Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Fred Poised to Fill Void and Sink Romney?

Here’s a good analysis of why Thompson could quickly rise to the first ttier of candidates and replace Mitt as THE conservative choice, along with some reservations (whch I share) about his actual qualifications. I don’t share the view that Fred might not want to run. He’s making all the right "plain speaking" moves right now and obviously getting some excellent expert advice. (Thanks to Ivan the K)

Discussions - 36 Comments

There are already some good conservatives in the race, for example Gilmore, Tancredo, Hunter, and Paul. So I’m skeptical that there is any great demand for another one.

I think Peter meant conservatives who have a snowball’s chance of WINNING. Right now, there’s nobody.

Tancredo for Pres! Hoorah!

Dain’s endorsement says all you need to know. He is a 2% candidate at best.

Talk about your self-fulfilling predictions. If you want an insight into why we end up with terrible candidates, this is why. How about if people simply evaluate candidates on the merits and support the ones they like? The Democrats embrace of the "electable" John Kerry did not pay off for them. There is a moral there for those who care to look.

There is a moral there for those who care to look.

Are you suggesting that the moral is that the less electable a candidate is, the more electable a candidate is? Do you think Howard Dean would’ve done better than John Kerry?

There is nothing self-fulfilling about my prediction. Tancredo won’t lose because I said so. He will lose because he is an inconsequential poser-candidate like Dennis Kucinich and Carol Mosley-Braun.

Two Things.
1. Gilmore, Tancredo, Hunter, and Paul are almost total unknowns. Hillary has been groomed since she didn’t fink on Bill back when Monica was the subject of the day. How long have these gentlemen been preparing?
2. Republicans almost always try to position the ’next guy in line’ as their candidate. (That’s an idiot move if I ever saw one but thats a different subject.) Point being McCain is the ’guy-next-in-line’ and he isn’t going to take being brushed aside lightly. So how will these guys stand up to him. My opinion: poorly.
These guys are not up to speed. Fred Thompson can be. That’s my opinion.

So, it boils down to "name recognition" and whose whore you are (i.e., how many big-$ boys do you know)? Essentially, then, the media and corporate America select our Presidents.

But, it seems to me that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton kind of came out of nowhere...small-potato governers of hick States (many apologies to Georgia, but...). And who would have guessed that California would toss out Davis and install Der Terminator?

As I said before, Go, Tom Tancredo! Given ’em heck, boy! (and no, I don’t think he has a dog’s chance in hell, but who cares? He’ll never make the national ticket, but perhaps I’ll get to vote for him in the primaries).

How appropriate, mispelling "governor" while mentioning hick states. Sorry ’bout that.

Want to know why Hunter, Paul and Tancredo have no chance?

Fifteen presidents have become president after having first been vice president.

Eleven have become president after having first been governor.

Eight have become president after having served in the U.S. senate.

Five were elected with no previous political experience--Washington, Taylor, Grant, Hoover, and Eisenhower. All of these, of course, were extremely well-known for other things.

That leaves only two presidents--Lincoln and Madison--who were elected after serving in no higher office than the House of Representatives.

That’s why Hunter, Paul, and Tancredo don’t have a prayer.

Not to mention that they are all protectionists in a party that supports free markets. None of these guys are serious candidates, but Tancredo is the least serious of all. He is just trying to stretch his 15 minutes of fame into 20.

By the way, Bill Clinton didn’t come out of nowhere. He gave the party’s keynote speech at the 1988 convention and was groomed for big things. Arnold is world famous and is nearly a billionaire, and he only joined the race after Darrell Issa did the heavy lifting on the recount. As for Carter, well, he was one of the worst Presidents in history. Whatever voting pattern you are trying to discern, I hope we steer clear of it.

Here’s a great article: "Fred Thompson: Neocon Globalist"

As Russell Kirk, the father of American conservativism, notes: conservatives historically have been opposed to free trade, and they should oppose it. Ron, you obviously have been "neoconned" on this issue.

Russell Kirk, in economic policy, by and large supported the ideas of Wilhelm Ropke (whose books can be bought at the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute), who was opposed to free trade on the grounds that is is economic suicide, too large scale / too big government / too bureaucratic / a type of international socialism, and that it undermines national sovereignty.

In short, no real conservative would ever support free trade. Obviously, Ron, you have been "neoconned" on this issue.

