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Roger L. Simon

CPAC: Is the ‘C-Word’ the Problem?

March 14th, 2013 - 12:22 am

When, over a decade ago now, I first veered away from the liberal-progressive orthodoxy, I lived in dread (okay, that’s too strong a word — maybe trepidation) that I would be branded a “conservative.”

Who wanted to be that?  I was a bona fide Child of the Sixties — a rebel as in The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel.” (“He’s a rebel and he’ll never ever be any good/He’s a rebel ‘cause he never does what he should.”)

To be a conservative was to be square.  Never mind liberals were even squarer in their own paleo-sclerotic traditionalism. (Have you ever met people more lockstep than liberals?) Conservatives were the squares of squares — the uptight white guys with bowties who forever passed the joint without trying it. That certainly wasn’t me.

But sure enough, shortly after I started blogging in 2003, I was branded with the “c-word.” I didn’t know what to make of it and was, frankly, more than a little uncomfortable.

Not long after I was branded with the “l-word,” libertarian, and exhaled. Libertarians were the cool guys, conservatives who could pick up girls at parties, as some wags had it. Better to be that, even if I was a little overage for the parties.

This tendency continues perhaps ever more strongly with the new generation. Last month my ninth-grade daughter attended a conference for the Junior State of America. Almost none of the high school students, she told me, caucused with the Republicans. A throng went to the libertarians.

Still, I can’t totally identify as a libertarian, since I find some of their more extreme views silly. (Someone does have to pay for the interstate highway system.  And Islamic jihadists are quite serious about a world caliphate.  Declaring ourselves the purest of free marketers and rolling up the gangplank will not deter them in the slightest. In fact, it will only encourage them.)

All this is the long way around to saying that the problems creating the current dissension at CPAC stem in part from the word “conservative” itself.  It seems mired in the past — even when it is not. As much as anything else, in an odd way, it’s a semantic difficulty.

Young people particularly (and even some older folks like myself) like to see themselves as oriented toward the future.  Clinton was no fool when he chose “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” as his theme song, corny as it may now seem.  The truth is yesterday is gone.

Liberals, as we all know, rebranded themselves with some success as progressives — a word that was, ironically, itself once discredited. The wheel goes round on these things.

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Top Rated Comments   
For the record, I don't smoke pot. I don't want to smoke pot. I'm married. I'm not gay. I don't want to be gay.

I just don't identify with those who can simultaneously claim to be for "limited government" and then support government aggression that grossly infringes on individual behavior that does not involve anyone but consenting adults.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm sorry, there's more to life than branding. And the discussion over whom to include or exclude is really a discussion over whether to exclude the values that are conservatism. Full stop.

We need more discussion of this. For the last year I've watched lazy, imperious. Libertarians -- adolescent athiests, as a friend put it -- invade organizations and institutions built by serious, hard-working people and claim them as their own, then start dictating what can and can't be discussed in their precious biosphere of pot fantasies and irresponsibility. They're ethical squatters.

And the most rigid, authoritarian, conformist people I've ever met.

Let's puncture a few bubbles, shall we? Maybe CPAC needs to be for conservatives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The author writes, "the term conservative seems mired in the past." So do the terms, "integrity, fidelity, and truth." Should we abandon them also?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (85)
All Comments   (85)
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The reason liberty is (likely) doomed: Too many among us want outcome-based governance. They want government to DO things for them (e.g., Stop dope smokers and sodomites! or, Pay for our condoms!) that they perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be needed for "The Good of Society." Running to Mommy government to generally establish the bounds of citizen conduct is itself morally depraved. A government cannot be given the power to point guns at people and to throw them in prison simply because they're engaged in activity that is immoral. The government must be focused only on violations of rights. (Real rights. Not made up stuff.) Bad behavior that does not infringe ("infringed" VERY narrowly and strictly defined) on the rights of others is a problem we all must handle outside of government.

And that's the vast majority of all bad behavior.

There are lots of lousy laws already on the books that strip us of our rights to control the "behavioral environment" on our own property. For example, to throw people out of your restaurant because you don't like their looks should be your right. These, too, are lousy laws that have the same horrible effect: giving government control it should not have.

