Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Jonah’s Buzz Kill

Jonah Goldberg (God bless him) writes about what he calls the "Conservative Buzz Kill" in today’s LA Times. Citing our own William Voegeli’s terrific essay in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books, Jonah writes that conservatives need to understand that public opinion--though buoyed by conservative rhetoric--is not on board with real deal conservatism in the sense of strictly limited constitutional government. Well, yea . . . (should I say, duh?) The good news is that Americans don’t like an honest accounting of what the libs are all about either. Except (more bad news . . .) the libs know this, so (brace yourself . . .) they lie. It’s not really socialized medicine--it’s expanded coverage, and so on. It’s shocking, I know, but it is the reality of the situation.

Jonah explains the variety of ways conservatives have taken to reacting to the built-in advantage of liberals with their ever-increasing dependent constituency: "compassionate conservatism" and libertarian/conservative purist retreat. Surprise! None of these genius ideas are any good. Jonah’s buzz kill is that there is only one thing that will do any good--and it’s not sexy. It’s the plodding, patient work of tearing out liberal bricks one by one where they show evidence of being loose. While this is probably all very true it seems like there should be a more inspirational way of saying it . . . maybe not.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Social conservatism leads to fiscal conservatism, properly understood. There is nothing in conservatism which suggests any particular stance with regards to "free trade".

A lot of what is described as "free trade" by Fund and his sort is actually a sort of mercantillism in any case. They favor Chinas trade policy, which is the antithesis of free trade.

It's no coincidence that as social conservatism has declined, fiscal liberalism has grown by leaps and bounds. As people see themselves less and less as part of "little platoons" with loyality and obligations to one another, they turn to government for relief from the hazards of individualism.

BTW, you seem to have a bit of a crush on Goldberg. You might want to set your sights a little higher.

Just a little side note - I know it's socialized medicine. That's why I like it. Free market thinking applied to essential services like energy and medicine seems to bring out the worst in capitalism.

The free market has been supplying "essential services" for centuries. Is food and clothing any less essential than health care? Why, pray tell, is there no "crisis" in the provision of these things? Are the food and clothing capitalists less greedy than those in health care?

Dr. Mosier some people might argue that there is a crisis in clothing and a crisis in food. In the middle ages tailors invented new fashions to bilk the nobility out of surplus coin(is this what eventually caused the French Revolution?) the fashion industry invents new lines of clothing to offend the sensibilities of many social conservatives(between the thugs representin' gangsta style and those who buy those fuzzy pink slippers, what is not to hate?) one could also mention sweat shops which do much to offend liberal sensibilities. The crisis in food is illustrated by the new "war" on obesity aka McDonalds and Burger King(damn Fascists)! add to this the focus upon animal cruelty and via Peter Singer animal rights, not to mention those who would draw on Heidegger's comparison of the mechanized/capitalistic/souless food industry to the holocaust.

Free market thinking applied to essential services like energy and medicine seems to bring out the worst in capitalism.

And yet America has cheaper energy and better health care services than you'll find elsewhere. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Just to be a devil's advocate and because there are too many John's posting...Interesting argument in 1 John...but someone like Daniel Bell would disagree. Also John, contra Dan aka piker and yourself the energy industry and the healthcare industry is heavily regulated and quasi-socialistic. So if we have cheaper energy and better health care services it is only by with reference to more socialized nations that we can praise capitalism. So really it is a comparative argument which follows a different logic than a system argument. On the other hand the Enron debacle that piker might blame on deregulation and capitalism...actually seems a pretty clear instance of quasi-socialism mucking things up. While some economists would argue following perfect competition models that the california energy crisis came from trying to move towards capitalism an Austrian or Chicago school economist would argue the complete opposite with an attack on the underlying "perfect competition" model.

Ok, John. I'll play. If I were going to pick a political writer for a kind of writing "crush" would it be Jonah? Probably not my first choice, but he might do. I like his stuff. He's thoughtful and fresh and not at all bogged down by trying to impress his friends or elders. Plus, I like to see a guy thinking through a thing on paper and Jonah often does that. More people should. But if I had to pick just one (though I am a bit of a polygamist and also fickle in these things) I'd probably have to go with Mark Steyn--for the writing (though the accent is a bonus).

Julie is America Alone by Mark Steyn worth reading? How about The Face of the Tiger? Also if you want some fun political exhibitionism:

"To celebrate the first anniversary of Mark's bestseller, here's an extra-explosive bundle of Steynamite reading matter: America Alone plus The Face Of The Tiger - and our exclusive Viva Steyn! T-shirt in your size."

America Alone is scary reading, although Steyn is always funny. He considers the demography of Islam and predicts it will win, except maybe not in America. He says that Europeans - the traditional whitish kind - are not reproducing themselves and will disappear. It is only the multiparous of America, like me, who can save Western Civilization.

He says that Europeans - the traditional whitish kind - are not reproducing themselves and will disappear.

For some reason he fails to notice the same thing is happening here in America, where whites will become a minority sometime in the next few decades.

Here, as in Europe, immigration is the culprit more than a decreasing native birthrate.

I think Jonah Goldberg owes his writing gig to being named "Jonah Goldberg". His opinions on conservatism are downright painful at times. Style is a matter of taste, but I find his hipper-than-thou schtick unattractive.

In that case Kate I would argue that Islam can't win...In europe it might lead to less libertine behavior, less white folk...but at the same time the Islamic aspects of it...that which is Wahabbi(what we are so scared about within Islam)will be minimized. In an Islamic Europe dialogue between christianity and Islam will make much more sense. We will all be happy and buy flowers for the sick...yay Isothymia! For good or bad Western Europe will become more socially conservative. Islam in Europe will find itself in the same boat as Dr. Knippenburg...attempting to ballance between Isothymia and Megalothymia. Basically to imagine a Muslim Europe is to envision a bunch of people much more like Barack Obama than like Osama bin Laden. In a certain sense maybe the Islamification of Europe is what will put an end to the master slave dialectic between Islam and the West...Assuming that Fukuyama is right, they will all be "European".

What Kate said--except, alas, I'm not as much to be credited as she is in saving Western Civilization. Haven't looked at the other book yet.

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