NLT? Do you not believe there is a natural aristocracy?

Most of the people who staff government agencies in Washington (and most government employees throughout the republic) are Democrats. Similarly, most of the people who work for national media organizations are Democrats. These people tend to have attended the same group of colleges and universities and read the same newspapers and books, and listen to the same radio.

All true. But the right needs to do some analysis of how the left was able to bring this about. (All this is also true for higher education and several other fields.) And once the right figures out what the left did, it needs to start doing it itself. Because simply showing up to vote for the guy with an R after his name every couple of years is a complete waste of time.

I don't think that it is possible for them to do it john. That would be a huge contridiciton. On one side you have a philosophy that is for small, limited government. The idea of hoards of these people filling the agencies would contradict their own philosophy. How would you explain what you do at bar? I work for the department of XYZ, but I am for a small limited government. People are for what gets them payed. The contradiction there will make you get clobbered in the polls because people like me won't vote for you if try to get it both ways. Its hardly suprising that group of worthless people in some government agency would hiss at the mention of small government. it would mean the end of their career.

But the right needs to do some analysis of how the left was able to bring this about.


Right, another way of saying what Brutus said: The Left was able to do it because the Left created said agencies, and the Right seeks to weaken them. The Right needs to figure out how to counter the Left's argument that said agencies should be strong and plentiful if they want to get anywhere.

I do not think this is little noted aspect of the elections. I see it noted all over the darn place. Young Dems who were cheering for change note it as much as the Right does.

Of course, the older moderates of America were talking before the elections about wishing to return to Clinton-style government, because of the perception that Clinton, himself, was responsive to the electorate. They loved his focus groups and lack of ideology. The idea of "spare us from the ideologues", by which they mean Bush & Co., is rampant in America and every indication that Obama was less idealistic than his most idealistic supporters imagined was a boost to his chances for election.

If Republicans - really conservatives - cannot PROVE that those agencies do more harm than good, not only will they not regain power, but they do not deserve to do so. I think Mr. Adams (and just about every other observer on the scene) is right, and the Democrats in Congress are going to try to reassert their old power, then Republicans in Congress and especially conservatives will have to support this president in every way possible. If, as he says, he wants to reassess entitlements, if, as he says, he wished to review the whole pension system, if, as he says, he wants to streamline government, make it more responsive to the people, for Heaven's sake, let's back him in that when ever we can. He hasn't got a snowball's chance in Hell of actually effecting any real idealistic reform. At least not without support and perhaps he will have to take that where he can get it. If real reform of government that quakes the status quo is something he really intends, I don't care if he is a Democrat. If he is proposing reforms we can support, in any way, what ever "bipartisan" support our minority in Congress can give him may be enough to thwart the old Guard. Wouldn't this be, in a sense, a return to the Clinton-style government that a large portion of the electorate misses?

I know we call ourselves conservative, but the status quo of the last hundred years is not what I have in mind as good American government. We are looking for a reformation, and liberty from the grand bureaucracy developed in the last century. If Mr. Obama might effect change in that direction, I am all for it.

The Left was able to do it because the Left created said agencies

No, you're missing the point by focusing on government agencies. What the left did was to take over the cultural shaping institutions - the news media, schools, the music and movie business, etc.

Once you've done that you can shape the country as you please by shaping what the voters think. And the left has been able to do this even though they make up a very small proportion of the country, perhaps ten percent at most.

We had government agencies fifty years ago. But we had a smaller(er) state because the cultural assumptions were hostile to a large one. The left has changed what people think. The challenge for the right is to do the same thing, and it's something that must be done outside of government. Government is a trailing indicator.

The rights's weakness is this libertarian "let people do what they want attitude". What people are going to want to do is that they've been trained to want to do by the leftist dominated cultural institutions. Whatever their other faults, the left has the superior understanding of human nature. But the right could learn from them.

On one side you have a philosophy that is for small, limited government.

