Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Comment on Miers

I bring to your attention a revealing comment from a reader (Brad Preston) on the Miers nomination. You can sense the frustration, and see the hope slipping away. Bush had better be right about her, and it would be in everyone’s interest if she revealed something of her virtues at the hearings (also see Knippenberg, just below):

"I agree with you that I don’t know enough about her qualifications to make a decision on her ability. However, I know why I am upset with Bush nominating her. As an employee of mine stated last week, he has been putting up with all the big government coming out of D.C. because he hoped that the Court would be turned around. Now we don’t know if that will happen or not. Miers may be a wonderful pick, but those of us out here in the boonies won’t know that for what, two or three years? The tax cuts are all temporary. We now have the Homeland Security Dept., McCain-Finegold, and Sarbanes-Oxley. Government spending is way up. Bush has done nothing to cut government. Not one veto. It is not clear to me that the court is any different in its composition than it was 6 months ago. As a conservative, what have I gained with this administration? Am I better off than I was in 2000? Yes. Will I be better off in 2009? I don’t know. The Supreme Court is the one thing that will outlast this administration, and I can’t see a big improvement. I don’t see how this will help the Republicans in the mid-term elections. We peons have been putting up with all the other stuff because we were going to get a better Court. It is not obvious that that has happened."

Discussions - 33 Comments

When Bush pushed through his prescription drug give away, and supported Spector over Pat Toomey, I think it was clear Bush is not a conservative. I am a little surprised with the conservative movements faith in him. Bush is a "relationship" man, and this latest nominee should come as no surprise. As to the question "As a conservative, what have I gained with this administration?" the answer is painfully obvious: not much. Conservatives should avoid being the “sheep” of Republicans. What have African-Americans gained being the “sheep” of the Democrats? I believe it is time for conservatives to vote for real conservatives only. If there is not a conservative on the ticket in 2006 or 2008, simply stay home…

Precisely, I have been arguing this point for a while now. I recently assisted a brother of mine on a research project. Essentially, this project was meant to cause the student to analyze state and national power. I could not help but notice the gradual gobbling of power by the national gov’t. In an attempt to remain partisian and naive, I have faithfully supported the presidency, assuming sooner or later it would slowly minimize the powers it had assumed as a result of 9/11. However, since then, the gov’t has grown to magnanimous proportions, having its fingers in almost every aspect of life. Big government has become the status quo, and under the nose of a "conservative" leader who now has a majority consensus. I think where Pres. Bush strays is in his inability to delineate between his desire to do good as a result of his Christian beliefs and his role as the Pres. of the United States. Obviously, here is where seperation of chuch and state is most vital, at least when it pertains to issues of national stability and conservatism. Inflating the gov’t to "assist" all of humanity may seem like a noble gesture. However, in lieu of his beliefs, Pres. Bush should not forget we shall render under to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s.

Christopher, Great idea. Pick up your toys and go home. That will fix everything. Conservatives need to quit complaining that they’re not getting their way because Republicans won’t listen to them. Evidently we’re not persuading them. We must be doing something wrong. I think it comes from our peevishness and our tendency to act like this every time we don’t get our way. The answer is not to stay home next election and hand it over to the Dems. We don’t have to be sheep, but if we want to be the shepards we’d better get a better grasp of the field. The answer is to keep slugging away, do the best you can, and learn from our failures. We have failed to take the control we need to take over the Republican party. If you want to be useful, do something about that and quit whining.

Julie says:

"Conservatives need to quit complaining that they’re not getting their way because Republicans won’t listen to them. Evidently we’re not persuading them."

Julie, have you considered that perhaps we can’t persuade them? Perhaps they are just stubborn, or maybe in the attempt to be a "big tent" party that conservative principles will always be smothered by more "practical" considerations? I believe it is time for a little negative re-enforcement - stay home and let them lose an election or two. Very little would be lost (the Dem’s would perhaps be more fiscally restrained, and it is not like the Republicans are doing much on the social issue front), and much would be gained (the Republicans would have to do more than through us a bone now and then if they want to win elections).

Not continuing to pony up for people who accept your money/effort/support and then spit in your face is not whining, it is common sense. I do not like the idea of a third party and I think if the libertarians had stuck around for primaries we would have a Republican party better able to actually cut government right now. At the same time, you do not continue rewarding bad behaviour with unqualified support. Voting for Democrats is cutting off your nose to spite your face; refusing to continue supporting statist, big government types who pretend to be otherwise on the rare occasion they journey more than 50 miles west of the Potomac is not. Karl Rove et al do read polls. If we stay home, it will be clear who did it and why. Chastened, they can work to recover our votes, or they can stay out of power and we will be governed by open socialists instead of creeping corporatists.

