Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An "Extremist" GOP Is Just What We Need

A new book by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein pins the blame for Washington "gridlock" squarely on the shoulders of the "extremism" of the Republican party. The book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks, is the subject of a column by the NJ Star-Ledger's editorial page editor Tom Moran.

Moran, apparently like the authors, never defines "extremism." It is ipso facto evil, with no explanation of why. Similarly, "compromise" is ipso facto a good thing. Apparently, the only kind of extremism that is acceptable is the absolutism of compromise.

But "extremism" and "compromise" are neutral terms. They are good or bad depending on what one is being extreme about or compromising on. Is it good to compromise on one's moral principles?

"Moderation" is another term that is thrown into the mix, as if it is an uncompromising virtue regardless of what one is being moderate about.

I left the following comments:

What is extremism, and why is it bad?

Extremism is standing on principle. The fundamental battle in America is between two extremes; capitalism/individualism, as symbolized by the Declaration of Independence—and socialism/collectivism/Marxism, as symbolized by FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights. The two sides are irreconcilable adversaries.

Which side has been the most consistent in standing up for its principles? For 100 years, the Left has been uncompromising—read, extreme—in upholding its ideological agenda. For 100 years, the Right has failed to uphold its implicit ideology, except for occasional lip service--or, worse, helped the Left on occasion.

The result has been a steady march toward totalitarian socialism. Sure, the Left will compromise politically, as long as each "compromise" moves the ball in their ideological direction. They’re perfectly content to score 3 or 4 yards gains, knowing they’ll always get the first down on the way to their Marxist goal line. But let what passes for the Right propose to move the ball even slightly toward more freedom, and the Left will howl in protest. Did any of the free market healthcare reforms get a hearing in DC during the debate over ObamaCare?

The truth is, extremism has long resided on the Left, and “moderation” has been the hallmark of the Right. Moderate Republicans are the Left’s secret weapon, always permitting that 3-yard gain. It is those moderate Republicans that have paved the road for the hard-line Left. The Democrats expands the welfare state, and the Republicans cut a deal the slow the expansion, lest they seem "extreme." No wonder the Left is now desperate to save those moderate Republicans.

But the rise of the Tea Party is a signal that the Right is beginning to grasp the nature of the game. Extremism—standing on the principles of individualism, however imperfectly the TP does it—is the only way to turn the tide against the Left’s rampaging collectivist extremism. How about political compromises that extend freedom, like privatizing Medicare and Medicaid, or establishing a flat-rate income tax? What welfare state programs is the Left ready to phase out and eliminate to back up its alleged spending cut "compromise?" Without eliminating programs, spending cuts are a mirage. Don't hold your breath. Look at the demonization of the Ryan budget, which merely slows the growth of spending.

The Left has always raised the extremism charge whenever the Right hinted at standing on principle, threatening their welfare state, and the Right has always backed down. Maybe this time, the Right is beginning to awaken, and realize that its own moderation has been the weapon that has been defeating them.

Here's two thumbs up for Right-wing extremism. America desperately needs an uncompromising champion of liberty. America needs a knock-down, no-holds-barred ideological battle between the two extremes. America needs a complete rout of the statist Left, in the spirit of the rout of the old slave-holding South.

I have not read the book. But, judging by the article and the excerpts provided in the sidebar, it's no wonder Moran, a liberal, loves the book. He and the authors are not against extremism, only Right-wing extremism.
Consider these excerpts from the book:

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme...       If our democracy is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change. In the short run, without a massive (and unlikely) across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls, that will not happen. ... It is up to voters to decide. If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center.  
"The center" is yet another term that is considered ipso facto the good, without any explanation of what the "center" is the center of, or of which side of the center is good or bad. It's just good to be straddled between them. But when one side represents statism, and the other freedom, why is such a straddle good. Is it even possible? The answer; such a straddle is not good, nor possible. Statism and freedom (individual rights) are inherently incompatible. One extreme will move the center in its direction, depending upon which side is the most ideologically consistent.

Since Moran and the authors condemn the GOP, it's obvious that their sympathies lie with the statist extreme. There is no mention of the fact that the ideological center has moved so far left that champions of liberty are now "insurgent outliers."

This is not to say that the GOP is a consistent champion of liberty. It is not and has not been. But rightly or wrongly, the GOP is the political proxy for liberty and limited government. That is why they are condemned by the Left. The extremist smear is meant to hide the fact that freedom has no place in the ideology of the Left.

Republican "extremism" is a straw man. It is an anti-concept intended to discredit, marginalize, silence, and destroy philosophical dialogue. Since the Left is the side that most understands the philosophical nature of the political struggle in America, it is the capitalism/individualism side that is silenced without a hearing. The Republicans should brush off the Left's smears. It should realize that such buzzwords as "extremism," "moderation," "compromise,"  and "the political center" are aimed straight at the heart of ideological opposition to socialism/collectivism/Marxism. They need to discover what the Left is trying to hide; that, as Barry Goldwater once said:

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

For more, read:

The Virtue of Extremism

E.J. Dionne Answers the Call with an Assault on "Extreme Individualism"

Extremists vs. the Moderates: Why the Left Keeps Winning, and the Right has been Powerless to Stop It

Howard Roark and the GOP

No comments: