Are Factions Killing the Republican Party?

I suppose it is both a blessing and a headache that each American has the right to liberty and expression. As Americans, we can disagree with each other and propose policy solutions to social and economic difficulties that develop in what is still a young democracy. While I disagree at times with my left-leaning counterparts, I am confident that we both want what is “right” for America; we have different opinions about how to reach that goal.

A few years ago, I was speaking with a friend about the typical political issues: taxes, entitlements, regulations and health care. While we both agreed that fostering a climate of economic growth was beneficial to a stable society, we disagreed about the means for accomplishing that goal. Our disagreement was quite civil, but it begged a deeper question: how does one go about implementing the means to achieving our individual ends?

One example that comes to mind is the palpable tension between taxation and entitlements. The conservative right oft advocates that lowering taxes would benefit all Americans by incentivizing individuals to make and keep the profits of their risks. But achieving this end requires shrinking the government and ending certain programs that are stifling, expensive, and overbearing, (like, the Department of Education, Energy and maybe the EPA). The liberal left, on the other hand, prefers a more paternalistic attitude toward entitlements. It is – according to many supporters – the government’s obligation to provide for the welfare of its citizens and level the playing field to allow everyone to succeed and contribute according to one’s own financial means. Neither ideology would advocate an absolute direction in one way or the other. Remove taxes and the nation cannot protect itself. Tax too highly, and it and the tax base plummets to zero.

It is axiomatic that our Constitution protects those with divergent opinions. In fact, the Constitution anticipates the possibility of majority power silencing dissent. Individual, enumerated liberties permit citizens to express themselves, and advocate positions – even unpopular minority positions. John Madison, in the Federalist Paper #10, suggests that central to liberty is faction – that is, to encourage diverse viewpoints and interests to prevent any one position from becoming too strong and swallowing the minorities. Rather that eliminate factions, they should be encouraged.

The Federalist Papers #10 explains that:

Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

If the majority could squash out competing viewpoints using the machinery of government, democracy would be a fraud. For all its failings, democracy has served well here in America for the past two hundred years. It isn’t to say that the country has always done the right thing, but it has taken steps to correct many of its failings from happening again (Japanese internment camps during WWII, infringement on Native American sovereignty, slavery, etc).

But a majority is precisely what is needed implement the changes needed to make our country great. The Democrats have it; the Republicans don’t. The Democrats are largely united in their positions. Certainly differences exist, but by bloc voting, they are largely able to push through legislation that promotes their interests – and supposedly the interests of their constituents. The Republicans on the other hand, cannot seem to find common ground amongst themselves. They have factioned so much that it seems that any sense of unification behind one particular ideology appears naught.

So are factions killing the Republican party?

There lies a tension between idealogical purism and pragmatic realism that conflict the conservatives in the Republican party. Those that hold deeply-rooted conservative values – the tea partiers and the like- want the pendulum to swing as much to the right as it swung to the left over the past number of years. On the other hand, conservatives embroiled in east-coast politics are far less ambitious in terms of policy positions than their purist foils. But the criticism against the pragmatics is simple: there lies little difference between pragmatic conservatism and pragmatic liberalism. It’s a question of degrees. Absent a significant difference, there lies little motivation for the more traditional conservatives – or even independents – to rally behind such an ideology.

Of course, pragmatic conservatives also criticize the conservative purists as unrepresentative of the nation and unelectable. Absent a compromise between the two factions – perhaps absent another faction – the liberal largesse continues to unveil its imposed vision for America. Well-intentioned as it is, without accountability, steamrolling policy changes run dangerously close to converting democracy to a regime imposing the power of the government oppressively upon its citizens. The pitfall of democracy is that it is theoretically possible to abrogate its provisions and morph it into a more centralized political powerhouse governed by the few.

But another possibility is that citizens may eventually decide that any alternative faction is more beneficial to the one in power. In this sense, factions are not killing the Republican party; factions are providing opportunities to offer an alternative voice the the growing government. Be it tea-partiers, east-coast conservatives or some flavor in-between, democracy – while it still exists – permits its citizens to choose between the status quo or its alternative, whether the alternative is but another shade of gray or a stark contrast to the liberalism currently in power.

Is the Political Pot Calling the Kettle “Black”?

About a month ago, I wrote a response to an editorial piece for my local newspaper.  It wasn’t published there, so I convinced the author of this blog to post it here for all the world to see.  Obviously, I didn’t take much convincing considering I’ve in away for the better part of the month.  Still, with my average of one to two posts a month, it’s probably about time that I put something up again.  I am legitimately trying do publish more often.  I suffered the same sort hiatus from blogging as did my Tucson counterpart (and I use that term loosely, he is far more prolific than I).  I’ve tried to revamp the direction of the blog, and each time I settle into the same routine of churning out a post a month.  At least I’m consistent.  At this point,  I still have visions of sugar plums and a more focused topicality to the content here.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Thanks Lao Tzu.  I’m moving forward here, if only by a step.

So what I have below my response to a satirical editorial by Will Durst.  Mr. Durst is self-proclaimed as America’s Top Political Satirist.  In late-August, he wrote an article, “Mister Muzzle and Nuzzle.”  You can find it here (scroll down to August, 27, 2011).  It’s a great article – very sarcastic.  On a whim I penned a reply in the same style.  It’s not quite my style, but I enjoyed the opportunity to step out of my literary skin and try a response in the same manner.