Libertarianism - neither conservatism nor liberalism nor both combined - offers the answer to both sides of this issue. Alas, most people seem to prefer to leave such powers in the filthy hands of Nanny Gov.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The "C" is the problem because too many fail to take the time to understand what it means. In fact, most people in this country live a "Conservative" lifestyle, practicing the the same customs and conventions of so many generations that have come before us. Conservatism, is not an "ism" or an ideology, its a way of life. I truly believe anyone "selling" that aspect of "conservatism" can win the hearts and minds of the willfully ignorant and confused souls who voted for liberals. Conservatives are not dangerous people, they're us!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm libertarian. I reject militarism and nanny statism, whether it's liberal or conservative. I think abortion is horrible. I think prohibition is stupid. Gay marriage? Marriage isn't the government's business one way or the other. Conservative? No way. Whether candidate X is conservative or not is of no interest. What have they done to reduce government? Or is it just talk? I vote GOP to stop Democrats. Not because they represent my views, because they don't. The GOP has never repealed a single program, nor have they ever cut spending. It's a sham party that exists to provide the illusion of choice, and to serve as the media's whipping dog..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I was a fairly radical libertarian in my youth Roger, then I grew up and became a Classically Liberal Christian Strong Military Social and Fiscal Conservative. I still have a plethora of libertarian propensities, but they arent and never were really different from classical liberalism.

Be that as it may, Im frequently denounced as a Theocrat by both Leftwingers and Libertarians, when nothing could be further from the truth.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ive always voted Republican.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Somebody has decided that I, as an American citizen, am not entitled to know how they intend to spend our money. I'm against that. Vehemently.

Somebody has decided to use our information stream, our media, our arts and pop culture, to make a state-run propaganda machine so that we are not only never told the truth, we are repeatedly told a pack of lies, slanders and specious arguments in order to confuse the dim and apathetic. I'm against that. Vehemently.

Somebody is trying to "redistribute" accumulated wealth, "transform" the country, weaken the Constitution, by pitting Americans against each other in class warfare, ethnic warfare, religious warfare, gender warfare, and every other "suspect" class available. I'm against that. Vehemently.

I don't know what you call that...but whatever you call it...fine. Give me a uniform and let me know who is on my team. I have a job to do.

All other issues are not germane to who is on my team to stop this treason. If they wear my uniform proudly, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with them. Because NOTHING is as important to me....as saving this land of ours from the ruin we now face.

Go ahead. Give my team a name. I don't care. Just don't tell me who you think can't be on it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The Avengers"

(taken, but apt)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we stopped being in love with "big government" (the real difference between Republicans and Democrats is what they want "big government" to do), we could easily move towards giving the federal only two responsibilities: National defense and dealing with other countries (State Department). Everything else could be turned over to the 50 states to deal with as they see fit. Medicare and Social Security are best handled as "investment" where the available money is used to invest in preferred stocks and bonds on about a 50/50 basis using an index fund. You might want to visit Vanguard and study the data presented.

It is very obvious when you study it that the free market provides goods and services for considerably less money than do monopolies, all of which are dependent upon the power of government to maintain their status. The professions are a good example of government enforced monopoly and the result of inflated prices for services because there is no free market in the services provided. My blog at "www.muskegonlibertarian.wordpress.com"; goes into detail on this issue. Instead of the income tax, the payroll tax, and all the rest of the federal government's taxes, a simple transaction tax of a penny on a dollar for every financial transaction would bring in sufficient money to cover everything we want the federal government to actually do. Plus there would likely be sufficient surplus funds to partially if not completely fund the costs of state government, roads, and everything else. The transaction tax can be "automated" to the point that there would be very little paperwork, April 15th would be just another day for virtually everyone. Plus, a transaction tax offers the advantage of discouraging "speculation" and encourages long term investment instead.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can call yourself lots of things - just look at Obama who presents himself as moderate or centrist or pragmatic or whatever lie he thinks will convince the weak-minded and blind - but what matters is what you do. Being conservative does NOT mean the sort of govt expansion that occurred under Bush and six years worth of GOP Congressional majority. Conservative does not expand entitlements and create new Cabinet agencies, then cry and whine when the next guy spends even more.

