The Right Opinion

Enduring Ignorance, Part 2

By Arnold Ahlert · Nov. 15, 2012

Last week I apparently hit a nerve when I suggested that Republicans simply vote “present” on every initiative Democrats undertake in Congress. The response to that column was both overwhelming – and overwhelmingly positive. Yet there was a bit of confusion expressed by some people that I'd like to clear up. I'd also like to give conservatives a far more upbeat assessment of where we go from here.

First, the confusion. A few people thought that voting “present” was tantamount to surrender. I would respectfully suggest that compromise, aka “splitting the difference” between such concepts as tyranny and freedom, solvency or bankruptcy, and American exceptionalism or mediocrity, is far worse. Furthermore, a “no” vote implies something equally onerous. It the idea that a particular issue is viable, as opposed to utterly contemptuous.

Both compromise, no matter how limited or grudgingly given, as well as a “no” vote, no matter how forcefully the case is made for casting it, gives progressives the one thing they want more than any other: legitimacy. A “present” vote does not. In fact, a present vote will also give progressives the one thing they don't want more than any other: total responsibility.

Furthermore, voting present doesn't preclude conservatives from offering Americans an alternative vision for the nation. For example, if the public continues to demonstrate what appears to be an insatiable appetite for “free stuff,” conservatives can explain that such an appetite will further degrade what little is left of one's individual dignity, even as the entire nation goes bankrupt in the process. They can explain that the continued effort to postpone the day of fiscal reckoning will lower the American standard of living, because the money we print to finance that appetite degrades our national currency, and that if we continue down that path, our money will eventually be worth nothing.

However, once Republicans are on the record with such explanations, they can also tell the American people, they have no intention whatsoever of offering an iota of resistance to – or collaboration with – the Democrats' progressive agenda. They will vote present to maintain the basic functions of Congress, even as they make it clear the progressive agenda for which the majority voted will proceed unopposed, until the people muster up the wisdom and courage – or feel the anger and fearfulness that comes with the realization the nation is going to hell in a hand basket – to oppose it themselves.

One more thing with respect to confusion,. It is long past time to address the tiresome argument that both sides are equally at fault for the perilous state of the nation. If we're talking in terms of Republicans and Democrats, you get no argument from me. Corruption is absolutely a bipartisan affair, and Democrats and Republicans are equally adept at perpetrating it.

However, when the designation changes to progressive and conservative, I maintain there's no contest. It wasn't conservatives who popularized moral relativity, which posits there is no right and wrong, only shades of gray. They didn't champion multiculturalism, which posits that all cultures are equally viable, be they democratic republics or totalitarian hellholes. Nor did they promote non-judgmentalism, which posits that believing one value is superior to another is the equivalent of bigotry. It was progressives who gave those “gifts” to the American people, and their impact has been palpable: we are a nation morally, culturally and intellectually adrift.

Yet progressive instincts are not limited to the Democrat party. With an exception for the war on terror and its emanations, the policies of the Bush administration, aka “compassionate conservatism,” were every bit as progressive, expensive – and corrosive – as the agenda of the Obama administration. In fact, I would go so far as to say that without Bush, electing Obama would have been an impossible leap to the left for the electorate to make. The reason I spoke about Republicans voting present, and allowing the Democrats to run the table with their agenda, is because that's the way two-party system generically breaks down. I have no doubt that there are some Blue-dog Democrats as fed up with the progressive agenda, as there are RINO Republicans willing to accommodate it. Yet what is now indisputable is that a majority of Americans, whether they realize it or not, voted in favor of the progressive agenda. And as I said in the previous column, give the people what they want – until they can't stand it anymore.

In the meantime, conservatives should never forget the power they possess. Quite frankly, it is awesome, and its legitimacy, as opposed to what I consider the illegitimacy of the American left, is revealed by the simplest of realities:

Conservatism can thrive without progressivism. Progressivism cannot survive without conservatism.

