A plurality of CPAC attenders voted Ron Paul their favorite for 2012 presidential candidate (though plenty of other CPAC-goers greeted his victory with boos), so Huckabee may be factually correct, anyway. Glenn Greenwald thinks Huckabee is also more honest than most of the GOP, which only feigns anti-government sentiment when out of power. In response, I’d say that of course politicians love power more than principle — but unless one believes that hypocrisy itself is a sort of deadly radiation that directly kills American citizens, better (at least sometimes) to have imperfect government-limiters in power than honest government-expanders. At least the hypocrites may occasionally feel obliged to live up to their rhetoric, if only to keep up appearances. God help us, by contrast, if the Democrats ever live up to all their socialist promises.
But to look at the Paul/mainstream divide less cynically for a change: what if one is essentially moderate on military and security issues — and thus genuinely untroubled by the gulf between the Paulites and Cheneyans in that area, perhaps even seeing the two as balancing each other out in a relatively healthy way? Does that not perhaps make the acceptance of this ragtag coalition reasonable for a typical supporter? No party is unanimous, but it can “average out” to an acceptable coalitional message. It may prove useless for other reasons, but internal contradictions alone can’t be sufficient to damn any political party large enough to make a difference, especially in those cases where the contradictions capture some genuinely perplexing tensions — and let me just note again that all I really want are some damn budget cuts.
There are always still-more-radical approaches to fighting the power than voting for Ron Paul, of course. It’s interesting that the daughter of that guy who flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin still calls her father a hero.
I’m not that radical/crazy/homicidal, but a quick Google search suggests I’m not the first to think that someone ought to write a “Ballad of Joe Stack” anti-government folk song about the incident. Lotta musicians in Austin, albeit mostly left-wing ones — but, hey, the left-wing ones could always do it ironically and then sit back and watch the resulting single sell surprisingly well in some other parts of Texas (I say all this solely in the interest of art — and politically, it’s worth noting Stack seems to have hated both government and capitalism, not unlike a lot of angry people who end up barricading their compounds, if you know what I mean, people who lately probably don’t seem nearly as strange to many cash-strapped Americans as they once did).
Speaking of the South, I have in recent years dated a liberal lawyer from Virginia and, starting one year later, a conservative writer/editor from North Carolina (it’s not a strict rule that anyone who has dated me must eventually be a Lolita Bar debater, by the way, but the tally so far is five, those two among them, for those keeping track — and I don’t think that’s so many, given that we’ve done about sixty debates over a period of five years now, usually with two smart people who know me in each debate, and given my tendency to date only smart women — and let me add that “Lolita” stands for LOwer East Side near Little ITAly, just in case you suspected otherwise).
Anyway, at the risk of offending numerous people (but I’ll try to be fair even while brutally brief), the Virginian often charged that by being a right-leaning libertarian, I was no mere econ-loving man of the Enlightenment but in fact an enforcer of rigid traditionalist social hierarchies, especially regarding women, that I was insufficiently concerned with social justice, that I sound like a callous jerk sometimes on this blog, and that I was in effect rubbing shoulders with neo-Confederates and slavery apologists whose talk of being “libertarian” was a mere cover for a specific right-wing cultural agenda. I assured her I barely knew what she was talking about, my agenda being mainly dictated by supply and demand curves, and suggested her concerns might be rooted more in Southern experience than in my dry Northeastern bean-counting notions.
Then, a year later, the North Carolinian, who says she’s in some sense technically libertarian, began criticizing me precisely for not sufficiently valuing rigid social hierarchies, especially regarding women, for being too “reform”-minded, and for not being combative enough, and she even complained that the South’s history of slavery is often too glibly condemned by outsiders who consider it uniquely evil and manifestly un-Christian but fail to place it in historical context amidst various other old, oppressive social systems.
I’m not saying that getting attacked from both left and right proves I’m the sane middle ground here (as with healthcare legislation and bank bailouts, sometimes the left and right attack the middle because the middle genuinely sucks), nor even that I want the two of them to fight it out while I watch (though, again, I do organize debates), but merely that sometimes a brutha can’t get a break. That is my real message to the world. Write that down. I want that on my tombstone and, who knows, may well need one soon for all I know.
(Incidentally, the North Carolinian, Helen Rittelmeyer, notes an excellent summary by Fred Siegel of recent political corruption scandals in the New York area and beyond, lest we think the North is perfect. If you’re a liberal like the Virginian, Koli Mitra, you should read it as another reminder that government may not be a likely means of improving society — and Koli might well agree. I will admit government is generally more bearable than slavery, though.)
Meanwhile, my favorite free-market Southern politician (who ironically used to work for Huckabee), Dan Greenberg, has won the National Review Institute’s Ideas Challenge award for 2010. His idea (or at least an idea of Ed Meese and some of his fellow conservative constitutional legal scholars that Dan would like to popularize): re-limit the federal government via a constitutional convention called by two thirds of state legislatures instead of waiting for Congress. David Boaz, another of Dan’s former bosses, has half-jokingly warned that the first Constitutional Convention did enough damage without risking another one, but Dan argues that the scope of the convention could be carefully limited by the states.
On a closely related note: If I can’t get budget cuts from the feds, I’d happily settle for a massive move toward the fifty states just ignoring Washington, DC (the way parts of China ignore Beijing). Let DC do nothing but make payments on the debt until it’s gone. There’d be plenty of government left over on the state level — and fifty times more experiment and diversity. This idea is no more radical than racking up a $13 trillion debt and then spending still more. And let me be clear that I am not invoking states’ rights as a backdoor means of oppressing the black man. To steal a joke from the leftist Yes Men: I personally am an abolitionist. You need not call me hero.