“Democracy,” says Mencken, “is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” There’s probably no better summation of the 2008 election. After an interminable campaign, Americans are urged to go exercise their little slices of the Popular Will and decide who shall be the The Decider for the next four years.
Shall it be the Man of Hope, who wants to spread a little wealth down to the “disposed peoples” and a little up to his supporter base at Goldman Sachs? Or shall it be “100 years in Iraq” Mac, a man John Zmirak once likened to Erich Ludendorff, which seems to me awfully unfair—to Ludendorff. For despite his many failings, the Generalquartiermeister would never have done anything as lunatic as surround himself with advisors like Elliott Abrams, Randy Scheunemann, and Robert Kagan, all of whom are itching to open up third and forth fronts in our global boondoggle.
Get ready for some Democracy, America, it’s best to just lie back and try to enjoy it.
Though we’ve been talking about the election for almost two years now, the outcome never should have been in doubt. It’s likely most any reasonable Democrats could win in 2008. The ’06 midterms were a decisive referendum on what Americans thought about foreign policy, and most any candidate, even someone as soporific as John Kerry, could take the White House simply by sounding the call, “Come Home, America—with Honor.” All the Hope and Change bullshit spouted by the half-Kenyan community organizer was ultimately unnecessary (and an added risk.)
And yet—inevitably, it seems—Obama, the opposition candidate, has made a “move to the center,” as the punditocracy calls it, which doesn’t mean a move towards moderation or pragmatism, mind you, but a firming up of the Washington establishment position on foreign-policy (and much else)—which the American people probably thought they had made damn clear they didn’t much like.
Thus when those Diebold voting machines are fired up next Tuesday, they will offer the following “choice” (dum-de-dum):
• Candidate A wants a slow drawndown of forces in Iraq, with an implied long-term military presence, plus an expansion of the war in Afghanistan. While, on the other hand, Candidate B wants … well, he wants pretty much the same thing, though he’d withdraw from Iraq a bit more swiftly. (Obama’s plan is to redeploy soldiers from one war to another without changing general troop levels in the region and without bringing anyone home. Or as he calls it “change.”)
• Candidate A wants “comprehensive immigration reform” with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. While, on the other hand, Candidate B … well, their positions are identical on this one, too.
• Candidate A supports Secretary “Hank” and “Helicopter Ben”’s socialization of the banking industry. While, on the other hand, Candidate B … well, you get the picture.
Then there’s Iran and Russia, where the only difference between the candidates’s view is the degree of vehemence with which they denounce the bad guys. (And the ways in which Obama actually does distinguish himself from McCain don’t exactly recommend him to conservatives—“redistributive justice,” anyone?)
We in the alternative Right—(post-)paleos, traditionalists, varieties of Crunchyness, right-libertarians, evocons, and general curmudgeons—have good cause to throw up our hands and drop out—everything seems so terribly wrong and getting progressively wronger. And it’s telling that when we have entered the endorsement fray, particularly when we’ve made arguments for Obama, we haven’t offered endorsements per se so much as calculated scenarios in which, we argue, our vote for Obama isn’t really a vote for Obama. Thus Obama should win because he’ll get us out of Iraq (unlikely), and real conservatism can’t be revived until the war is over; or Obama should win because the GOP must be punished for nominating McCain; or Obama should win so the conservative movement will decouple itself with the Big Government GOP; etc. etc. etc.
Some of these scenarios might actually play out (indeed, I hope they do.) But it’s just as likely, if not more so, that the conservative movement and GOP will forgo painful soul-searching and rethinking and congeal again around all the same stuff they’ve been pushing for the past eight years. This would actually seem a natural posture for them to take, as they’ll be going into opposition against liberalism triumphant in Washington and all those snooty urban white people (e.g. my neighbors) who’ll be riding high after their virtuous election of the multiculti Messiah.
It’s best we leave “Obama conservatism” behind and vote for change we actually believe in.
Chuck Baldwin will most certainly not win next Tuesday, he’s not even on the ballot in all states. He’s the only candidate, however, who’s starting point is the Constitution, and who’s seriously talking about individual and economic liberty, a foreign policy for America, and reducing both legal and illegal immigration (you know, all that extremist, unpatriotic stuff we write about at Takimag.) On top of it all, Baldwin has a sharp mind and is a gentleman.
Unlike some, I have no qualms whatsoever “wasting my vote” on a third party. The only thing I do regret is that Baldwin, for a variety of reasons, hasn’t generated anything like the movement that surrounded Ron Paul this past year—with its money bombs, big rallies, and a netroots in the hundreds of thousands (and it was these unpaid, unaffiliated geeks who were doing all the innovative campaigning.)
Which brings me to a larger point. A vote for Baldwin is nice, but the only thing we could possibly hope for next Tuesday night would be for him to break 1% in some states, if that’s even possible, or maybe get his name up on one of those piecharts during election coverage. A far more consequential action would be to do things like donate 50 bucks to Youth for Western Civilization, Ron’s Paul Campaign for Liberty, the Mencken Club (full disclosure: I’m on the board), and other fledgling groups of the alternative Right, or help the development of publications and websites like Takimag, TAC, VDARE, and Chronicles.
We live in interesting times. Indeed, with the combination of general disapproval of government and an economic meltdown our leaders has been hapelessly incapable of fixing, we would seem to be entering the kind of revolutionary climate conspirators of all sorts only dream of. Bring on the crisis of the regime! And if we’re ever given the opportunity to take back the GOP (which seems far more practicable than building up Baldwin’s Constitution Party), or even given the opportunity to take back the country, we would need to already have an established grassroots base and a core intellectual leadership in place. Let’s get started on all this now.
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