In short, a progressive worldview built on redistributionism, must have something to re-distribute. Without the efforts of the makers, the takers and their enablers are dead in the water. The most remarkable aspect of this last election is that Democrats ran on a platform that amounted to biting the hand that feeds them, and still prevailed. When vilifying success and the accumulation of wealth is a winning political strategy in America, the proverbial jig is up. Hence, the sooner the historical failures of progressivism and its all-encompassing Nanny State impulses are realized, the sooner we can reset the nation on a healthy course. It may not take as long as some people think. Self-reliance may be currently out of vogue, but it's rather amazing how quickly people can re-acquire that skill when it becomes necessary. Drop by Staten Island or Breezy Point, if you don't believe it. Once the people in those hurricane-ravaged locales realized that government – at every level – had its collective thumb up its you-know-what, they took matters into their own hands. And never forget that as soon as the disaster hit, all the major political players revealed the bankruptcy of progressivism: everyone, from Barack Obama on down, promised to eliminate the “red-tape” that would interfere with rescue and re-building efforts.

Red tape is nothing more than a synonym for big-government bureaucracy, in all its inefficient and corrupt glory.

With respect to the big picture, I'm not suggesting conservatives resort anything resembling lawlessness, such as a refusal to pay taxes, or attempting to do anything violent. I'm saying that now, more than ever, it pays to be prudent in choosing where one spends one's money. If the progressives can organize boycotts against those who offend their sensibilities, such as the one organized against Chick-fil-A this past summer, conservatives can certainly do the same. It may require extra effort, such as researching who runs what, or a little sacrifice, like giving up one's favorite TV show, if it is broadcast by one of the mainstream media networks that have turned journalistic integrity into an oxymoron. It may even require larger sacrifices, such as home-schooling one's children, or moving to states that have yet to fall under the yoke of progressive government. But it is power, nonetheless.

For those Americans who know what I'm talking about, my strategy amounts to a combo platter of Mahatma Gandhi and John Galt. Passive and active resistance to the dim-bulbs and the deadbeats on one end of the spectrum, and those who would impose tyranny on the other. For those Americans who don't have any idea what I'm talking about, trust me: you're part of the problem, not the solution.

View all comments


Rod in USA said:

Your strategy of "*giving the people what they want, until they can't stand it anymore."* has some merit.

There is one flaw though: You presume the masses have the **mental capacity** to recognize the facts/truth, despite a willingness to 1) believe the leftists BS, illogical propaganda fed to them because it 2) supports their emotional need to not admit to themselves or others how foolishly wrong they were.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:39 AM

Orf in Pennsylvania replied:

Rod, of course you are right. We see what is now happening in Europe. The riots are because the freebies are stopping. The freeloaders have no idea why the freebies are slowing or stopping. And they never will. Once self-respect and the work ethic are lost, they cannot return. Just as when freedom is lost, it is lost forever. Most people are willing to give up freedom for a bit of phony security. It is going on everywhere.

Letting the socialists get what they want will not correct the decline of a country into chaos. This is passive-aggressive nonsense. There comes a time when some brave souls have to fight for freedom.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

It may take awhile but sooner or later the money will no longer be there for the handouts. Then, just maybe, the idiots will wake up and understand that no nation can sustain itself when you have more people taking from the public trough than those paying taxes. I don't hold out a lot of hope because for a lot of them welfare has become a way of life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Anton D Rehling in Olympia, WA replied:

The idiots will never wake up and smell the coffee as they are drinking the kool aid. When the money runs out those on the Government dole will riot and demand others to pay their way. It will get ugly.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM

JTG in Indiana replied:

As long as they can print currency, they will not run out of it. A dilution of wealth created by the working class is what will happen and by design at that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Dave in SoCal said:

I'm completely on board with this plan.

Who is John Galt?

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Ct-Tom in NC said:

Sign me up, Arnold! Oh, wait....I am not a congressperson, and nobody seems to care how I vote.

I wish we could get the right-thinking legislators to vote "present," but I fear we are well past the stage where that can happen. The Gandhi-Galt solution will be too tame. Keep in mind that Gandhi was taking on the Brits, not the Chicago mob. The latter would have had Mohandas disappear the day after his name showed up in the newspaper for the first time.

So, it seems to me that the Galt approach will be going solo, maybe not as radically as in Ms. Rand's work, but just about as effective. We are now seeing the slowing of the "making," and it's my guess that the slow-down will continue until there is so little to take, that the "takers," requiring ever more from ever fewer, will take to the street as they now do in Greece and elsewhere. I am not sure what happens after that, but it will not be pretty.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Wow. An excelllent and thought-provoking piece, Arnold. I especially like your ideas of boycotting those industries run by liberal lefties. I have already begun to practice that. And I'm thinking that I will have some business-like cards made that I can leave in such establishments locally (while not doing business there).