"On the Question of Free Trade general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade." -- Karl Marx, Jan. 9, 1848

As with most of his ideas about economics, Marx was wrong about trade. It has not created greater divisions between the proles and the rich. Workers in countries that trade are much better off than those in countries that do not.

As for what "real" conservatives should think, believe whatever you want. It does not change MY point that Tancredo and friends are not in the majority and won’t come close to winning the primary.

It’s simply not true that the GOP embraced free trade under the influence of the neoconservatives. It became part of the Republican agenda soon after World War II, and the neocon movement (if that’s the word for it) didn’t get underway until the late 1960s at the earliest. The turn to free trade was more the work of economists such as Friedman, Hayek, and von Mises, coupled with the fact that post-1945 the United States had no serious industrial competitors.

Let me ask you something George. Do you quote Marx often, comrade?

Hal, give me a break. He was quoting Marx to make a conservative point. I don’t entirely agree, but his point is easy to see.

I smell a rat. I think the powers that be know the natives are restless and very unhappy with the top three. So Thompson is their golden boy. Otherwise why the fawning press for an arguably under-qualified actor? (He is certainly less qualified than the three House members John Moser doesn’t like.)

Thompson is just conservative enough to keep the conservatives in line, but he is a globalist neocon. He is pro-surge and is affiliated with AEI for goodness sake. He has a lifetime C grade on immigration.

Yea, Ron, being a protectionist doesn’t kill fact, we will be a protectionist nation again, and quite soon. The "Walmarting" of the nation has driven us down to 10% of our labor force in manufacturing...this is unsustainable in such a large economy...we are not Singapore, and we can’t afford to be so dependent on the "global" economy.

As for you snide remarks about Tancredo, I guess it’s easy for someone of your libertarian ilk to kick a good man. Personally, I think it’s supposed conservatives like you who are running the entire GOP into a ditch. Free trade, open borders, anti-terrorist ’theater’ (rather than solid offensive might)...people like you are leading the GOP into a dark cul-de-sac.

Please don’t mischaracterize my argument. It’s not that I "don’t like" Tancredo, Paul, or Hunter. I even said in an earlier thread that I’d vote for Paul is he’s still in the race when the Ohio Primary rolls around. The fact is, though, that he won’t be, and we all know it. As I mentioned above, only two people have ever become president after holding no higher office than congressman. One was Lincoln, whose election was basically a fluke. The other was Madison, who was Father of the Constitution. So unless the Democrats suddenly split again like they did in 1860, or Tancredo/Paul/Hunter do something equivalent to what Madison did, none of them have a chance. If you want to vote for a third party, fine. Then you can be very proud of the role you played in bringing Hillary or Obama to the White House in 2008.

You made lot of unimpressive and illogical leaps there, Professor Dain. I pointed out the FACT that protectionism is not a winning idea in a Republican primary. I don’t see what that has to do with terrorism. You must have used your all-knowing powers of Dain to divine my supposed views on national security. Get a grip, buddy.

Sorry, Ron...didn’t realize you were cherry-picking the libertarian agenda. Why would anyone who refuses to protect the American economy want to protect American society? I think you are the one making illogical leaps.

Come one, dain, are you really making the argument that free trade equals libertarianism, and libertarianism equals an unwillingness to fight terrorism? Quick, somebody tell Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer!

I am saying that it is guarding the castle but leaving the drawbridge down. Being a political nationalist but an economic globalist is a bit schizo. At least the one-worlders are consistent.

Would you padlock your home but leave your ATM card out in the driveway? I don’t think so.

Would you padlock your home but leave your ATM card out in the driveway? I don’t think so.

No, I wouldn’t. But then again, I own my home, and I own the money in my bank account. The government doesn’t own America, or the wealth possessed by Americans. The belief that it does is the essence of socialism.

Here’s a more appropriate metaphor--would you hire a bodyguard to protect your home and your family, and then let him tell you how you should spend your money? I don’t think so.

I’m sorry, John, but that doesn’t wash. We don’t let private actors engage in foreign policy, nor do we allow people to engage in trade willy-nilly. The rights of Americans extend only within the territory of America. You’re conferring some kind of global citizenship that simply does not exist. Our government does not own us, but it does restrict what we can do with our property because that’s vital for organized social life. Moreover, if you leave your property overseas and someone takes it, you’d expect the American corporate to enforce your property rights...what hypocrisy.

