Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Is "Enough!" Enough?

Although I am very much enjoying Bill Voegeli's Never Enough, I'm not talking about that fine book just now. 

Rather, I point to today's National Examiner, wherein Hugh Hewitt writes that given the many and varied ways the Obama administration has demonstrated itself to be in over its head, "Enough!" will probably be enough of a slogan for the GOP this fall.  This is true, argues Hewitt, despite the best efforts of Dems to conceal the depths of their hole digging.  The deficit hole--forget all their other holes--begins to make the Deepwater Horizon drilling project look like a day at the beach with a pail and shovel.  Voters are on to this, however, and it seems unlikely that in an age of flip phones and new media, old-style smoke and mirrors will provide enough cover to the disingenuous. 

But will "Enough!" provide enough cover to a GOP inclined to pursue an easy return to power?  It might be "enough" for that limited purpose.  But it seems unlikely to be enough to make the country switch gears and begin an effective turn around.  And it gives little comfort to the heart to read Hewitt's closing line and final justification for the slogan, "'Enough!'  is enough of a slogan. Not even the Republicans can screw that up." [Emphasis mine.]  Great.  Can't wait to watch what a one note band does when they get to run the production.

Republicans would do well to recall that we remain a divided country.  (This Ohio race--in a dead heat--is a good barometer for measuring the nature of the problem.)  The part of the electorate that the GOP is after are not simply fooled and disillusioned Democrats grasping for the only available alternative to disaster.  A good number of them are irritated and frustrated Republicans (or otherwise center-right folks) hoping and expecting something more from the GOP than "Enough!" and "I'm not a Democrat."  But there is also a vast population of voters now awakened to politics--perhaps for the first time--because of this demonstration of political incompetence on the part of Democrats.  They know now what they DON'T believe about American politics.  Will Republicans offer them something they can believe?  Will they take advantage of a once in a political lifetime opportunity to persuade and build their party? 

I agree with those commentators here (Pete and others) who have argued that Republicans really need to get their political act together on policy and offer principled, constructive alternatives to government take-overs, bail-outs, and massive spending programs.  But I remain skeptical of even THAT as a strategy.  It's good as far as it goes.  But its weakness is that it tends to assume a fundamentally sound understanding of the nature and purpose of American politics . . . and I just think that's an assumption we can't afford to make.

Republicans have this ONE chance to get THAT right.  It is safer to assume that policy will follow principle than it is to assume that principle will follow policy.  Republicans need to be out there making strong and principled arguments about American civics that can appeal to voters who have demonstrated a hunger for it.  And this can play into the "Enough!" meme because it is easy to demonstrate the ways in which the work of the Dems is NOT in compliance with basic American civics.  But Republicans have to also remember that at the same time Americans have demonstrated a hunger for American civics, they remain--because of a wildly ineffective and twisted education system--terribly confused about it.   GOP candidates for office would do well to bone up on their own understanding of American history, civics and politics as it is fair to expect that much of the questioning they're going to get on the campaign trail is going to hearken back to it. 

While it's too much to expect that Republicans can correct decades of misinformation in one election cycle (indeed, it's probably too much to imagine that any significant number of the candidates themselves possess any coherent understanding of it) the country as a whole needs to begin this re-awakening. For it will never be "enough" to shout "Enough!"

Categories > Elections

Discussions - 6 Comments

Right on, Julie. The education should be taken up by conservative commentators too. I forced myself to suffer through Glen Beck's program on James Madison and the Federal Convention and felt the pain of knowing that good intentions are not good enough. Fortunately, Prof. Colleen Sheehan and James Best provided the education to the too-talkative Beck. Natural rights and constitutional principles are intrinisic to the language of the American people, as I discovered when I attended a Tea Party rally last April 15 and talked to them about the common historicist origins of "objective journalism" and progressivism at their regular meeting the following week. A Republican account that shows the progressive deviations from founding principles is just the ticket.


Amen. Merely to talk about "a moral and religious people", not mention to saying that individual virtue, responsibility, and initiative are critical to the moral and political health of our polity, is (a) essential and (b) likely to draw hoots of laughter and charges of "imposing morality blah blah."

Merely electing a "not Obama" and a "not a Democrat" won't get done what needs to be done.