William and Christopher: Everything you say smacks of whining, so I call it whining. I understand anger and righteous indignation, but I hate whining. You are whining because you know that it is not better to be governed by open socialists (which I don’t think the Dems are, yet--they’re still too clever for that but they’re working on it) and yet you say it anyway just to be dramatic. My six year old pulls this kind of crap. It’s not becoming in grown ups. Look, it’s too simplistic to say that Republicans are just stubborn and won’t buy your arguments. How convenient. Conservatives don’t have their own act together. We’re not coherent. We’re not being good teachers. The GOP is ignorant, not just stubborn. I don’t know if their ignorance is stubborn. It seems to me that there are enough decent people left in the GOP who deserve the effort at persuasion. We’ve had a good run for the last six years or so. I think we’re making some progress. Keep talking like you guys are and the ignorance of the GOP will get stubborn and you will have no one but yourselves to blame for it. If I were Harriet Miers and I were truly a conservative, I’d be just about as ticked as Thomas was after his hearings--but at our side.

Julie’s post disregards basic economics, and is therefore wrong. She thinks voters have a moral duty to convince politicians to follow their wishes, but this misconstrues the relationship between voters and politicians.

Voters are consumers. They demand certain things. Politicians are suppliers, they give voters certain things. Voters "pay" for these services (in a broad sense, service can also be less government services) and goods by voting for politicians who pledge (voting keeps the pledges honest if voters would refuse to vote for pledge breakers) to provide these services and goods. Voting is also a source of information. Politicians can learn what services the public demands by following how people vote.

Assuming Republicans care about what their demanders (the voters) want, if they continue to vote in a certain way due to tradition, fear of losing, or simply to be nice, then politicians are getting improper information. They will think the voters approve of what they are offering. The market will not optimally function. If Republicans do not care what their demanders want, we can assume they do care about staying in power. Republicans cannot stay in power without the support of conservative voters. If voters were to vote based on their wants, then over time, the politicians who stay in power will mirror what conservative plus other nonrational (people who vote due to tradition, or other factors not relating to self-interest) voters want. Conservatives ought to be able to control the Republican party because of the primary system.

Whenever voters (demanders) reliably vote a certain way there is no incentive for the suppliers to supply their needs. The suppliers will try to capture more demanders (in an effort to reduce the risk of losing power) by supplying the services they want, even if these services hurt their consistent voters. One need only look at labor unions (what have they got since the 1930s) and African-Americans (what have they got since the 1970s gave rise to Affirmative Action) to see this truth. Also, how many times did Bush visit California, and Kerry visit Texas during the last election cycle? Voters/States that always vote a certain way will be ignored, and should be since they offer nothing of value.

Conservatives have no duty to convince the party leadership to listen to them. There is no duty to play nice, and cooperate. Conservatives have a duty to vote their conscience, and the political marketplace will take care of the rest.

My crazy prediction of the day: If Democrats cease being a political force, then a party similar to the libertarian party will take its place. It will draw socially liberal democrats, and economically conservative Republicans. The Republican party will then contain socially conservative people who value controlling people more than economic freedom, and economically liberal people who value controlling people more than social freedom. The common theme will be government control over people. The Republican party will truly be "conservative" because it will seek to conserve the New Deal, Great Society, etc. and will remain in that mold, offering similar solutions to the same problems. One can already see it taking shape among modern Republicans, none are brave enough to advocate abolishing Affirmative Action (current Congress could do this, Aff. Action is not a constitutional right), abolishing social security, abolishing Medicare, etc. If Republican voters remain "conservative", i.e., respectful of authority and tradition (our tradition at this point must include the New Deal and the Great Society) then the party must morph into something like the Democrat party. It probably already has. The only way to prevent this is if conservative voters become unreliable, then Republicans will have to please them or they will lose. Republicans are already seeking to capture nonconservative voters (Blacks, Latinos) who desire different services than conservative voters; if conservatives continue to solidly vote Republican then they will lose in the long run while Republicans offer and give services to other groups to ensure they keep giving their vote.

"Pulls this kind of crap."

Since we are elevating the discourse here - I am not your six year old, and the condescension from someone determined to be the party’s running dog no matter what they do is galling. You tell me, what would Bush have to do in order to lose your support?

