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.