This means actually believing in limited govt, something that no major Repub figure seems willing to do. Romney didn't, Noot didn't, Ricky from PA certainly didn't, Christie doesn't, and so on down the line. Paul does but the GOP establishment looks at libertarianism as the folks who just want to smoke pot and be Somalia-West, which is BS but no reason facts should cloud the narrative.

Conservative means cutting govt, to include the Pentagon, and cutting means spending less year to year, not reducing the rate of increase. Supporting limited govt means that I can believe something without expecting govt to force everyone else to believe it, too, and it means letting adults make adult decisions, whether I like them or whether the consequences may be negative. So long as no one right's are violated, I really don't want to be my brother's nanny or his conscience, and govt is ill-prepared for either role.

Limited govt means believing in liberty. It is no coincidence that the most prosperous nations are the ones with greatest economic liberty, and it should be no surprise that subsidizing bad behavior only leads to more of it. The federal govt's primary role is to safeguard individual rights, and that means letting consenting persons make their own life decisions free of govt policy that seeks to coerce them into specific outcomes.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obamacare will benefit no one but the private health insurance industry. It did not create one additional doctor, nurse, or any medical provider. Plus it will make the lower income people more "poor" than they already are. The added taxes will certainly not help things either. A far better idea would be the creation of "health savings accounts" for everyone, with the lower income people getting money placed into their "HSA's" using something like the "Earned Income Tax Credit". Thus everyone would have access to basic health care, treatment of chronic conditions, and at a much lower total cost.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obamacare won't even benefit the private health industry, not long-term. It's designed to drive them out of business and collapse the private health insurance industry leaving government as the only insurer in town so that the only option we have left is single payer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well I suppose it depends on if the socialists are forced to wear a corporatist fig leaf over themselves or not. More a matter of which group of crooks gets the money.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The original meaning of 'Conservative' is captured in the saying
'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'; Human nature does not change,
and neither do the optimum ways to cope with its strengths
and weaknesses.
In the past, societies have suffered from an excess of success,
but never on the scale, and with the speed, of the unearned,
apparently unlimited rise in wealth which has corrupted our society;
That rise was caused by technological advance, and the only hope
of avoiding a fall is to continue the advance, by overcoming those
who want to 'conserve' their own wealth and power no matter the
cost to society, by opposing further advances: 'I've got mine, Jack.'
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The income tax harms small business, prevents their growth. It encourages the big corporates to "off shore" as much as their production as they can along with whatever financial assets they can move out of reach of the IRS. The payroll tax hits the working poor very hard, and also burdens the small businesses that hire most of them. On the other hand a financial transaction tax mainly effects those who do "financial manipulation" of the sort that was the driving force behind "The Great Recession" while having little effect upon the long term investor. A "Penny on a Dollar" transaction tax could possibly be sufficient to bring in enough money to eliminate the income tax and the payroll tax. Making April 15 just another day as the transaction tax would likely be automated to the point that most people would hardly notice it. And as long as the tax is on every financial transaction, the percentage can be low enough that no deductions or exemptions would be necessary.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pointing out that "progressives" are regressive...

Calvin Coolidge July 5, 1926, speaking on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men
are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality,
no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I note that Roger did not use the word "Independent" to describe himself. That often signifies social liberalism with fiscal conservativism. Right after the disastrous election I wrote this blog: http://clarespark.com/2012/11/07/capitalism-is-on-the-line/. It argues that we must valiantly defend capitalism as the greatest emancipator and wealth creator in human history. How many here would agree?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" It argues that we must valiantly defend capitalism as the greatest emancipator and wealth creator in human history."

I do, but I'm not happy with the scorched earth policy that is my only practical option in national politics.

By which I mean that in order to do so I must sign off on government interference in the freedoms and well being of many of my fellow citizens. Additionally the people on the "right" rarely want true capitalism, but, rather, a lighter dusting of corporatism than the other guys, which just sucks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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