What if he campaigned against conservatives in primaries? Guess that wouldn’t do it, since he already has - in order to help our great pal Specter! What if he signed every big spending bill that crossed his desk no matter how much pork they contained? Oh wait, he has done that every year since he was elected. OK, how about if he created a gigantic new national agency? How ’bout allowing the TSA to staff itself with union labor? Guess that doesn’t bother you much, since he has done that too. Well, suppose he refused to take even modest measures to control the border in war time? Oh, wait - he has refused to do that for years and now wants to initiate programs which will act as a magnet for further immigration. Maybe if he promised enormous amounts of wealth to a corrupt locality unable to spend it efficiently in order to recover poll numbers? No? That’s OK too? Lemme see, how about fizzling on social security reform the minute the going got tough? Or maybe refusing to do much of anything to reform the tax code beyond temporarily tweaking the astronomical rates? Nope Nope Nope.

Tell me Julie, what’s left? What does this president do that so fires your enthusiasm? What motivates our ’05 Rockefeller Republicans? Oh I know! We will ignore the almost total lack of conservative principles because we have a chance to get a distinguished jurist appointed to the Supreme Court! Sometimes! If Bush feels like it and no close buddies are available! So - half the available SCOTUS spots thus far! If it does not offend Mike Dewine and Patrick Leahy! Hurrah! You’re right, I’ll just buck up and be a better trooper.

For conservatives to feel the need to consistently vote Republican in order to "keep the Dems out" causes the sway of influence to shift more left, pulling conservatives with it. As the Dems have increasingly been swayed by the left, so to is the GOP. In light of recent events, the Dems and GOP are fighting to show who is the "most caring" party. The need to please is a disease that runs through both parties. The Dems, desperate for some kind of foothold, would rather side with the left than move more right. In order to keep up the illusion of cooperation, the GOP has taked then past role of the Dems in terms of social issues and hand-outs. It is not an entirely bad idea for conservatives to sit out and leave the GOP to its destructive devices. It might cause a reorganization of priorities and highlight the need to let go of the reins. By sitting idly by, Conservatives have a chance to show the modern/progressive Republicans that we are no longer going to allow the GOP to use conservatives to pull in the right vote. I feel some Rep., in an attempt to gain more votes, have compromised some very key values that they rely on the conservative element to pull in. Perhapse by "sitting out" we can force the GOP to realize this slide.

So, the Dems are "working on" becoming "open socialists", eh, now Julie?? I can’t even fathom what a conniption fit you’d have if that were even remotely true, instead of the result of utter blindness to facts and reality mixed with a delusional state.

Thank you all. This is better than Christmas.


If Bush feels like it and no close buddies are available! So - half the available SCOTUS spots thus far! If it does not offend Mike Dewine and Patrick Leahy! Hurrah! You’re right, I’ll just buck up and be a better trooper. Why don’t you start by focusing your anger on those guys you mention? Why not work harder to get a better Senate in ’06? You’re right. Bush can’t do anything to lose my full on support. He’s never had it to begin with. The reason I’m not as disappointed as so many of you guys seem to be is because I’ve never expected much better from him given 1. he is nothing if not who he says he is (and he’s never said he was a conservative in the mold you want) and 2. what is possible with this Senate. All I’m saying is if we want what we want then we’ve got to win. We haven’t won yet. So why the surprise? This carrying on is making victory less likely, in my view. Not more likely.

Julie, you are starting to make more sense. However, I still don’t buy the argument. I do not believe the make up of the Senate is forcing Bush’s hand on this (or big government, etc. etc.). Also, if nothing else, how about a little of that famous Bush "loyalty" going to his grass roots? Why could he not just nominate a solidly conservative justice and force the Senates hand. I think that would have done much more to help Republican chances than this silly move. If the Republicans want me to show up in 2006 or 2008, I expect RESULTS. You seem to be saying I should not expect anything but more of the same until what? A 60 vote majority in the Senate? Why? The Dem’s seem to get plenty done with out it - why so little from the Repubs? Nope, the pres could have nominated someone with real conservative credentials and been just fine...

Wow! Must of hit a nerve.

Interesting discussion. Steve’s comments gave me an epiphany (are conservatives allowed to use that word?)
For years I have marveled that Blacks and Jews have voted so consistantly Democratic that they can be ignored by their party. They have no political pull. I’ve thought for a long time that if they just once voted Republican, they would have a voice again.

Now, what’s the difference between them and conservatives? Not much. Perhaps just once we need to vote Democratic so we won’t be ingnored. A mid term election might be just the time to do it. Pick one Republican senator, and work to defeat him. Unfortunately Voinovich was up last year. I’m not sure we should sacrifice Dewine, but I’ll bet there is one out there that wouldn’t be much of a loss. Julie’s right we need to work at this.

