Ideas and Politics
It is not unusual to hear politicians express contempt for philosophical ideas while simultaneously claiming they are Progressives and Pragmatist---as if those words did not give title to volumes of philosophical ideas---each resting upon the most lethal premise in man’s history.
While many Republicans---conservative and liberal alike---steep themselves in social issues of highly charged emotionality, such as abortion, they evade or ignore fundamental ideas. Some fail to distinguish between concretes and fundamentals completely, thus disarming themselves for a battle that requires intellectual clarity and moral certitude.
Fundamental ideas give rise to, make possible and color every concrete with which an individual deals. To evade or ignore them is to invite disaster. That’s what has happened to the Republican Party. They have for too long mouthed the same Democrat pap that we’ve heard scores of times. If the Democrats, for instance, say they want to provide universal health care, the Republicans do not denounce such a flagrant attack on individual rights. Instead they say, “Yes, we do too, but not your way.” On this issue as on every other, the Republicans are on the same page with the Democrats, singing the same tune, using the same chords, merely in a different key.
Some politicians claim that voters are not interested in ideas. This is patently false. The grassroots assuredly are interested in ideas, as witness the avalanche of interest in Ayn Rand’s books---which deal exclusively with the dramatization of ideas. American voters are not indifferent to ideas as the lines at libraries, the sales in bookstores and the explosion of blogs attests. At present they are looking for ideas more eagerly than ever before.
The Republican Party has said that it wants to figure out how to re-invigorate the GOP. They can do it if they throw out collectivist ideas. This will disassociate the party from past mistakes. In lieu of discarded collectivism, the GOP should rally Americans to the restoration of individual rights, the only effective way to counteract the Obama government's collectivist assault on the American people. The restoration of our individual rights protects our freedoms, makes possible limited government, and leads to capitalism.
The grassroots recognizes the validity and importance of the right to life, property, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They understand the connection between their individual rights and their choice of work, keeping what they earn, disposing of their income as they see fit, choosing their own doctor and paying their own way. They are fully aware that when one takes from the producer/earner to give to the non-earner, one is depleting savings. They know that reducing savings reduces investment in productive enterprises, which chokes growth, which reduces the standard of living.
Collectivism holds that the individual exists for the state. For decades Democrats have advocated taking from the earner and giving to the non-earner. They have advocated enforced unionization, enforced medical care, enforced social security, enforced public education, enforced business regulation. Obama’s Administration has crystallized this practice.
The grassroots has been clearly shown the irresponsible spending that blasts through the stratosphere, the disastrous regulations and take-overs of companies, the harassment and intimidation of businessmen, the support of corrupt union leaders against the membership, the appeasement of our enemies and the snubbing of our allies, the attempts at “fishy” censorship, and now, recently, the attempt to shut down free expression on the net. They have been told the topsy-turvy collectivist line that a rich nation is a bad nation, that producers/earners are demonical threats to society, that those who create jobs are exploitative, that dissent is unpatriotic (now, but wasn't during the 1960s), that supporting countries that deserve it is intolerant but kissing thugs and bowing to savage rulers is sensitive diplomacy.
The preceding are all concrete expressions of a fundamental idea: statism. Statism is the culmination of collectivism, the rule of brute force, in which the state is supreme, the individual subservient to the ruler in all respects and instances. Statism is the complete destruction of the individual and his rights.
To stop the Obama Administration’s giddy plunge toward statism, the Republican Party would be foolish---and self-destructive---not to join the grassroots and commit itself to the restoration of individual rights. The GOP could seek no greater re-generation than to re-establish the abstract ideas this country was founded on: individual rights, limited government and capitalism, and their concrete social expression, our constitutional freedoms: freedom of speech, of press, of assembly, of worship, and to keep and bear arms.
Collectivists say might makes right. But it does not. Rights make right. If the Republican Party wants to be a viable political party, they must self-righteously proclaim the practical virtue of individual rights, a moral principle that assures peace and prosperity. Nothing more than this is needed. Nothing short of this will win.