Good post--but this is trickier than most conservatives seem to think. Let me return to the impious thought that Nature vs. History, Founders=good, Progressives=bad ain't enough. That narrative took some hits with both the failures of the Great Society and Communism, and it doesn't explain the successes and failures of Nixon, Reagan, Carter, Clinton, or any president named Bush. It also doesn't explain what's wrong with the Supreme Court since GRISWOLD. Obama's religion of humanitarianism is a temporary, reactionary blip. The issue is what replaces it.

Perhaps I should have said "continuous" rather than "progressive," for as helpful as knowledge of the Progressive origins are, it is more important to focus here and now on the ongoing "transformation" of the American constitution, which already has millions of Americans up in arms Many politicians need to go to school, so to speak, for they must know from whence the majority of our problems originate.

I'd be interested in knowing what, in your view, accounts for the failures of the presidents you named, for many of them, in my view, are indeed attributable either to liberal obeisance or conservative accommodation to the progressive agenda. There are human failings, of course, but in view of the advanced state of the constitution's corruption, it is wise to focus on the present comprehensive danger. Bad appointments to the Supreme Court by Republican presidents, for instance, were not merely failures of judgment but of lack of constitutional understanding, doubtless owing to the inordinate influence of progressivism in law schools, academia, the mass media and even churches and synagogues. (That's not a failing of the mosques, which are "beyond" progressivism!) What replaces progressivism is the American Constitution, properly understood. There is no "post modern" solution, I submit.

I know I keep saying this here -- apologies for repetition -- but Republicans only seem good at governance because Democrats are so much worse. That Obama & Co. cannot do what they like without looking like petty tyrants helps Republicans no end. That they cannot do what they promise because it cannot be done will not really help Republicans at all, because they are going to be able to do any better. That Obama cannot bring relief to the Gulf area using big government, but instead obviously has big government getting in the way of relief is going to hurt them. However, if a Republican were in office, there would still be oil all over the Gulf area -- its an engineering problem, not a government problem.

Now, if the American public cannot see that we may get Republicans in office, but it isn't going to do anyone any good and those bums will be kicked out in the next disaster. We'll be kicking bums in and out for the next many years until we either accept totalitarianism or revolutionize government. Party is the penny stamp and this has far more to do with accepting that man is not the measure of all things, nor at all in control of life, the elements, the universe and everything than he ever was, no matter what wonders science and technology have brought us.

One big problem with Republicans addressing the electorate and what it wants is that it doesn't know what it wants. It wants to take two aspirins and wake up in the morning feeling better. It wants to be well taken care of and to be completely free. It cannot have both. I think this is true both of the ignorant and the educated. We may as well take our chances with liberty as human control is inadequate and gives us pain in other areas.

"That Obama cannot bring relief to the Gulf area using big government, but instead obviously has big government getting in the way of relief is going to hurt them. However, if a Republican were in office, there would still be oil all over the Gulf area -- its an engineering problem, not a government problem."

No, there exists an engineering precaution that can (and in some places MUST) be taken to prevent, or at least dramatically minimize the effects of, a deep-sea disaster like that seen in the Gulf presently. Right now, BP is drilling TWO emergency relief wells, but it's probably going to be at least a month - a month plus more of oil pouring right into the Gulf waters - before the flow ceases. What do you think would have been cheaper, more fiscally responsible: Installing relief wells before pumping oil, or installing them after a disaster and the oil and dollars are out to sea? If you'd read my last comment to you over at the "Un-American Response" thread, you'd know that actual government regulation could have put a safeguard in place that would have spared the people and wildlife of the Gulf and - perhaps I should put it in terms meaningful to small government conservatives - saved many millions of gallons of OIL (for BP and consumers). The problem is that "small government" conservatives, at least in effect, if not always rhetoric, want to let business just have its way - and 99% of the time, that's going to involve few if any regulations at all (or regulations that favor the execs, not the average consumer). BP wants to save some money by skipping on the construction or even planning for relief wells before they start sucking oil out of the Gulf? Ok, no problem, whatever BP says - after all, they're the experts on oil, right?

See here, where I explain the difference between blowout preventers and relief wells, and talk of the Canada case.

and see Thomas Frank's wildly prophetic piece from April 7 (13 days before something-or-other) where he says that when it comes to offshore drilling our motto should be "Regulate here, regulate now!":

and his "Laissez-Faire Meets the Oil Spill" from June 2nd is also great.

BTW, Kate, thanks for pointing me to that Peter Singer article in the NYTimes a while back (and thus, that entire new section). Did you see Singer had a follow-up to it, where he responds to some of the commenters? Also a good read.

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