Is McCain running next year?

If we want what we want we have got to win

I wish that was true, Julie, but it is not entirely the case. We do win - and lo and behold a great change comes over the winners. Bush’s behaviour is much more a case - as the great John Ashbrook often said - of "our guys" heading off to Washington and ceasing to be "our guys." Put another way, a man I admire once told me that often an ordinary mortal, elected to office or given some government appointment, climbs on to a plane to DC and by the time he disembarks has undergone a strange and terrible transformation. Somewhere over the Allegheny Mountains our ordinary mortal turns into the wisest most brilliant creature that ever lived, without whom the economy, local and state government, indeed even private life would no longer flourish and prosper. By the time he lands in DC to take up his new public responsibility - however modest - the damage is done. In place of a guy who won a plurality because he was the least objectionable schmo on the ballot, we have a genius. It follows that more government is OK because - after all - now our new genius is at the helm! How do you combat that?? And that is the best case scenario, frankly, because it assumes honest confusion and sincere megalomania.

George Bush has, I now believe deliberately, sent mixed signals about the correct size of government. Sure, sometimes he went on about this phony baloney "compassionate conservativism" - new age speak for "our big government instead of their slightly bigger one." He has also, however, used rhetoric aimed directly at the conservative small government base. The latter has proven to be exactly that - rhetoric. I suspect that, for example, the social security reform was not any kind of serious program, but was instead meant to tantalize exasperated conservatives. We liked what was being said. After all, "Bush touched the third rail of American politics!" But he did not actually do anything. This bait and switch is the rule, not the exception.

I know you think education is the answer, here, but our ideas are pretty well known. Kirk and Nisbet and other midcentury thinkers may have toiled in obscurity, but I am not sure that we do. Republican politicians understand our desires well enough to pretend to share them.

William, Christopher, et. al., You should expect more of the same until we nominate and elect serious conservative Republican candidates to all levels of government and the people who elect them won’t tolerate wavering. We’re not doing that now--we’re not there yet. This won’t get us there. Bush is just an ordinary Republican with some conservative leanings and he’s got a very weak majority in the Senate, so I continue to be amazed by the level of anger this has precipitated. So, what to do? More pressure could be applied to those Republicans who got elected on the claim that they were conservative but are not (like DeWine). I would actively support conservative challenges to their seats across the country (in the primaries only). If I were in Ohio, I’d work for Blackwell for the governorship with the eventual goal of getting him a Senate seat. I’d probably work for getting rid of Voinovich next go around--if he’s running but I think I heard he’s not. You could be more involved in party politics--change the structure of that to be more conservative. You’re right that more Republicans in the Senate will not necessarily guarantee anything for conservatives--except that there will be slightly less liberal policy. That’s not the whole ball of wax--but it’s a start. It leaves us with less of a mess to clean up once we get in a position to do it. But more conservatives in the Republican party can change the party for the better--if they quit whining.

Oh - and losing Dewine wouldn’t even be a sacrifice, Brad. Think of it more as lancing a boil.

What about the larger issue, Rewarding Judges who do the right thing? Shouldn’t those judges who have been stalwart defenders of the Constitution be rewarded with a SCOTUS seat?

I once was a strong supporter of the President, but I guess I had too high of expectations of what his presidency would look like.

Any more, Hugh Hewitt, Shawn Hannidy and the like are being played by the President like a violin. I would guess that Bush could have nominated Michael Moore, and Hewitt and Hannidy would approve.


I agree with the sentiments expressed in the thread-opener. The GOP has a contract with conservatives, and at the moment they aren’t delivering all that well. I’m sorry, it just isn’t enough to say "what choice do we have?" Bush is certainly better than either Gore or Kerry, but he’s not that great (and I’m sorry to say that). Good Lord, George, FIND the veto pin, nominate REAL KNOWN conservatives for the court, do what is necessary to WIN in Iraq.

My God, he’s acting like his daddy. Ugh.

Bush-bashing deficits were of a "peacetime" nature, too, folks. The election of 2004, however, was all about a certain "war" (as noted by every single noted pollster).

Memories are short, hopes are long. I do hope all you sunshine patriots, er, so-called conservative jerks, are feeling raw.

Oh, we are feeling a bit low these days...but liberals ARE low 24/7...just like you, sniper. Talking leftist ’philosophy’ over on the Kos boring you or something?

an honest Reagan conservative, sir. One not wishing to hold Bush 43 to an unrealistic historic standard. Something I’m quite sure the esteemed Reagan historian, and Ashbrook scholar, Steven Hayward, would agree wholeheartedly with.