You know, this tendency of libertarians to take this global view of property rights bugs the hell out of me. It’s so idealistic, and so groundless in historical experience. Are you folks Americans, or are you citizens of the marketplace? I warn you: Serving two masters has always led to persecution...I think it’s the principal reason I’ve come to view libertarians as un-American.

Well, this is precisely where we disagree. I believe what the Declaration of Independence says--that "we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights"--in other words, rights that exist independently of government, independently of America. I cherish America because it was founded on that principle. I contend that it is your belief--that rights are granted by government--that is un-American.

John, you’ll notice that Jefferson left "property" out of Locke’s famous saying. And what are those "inalienable rights?" Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is pretty broad, and the D of I isn’t a governing’s a protest letter and statement of disunion.

Indeed, if you just think this through, your position is untenable. Since I have liberty, why shouldn’t I actively support Al Qaeda if I’m so inclined? Why shouldn’t I import dangerous animals into America? And why shouldn’t a whole region (say, the old South) break away from the Union? The reason is that, in every case, you would be betraying your community, the grantor of rights (and wrongs).

Here’s the deal...if God grants "rights," then He sure as hell ought to get down here and enforce them. Saying there should be inalienable rights isn’t the same thing as saying there are inalienable rights. Neither history nor reason support the notion that rights are granted by anything other than polities.

What you’re not seeing is how quickly this position degenerates into an apology for any kind of tyranny. Indeed, tyranny itself becomes a meaningless concept. Like the paleocons you reject transcendent human rights, but at least the paleocons invoke revealed religion as a potential (if frequently ignored) brake on the natural tendency of human governments toward despotism. Your theory of government has no such brake--the "polity," whether it be a monarchy or a republic, can logically do no wrong.

You may be right that there are no such thing as inalienable rights, but whether it’s right or wrong, there’s little doubt that the Founders believed it--so don’t presume to tell me that your view is somehow more "American" than mine.

I think where we differ is in our view of the Founding. I suspect you view it as a social creation, with ideas as the glue holding it together. For me, America is a nation, it’s beginning was unique, but it is shaped by all the same social laws as any nation. In short, in my view "Americans" predate the United States...they are a community, and yes, depotism is always a possibility. Clinging to the Declaration of Independence and, indeed, the view of America as a set of ideas, will not prevent despotism.

The irony is that one American value is this belief in inalienable rights, and yet the guarantor of such rights is the community of belief. Perhaps, John, is it possible to be too American? So American that you are suicidal? I will admit that the term ’un-American’ may be too harsh, but what would you call it when the extremist pursuit of a community’s values leads to destruction of the community? Either the values are wrong, or the extremist pursuit of them is wrong.

Let’s change the possessive of ’it’. We hates it.

yes, depotism is always a possibility.

How would you recognize it?

By the way, this is obviously no longer about free trade. I believe in free trade, but I don’t think protectionism is necessarily a step on the road to despotism--certainly many of the founders didn’t believe that it did. In short, I think that this is a question on which honest people of good will can disagree. My response was rather intended to challenge two of your claims: 1) that it is inconsistent to believe in protecting the country from terrorism while also supporting free trade; 2) that it is somehow un-American to believe in natural rights. Whatever one’s position may be on trade policy, I think that both of these are false.

To counter your first point, IF it can be demonstrated that free trade erodes a domestic economy, THEN my assertion is is inconsistent to insist on strong national defense while engaging in unrestricted international trade. The real disagreement between us is whether or not unrestricted trade is (on balance) good for most Americans. I contend that it is NOT, and I would also point to English as clearly demonstrating that it is NOT.

Second, I did try to soften my original remarks about being "un-American." In retrospect, I think it is possible to push belief in individual natural rights to the point where it becomes distinctly anti-social and therefore anti-American. Belief in such rights is American, but we also believe that the right to pursue one’s rights ends when they infringe on other peoples’ right to the same.

This is perhaps why the guns-and-dope crowd like to live in the wide-open West, where their pursuit of natural rights is less likely to infringe on the rights of others. That’s fine, but the world is growing smaller. Very soon it will be important to embrace a more mature view of natural rights.

I meant to say "English history" above. I am referring of course to the period of Cobden’s dominance in English political-economic history.

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