With the government, intended by the Framers to be small and humble, now funneling a trillion dollars through itself and into the hands of its allies and supplicants…with pop culture iconography fusing with state-worship to create an ostensible messiah-president…with self-interested elites from academia to Nobel committees now oblivious to the difference between compassion and centralized planning (whether of economies or ecosystems), can the desperate (and often stupid) forces of opposition — the exiled right, marginalized conservatism — get any lower?
I’ll host — and Michel Evanchik will moderate — a debate on that very topic, “Has the Right Hit Bottom Yet?”
This Thursday, Feb. 19 (8pm) see optimist (and writer, blogger, and Research editor) Ken Silber argue yes, that the right is already planning its comeback, while pessimist (and author of Elephant in the Room) Ryan Sager argues no, saying the movement he loves is still plummeting downward for the foreseeable future.
My fellow Phillips Foundation Fellow (possibly joined by others of our kind in the audience), Heather Wilhelm, will give us a brief report from the activist field as well [UPDATE: Due to a bad cold, she likely won't join us, alas] — and it all goes down on the basement level of Lolita Bar, 266 Broome St. (at Allen St.) on the Lower East Side, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. F J M Z subway stop.
All ideological and non-ideological stripes are welcome — though non-leftists in need of some shelter from the storm might consider joining me for another monthly event, the Manhattan Project gathering, one night prior to the Thursday Lolita Bar Debate, namely Wed., Feb. 18, from 6:30-on at Merchants NY East, southwest corner of 62nd and First. You will get no pity from me if you do not read this carefully enough to tell the two events apart and thus show up on the wrong day: non-leftist social gathering Wednesday, mixed-crowd debate about the right on Thursday.
And for me, tonight, an oddly-eclectic gathering of secular-leaning libertarians under the auspices of the Institute for Humane Studies in a space belonging to the Jesus-leaning King’s College, located in the basement of the Empire State Building of all places, Ayn Rand’s old headquarters. It’s a very political week for me, ending with Friday’s Phillips Foundation annual New York gathering, with talks by columnist Robert A. George and others.
In the meantime, today is President’s Day, and in addition to reflecting on the wisdom of America’s fairly-libertarian first president, George Washington, and its first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, it might be worth taking a look at this list of conservative celebrities and remembering that there is still a scattered handful of influential people out there — including Buffy, a former Superman, and a few top models — who know the current political order is not as it should be. We can add to that list David Mamet, who wrote the fine play I saw yesterday (with a group gathered by George Mason law professor Michelle Boardman, fittingly), Speed the Plow.
Less enthusiastic about the American way and American media is the Muslim founder of Bridges TV, the project aimed at softening Americans’ impressions of Islam, who has been arrested here in New York for beheading his wife, as Irwin Chusid informed me (and as Drudge has now informed the world, I see).
On a more positive multicultural note, though — and one that may well be an indicator of the right’s strategy for making a comeback, or a mere coincidental sign of the times — I notice not only that (1) a black man, Michael Steele, is now heading the Republican National Committee but that (2) the House of Representatives’ one Jewish Republican, the market-friendly Eric Cantor, is now likened to former rebel-leader Newt Gingrich and (3) my fellow 90s Brown alum, Indian-descended Bobby Jindal, is giving the pivotal official GOP response speech to Leader Obama’s first State of the Union address next week, on Tuesday, Feb. 24. For those of us more concerned (far, far more concerned) about promoting fiscal responsibility than the tribal or cultural agendas our foes fear, these are mostly good signs.
And lest we forget that econ is now the battlefield where the fate of freedom and thus civilization is likely to be determined, here’s a Robert Higgs column reminding us of the magnitude of our era’s changes in political economy — including the bailout and other intrusions upon the fragile market.
My own broad predictions for the future? Things will go very badly for the economy — the main determinant of human wellbeing and voter sentiment, though people resist these twin insights — under Obama, and the GOP’s response, if things go badly, will be roughly as sophisticated as this hypothetical statement:
FAT, AGED, UNCHARISMATIC WHITE MAN, SURROUNDED BY OTHERS LIKE HIM: “This president promised change, but it seems to us he’s left Americans without pocket change!” [mugs for cameras with inappropriate good cheer, profound sense of self-satisfaction, and a big grin -- then his allies pick up a few seats in Congress for 2010 and make no significant changes in policy; they begin planning for 2012 election campaigns, which will also accomplish nothing]
I have shown you one very likely possible-future, and you know it. I almost feel the same sense of trans-temporal inevitability about it that Dr. Manhattan does contemplating time and death in Watchmen — but that’s a topic better suited to next month’s debate (and next month’s Book Selection), about which, more in two weeks.