Who is John Galt?

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:57 AM

JR in Mountain Grove said:

If a "NO" vote is tantamount to legitimizing the proposition's being on the ballot, isn't that the same as saying that a women or man being raped who shouts "NO," and fights in self-defense is legitimizing the rape?

And since many believed that due to his disregard of our Constitution, Obama had no legitimite right to run for re-election, if indeed he had one even in 2008, (and apparently many who believed that stayed home), it would seem that - by your line of reasoning - those who stayed home did the right thing.

John Galt, blessed with being a fictional character, had the ability to set up a society of traders while leaving the moochers outside in the cold to reap the effects and affects of their immorality.

"I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act." G. K. Chesterton..

"But men must know, that in this theater of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on." - Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

As for your conclusion that consumers need to organize and quit supporting Hollywood, schools, universities, and any business that is contributing to the downfall of our Republic, I couldn't agree with you more..

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 1:47 PM

GeorgePA in PA said:

It's time to shrug.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:05 PM

Pepin the Short in G-Vegas said:

This could potentially derail a lot of reelection efforts for Republican candidates, or, at the least, would be perceived as doing so.

It would require unprecedented coordination and cooperation within the Republican party. It would be Boehner's job to keep the Republicans on the Hill in line, but there would have to be a nationwide effort to communicate why Congressional Republicans seemed to be colluding with Congressional Democrats.
I don't believe Republicans to be capable of this. If they could not successfully communicate to the people why Obama is a terrible President, if they blew their best and only shot to expose his startling incompetence and open disdain for the American Vision, how could they possibly make public knowledge the convoluted details of such a plan?

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Truthseeker in Springfield, MO said:

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. --H. L. Mencken

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Lea in Maryland said:

Excellent strategy. While I continue to shake my head in amazement that so many people are blind to the posit of "no free lunch", the outcome is that they are willfully blind. I am a serial entrepreneur who will do more work myself in order to NOT hire others that I am dictated to proffer benefits. I have found that Appreciation turns to Expectation and then to Entitlement. Formerly, I was proud to provide for my employees, but it's impossible to satisfy the greed and the glut today. Many small business like mine are on life support. Then what, Mr. President?

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Mcyclewriter in Candler,NC said:

This is an excellent strategy. It is especially significant that the Liberal-Progressive constituency exhibits more activism and is highly motivated, while the Conservative camp seems to believe that "someone else must be taking care of this . . . it's sooo obvious!" C.S. Lewis once wrote a book entitled "The Comfortable Pew," in essence satirizing complacency in religion. It is time for the Conservatives, if they care enough, to get off their collective, complacent duffs, out of their comfortable pews, and head for the front lines of ideological combat, armed with knowledge, belief and conviction . . . even brandish a placard or two. Who knows, it may start a trend. Now, if the media would just provide a level playing field, by setting aside their obvious bias, there might even be some fair coverage of the new Conservative trend.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Let us see what happens with full-blown SOCIALISM-The govmint owns all of the means of production, and the American dollar becomes like the Deutchmark-of little value. Street riots,chaos, reprobate behavior, secession of red states, like Texas. Just preppin' for the worst, like a good boy scout-BE PREPARED!

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 5:53 AM

GeorgePA in PA said:

I understand your point, Mr. Ahlert, but you are basically asking those of us who are sitting on the brink to sacrifice ourselves for your greater good. In bringing down this admittedly corrupt system more quickly, a lot lot lot lot lot of good people will get screwed over beyond belief. Can't say that I agree with that logic.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM

whamprod in Grapevine, Texas said:

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard." — H. L. Mencken

In that spirit, I am totally onboard with the author, and I am reregistering as an Independent. I am very conservative (which really means I'm a classical liberal), and a vocal supporter of the essential liberties. I'm done letting the republican party assume that it has my support simply because that is how I am registered. After having given more money to the conservative cause and the republican party in this last election cycle than any other time in my adult life (I'm 60 years old now), I no longer want them to believe that they can count on my wallet any longer either. Let them now EARN my trust and my dollars.

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM

RyDaddy in Madison, WI said:

I'd be in favor of the farmer simply stating, "My produce will not be sold into urban centers"; let the Obama-fools in the cities eat themselves.

But I fear that would only bring about governmental control of the food producers in the country as well.

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 4:16 PM