The right needs to figure out how to change this from a "philosophy", held intellectually by a handful of people, into an unquestioned cultural assumption. That's what once existed, and that's what the left replaced with new unquestioned cultural assumptions.

Actually, they don't even need to figure out how to do it, since the left already showed hows it's done. The right just needs the other qualities the left demonstrated - focus, drive, organization.

Think of it in military terms. A small band which is determined and well organized can easily defeat a much larger force which has little stomach for the fight and is dispersed, disorganised, has no coherent goal, and has no command and control. And that's what's happening here. We outnumber them by a significant margin, but we're a bunch of individuals milling around aimlessly and not helping each other.

I have to disagree agree on the culture is not changed by the government part. Education, that is big brother at his finest right now. As for the media: here is the big problem. The media is owned and controlled by giant multi-national corporations. So by the current paradigm it should be conservative because it should want low taxes and no regulation. The fact is it is not. What reality is, is that things like forced health benifits and the EPA are used to not protect the workers or mother earth. They are used to run mid level players into the ground. The Rich love communism because they can pillage the people and make it look like they are doing it for the people's own benifit. Who financed Marx in first place? Its not becuase they are bleeding hearts, its becuase they are cunning and have a better understanding of the world.

All the things in the previous line of thinking are why you don't have a strong base. You have a bunch of people who want to stop at certain levels of calling out the corruption. This leads the people who want to go not as far or farther not to trust them and assume they are a shill. A type of moral revolution: one that would go for liberty at all cost, value the family institution, place local leadership above the feds, and hiss at any inkling of corruption has to be absolute. As soon as people start to get behind someone and then said person tries to explain away some form of corruption the whole thing is over. Its sort of like the conversation between Batman and Harvey Dent. Winning back the hearts and minds means conservatives can't have mistresses, they can't be on OxyContin, they can't have worked for the military industrial complex, and they can't support any form of big government.

I can sum up everything in one basic idea: If you want to win back America then you can never support a man like George W. Bush. Decedence is great when you have the money, but I wonder how much it will be in vogue during a depression. Any guesses to what form of self flagelation Americans will turn when they can no longer saddle themsleves with debt? I fear instead of whips we will punish ourselves by begging for slavery.

John's right. In fact, leftists like Louis Althusser have been describing this situation for years. We are products of ideological apparatuses (apparati???).


I'm wondering... aren't the greatest points of distress where our beliefs/ideologies are challenged situation like we're experiencing now (war, economic depression.) Seems like NOW would be a good time to get started changing things while people are questioning if the whole system is working... What do you think, John?

Education, that is big brother at his finest right now.

You're a sloppy thinker. "Education" is what it is because of the actions of a large number of individual people acting more or less in concert. The problem is not a top down one. You could install George Washington as head of the Department of Education and it would change nothing.

you can never support a man like George W. Bush.

Stop reducing every damn thing in the world to your obsession with George W Bush. Then make an effort to come up with some sort of program for meaningful change. Hint - it can't have anything to do with voting for somebody.

Seems like NOW would be a good time to get started changing things while people are questioning if the whole system is working... What do you think, John?


I think the right needs to read Gramsci. Yes, times of turmoil are useful to those seeking change. But the left got where it is via a generations long project or subverting key institutions. The right will need similar patience if it wants to reverse the tide in a similar fashion.

Sowell thinks a coup is not out of the question. If that happens change can occur in a hurry, if in unpredictable ways.

Good points by John and Andrew. I would also note that in the 1990s there were a significant number of "conservative" ideas (examples including broken windows style policing and work requirement based welfare reform)that had attained a general popularity that was unconnected to any particular politician. Even "liberal" Republican governors like Whitman in New Jersey and Weld in Massaachusetts were running on platforms that would have seemed far Right even several years earlier.

I don't have alot of suggeetions on how to change the culture, but I would make two suggestions on how conservatives might approach their present marginality.