Now technically I wrote this reply in August – so this today is only a quasi September post.  Will there be another?  Stay tuned.

In response to “Mister Muzzle and Nuzzle” by Will Durst

Mr. Durst’s laugh-and-bash editorial of Rick Perry’s Texas-style entry into the GOP presidential race largely ignores the reality; even a generic-flavored Republican from the candidate buffet is a more palatable alternative than Obama’s medicine.  I didn’t care for Obama’s healthcare pill, and I didn’t care for the elixir of injecting greenbacks into Wall Street.  Last I checked, America is still hooked up to an I.V. monitored by S&P and Moodys.  And if those monitoring stations indicate anything other than a clean bill of health, the Feds launch an investigation.  At least Biden will celebrate the boost in payroll numbers.

Let’s face it, America is waking from its Obama fairytale with a huge hangover.  This isn’t like quite the Cinderella story topped with sugarplums and happily ever after endings that we envisioned – not when nearly 1 in 10 can’t get a job.  Apparently census workers are seasonal positions.  Check back in ten years Detroit.  Unbeknownst to Obama, most of America can’t take weeklong vacations every month or afford to have working wives make celebrity appearances on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  But hey, every job has its perks.  I get my jollies after I punch out at after work, sit down and watch stocks jump like yo-yos.  What a rush; my net worth jumps around more than Tigger on a pogo-stick.   Talk about entertainment.  Do we still need another four years of Obama in his Washington bubble?

Who cares about numbers though– Social Security isn’t a Ponzi-scheme.  I’m glad Big Government will be there to support me.  Thanks Obama.  I like spending money too.  Let’s do that cash for clunkers thing again.  Yeah, I know the program cost taxpayers about $24,000 for the $4,000 I saved on my new Kia Rio.  And yeah, it’s a foreign car.  So what?  The new Chevrolet Equinox our Labor Secretary drives around Washington in was assembled in Canada.  At least it feels good driving a Chevy.  Looks good in photo shoots too.

Remember those trillions we pumped into the economy?  And those bailouts?  Thank God for those new jobs.  Like $500,000 equals one job?  That’s a Black Friday deal if I ever saw one.  But math wasn’t my strong suit, so I guess me and Washington have one thing in common.  But hey, we can build more industrial plants in Singapore; they need work too.  It’s the cost of doing business.  And that Nobel Peace Prize is looking mighty fine.  Whoops.  I forgot about those wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  Wait.  Not Libya.  “Kinetic Military Action.” How’s that for linguistic jujitsu?

Let’s not be too hard on Obama.  He has a country to run.  Without his clairvoyant government intervention into nearly every. single. aspect. of our lives, private markets would surely collapse.  Re-election takes front and center too.  Move over Bachmann, Perry, Romney, Cain, Paul, America – Obama has a bunch more goodies coming.  I don’t think I sent my thank you card for the last Christmas present.  You know, that whale of a healthcare bill Obama-Santa gave us all on Christmas Eve, 2009.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Won’t forget that one anytime soon, no sir-ree.  I’m totally looking forward to my upgraded MVD-style doctor office visits.  Where’s my Medicare card?

What other dollops have me salivating this year?  Oh, oh – immigration reform!  Yeah!  That’ll seal up this Hispanic vote.  Don’t touch Social Security or Medicare.  Takes care of elderly.  Drop “G-d” around enough and pick up some of those crazy Christian southern folk too.  Hmm. Why do so many conservatives want to run against Obama?  Can’t they tell Obama offers something for everyone?  Just leave the milk and cookies on the counter.

Nobel Prize Committee Defends Obama’s Award

The running joke is that President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize for one reason: he wasn’t George W. Bush.

But even more humorous, the Nobel Prize Committee defended its award claiming that Barrack Obama’s accomplishments merited it.

Let’s give the award some context though. The Nobel Peace Prize is meant to be awarded for recognition of accomplishments made “during the preceding year.” Nominations for the Prize end on February 1 at which point the candidates are vetted, names are whittled down until a handful remain, and then one is chosen.

So, let’s fill in the blanks. What did Obama do prior to February 1? Let’s see… He ascended to the Presidency two weeks earlier. Before that he was a junior senator from Illinois. Does that about cover it?

The Norwegian Nobel Peace committee apparently saw it differently:

To those who say a Nobel is too much too soon in Obama’s young presidency, “We simply disagree … He got the prize for what he has done,” committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland told The Associated Press by telephone from Strasbourg, France, where he was attending meetings of the Council of Europe.

Jagland singled out Obama’s efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe.

“All these things have contributed to — I wouldn’t say a safer world — but a world with less tension,” he said.

Read that last sentence again. Okay, never mind that the world is not safer – there is less tension. Currently America is engaged in Iraq and 13,000 more troops are being deployed to Afghanistan. North Korea is developing nuclear capabilities and Honduras is in its own little world. Less tension? For relaxing a Bush policy?

I’m not sure what was in the Committee’s happy-juice:

“Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year,” Jagland said.

“Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?”

Good question Mr. Jagland. Maybe you should have reviewed the other candidates on your list first.