June 10, 2008

When Conservatives Want to Talk

Justin Katz

This comment from Greg, in conversation with Old Time Liberal, is surprising in the degree to which he sets aside incisive surety for a conservative's spin on the mushy milieu of liberal emotivism:

I love to engage in raucous political debate with people from the other side of the fence. In person (Blogs I mostly hate for the obvious reasons). In person you can yell and rant and I can yell back and rant and we can both throw party lines at each other until we're blue in the face.

And once the bloviating is over we can get to the meat of the issues. And more often than not we can come to an agreement on MOST things. I want fewer welfare recipients. You want low-cost tuitions. I say we PAY for four years of schooling and that person gives us back two years of CIVILIAN (military if they want) service and sign off that they aren't eligible for welfare ever. You say ten years. I say twenty. We come to an agreement. It means squat but we're talking. And we're finding solutions we're both happy about or are at least both equally unsatisfied with.

Obama wants this conversation to be happening about everything. He wants to get past the rancor and childish stupidity that has taken over politics in the last 20 years. Can it work? I dunno. But I'll give his way a shot. And if he blows it I'll vote him out in four years. God knows he can't F-it up anymore than Captain Cuckoo-Bananas and his idiot cabal are right now.

I want to be part of that 'new' tone. I'm tired of hating liberals. I'm tired of being hated as a conservative. I want to be an American again and for that to MEAN something.

What have I missed that has so persuaded Greg that Obama truly wants to have such conversations? Oh sure, he wants to be pegged as having such desires. He's got the far-left locked, he's been leveraging identity politics and labor promises to secure the Democrat mainstream, and he and his handlers have been sufficiently shrewd to recognize that much of the Republican base that is fed up with Bush also has never really liked McCain. So they've cooked up this "change you can believe in," "yes we can" drivel, and they've conducted the campaign masterfully. But where is the proof that Obama absorbs the arguments of the other side and adjusts his own positions accordingly?

Greg doesn't seem to care that Obama would shake his hand, thank him for the good conversation, and then go back to his office and expand the size and reach of government in every direction, right down to dictating that small businesses give a certain amount of time for employees to skip out for children's activities. (That's a worthy idea as a benefit, but it isn't the federal government's place offer it on behalf of businesses.)

It seems to me that one of the main things that righties such as Greg (and me) detest about W. is his tendency to listen to the other side so much that he winds up taking their positions half the time. The change that Obama would bring is to make a show of listening, but then to charge hard in the wrong direction. And he'll likely have the benefit of two congressional houses' being controlled by his party.

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And yet, in response to a potential Obama or Clinton opponent the best the Republicans could throw out there was 71 year old "Hey, did you know I was a POW forty years ago?" John McCain. Almost as if the strategy on the Right was to out-Left the Left.

My question to you, Justin, would simply be this:

Do you expect that a McCain administration will be one IOTA different in its capitulation to the ideas of the Left?

On a personal note, I'm too young to intimately remember the Carter Administration but my history tells me it was a complete Charlie-Foxtrot. I somewhat remember the Reagan Administration and waking up worrying about the Ruskies nuking us back into the stone age. I remember Bush 1 took us to war and then wussed out and went home before the job was done. I remember Clinton all too well as he was my boss. And I certainly know all about Bush The Sequel.

And what has GWB brought us? Pissed away global goodwill post-9/11. Cuddling with the enemies in the mid-east that spawned the killers of 9/11. Population Control via explosion in Afghanistan and Iraq. Global oil prices with NO attachment to realistic market forces. Blackwater. GITMO. Floating Prison/Torture ships. Domestic Spying. Patriot Act. The TSA their Gestapo-like random body-cavity searches.

Shall I go on?

Tell me again why I should throw my support behind the guy that voted for many of those actions and will likely continue them.

Tell me again why I shouldn't support the party that would be in the best position to investigate and then bring GWB up on War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity for his Godlike behavior.

Or are we hoping to continue the slide towards an Orwellian future?

Posted by: Greg at June 10, 2008 11:49 AM

If we were all that doctrinaire aboiut being liberal or conservative, would anything ever get done in this country?
Nationally, we got welfare reform going. We got campaign finance reform. We got America up and running after 9-11.
In Rhode Island, we got workers comp reform. We lowered income tax. We got a gay rights bill (signed by a Republican governor). And we'll get the budget hole filled - nobody will be happy about the results, but we'll all get it done.
If listening to the other side is such an evil thing, none of this happens, and imagine how worse off we'd be.
We need liberals who want to keep the finances in order. We need conservatives who disagree with the cultural Taliban.
We don't need people who say, "Oh, you can't talk to..."