1. There is a need for a mass-based conservative organization that is not simply an adjunct to the Republican party. A model might be something like the Left's netroots only not crazy and based more around a series of policy proposals. The 2004 election proved that there is alot of energy for center-right acticvism in this country, but it was channeled into an ephemeral personal organization run by Bush and Rove. There is a need for an organization that is held together by more than party or personality.

2. There needs to be a compelling conservative agenda that can address the problems of the day in ways that people comprehend. You might say that is obvious, but it wasn't obvious to John McCain. There needs to emerge a series of policies that can garner majority support regardless of which politician (within reason) is selling those policies. I am a big, big fan of Bobbly Jindal but waiting around hoping that he will save us is really unhealthy.

You're a sloppy thinker. "Education" is what it is because of the actions of a large number of individual people acting more or less in concert.

So you blame education on a vast left wing conspiracy and i am the sloppy thinker. Explain how this is not a top down thing. What movements in history can you point to as legitimate bottom up endeavors? How about instead of looking for a guy to lead the department of education; just abolish it. I will admit that corruption exists at many levels. There are teachers unions who lobby for basicly protective legislation that benifits them and the liscening agencies. The schools want funding, the teachers want more money for less work, writers want higher priced texts, students want the bell to ring. Who approves the textbooks though? I think it is the State government. I think its a fact that the people are more dumbed down today than in past generations. The government approves the texts and the methods. So, either the government wants people dumb or they are too dumb to realize they are making people worse off. Both are probelematic and I am not sure which is actually worse. Evil and smart, or well meaning and dumb. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

On the Bush part: I don't make much of him really. He was just an example and I have no real strong opinions on the guy outside of thinking he is a globalist frontman. Any person on here who thinks they really know him is delusional. I think he answers to people above him in all reality and values the oath he swore at Yale above the one he made to this country. His exact policies could easily have been forcasted by reading the CFR documents and Cheney's project for a new American Century thing. There were, of course, those who did that and they were laughed at. The point is you support a guy who presides over the largest growth in government in history, I really don't know what other options you had though as speaking out against Bush quickly became unpatriotic and you have to earn a living. The government grew under Reagan too. You can't expect people to swallow this trite about small government and free trade, ect and then turn around and stab them in the back. At least the Democrats deliver on their promises to have an intrusive nanny state. If you don't like Bush here is an example of the mentality around him I am really attacking: Limbaugh. He would say was not so sure about all this big government then spend the other two hours and fifty nine minutes on how dems hate america ect ect. Unfortnunately, most people just are not dumb enough yet to not realize the contradictions. Mabye the new conservative is going to be an unapolagetic Post modernist who simply says everything is will to power and lives by it. Why deny what we really are can be the mantra. Then we can say sure we worked for the people who profited from our wars, and our golfing buddies got rich off the death of others...so what, you would do it too if you had the chance.

The entire basis of your argument is curious to me. You say the left got where it is by a longterm plan of subverting american institutions. So its a conspiracy then? What about the right wingers who stood by and let it happen? Should we not assume they are somehow complicit by failing to act? You suggest that the left is a sort of conspiracy, but a loose group wanting more or less the same basic things. I assume this is an allusion to the idea of the democrats being a coalition of gays, minorities, bleeding hearts, tree huggers. Conservatives have to rely on the gun owners and Christians. Probably the larger group by the way. I don't know about that, the dems are pretty united when it comes to Darwinism and Climate Change. People who challenge those ideas end up getting thier heads cut off. I really think the libertarian/patriot movement is the death of conservatism. On one hand it could save it by returning it to its purer form, rather this would win elections your guess is as good as mine and Goldwater is sure a bad example. However, it has splintered the movement. How are the we support troops on the street and cameras at every stop light crowd going to coexist with the you can have my gun when you pry it from cold dead fingers crowd. Within the broad movement you have both a love and hatred of the new high tech police state. There are people saying RFID chips in every person is great, will stop terror. Then there are people saying its horrible, invasion of privacy assuming guilty until proven innocent. I would think it would be easier to convince the afraid that liberty is worth dying over crowd than to convince the other side that security is worthless when your dead. I really think that concept is what is killing conservatism.

The idea of the left and cultural shaping institutions is a very valid argument. I agree that our culture has been shaped by the idea that basic left wing ideas are cool and hip while conservatives are squares (When your powers combine...I am CAPTAIN PLANET). However, I will not grant you that this is a function outside of government/foundation command and control. Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll: planned parenthood, CIA infultrating student movements in the 1960s and handing out LSD ect, mabye music is the purest of the three, but there are large record labels making profits of the 'rebelious spirit.' There is just too much evidence that things come from the top and don't spring from the bottom.

Its not conservatism that must be redifined though. It is the entire paradigm, who's history I would love to here someone write about. Seriously, if anyone has a book suggestion on the history of the liberal left and conservative right paradigm I would love to read it. I think the real modern paradigm has three groups. Freemen, Slaves, and soon to be Slaves. Please stop this from shrinking to the only the latter two, or prove my suspicions wrong and I win anyways. I don't understand all the animosity towards a little vigilance when it comes to liberty.

"I assume this is an allusion to the idea of the democrats being a coalition of gays, minorities, bleeding hearts, tree huggers. Conservatives have to rely on the gun owners and Christians. Probably the larger group by the way. I don't know about that, the dems are pretty united when it comes to Darwinism and Climate Change. People who challenge those ideas end up getting thier heads cut off."


Sixty-three percent of people ages 18-25 voted Democrat in the House in 2008. How many of them are gun owners and how many are Christians? I think you're missing the point. Conservatism got off the tracks because the ideals that they originally believed in got thrown by the wayside. The Republicans became the agents of intolerance during the Civil Rights movement; Bush wiretapped domestic phones. Though the policies of Democrats are devastating to many aspects of liberty, it's the Republicans who seem to continually wear the Red badge of anti-liberty. Why is that? Now, it seems that gay marriage is destined to become the next Repub mis-step... they'll get behind taking away that right from perfectly suitable citizenry.


My sense is those Christians and gun owners are slowing getting tired of the wedging that Republicans have been doing to win elections. Oh, and that Republicans seem to base their success on how many elections they can win.


Anyway, it's not as though the pinko-commies conspired to dominate the ivory towers. It just happened that they were able to pick up the discourse of liberty from its rightful owners. Unfortunately, that discourse has been morphing over the years.

On the Bush part: I don't make much of him really. He was just an example and I have no real strong opinions on the guy outside of thinking he is a globalist frontman. Any person on here who thinks they really know him is delusional. I think he answers to people above him in all reality and values the oath he swore at Yale above the one he made to this country.

You are president of which Birch Society chapter?

I agree with what you are saying andrew. I did not mean to catagorize individuals, only point out the way in which media outlets frame voting bases of the two parties. I think there are probably gay minority gun owning christians out there who vote without regards to any one of those things. I am not the origonator of the coalition idea, I remember hearing about it in American Political thought I think.

As for the birch society thing. I don't belong to that because they meet at a dive bar in my hometown that I really don't want to risk visiting. Plus, most of those groups are riddled with informants ect. I don't want what I said to be true, but I'm still waiting for evidence that its not. Just saying that its a conspiracy theory or I sound like spooky mulder is not going to cut it. Good deeds are just not done in secret my friend.

You say the left got where it is by a longterm plan of subverting american institutions. So its a conspiracy then?

You can use that word if you like, although it usually implies something done in secret and the left were never hiding what they were doing. You can go to Amazon and buy books on the topic, written by the left themselves.

The point is you support a guy who presides over the largest growth in government in history,

No, the point is that you don't have the faintest clue what you're talking about. I'm a far more pointed critic of Bush than you can ever hope to be with your insane ravings.