I suppose that Bush knows what he’s doing here. He’s a smart one, no doubt about it. I would like to know what Miers has in mind for cases that deal with the lawless ellements that are oozing out from our cities. What with the rappers, loose pants, rapists and drug dealers and such. When cases dealing with these types come up in the good Court, I hope she makes it known that she will throw The Book at em!

So, "I am," I’m supposed to believe you are an old Reaganite? Well, if so, you shame his memory. Hoping that all us "conservative jerks" feel raw...I’m sorry, doesn’t wash. No real conservative would say such a thing.

Just assuming you really are a "conservative" (at least in your own head), where do you get off calling us "sunshine patriots?" Bush holds the Presidency, his party holds both houses of congress, and here is an opportunity to lock up the Supreme Court. Expecting him to name a known conservative and tough it out ISN’T being a fairweather Republican. These are reasonable expectations given the political climate.

And real conservatives never follows anyone blindly, sir. Bush has spent a lot of his political capital with his base...our patience is near breaking. There is more to being a conservative President than the willingness to fight (as his daddy found out).

Need to hit the coffee a bit harder...please take the "s" off follow(s) above.

Give me an "L"..... give me an "I".......give me an "A"...........give me an "R".......

I surely don’t want to discourage the Bush-bashing going on here. I think it’s healthy, and if you do it a little bit every day, pretty soon the pain and stiffness will go away, and you’ll find that it has become a way of life.

I am reminded of the neighbor I had who raised a pit bull, and felt empowered and rugged as long as the dog was pointed out the door. Then, when the dog bit my neighbor, he felt that the dog was dangerous. Of course, we had been telling him that all along. As long as my neighbor stood behind the dog, he felt comfortable calling us "wimps," and "dog-haters," and "soft on crime" and "traitors."

Then, he wondered why we took some satisfaction when his dog turned on him.

wm, post #16 was excellent....

This thread has been a fairly enjoyable read, and goes to length in supporting what I’ve said for years:

These days, there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans - the major exception being, "Where do we put the decimal point in the spending bill for Huge Government Program X".

The conservative base of this party seems to have been hijacked by RINOS. Which is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to years of kowtowing to "Middle America" on election day.

Dain - it’s good to see you’re still here. On that other thread a few days ago, I thought you were quitting. Keep going at it with your own unique brand of principled "scientific conservatism." The Miers issue bores me, so I’m just enjoying you bicker with the other Righties.

When Democrats have been in power they always pushed their agenda through without any consideration of opposing points of view. Republicans never seem to have the courage to play hardball. I am concerned that conservatives are squandering an incredible opportunity to alleviate the damage inflicted upon the Constitution by socialists over the past century. President Bush has nothing to lose with this latest nomination (he has already divided his own constituents) and he should have nominated someone who would infuriate Democrats, thus exposing their extreme agenda. Why nominate a lightweight, who the Democrats will attack anyway, all in the name of appeasing our opponents? I am losing faith in this president and establishment Republicans who have betrayed conservatives far too many times.

"I am," I’m supposed to believe you are an old Reaganite? Well, if so, you shame his memory. Hoping that all us "conservative jerks" feel raw...I’m sorry, doesn’t wash. No real conservative would say such a thing.

I do not "shame his memory" by reminding fiscal conservatives, today, that Reagan doled out $250 billion in congressional goodies to secure votes for his tax cuts. Furthermore, I wrote "so-called conservative jerks," about whom are always ready to excoriate Dubya for the very same political stunts Ronald Reagan pulled.

While I can admire your idealism, I cannot tolerate your, and yours, blatant ignorance, or willful disregard of history, sir. about picking a name and sticking with it? The point of this is dialogue, not random sniping.

If you have a conservative bone in your body, I suspect you are one of those libertarian republicans who can’t see past his own bank account. In real politics, we often have to compromise (and yes, sometimes spread out some cash) to get our way. But there are limits to such behavior, and we don’t give away the store when we do compromise. Reagan (in his first term, at least) did a wonderful job of this...Bush, not so great. Again, he needs to spread some of that foreign policy courage around to other aspects of the conservative agenda. His daddy had the very same problem.

Dang Dain, if you didn’t simply NAIL IT again with your last comment. I loved that line about librertarian republicans! So true. So true. I think I like George Jr. better than George Sr., I just wish he’d get our border situation under control.

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