Posted by: rhody at June 10, 2008 2:35 PM

I started posting here on Anchor rising because it's focus is Rhode Island. I have travelled some and have made the choice over and over to remain here. The political environment in the state along with the thoughts expressed here on this blog have an impact on my life. I have some passionate viewpoints as do many who post here. What Rhody expressed is valid. Progress that lasts does not come from one singular political expression but many. Too often we divide our selves into these political labels that require accepting and then defending a laundry list of positions. Greg considers himself a conservative but clearly has many problems with the current conservative movement. In areas of personal freedom I think these labels fail us entirely. Greg and I may be much closer on a whole host of positions than these labels would indicate. So ask yourself who has benefited from these divisions?
On a personal note I regret engaging in the type of rancor that I think keeps us from having the types of discussion we need to have. I ran into an old friend today in the market. He's one that I disagree with on many things but I happily accepted an invitation to discuss it with him on his porch with mint julips. I can't think of anything better to beat the heat.

Posted by: Phil at June 10, 2008 6:06 PM

I would like to see a liberal who goes on and on about constitutional rights just for once respect the individual right granted by the 2nd Amendment.But they don't-Obama couldn't be plainer than this.he wants to register guns Federally and outlaw semi-autos.Okay-i want a cpomplete list of every book in everyone's house and outlaw books that have dangerous ideas.how stupid do I sound?YOU KNOW WHAT GUN RIGHTS ARE?iF YOU DON'T WANT A GUN,DON'T BUY ONE.
Obama is four more years of Jimmy carter,one of the most incompetent Presidents in history-and he wasn't an idiot like Bush.He messed up the immigration situation beyond belief.i can give a full rundown to anyone who's interested.Without Carter we wouldn't be locked in a bitter fight over immigration,which is unhealthy for our society.He let things get so out of control,there was no fixing it-and Reagan was too absorbed in struggling with the Soviet Union to pay attention,although I liked Reagan a great deal.Bush 1 was mediocre and Clinton squandered his intelligence with his lack of character.
Is McCain the be all and end all?No.But he is not Bush term3 by a long shot-for one thing he doesn't surround himself with scumbags like Dick Cheney,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz,Perle,Rove,et al.He ought to lose mama's boy Lieberman pretty quick-that prick wants for "you and him" to fight.McCain put his rear end on the line and his son has served in Iraq-he's no chickenhawk.
recently I went to Drinking Liberally where I had an actually civil series of discussions with Ian Donnis,Chris Blazejewski,Pat Crowley,Juan Pichardo,Kim Ahern,Bob Walsh and Matt Jerzyk(imagine that!)and they were all very courteous and stuck to their positions,as did I,but I think I was surprised in a few cases by the individuals not being what I expected,and I think some of them realized I might actually know what I'm talking about on certain subjects.At least no one called me a fascist.
Except for maybe Walsh I'm 20 to 30+ years older than the others so I actually lived through the period that fascinates some of them so much.It's like me trying to understand when my parents always talked about the Depression.I guess no matter what period
is under discussion you had to be there to really get it.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 10, 2008 6:52 PM

rhody, I think your right. But the use of rhetoric like "cultural Taliban" will not facilitate such discussion.

Posted by: mikeinRI at June 10, 2008 9:19 PM


An "iota"? Yes, I expect so. But that's not really the point. Putting aside your excessive hopes for criminal charges against the president, I'd suggest that your comment to this thread is quite different from the one that I quoted in the post proper.

There's a world of difference between not supporting the Republican candidate and pining for an oversold "new tone" of the other guy. Again, what makes you think that Obama has any intention of actually involving those on the right in any more degree than persuading them to stay home or even to "give his way a shot." What's "his way"?

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 10, 2008 10:41 PM

The cultural Taliban are the most stubborn conservatives of all, the ones who cannot be spoken to. I am encouraged to see the national GOP moving past it (even Huckabee, probably the most socially conservative of the presidential candidates - I don't consider him Taliban.).

Posted by: rhody at June 11, 2008 11:12 AM

"Left-wing", "the political left", or "the Left" are terms that refer to politics that seek to reform or abolish existing social hierarchies and promote a more equal distribution of wealth and privilege. Liberals go part way along this road, but generally stop short of "equal distribution of wealth and privilege." I don't. That is why I use the tag OldTimeLefty.

So, if you are going to refer to me, then get the name right. You don't want me to start playing with such a rich target as your name. To this point, my comments have been addressed to what I perceive as your persona as defined by your sophomoric attempts to explain politics. As your political world keeps shrinking your cries become increasingly enfeebled. Are you afraid that the nom de plume is too good? What exactly is it that makes you want to warp the name? Did you get your feelings hurt little boy?

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at June 11, 2008 4:10 PM
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