I assume this is an allusion to the idea of the democrats being a coalition of gays, minorities, bleeding hearts, tree huggers.

No, it's not that at all. The rest of get where we're coming from. If you don't, maybe it's a sign you need to stop talking and start listening for a change. If you're even capable of such a thing.

The idea of the left and cultural shaping institutions is a very valid argument.

Nice of you to nod to reality.


However, I will not grant you that this is a function outside of government/foundation command and control.

Your nod to reality was just that. The MSM does not take the line it does because of "government/foundation command and control", whatever the hell that's supposed to be. It takes that line, often in opposition to what the government wants, because it is staffed with people who have those beliefs.

Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to try to understand how that came about. (The rest of us already know.) If you come up with an answer involving some secret society like the Skull & Bones club or whatever, STOP! You've gone astray. Start over.

Republicans became the agents of intolerance during the Civil Rights movement;

To which Republicans are you referring, and what do you fancy they did?

Bush wiretapped domestic phones.

If I recall correctly, the National Security Agency applied an algorithm tracked the telephone contacts of several hundred people who received international phone calls from people monitored abroad. 'Wiretapping' records conversations.

Now, it seems that gay marriage is destined to become the next Repub mis-step... they'll get behind taking away that right from perfectly suitable citizenry.

Neither civil nor ecclesiastical courts have ever recognized simulated conjugal pairings of men. Exactly how is your liberty or anyone else's infringed if this policy is continued? Why must the rest of the community be compelled to take notice of homosexual couplings? Does such a requirement not infringe on someone's liberty to ignore them? For what are sexual deviants 'perfectly suitable'?


I don't want what I said to be true, but I'm still waiting for evidence that its not.

Where is the evidence that the President was not an alien baby discovered at the Roswell crash site and subsequently raised by nannies in the pay of the Bilderbergers (or is it the Council on Foreign Relations, or the Trilateral Commission, or the Bavarian Illuminati....)?

Anyway, it's not as though the pinko-commies conspired to dominate the ivory towers.

Umm, yes, Yes, it is. Some of them got in. Once inside they systematically assisted their follows to get in and get promoted, and forced out all those who disagreed with them. This has all been well documented, from both sides.


It just happened that they were able to pick up the discourse of liberty from its rightful owners.

What exactly do you think "liberty" is, andrew?

Since I can't prove we are not governed by Reptilians all I can do is look at the facts and try to make sense of them(I don't beleive in green men be they little or average build). The one problem I have with the idea of reality that you are putting forth John is that somewhere along the line I think you are saying that Atlas shrugged. I know that is a hated refrence but I can't think of any other way to put it. It just makes more sense to me that Atlas nods and approves than for him to shrug. If he did shrug, then has he been drawn into the left wing movement? If he has, is it worth trying to bring him back or should we move on without him? I don't really know what Atlas is standing for in my crappy metaphor other than the wealthy and powerful who logicly seem to have more gain by being conservative than by being liberal. How do you reconcile the media being so liberal with the fact their checks are signed by the type of huge corporations that should by all accounts be conservative. Sorry to imply anything about you personally, I sometimes say you or you all in reference to what I precieve as the average conservative. Look, I don't care what men in power do in their free time. They can dance naked and drink goat blood for all I care. What concerns me is that one of the stated goals of the CRF was to end the independent nation sate(were they serious? What does one make of the comments made about this from various Rockefeller patriarchs over the years?). The organization was founded by the Rockefellers after Congress refused to join the league of nations. We take our shoes off at the airport, but the Mexican border stays open. Why is that? I am really not for wall building as I think its the last step of a desperate power trying to hold on. It seems to me that the first step to security would have been to establish better control over that considering there are so many people that walk across unaccounted for. If you want far out stuff from me then I can talk about the La Raza stuff and how mexican textbooks obsessively discuss the mexican cession and how this mentality may be used to have an aditional threat of terrorism in the United States(illegal immigrants in LA become Palenstinians in Israel sort of thing.) Mabye this will happen mabye not. There are ideas that can be supported for having one world government, however, I think its a bad thing. Anyone here still reading this think world government is a good idea? I think it benifits corporate entities the most and I don't think it would be like having America eveywhere. I think world governmetn would be tyranical and a disaster. It would be like turning the entire world into Gaza. There would be resistence everywhere(real or fake) with armed patrols constantly fighting in XYZ.

I asked my parents recently if the popular image of the late 50's early 60's was real? They assured me that it was so I have to believe that a sort of laid back, free nation of largely autonomous communities is possible. Mabye I am just suffering from the conservative lament. All I know to do is look at what has changed and who stands to benifit from going first national then global. That is the only way I know to look at this. I don't dispute anything you say about liberals and their movements, nor that they have changed things significantly. I only am concerned that its not just the liberals who want to advance their(liberal) causes. In order for us to have gotten to this point so many people along the way would have had to hide their head in the sand, allow things that would be against thier interest to happen. I just fear that looking at this as liberals slowly working their magic is a sort of tail wagging the dog thing.

As for all the groups mentioned there, you do seem to know them all for someone who is not conerned...just kidding. I don't care what power people do in secret socially and I don't care who they talk with publicly about policy. I really refrence those things as a semi-joke. The only concern is when policy is discussed in a level of such secrecy. I can understand if two generals come together to draw up war plans, but discussing finance in secret is questionalbe. Good deeds just are not done in that manner. They could make these things public and only a few would care to look at what happended anyhow. We can argue all day long about who should be included and on what side. If I simply except everything you said John, what is the best way to combat this both on a personal and a movement type thing?

Art Deco, you are right. Sorry. Kicking myself for such a sloppy statement.


I should have said that Republicans now hold the unfortunate position of being the party who came out of the Civil Rights era as the party of intolerance. We all know that's not the case, but that is the perception, and as we all know, perception is all that matters. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, Goldwater opposed it, the Southern Democrats got mad at Johnson and left the party. Goldwater got fried in the election and people called him a bigot. Now, we have a black president from the Democratic Party.


Democrats have a bigger, more diverse tent than the Republicans.


And John, I believe you and I would agree on the definition of liberty. The left, as you've said, holds the upper hand in these discussions. Luckily, it's just discourse -- it's not truth. Whoever happens to hold the monopoly on the public discourse can frame whatever discussion about freedom they want in any way they please. I contend that the left has been doing that, and people believe them.

I don't really know what Atlas is standing for in my crappy metaphor other than the wealthy and powerful who logicly seem to have more gain by being conservative than by being liberal. How do you reconcile the media being so liberal with the fact their checks are signed by the type of huge corporations that should by all accounts be conservative.

Two problems there. First, the wealthy and powerful are very rarely conservative. If all you were getting at was that the wealthy and powerful are not conservative, I agree. It was ever thus.

As for why the media are populated by leftists, see the thread above. They made a concerted effort to move into this area, among others.

None of which has an immediate bearing on the government. As I said, government is a trailing indicator. We ended up with a left-wing government after the culture was taken over by the left. Back in the sixties even the Democrats used the state to try to crack down on the left. It's simply wrong to say that "they" took over government and used it to change the culture. Even though they are using it for that purpose today.

The wealthy are mostly liberal, Why is this? I agree that they are btw. Are they just bleeding hearts or do they have an understanding of politics where extreme left and right(socialism, fascism) are the same thing, but by being on the left its more cloaked behind the idea of promoting the common man's interests? Am I making an assumption that is too materialistic when I say that the rich should be conservative? I don't get why they would support higher taxes and things that would seem to limit their money generation.

When I say government, i don't mean just the elected people. Who writes the policy reports? The people who designed your secerio of gradual infiltration sit on the boards where there is a revolving door to high level cabinet positions. So the schemers are the government, rather they officially work for them or not.

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