May 26, 2005
Party of the West
A lot of people seem to assume that I am a Republican. I suppose that it makes some sense, since my views tend to be slightly conservative to strongly conservative on those issues I write about most frequently. But that assumption is incorrect.
But what am I? Our political lexicon is too limited, too constrained for adequate description. I am a republican, federalist, libertarian, constitutionalist, conservative, classically liberal, capitalist, free-marketeering, free-trading, secular, spiritual, culturally western, tolerant of honest disagreement advocate of a strong national defense. Notice the lack of capital letters, by the way, on the politically loaded terms. And which of these takes precedence on any given issue depends on the details of the issue. There's not a term for this, other than "independent." But "independent" is itself too limited and too-frequently misused to be a meaningful label. In America, "independent" just means you aren't a Democrat or a Republican.
If I had to boil this down into a set of principles on which to base a name for myself, I suppose it would be these:
- The meta-constitution of the US, and the only moral basis for free governance, is stated in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Any Constitution or system of governance that stands at odds to this statement is inherently immoral and, over the long term if not the short term, unsufferable.
- The pursuit of happiness inherently begins with the right to control one's own body. This is the basis of property rights, without which no other right may be indefinitely preserved.
- Rights are valid only so long as they are exercised in a way that does not infringe the rights of others. To be trite, your right to swing your fists ends at my nose.
- That government is best that governs least. A government without limits inevitably descends into tyranny. The function of the government is not to dictate what culture may or may not develop — or even what economy may or may not develop — but to create safe conditions in which culture and economy may evolve freely.
- Words have meanings. While there may be shades of difference and subtleties of usage, the wholesale destruction of language, literature and history wrought by Chomsky, Derrida, Zinn, their willing accomplices and their uncritical accolytes is a cultural crime of the first magnitude, because its inevitable end is tyranny.
- Without the rule of law — that is, the neutral and consistent application of justice regardless of the identity or inborn characteristics of offender or victim — the application of law becomes an exercise in power, and thus a road to inevitable tyranny.
- The Constitution can only be reasonably interpreted to mean what its words mean in the plain language of the time in which they were written, with occasional reference to well-established legal jargon ("necessary and proper", "due process", "high crimes and misdemeanors", etc.). To interpret the Constitution according to "the standards of the times" or its "emanations and penumbras" — in particular to ignore the plain meaning of the text and insert ones personal preferences — is to reduce the Constitution to a set of suggestions and ideas with no legal force. This subverts the rule of law, leading inevitably to tyranny. Where the Constitution fails to grant necessary and useful powers to the government, or where the cultural situation has changed such that some powers should be or refuse to be granted to the government, the Constitution includes two methods for changing its contents. Using them, while slow and sometimes painful, is far preferable to simply deciding that the Constitution means whatever is convenient at the time.
- When different possible interpretations, or cases that fall into the gray areas, of the Constitution arise, that interpretation is correct which best preserves individual liberty. Where more than one interpretation preserves individual liberty, that interpretation is correct that most limits the government. Where more than one interpretation is available that limits the government, everybody wins.
- Only free-market, free-trading capitalism with minimal government regulation has been proven capable of producing economic progress over a long term without simultaneously producing human misery.
- All cultures have contributed useful characteristics to the world. But not all cultures are equally worthy of respect and emulation, due to their varying propensities to fall into stagnation, tyranny, or both. The Greek system of ethics; the Greek systems of mathematics, logic and reason; the Roman system of law; the concept of representative governance; the Enlightenment liberal values of individual rights; the scientific method; and separation of Church and State are all keys to a liberal, secular society in which people can be free, happy, secure and prosperous. And they are all Western developments. Dead, white men still have a lot to teach us. So do living African musicians and Asian spiritualists.
- Multiculturalism — the reverence of all cultures as equal — is crap. The melting pot — the combination of the best characteristics of all cultures and the rejection of the worst characteristics of each — is far superior at producing a culture in which people can be free, happy, secure and prosperous.
- Religion is a matter of personal conviction. The Senate is free to have prayers before going into session, and I'm free to sit in the gallery and make scatalogical jokes while they do. I won't, though, because that's indecent. The State is not free to impose a religion upon me, nor to forbid me from worshipping as I see fit, provided that I harm no others nor their property in my worship.
- The US has little to nothing to apologize for. Where we have made large mistakes, we've fixed them - indeed, as the slavery debate and subsequent Civil War shows, we have sometimes paid in blood for our mistakes. Overall, the US has been the most moral and upstanding nation in the history of the world. I have little doubt that we will continue to be so.
- The government has an absolute duty to protect Americans in America against foreign aggression, and to the extent that that involves removing a threat to the US which has not yet manifested, the duty still exists.
- Americans have an absolute right to protect themselves against the government.
So what does that make me? I guess, given the position of Western culture and ideas, it makes me a proud member of the "Party of the West"; population: one.
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Tracked on June 9, 2005 7:17 AM
Bravo! I would have to look very closely indeed to find much, if anything, to disagree with here.
Although I've been led to believe that holding pretty much identical views makes me an extremist right-winger, I tend to classify it (rather simplistically, and not entirely accurately) as a libertarian - conservative (at least that's what I'm calling it at the moment). Whatever you want to call it, sign me up.
Posted by: Brian at May 31, 2005 12:38 AM
Brian, I call it libertarian-conservative or conservative libertarian, depending on my mood.
I think we need a website. And contribution money. Lots of contribution money.
Posted by: MamaLynx at May 31, 2005 7:20 AM
I think it's basically small "L" libertarianism.
Posted by: Daryl at May 31, 2005 8:18 AM
Population addition: two more from here!
You know, I honestly believe there are more of us who feel this way. It's encouraging. Mind if I link this over?
Posted by: Dy at May 31, 2005 11:44 AM
I like it. I've been using "libertarian hawk" to describe a similar attitude. There are some people working in the same direction calling themselves "neolibertarians" (http://neolibertarian.net/). So I'm ready to vote for it, and chip in some money, and other stuff. But I'm not sure what the best approach is, given the sorry history of "third" parties in this country.
Best idea I've come up with so far is creating a caucus of the Republican party to run a slate of candidates in primaries, eventually trying to build up recognized strength in the party. That's for Texas--people in other states should probably try to work within whichever party is dominant.
Posted by: Karl Gallagher at May 31, 2005 12:07 PM
Feel free to link to anything here, please.
I like libertarian hawk - the logo suggests itself immediately. And yes, Karl, I think you're right: the best way to effectively do this (effective in political terms) would be to be a cross-partisan group, working within whatever party is prominent in each State on State races, and with the nationally prominent party on national issues.
But this would require money to be truly effective, which would require an organized way to collect and disburse that money. And I'm unsure if an organization that worked with both parties could form an effective enough caucus to move the parties, because they would always be suspected of secretly working for the other side. Look at the vitriol directed at John McCain and Joe Lieberman from their Party purists!
Forming a PAC or similar organization wouldn't be particularly effective, because of the McCain-Feingold repeal of the first amendment, which makes it so that only candidates for office and truly-large fundraising organizations can significantly effect (national, at least) political races.
Maybe a 501(c)3 would work for fundraising/advertising, allied with two cooperative caucases (one for each party). It would take a lot of work to get such an organization running, though.
Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at May 31, 2005 2:43 PM
Coming by this very late, but would anyway like to add our names to the list!
Posted by: Carlotta at October 20, 2005 12:23 AM