Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Conservatism is a Perpetual Loser

The Left Worries about what Obamacare’s Failure Means for the Future: What We Must Do to Respond

This is the heading of a recent column by Ron Radosh on PJMedia. The "we" means "we conservatives." He believes that the ObamaCare rollout fiasco is an opportunity for Republicans to turn the cultural tide against "liberalism."


For such a result — to use the words of the late Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci — we need to wage a war of position, and to challenge the ideological hegemony of liberalism and liberal ideology. That means we must challenge the entire culture of liberalism in its most basic sense, and provide conservative alternatives to the entire set of liberal bromides that are continually put forth. It means we have to wage a fight in the universities, in the entertainment industry, and throughout the culture at large. This will eventually lead to victory in the electoral arena.

This is all true, and something Objectivists have been saying for a long time. It's a war of ideas—of fundamental ideas—and winning meaningfully at the polls presupposes winning the war of ideas.

Unfortunately, Radosh doesn't specifically spell out the ideas conservatives are to rely on to challenge the Left. Nor does he spell out what constitutes "liberalism in its most basic sense." So what, exactly, should this fight be about? Radosh's next paragraph gives us a broad hint:

But in the meantime, let us start by working hard to keep the House and take the Senate in 2014 — two necessary goals to begin the job of repealing ObamaCare and creating a solid conservative alternative that would address the problem of health care for the currently uninsured, and that would not be the stepping-stone to a single-payer system.

The Left stands for collectivism and its political corollary; state supremacy over the individual. The only alternative is individualism and its corollary; individual rights and limited, rights-protecting government. How does one win the war of ideas when, in the political arena, one adopts the Left's premises; "repealing ObamaCare and creating a solid conservative alternative that would address the problem of health care for the currently uninsured?" Isn't the needs of the uninsured what ObamaCare is all about? Isn't the idea that it is society's job is to fill the needs of individuals and the government's job is to carry out that mission precisely "liberalism in its most basic sense?"

If conservatives' only answer to ObamaCare is to achieve the Left's agenda, then what exactly does it mean "to challenge the ideological hegemony of liberalism and liberal ideology?" Where does individual rights and limited, rights-protecting government fit into an "alternative that would address the problem of health care for the currently uninsured"; i.e., a government that violates rights, which is the only way a government can provide insurance to the uninsured? 

This is why America stands on the precipice of full, undiluted socialized medicine, with full socialism following right behind—albeit through the back door of fascism. Conservatives have been losing the fight for a century precisely because they let the Left set the ideological agenda. 

What the Right needs is to adopt a long-term strategy based on fundamental principles of liberty. Such a strategy includes rejecting the idea that the government's or society's job is to guarantee some level of material fulfillment to any individual or group, no matter how "needy." This strategy may mean taking some lumps at the polls in the short term as the price of building a solid governing ideology of individualism down the road. But what is the point of winning elections without a liberty mandate?

Related Reading:

Extremists vs. the Moderates: Why the Left Keeps Winning, and the Right has been Powerless to Stop It
My Challenge to the GOP: A Philosophical Contract With America

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