Election '06

Mike_M's picture
Submitted by Mike_M on Wed, 2006-10-25 16:46

Since every other Objectivism related forum has a thread on the upcoming American election, I figured I'd start one here. First, some background reading.

Vote Democrat: Peikoff on the election

Vote Republican: Tracinski on the election

A large portion of the debate seems to hinge on how one views the threat of American conservatism, so here is C. Bradley Thomson's article.

I intend to vote Democrat for two reasons. One is the total failure of the Republicans as a supposedly free-market pro-defense party. The other is the influence the religious right has over the Repubs.

As to Peikoff's answer, I am a little confused. In his killer scenario, choosing the ambitious killer over the enfeebled killer is the immoral choice. I dispute that the choice between R and D is so clear as to say voting Republican is immoral. (Quick note: Peikoff is saying that voting Republican is immoral, not that one who votes Republican is an immoral person. There is a difference). This, combined with what he says about rationalism, suggests to me that he is assuming that the threat of the Christian right is a very obvious threat. I agree with Peikoff on how much of a threat the religious right is, though I dispute that the threat is obvious; it is perfectly understandable for an Objectivist to dispute the extent of the threat of the religious right.


( categories: )

Linz, it must be said

KingRandor82's picture

You seem to be the one Objectivist above all others I can mostly relate to ideologically. In fact, if more objectivists were like you, I might still be one.

What you say about Dr. Peikoff's argument I fully agree with.

And it's being based on a "well then if A happens, B will SURELY happen, right? RIGHT?!" argument...and as I've pointed out many times over, that argument has proven more faulty than successful over time.

Forming Parties

Jeff Perren's picture

Robert,

Fair comments. I wouldn't assume that just because over the last week we are here focusing on whom we should vote for that nothing else is being advocated or thought about. And, too, there IS an election coming up, so it's natural the focus should be there now.

That said, I agree that forming the AOP is not on the action radar. Others, like yourself, have everyday life practical concerns to deal with -- as well as acknowledging the other roadblocks you mention.

I'm still mostly in the camp that having a new other party isn't helpful, nor where most should devote their resources, but I'm still thinking it over. Linz and your arguments are being seriously considered.

On the topic...

Robert's picture

' The topic is who (if anyone) should you vote for in the next two weeks (and by extension, then whom in two years).'

To which I say that considering this question is pointless unless you have a horse worthy of backing for the next decade (or however long it takes to fix the problem).

I really don't care who objectivists vote for. What I find incredibly disturbing is the fact that their political strategy has a two year life-span! What are you going to do at the next election cycle when you end up having to make the same choice from the same list of parties, each with the same flaws you've been listing?

What I'm saying ladies and gents is that you ~need~ to create or find a political party worthy of your political support soon. Yes, there will be difficulties. The US system will make it tough. But remember something: so long as your policies get into the White-House it doesn't really matter who's implimenting them!

Jeff asked (essentially) "Why don't you [Robert W] form your own party." A fair question for which there are two answers.

(1) I'm concentrating on staying in the USA. At the moment the INS will evict me when my VISA runs out in August 07. I think my chances of forming a viable political party in that time are essentially zero, so I'm focusing my efforts on staying longer. Of course if the elephants or the asses would increase the number of Green Cards and H1B VISAs handed out to law-abiding, tax-paying, US-loving immigrants like myself, my task wouldn't be so difficult...

(2) Without the positive support of the Leonard Peikoff's, ARI's, TOC/TASS's in this country the project would fall flat on it's arse for lack of money and the right sort of people. Of the two, the second is more important. The reason the US Libertarian party sucks is because they weren't picky enough about who they let carry their flag for them. Having ARI et al. on board makes it easier to attract passionate, committed objectivists. Having ARI et al. ranged against you will drive those people off without them giving you a second look and nothing will kill this sort of political party quicker than that.

So the first task is to convince US objectivists like Peikoff that an objectivist political party is both necessary and an asset to the objectivist movement. Unfortunately for reasons I don't understand, many objectivists seem to think that such a party would be a millstone rather than an asset.

Until that attitude changes I'd be better to focus my energy elsewhere rather than answering Jeff's challenge and forming my own party.

Locale

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm unstickying this thread & have stickied Diana's essay. Please direct all future comments to *that* thread. My own thoughts there to follow.

Linz

Diana posted a big essay on Noodlefood

Greg Perkins's picture

Diana has been hard at work writing the Mother of All Posts on this topic, and she's posted it over at Noodlefood. Great stuff, very clarifying for me!

Update: D'oh!  Didn't notice that she already cross-posted it here.

For those of us with long memories..

Marcus's picture

...I remember back in the days of Clinton that fundamentalists such as Bin Laden were calling the West (especially the US) a "paper tiger". They claimed that the US often made threats against them but were too frightened to take them on for fear of casualties. For that reason Islamic fundamentalists were claiming imminent victory.

Well, of course that argument is now long forgotten. Instead Islamic fundamentalists are now claiming victory because they say that the west is divided while they are easily able to gain more recruits. For that reason Islamic fundamentalists are now claiming imminent victory.

It is frightening how astute the Islamic fundamentalists are at identifying where their potential victory lies and how willing Western appeasers are to give them succour.

Incandescence

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I was going to post about now, but shan't, for fear of saying something I might not regret. A muted version will follow when I've cooled down.

Linz

hyperbole: give a girl a break

Marnee's picture

How did I know Jeff would bring up something like that?

I am not saying that nothing should be done. But mixing poison with food is hardly doing something good. Its doing nearly everything wrong, which, to be all Engineering-like here, is doing everything wrong to first order. That's all Im sayin.

Bringing up 9/11 is a low-blow with unfair implications, Jeff, certainly. Now if you are saying that the efforts in Afghanistan et. al. may have prevented further terrorist destruction, fine, I am possibly willing to concede that. I say it was not good enough though (London, Madrid), and its getting worse fast.

Poison and food.

Time to cut and run.

Full disclosure: I understand that its easy for me to get all self-righteous here, 20/20 hindsight and all. I dont mean to come off that way.

So, its not like I dont sympathize with your position, Jeff, and there was a time when I agreed fully agreed. I just dont see any justification at this point to continue the war such as it is or to defend it such as it was.

Profits and Losses and Standing

Craig Ceely's picture

Jeff, I have stood against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Directly against, as in taking fire. Every night, every day.

I've tried to be objective, once or twice, since then.

I don't see signs of progress, and I'm sorry, my friend, but it's been twenty years and more.

Cures and Questions

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Craig,

Every time I think of 9/11, I think about what the leading Democrats would have done in response. They would have talked and talked and talked. They would have tried to negotiate endlessly with evil regimes and the terrorists would have laughed their asses off. The terrorists now know there is no safe place to base themselves permanently and they know their life expectancy is low.

I don't think trying to install democracies is the best way to fight terror, but I agree with Tracinski that at least one party at least wants to fight. The ideal way to fight terror would be to follow through on the threat to decimate the terrorists and those who harbor them. Put a $200 million bounty on the head of every major governmental official in Iran and North Korea. Do the same for major militia leaders in Iraq. Give them nowhere to hide.

Jim

Muqtada Al Sadr

Ted Keer's picture

Every military person I have spoken to always has high morale and believes that we can win the fight, but every time a chance arises, we [the Administration] hold back. Muqtada Al Sadr, the shi'ite pawn of Iran, recently had his militia take over some town near Baghdad, the name of which I am sure someone on this list can provide. He has been a thorn in our side since day two, and we should already have sent him to his eternal reward many times. But even this time, in just the last week, we have let him stay in power, even though we rested back control of that town from him by force, and had every pretext to sqash him and quash the militias.

Why are we holding back? To make whom look good? We have carried water for the French, the Germans, the Russians, the Syrians, the Iranians, and everyone else in this war, but we won't proclaim that WMD's didn't matter, because Saddam was in violation of his armistice. We then do find the WMD's, but won't press our point. We know how deep into it the UN and the Russians have been, but won't embarrass them while they keep spitting in our faces. In Afghanistan, we could have swept the country clean long ago, except for not wanting to embarass the Pakistanis who subvert us.

This is all so frigging obvious, but every day in the press, we revert to the "well," either "Bush was lying," or "he's just made a mess of it" mode. Not one talking head I know of will stand their ground on the truth. Craig is right that we are sacrificing good men for naught - but how voting Dem could help that, I don't know. Bush's damn numbers are down not because the Dem's hate him, they always have. It's because those who would support him are too honest to pretend any more that they can approve of what he hasn't been doing.

And Peikoff goes off on his Ominous Parallels fantasy - has anyone here read that book lately? I read it back in 1986, and it gave me the creeps, not because of the possibilities it portrayed, but because of the disconnect with reality that it implied.

At this point, give me Wilson, give me LBJ, give me Nixon, give me FDR, give me anything that can talk and walk in a straight line at the same time without having to call Christophe for a haircut and I am there.

Ted Keer, 29 October, 2006, NYC

And the pit at ground zero keeps getting deeper every day.

Losses.

Jeff Perren's picture

I'll have more to say later. For now, I'll take those two parts in opposite order:

"than to do everything wrong." - Exaggeration, clearly.

And, the more important part:

"So yes, looks like it was better to do nothing than to do everything wrong."

I recommend for anyone who feels this way that, while they are objectively assessing profits and losses, they stand for a while at the rim of a large hole at the south end of Manhattan where they are still finding bones.

Cures and Questions

Craig Ceely's picture

"Every time I think about voting for a Democrat I listen to one of his debates or read his position papers. That usually cures me pretty quick."

Of what, James?

It doesn't answer the question I posed.

"ust an assessment, a

Marnee's picture

"ust an assessment, a truthful accounting: what has been gained? Why should we continue to back a losing horse?"

And Id like to add:

Can agree that any worthwhile gains should at least marginally balance with the losses, now and in the long run?

"Why should we continue to back a losing horse?"

Yes, good question.

Voting

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

Every time I think about voting for a Democrat I listen to one of his debates or read his position papers. That usually cures me pretty quick.

Jim

Profits and Losses

Jeff Perren's picture

Craig,

Funny you should ask. It will take a day or so, but I'm compiling a list.

Stay tuned.

Jeff

Appeasement disguised as defense of value

Craig Ceely's picture

Marnee, you're right: it would have been better to do nothing rather than to spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives on what has amounted to appeasement. Yes, objectively better, blowhard "Objectivists" and neoconservatives be damned. Appeasement is always a losing proposition.

Should anyone belonging to those I've characterized above object, tell me: What has been gained? No name-calling, no accusations of appeasement or "Saddamy," no bullshit -- if that's possible (which I doubt). Just an assessment, a truthful accounting: what has been gained? Why should we continue to back a losing horse?

Fighting Marines

Jeff Perren's picture

Craig,

"But Jeff, my brother Marines have died -- died, mind you -- in the name of a war that's not even being fought."

Ok, I hear you. And, I'm with you in being ultra-pissed about it. But 'not even being fought' is an exaggeration. I had the good fortune to ride on the plane to New York next to a Marine major, currently in the U.S. for the last few months but deployed in Iraq for a year or more. We talked for quite a while. I got the distinct impression the war was being fought.

Also, a recent raid cleared out another pocket of pus just the other day. (The Iraqi government, the ungrateful curs, chastised the U.S. for doing it, so maybe we should pull out of there and let them deal with it. But then, they should truck right over to Iran and take it where it really needs to go.)

Would I like to see the gloves taken off? God damn right I would. I'd be willing to reload for them. But, who's making the loudest noises to put more cotton in their gloves? Hell, who wants to tie their shoelaces together and put flowers in their muzzles? Who wants to make them feel guilty for even being there in uniform? I don't think it's the Republicans.

"The Taliban are not in

Marnee's picture

"The Taliban are not in power, though they're trying to make a comeback. No surprise, since the job wasn't finished. That is wasn't explains why your Ranger friend is there...."

How is this different from my view point or the my "news"? Too much is being wasted and lost on a poorly executed war. At this point yes, it would have been better to do nothing at all. The benefits are relatively marginal at best and the trend shows that the benefits are sure to disappear in the future. So yes, looks like it was better to do nothing than to do everything wrong while sacrificing our wonderful men, who by the way are more than willing to fight. Frankly, they deserve, nay, have earned a proper battle suited to good and intelligent badasses, not this bull. That's all I can think of to say.

Jeff, please

Craig Ceely's picture

Who said I was happy about any of this?

A large number of definable people seem to have declared war on the US, and the response of the federal government is to declare war on me: making me take my shoes off and throw away my contact lens fluid before I am permitted to board an airplane (yes, that makes me a fucking smuggler). Oh my.

But Jeff, my brother Marines have died -- died, mind you -- in the name of a war that's not even being fought.

No, happy I am not.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan

Craig Ceely's picture

"I'm not aware of any support for Al Qaeda by the Saudi's, though I'd be open to seeing some reliable information on the subject."

Jeff, no. I had students in Saudi Arabia whose families helped bankroll the anti-Soviet (ie, pro al-Qaida) effort in Afghanistan, and who had been there themselves. They thanked me for being American and for having manufactured the Stinger missile. That relationship is decades old, and it used to be the case that both countries (US and Saudi Arabia) boasted of it.

Hypocrisy

Jeff Perren's picture

Craig,

"The Democrats are despicable, and have been for some time. But they do not claim to be what they are not."

So you're more pissed at the Republicans because you view them as hypocrites, than you are at the Democrats because they are completely open about their evil views? Well, I suppose there some validity to that point of view.

I guess you can enjoy your anger while the Dems do nothing to stop suitcase nukes from being transported into Chicago.

Short, unsatisfactory answer

Jeff Perren's picture

Craig,

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Why would you have such expectations for the Republicans in the first place in light of 100 years of history?

As I said, I'll give your views more thought and answer at greater length when I've digested them.

And now I repeat myself. Would you, in fact, be better off with those who explicitly support handing all U.S. self-defense issues off to the U.N.? Based on what you say, I gather you'd be happier because you don't expect them to behave any differently. Will that keep you safer?

The Republicans are weak-kneed, we agree. But who is pushing them to compromise? Who wants us to lose the war against Islamism and the Islamists? It happens to be the only other party's candidates that have a chance of winning in two weeks and two years from now.

Think back. Nixon was vile. But he was bombing the hell out of Hanoi and they were within weeks of collapsing. The Democrats whined and he pulled back. We lost. (We shouldn't have been there in the first place, but that's another issue.)

As a matter of pure faith

Ted Keer's picture

I have to hope that after the election, the administration will stop trying to look good by looking weak. This is nothing more than a prayer rendered in pure hope. But again, this is a hope for after the election. By 2008, we will have settled things or they will have settled us.

Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia

Jeff Perren's picture

Marnee,

I don't say this to insult you, but the best I can say is that we must be watching different news programs or reading different newspapers. The Taliban are not in power, though they're trying to make a comeback. No surprise, since the job wasn't finished. That is wasn't explains why your Ranger friend is there. It should be finished, with vigor. That is isn't being is revolting. But many people who live there (Europeans, not just Afghanis) have reported that conditions are infinitely better in many ways than when the Taliban were in power.

A Democratic president would not have gone in the first place. Would that have been better?

I'm not aware of any support for Al Qaeda by the Saudi's, though I'd be open to seeing some reliable information on the subject.

That the princes, et al of Saudi Arabia support, or acquiesce in the face of, Islamism is no surprise. They're Muslims and Wahhabism is rampant there. They should be dealt with fast and furious. It's disgusting that Bush, et al coddle them. They have a lot of oil. Pragmatists don't like to make waves if the oil supply will get disrupted. But the current Republican administration is hardly alone in that behavior.

To everyone who views the situation as Marnee, Lance, and Craig do:

Yes, it's extremely disappointing that the pragmatist compromisers are pragmatist compromisers. Being angry is valid. Deciding, as a result, that the alternative is NOT much worse is not.

PRESUMABLY, argh!

Marnee's picture

Yes Craig great point. Like I said, our soldiers are being sacrificed and this is yet another prime example. No one with the immediate power to do so can be counted on to run the war the way it should be. If gridlock, or even the Democrats, can get our men back home (and I doubt they would actually) rather than fighting a dangerous nonsense battle against nothing, then that voting for Dems in the hopes of eventual gridlock seems the most rational option.

Uh huh.

Who claims to be What

Craig Ceely's picture

Jeff,

The Democrats are despicable, and have been for some time. But they do not claim to be what they are not.

The Republicans, on the other hand, can be counted on to betray any idea of liberty or limited government, every time. They have sold us out, and sold us cheap.

Afghanistan

Craig Ceely's picture

Jeff, Ted, and Marnee,

As for control in Afghanistan, note the reality on the ground: the national "government" is able to exert control over 40% to 60% of the country, depending on the day. The president of Afghanistan is basically the mayor of Kabul, assmuming that US Army Special Forces types are able to keep him alive. And yet we are extending our own War on Drugs to that country. A country in which most subsistence farmers grow opium to survive, while there is a shortage of pharmaceutical opium, according to experts, and while (ahem) presumably a real war is being fought, for which our support is being asked.

And all the while, the Republicans are pulling out their old canard, bleating, "Please, please support us. We are the lesser of two evils!"

And we are asked to "stay the course" in Iraq, the clearly junior member of the Axis of Evil, junior especially as the other two have gone nuclear on Dubya's watch.

Disgusting.

Who Has Betrayed What

Jeff Perren's picture

Much of the anger seems to be generated by the belief that the Republicans or conservatives represent, 'in the public mind', the group in favor of Capitalism, freedom, etc and that they have betrayed them. That they have, in short, given those great values a black eye because of their atrocious behavior and worse arguments. And more, that they base their support of those values on religion.

But if you're going to be pissed at having your values betrayed by those who 'in the public mind' (grotesque concept, that) represent them, shouldn't you be even more angry at the faux-liberals or Democrats?

After all, who are alleged to be the secularists? Who is alleged to represent this earth, reason, and tolerance for individual differences? Those are much more fundamental values, we generally agree, and the faux-liberals have been betraying and undercutting and misrepresenting them for decades.

Compared to

Marnee's picture

Compared to Afghanistan:

Isn't Saudi Arabia supposed to be one of the biggest sources of support for Al Queda et. al? And look who's dininng with Condi Rice. Am I crazy?

Craig is undoubtedly right.

Addendum:
"Therefore, Al Qaeda does not have the (same extensive) base of operations there they had before the Marines and others beautifully kicked their asses."

Then I kinda wonder why my friend (Army Ranger badass) keeps getting sent back there. He is there now. So what really happened? I'm not so sure much has changed, but a lot has been lost, nay, sacrificed.

Afghanistan

Jeff Perren's picture

Craig,

I'll give your comments more thought. In the interim, you should consider that even with the Islamic Republic in Afghanistan, the Taliban are (for the time being) not in power there. Therefore, Al Qaeda does not have the (same extensive) base of operations there they had before the Marines and others beautifully kicked their asses.

So, (though I would rather see the Marines pursue Al Qaeda into Pakistan, and into hell and back), Afghanistan is in a much better state for the U.S. than before the operations. Also, though it is a minor side benefit, the Afghanis are much better off too, as reported in many places.

That said, yes, I too would much prefer that Bush be greatly more aggressive than he has been. He has a regrettable tendency to compromise. And with whom is he compromising? The Democrats, largely, who would prefer we give Afghanistan back to the Taliban (some Republicans have said that wouldn't be so bad either; disgusting!) and who would have done nothing after 9/11.

In every instance where I have seen a pro-freedom individual express their (justifiable, to an extent) anger with Bush and the Republicans, they act as if (or possibly genuinely believe, which I find astounding) that the Democrats would not be 100 times worse.

More after I've thought more about your position.

Jeff

It's not just arguments

Craig Ceely's picture

Ted, it doesn't matter who ignores me: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan exists whether I carp about it or not. So do the Islamicist regimes in Iraq and in Palestine. I was mocking the four-times-offered "argument" that "nobody has answered Tracinski's clincher," and pointing out that, with reference to reality, said "clincher" is no clincher. It is only in that sense and for that reason that I make reference to those arguments on this thread. It matters not who pays attention to me or to what I wrote, but those Marines and soldiers who died in Afghanistan and in Iraq are indeed dead, and those living under Islamicist regimes are stuck there, and George Bush did what he did -- and requests support for it to this very day. And Republicans in Congress supported him and do support him, as do Republican voters and other supporters, in this country and elsewhere. The situation is what it is.

So, Ted, while I appreciate that you agree with me on part of this, I don't think my remarks are irrelevant: Tracinski specifically called for voters to prefer Republican politicians by claiming that they will defend us, while Democrats will not. That is demonstably untrue, as we are not being defended. Yet his words and his claims were defended here, and his one claim declared to be a "clincher." That is not so, and is not even close, so I raised my objection.

It's not just a matter of who has the most cogent arguments, but of who speaks to or defies reality. The Tracinski "clincher" does not speak to reality. Not on this planet.

As for what I support or intend to vote for, I for one do remember and support the ideas of the Founding Fathers: most ideas are bad, in particular most political ideas. They should be trashed, and forgotten. In other words, Peikoff and Diana Hsieh and Lance Moore are right, and gridlock is good. Hell, gridlock is god, in my book.

What does your being ignored have to do with the Election?

Ted Keer's picture

Craig,

I see that you are annoyed that the Republicans have not set up proper states in Afghanistan, Iraq, or helped to do so in Palestine. Fine, post an article saying how you might accomplish that end. (So far as you have expressed your criticisms, I agree with them.) But complaining on this thread about the next election that no-one has answered your previous arguments elsewhere makes little sense.

Take it as a sign that you have prevailed or vindicated yourself if no one has had the guts to answer you otherwise. I was accused a while back of being a hedonist, and some sort of namby-pamby new-age religionist. When I spent good time answering those accusations, was I answered with an "Okay, my judgment was hasty" or an "Alright, I retract the accusation" in response? No, the accusing or opposing parties simply went away without explanation. Whether this was through oversight, cowardice, or lack of integrity on their part, or just another example of Passive-Objective-Agressivisism (read my upcoming book, the POA Hypothesis) I won't hazard a guess. But if your words here on other strings go unanswered, don't feel the need to make irrelevant remarks on this one, just bask in your vindication by silence.

Ted

BTW, So which specific candidates are you going to be voting for, if any, and why?

Funny lines? Yeah, I'm splittin' a gut here

Craig Ceely's picture

Yep. Almost as funny as "Nobody has answered Tracinski's clincher."

Wait, that one was ridiculous, not funny. Sorry. My bad.

It would be hewing a lot closer to reality to claim that no one has answered Ceely's clincher, mentioned at least twice on this very site, to wit, the creation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the blood of American soldiers and Marines.

Not to mention the US-sponsored government in Iraq, which explicitly recognizes Islam. Or Bush's call for a Palestinian state, and "democracy" there, which has resulted in a regime run by Hamas.

N.B. not "freedom," not "liberty," not "individual rights," but "democracy." No wonder his Secretary of State eventually prevailed upon Israel to back off its war against Hezbollah. And, before memories get too short, go back to the official White House response to the Danish cartoons incident.

There's a story about Abraham Lincoln, in which he supposedly asked: If you call a tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?

Four, said Lincoln. You can call a tail a leg, but it's still a tail. We can call the Tracinski "clincher" a clincher, but calling it that doesn't make it so. And it's not.

Who has worked overtime to appease Islam and the Islamists? In my lifetime, nobody has done more to appease them than the Republicans have, particularly the presidents Reagan, Bush, and Bush. Nobody. The fact is that if we're talking of establishing Islamic theocracies, we should be aware that President Bush has created or enabled more Islamic theocracies in his own lifetime than Muhammad ever did.

Yeah, funny. I'm laughing my ass off.

Linz

Fred Weiss's picture

"I'm scared to take that DIM course lest I end up voting Labour."

One of your funniest lines ever. Smiling

Lanz

Lindsay Perigo's picture

If you truly think there's nothing in it between the Reps & Dems when it comes to fighting Islamo-Fascism, which I think is nuts, then don't vote for either by all means. The point is, Peikoff is calling anyone who doesn't vote for the commie, capitulationist Dems, or doesn't vote at all, immoral in that instance. That too is nuts.

Part of Bush's problem is that too many people who should know better, including folk right here, are cutting & running just because the going has gotten tough. Fair weather friends. Until recently they spoke quite highly of Bush, cutting him slack for his failings. Now, cowed by the carnage wrought by the Islamo-Fascists in Iraq, for which the bombers & beheaders, not Bush, are to blame, they hand-wring about the "mess" & pontificate from Platonic heights. While their president toughs it out, they desert. I suspect these same folk would have abandoned Churchill in the darkest hours of WW2 'cos of the "mess" that had no end in sight. Lord knows he had plenty of ideological shortcomings they could have repaired to to excuse their lack of staunchness.

Linz

I'm scared to take that DIM course lest I end up voting Labour. Smiling

"That's not policy, that's stalking!" or "Party as Anti-Concept"

Ted Keer's picture

"[T]he only bedrock policy I've seen the Democrats put forth is an anti-Bush one. That's not policy, that's stalking!" - Robert Winefield

I submit again that in America, one must vote in every case for a candidate, and, although party affiliation is listed on the ballot, it should not be, since no person who does not know for whom he is voting by name is worthy of a vote. The American electoral system is not like that of some parliamentary systems where one votes for a party slate which seats candidates based upon proportional results. If it were, choosing to support any particular party based upon its platform might make sense. And the 92 page Republican Party Platform of 2004, while full of mealy-mouthed nonsense, does explicitly support the "ownership society" (if not capitalism per se) and the "war on terror" even if it equivocates on the nature of our enemy.

Nevertheless, the notions of "Republican" and "Democrat" are basically anti-concepts, either package-deals or definitions by non-essentials. If anything, a "Democrat" can be defined non-essentially as a politician who opposes the election of Republicans, (and who froths at the mouth at the mention of George Bush,) while Republicans are defined by a raggedy package deal.

So the fact remains, that in all cases, due both to the anti-conceptual nature of party affiliation, and due to the electoral system in place in the U.S. where one in all cases votes for Federal candidates by name, rather than by slate, that every contest must be judged upon the merits of the individuals running.

If you're not American, please feel free to express a conditional and guarded support for the Republicans. I endorse all of Jeff Perren's statements above. And I wonder on what planet (or perhaps what astral plane?) comrade Peikoff is living nowadays.

Ted

The Tracinski Clincher

Lanza Morio's picture

I will do my best to address this too, Linz.

Mr. Tracinski's point is that the terrorists are a genuine threat, ready and willing to do us harm. The Repubs are the only party who take this threat seriously and so: vote Republican.

The principle here is: America has the right to defend herself by any means necessary.

The Republicans violate this principle in the same way that they violate the ones I mentioned earlier. They do not hold, on principle, that it is virtuous and right to defeat our enemies. They can't even name the enemy but instead keep saying "Terror" is our enemy as if Terror were an entity. They are tilting at windmills. They are doing worse than tilting at windmills. They are empowering our enemies by their second-guessing and appeasement.

This is why Mr. Tracinksi's point does not register for me (though I do not call it disgraceful). The Republicans are not going to fight for your values Linz.

Linzio

Lanza Morio's picture

Ok Linzio, well I for one have been a supporter of the Repubs for a long time. My father and I were literally high fiving watching the returns on the night the Repubs took control in 1994. This was the Contract With America. And, like all things that are not based upon solid principles, that exaltation lasted for about a day and a half.

But that's no argument. So let's find out where the Repubs stand on the principles.

Principle #1: Our culture is more virtuous than the culture of the Middle East.

The Republicans do not stand for this principle. They push multi-culturalism - the idea that all cultures are equal.

Principle #2: Capitalism is the only economic system under which an American citizen can thrive.

The Repubs don't stand for this either. They are pragmatists. If a voting block wants to hear about capitalism in a speech they might mention it. And if a voting block wants to hear about Robinhood they certainly will mention Robinhood.

Principle #3: The separation of church and state.

There is no need to elaborate here. The Repubs are all for religion in politics.

So the Republicans violate my core principles. How can I possibly vote for that? To vote for that is to volunteer for pain. Just because they might seem "closer" to being on principle at times does not mean that they are on principle. It means, in fact, that they are off principle. It's Either/Or. Either they are on principle or they are not. A violation is a violation. A is A.

________

It's the philosophy underneath it all that has to change. I don't get too animated about politics anymore for that reason. Both the Dems and the Repubs are going to breach my principles. Long-term, my goal is to see that change. And it will only change by way of education.

Lanza Morio

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I have now read the Thompson piece. Admirably KASS, and a timely reminder not to be seduced by that part of the conservatives' rhetoric that occasionally sounds like ours. I hope everyone reads it. Still, at its conclusion I wanted to say, "Well, tell us something we don't know" (though I confess I hadn't realised just how vile Irving Kristol is). Many of these horrors are precisely those acknowledged by Tracinski. There's nothing in Bradley's article that makes it remotely sensible to vote for Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy & their revolting ilk. The Tracinski Clinchy stands:

When there is an actual battle raging between secular Western governments and fanatical religious zealots who want to impose their religion by the sword, there is only one political party that is asking you to fight back.

I would remind you of what Rand said re the contest between Nixon & McGovern, as posted by Mr. Moeller. If I recall correctly McGovern didn't want merely to raise taxes, he proposed outright confiscation of all a person's income over a certain level. That's disgusting, but scarce begins to compare with what the Islamo-Fascists have in store. Read Rand's words with that in mind:

I am not an admirer of President Nixon, as my readers know. But I urge every able-minded voter, of any race, creed, color, age, sex, or political party, to vote for Nixon--as a matter of national emergency. This is no longer an issue of choosing the lesser of two commensurate evils. The choice is between a flawed candidate representing Western civilization--and the perfect candidate of its primordial enemies.

In that context, to claim that anyone was immoral who didn't vote McGovern on account of Nixon's not-inconsiderable perfidies, would have been batty. So too is Leonard's characterisation of anyone today who doesn't vote for McGovern's heirs—Jimmy Carter's heirs, they who would wave the white flag at Islamo-Fascism—as immoral. Batty.

Linz

P.S.—I'm indebted to Bradley Thompson for giving me one Eureka! moment—"the Oprahization of America." I realised when I read that phrase that it captured what really bugs me about the Brandroids, aside from their smears & dishonesty & Rand-diminishing: their attempted Oprahization of Objectivism.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Jason Quintana's picture

"I'll go out on a limb here and say that anyone who votes for a slate of candidates due to their party affiliation, rather than either abstaining or only voting for the specific invidual candidiate he supports is a mystical rationalistic collectivist lone-wolf leftist right-wing bastard who needs to be strung up by the balls which he so obviously lacks."

Hahahaha!! Best post of the thread!

- Jason

In America, We Vote for Candidates, not Parties

Ted Keer's picture

I'll go out on a limb here and say that anyone who votes for a slate of candidates due to their party affiliation, rather than either abstaining or only voting for the specific invidual candidiate he supports is a mystical rationalistic collectivist lone-wolf leftist right-wing bastard who needs to be strung up by the balls which he so obviously lacks.

What is this nonsense about voting for parties?

I repeat, what is this NONSENSE about voting for PARTIES?

The only choice in the NJ (New Jersey) Senate race is to vote against the criminally corrupt senator Menendez, and thus, if one is going to vote, to vote either for Tom Kean Jr., (who happens to be the Republican) or, if one thinks he's too evil, to vote for some third party candidate whom one knows.

The only choice in the PA (Pennsylvania) Senate race is to vote against the sanctimonious big-spending Republican bigot Rick Santorum, by either abstaining or chosing an individual candidate whom one can support.

Anyone who does not know the name of the person for whom he is going to vote, but votes by PARTY AFFILIATION alone, is no rational egoist.

I will be at home on election day, taking an intestinal purgative.

Ted

Martin

Martin's picture

Where can I read Tracinski's article?

Robert's Post

JoeM's picture

I'm with Robert (and Adam) on that.

Linz Neologisms

Jeff Perren's picture

My views were not formed, nor influenced, by Piekoff or Tracinski. But I have to admit that from a public relations point of view it's a lot better than designating it as the Hseishians versus the Perrenoids.

Jeff

Phil C.

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

This is a great thread: It has lots of interesting points being made by both sides (and it is so far free of backbiting, personal vendettas or constant insults that have marred and cheapened other discussions and made them non-intellectual).

Are you kidding, Phil? There hasn't been a thoroughgoing 15 round bout with eye-gouging and ear-biting here in at least a week. I'm thinking of asking for a refund on my jumbo popcorn and Hot Tamales
Smiling.

Jim

C. Bradley Thompson piece

Jeff Perren's picture

Lance,

I'm still making my way through it (it's long), and I'll need some time to digest it. In general, he makes some very good points, but like many similar pieces is in danger of missing the trees for having such a bird's eye view of the forest.

Also, he (so far) doesn't address one of my main contentions. (Neither has anyone else, much.) The Democrats are much worse than the Republicans in almost every respect (and they are rapidly catching up in being as bad or worse on the religion front). They are just as spendthrift, horrible on defense, have as bad or worse ethics, and are no more friends of reason than the Republicans. If anything, on this last point, they are often worse. Watered down Christianity is bad. Full-blown Christianity is putrid. But nothing (short of something like Islam) destroys the mind as much as the toxic cocktail of views that underlies the Democrats' (psycho)epistemology.

That said, I don't have any firm views on the piece yet. Stay tuned.

Jeff

Richard writes:The virtue

Michael Moeller's picture

Richard writes:

The virtue of gridlock is not in passing better bills. It is in all the horrible bills that do not get passed.

Yes, Richard, I agree that's why I said I was "sympathetic" to the viewpoint. However, I was making a wider point here, i.e. that the government still continues to legislate and the question remains whether the Dem's having a voice "adds to the debate" (in the words of Tracinski)? Not passing "horrible bills" is not the only result (and sometimes not even A result) nor the only goal.

I don't think the Dem's do "add to the debate" and compromising with them on the bill-making process accomplishes what? Preserves individual rights? Will curb spending? Will properly advance the war on terror? It may be argued that things would be equally bad or worse with just the Republicans in charge, but I think that is a difficult claim to make given the nature of their respective ideas/agenda. I realize some of the bad policies passed under Bush's/Republican's control, but many of those included compromise with the Dem's, including the federal expansion of education. Another for instance: would "gridlock" stop something like the prescription drug benefits? No, the Dem's would just continue to argue that it is not enough. So a lot bad policies would pass anyway and you would be compromising and giving credence to the anti-American Dem agenda--not a net positive in my book.

Michael

Linz and Jeff P

Lanza Morio's picture

Linz and Jeff P, I ask again:

Have you gentlemen read the C. Bradley Thompson piece in The Objective Standard? It can be read for free via the link Mike Mazza provided in his original post. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is required reading for this discussion but it is highly topical and presents some ideas and facts that may be new to you.

Incidently, Dianne Durante's article "19th-Century French Painting and Philosophy" is amazing. It's in the same issue of TOS.

Recap

Lindsay Perigo's picture

After the prissyholic bits, Phil's post is right on the money, only he is repeating what others have said. Schoolma'ams are not good at paying attention. Anyway, nothing has changed since my first post after reading the two contending sets of strictures. Which was:

____________________________

Tracinski wins this stoush hands down. Here's the clincher:

When there is an actual battle raging between secular Western governments and fanatical religious zealots who want to impose their religion by the sword, there is only one political party that is asking you to fight back.

Peikoff, by contrast, is positing a U.S. theocracy within our lifetimes if Americans don't vote for appeasement, capitulation, Political Correctness & higher taxes [right now]. That's just nuts. The only U.S. theocracy that's possible within our lifetimes will come from voting precisely as he suggests—an Islamic theocracy, triumphant on account of a Jimmy Carter-like Democratic president.

Lenny says anyone who disagrees with him on this is a rationalist, not in the real world. He's describing himself. At least I now know where Adam Reed got his hysterical lack of proportion from.

_________________________________

The Peikovians in this argument still have not addressed Tracinski's clincher; the Tracinskians have pressed it home. Me, I'm still reeling from how deranged Leonard's advice was.

Linz

This is a great thread: It

PhilipC's picture

This is a great thread: It has lots of interesting points being made by both sides (and it is so far free of backbiting, personal vendettas or constant insults that have marred and cheapened other discussions and made them non-intellectual).

This has been such a long discussion, I hope I'm not repeating what anyone has already said: The question is whether short-term harm (losing the war on terror) is more important than any possible long-term increase in strength of either theocrats or post-modern leftists. If 9/11 had not happened and we were not in a war in which nuclear weapons might go off in U.S. cities, one -might- be able to argue that the religious right is a greater danger over the long term.

But to not mention that in your posts, to not factor in that elephant in the living room in your advocacy of who to vote for is totally inappropriate.

You have to be able to -survive- the short term, physically (and in terms of people not being on wartime autopilot and willing to listen to pro-freedom alternatives, since major wars are never times when people have time or interest in revising or reexaming their political philosophies). And I haven't seen any reasonable arguments that having the Democrats, the Nancy Pelosis, the Harry Reids win control of Congress is going to assist in the war on terror or be seen as anything but a mandate for the Neville Chamberlain strategy of defeating evil: appease, accomodate, rely on the U.N., back off from fighting and neutralizing state sponsors of terror, and "negotiate" with monsters such as the Iranian mullahs.

In addition -- as if death were not enough or having radioactivity making major economic centers of America, cities and/or ports, unusable (the smuggled in nukes would be multiple as were the 9/11 simultaneous hijackings) -- the results politically in -both- the short run and the long run of nuclear explosions on American soil would be disastrous: both the far left and the religious right would gain in strength in the wake of a national disaster.

So there is *only one issue* on which to vote until such a time as the threat has receded or been defeated: What result in November is likeliest to protect America, to keep us physically safe over the next years?

Hold your nose and hope that the Republicans lose some seats so that tax-and-spend is repudiated, but not so many seats that the Democrats and the leftist media gain a political veto of the war on terror at exactly the time when we need the political will for the next war that will clearly come to a head before the end of the Bush Presidency -- the one to destroy Iran's nuclear capability (and hopefully topple the regime at the same time if possible.)

That's not just the number one issue right now. It's the only issue.

The virtue of gridlock is

RL0919's picture

The virtue of gridlock is not in passing better bills. It is in all the horrible bills that do not get passed. That doesn't mean that nothing bad will be passed, since there are many bad ideas (the "War on Drugs" for example) that have broad support in both parties. But having one party in charge doesn't stop those anyway.

In the "long term" (however long that may be) it would be great if there was a party that genuinely supported individual rights. In the short term, I won't be holding my breath. As long as the two major parties are mostly fighting about whose boot we should be under, I'd prefer that neither have the upper hand. (Or should I say "upper foot?" That's what I get for mixing metaphors.)

--
Richard Lawrence
Visit the Objectivism Reference Center

Primaries

DianaHsieh's picture

In response to WM Green...

Due to laziness, I'm still registered Republican. The candidates in the primaries in which I could vote were all uncontested, except for the sheriff. And I voted, solely to vote for the one I strongly preferred -- although not for reasons at all related to the present discussion.

-- Diana Hsieh
diana@dianahsieh.com
NoodleFood

Another Party?

Michael Moeller's picture

Robert W.,

I agree there should be greater political activism and waiting for the "right time" is a silly notion. However, I don't think it makes much sense to promote another political party, at least in terms of the US political system.

Afterall, it is a two-party system. The other parties have no influence qua parties in terms of public policy. For instance, the Green Party has no influence on the political system. However, many environmentalists organizations have influence via public policy debates and the Democratic party. With exceptions such as Nader and Perot, the candidates of these parties are totally unknown, and whatever their agenda, they exert virtually zero political influence.

Like Tracinski pointed out in his article, American politics can be regarded as a "giant national debate". In the American system, influence is usually felt through think-tanks, public policy organizations,etc. but who work largely inside the two-party system. I mean, just watch how a hot issue is debated on news programs--they usually get people on from these think tanks or organizations to have it out in a debate. They don't call in the Green Party or the Libertarians or whatever other party is out there and have a political round-table--these groups remain politically voiceless to the public at-large. The think tanks and public policy organizations, however, do not.

So I don't know what a policital party would add to the mix, i.e. what added benefits would it give above and beyond an intellectual organization? At least in the American system, I think they would have a much greater effect by writings articles and books, getting in the news, giving speeches, entering into to debates and so on. However, I could think of plenty of negatives of a philosophical movement getting bogged down in trying to run a political party. Not just the practical elements of constantly having to raise money and spin out candidates and all the things that go along with running a political party, but also may undermine the philosophical focus that the organization should have.

I don't see why being politically active necessitates having a political party, and within the American political reality I don't think it makes a lot of sense.

Michael

On the practicality of voting (restated [entertainingly])

Chris Cathcart's picture

Posted over on HPO. To quote:

On this, Bugged exercises characteristic and due intelligence.

If Bugged votes with 25,355,345 people for candidate A, and candidate B
gets 28,987,658 votes, then candidate B wins. If Bugged decides
instead to vote for candidate B, then candidate B wins.

Gee, sounds like Bugged gets candidate B either way. In fact, Bugged
gets candidate B even if he sits at home watching lezbo vids instead of
voting at all. And you recommend voting as a solution?

Of course, I find myself in a seeming condundrum. Say that the electorate of the future has become more rational and thereby more receptive to the pro-capitalist candidates. Seems that I'd better hope that these more-rational folks don't also get a hold of my argument about the rationality (or lack thereof) of voting, and whereby they'd stay home and the rational candidates wouldn't get elected.

Then again, to further confound things, in such a scenario I would be proud to go in there and vote, to express my preference for the greater of two goods. At least then, I know that I'm partaking in a process that produces a good outcome. As it is, what pride is there in expressing preferences for either candidate, neither of whom remotely represents my ideals and values in a recognizably consistent form? Using Rand's advice in '64 on judging political candidates, I could vote with pride for the right kind of (non-kooky) Libertarian candidate, if it were the aforementioned scenario where pro-capitalist candidates could actually win elections. For now, there's no point in bothering.

Notes On Gridlock

Michael Moeller's picture

Although I am highly sympathetic to the gridlock argument in the context of current American politics, I think there are a lot of flaws that others need to be more cognizant of.

Among the practical flaws is that decisions concerning new legislation and budget appropriation still have to be made. The bills compromised in the committee sessions often look much worse when there is "bipartisanship". Just look at any bill with the label "McCain" on it.

Voting Dem's gives them bill-making power and credence to their viewpoint, which is precisely why I would like to see them crushed. Remember when Rand wrote her "obituary" for the conservatives, she stated that the most consistent in regard to altruism would win--that the conservatives would give way to the liberals who would give way to the socialists.

I think the reverse is also true. I think among those who favor individual rights, the most consistent defender will win in the long-run. I think voting for the Dem's in search of "gridlock" undermines this principle--if individualism is to win, then the enemies have to be soundly defeated, NOT supported.

Just as the liberals would be left to fight it out with socialists in a altruistic victory over the conservatives--let the capitalists fight it out with the pragmatists on the right.

While gridlock maybe ok short-term, its certainly nothing you want long-term. There is antitrust to be eliminated, the welfare state to be dismantled, property rights to be protected, new areas of legislation that need the protection of individual rights (like stem cells) and on and on. Gridlock is not going to accomplish this and probably end with a compromised statism. What is needed is a pro-active individual rights public policy--and a step in that direction is vanquishing the Dem's and their viciously anti-American agenda.

Michael

Primaries

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

William,

I think a better focus is an attack on the Congressional seniority system in the US. Supporting term limits initiatives and anything to get rid of this would be good. This is the source of a lot of government waste as entrenched powerful committee chairmen are precisely the lawmakers who'v been in Washington too long.

Jim

Not the topic

James Heaps-Nelson's picture

I largely agree with what Jeff Perren says above. It looks like the likely Republican Presidential candidates in 2008, Rudy Guiliani or John McCain would be a vast improvement over Mr. Born Again Shrub. If Hillary gets the Dem nomination, nobody should vote for her. If people really want an indicator of what a Democratic House Speaker looks like, look no further than Tip O'Neill or Jim Wright.

Jim

Primaries

Where were all you folks cursing the statists in the Republican party during the primary? Primaries are the time to change the direction of a political party. Responding to something somewhat earlier, you do have conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh, who provide a (flawed) principled defense of constitutional values of individual rights and capitalism. People respond to the call of freedom and rugged individualism. I think I'll write on his recent "Conservative Fundamentals" series in the Limbaugh Letter.

Wm

Not the topic.

Jeff Perren's picture

Well, bald eagle, those are good suggestions. But that isn't the topic at hand. The topic isn't 'How should we fix the U.S. political system', or maximize individual liberty over the next 10 years, etc. The topic is who (if anyone) should you vote for in the next two weeks (and by extension, then whom in two years).

(The suggestions should be discussed in another thread, but I'm actually a little surprised this one hasn't been hijacked sooner. As to irony, well irony is good. And, if I'm not mistaken, you're in Kansas and nothing is stopping you from acting on your suggestions. You don't have to be a citizen to start forming a party.)

Nothing anyone can do in the next two weeks, or the next two years, will change the fact that the voters have three, and only three, real choices: vote for a specific Republican candidate, vote for a specific Democratic candidate, or don't vote.

As for being contortions... no one is arguing here that the Republicans are really ok guys, after all. But, again, the topic is not what to do for the long term, but how to vote in the next two weeks.

As to inflitration: Contra what Chris says, the Democratic Party is not an intellectual void. Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and many other high profile Democrats have plenty of ideas -- all of them bad. The best hope for the next several years, and probably the long term is to reinforce the good elements within the Republican party, then (probably, at some point) split it off into another major party. Third parties in the U.S., as Chris notes, don't do well -- though I'd add, that that's true mostly when they start from scratch. They do better when they splinter off from existing parties. (See the history of the 19th century political systems.)

This thought just occurred to me

Chris Cathcart's picture

For what it's worth. For a moment I want to try to get into the mindset of the people setting up the LP back ca. 1970. A bunch of them were Ayn Rand fans and perhaps all of them were convinced that small-l libertarian ideas are so right and powerful that their Party venture would get it all rolling electorally. Do you think that they would have dreamed that, 35 years later, the Party would be the resounding failure that it's been? That, 35 years later, they'd be, politically, in just the same place or worse than at the founding? Hell, their biggest "success" was getting a single Presidential electoral vote, in their first election. It's been downhill from there. They might have scored a win had Howard Stern stayed in the NY Gubernatoral race. So you have one tiny win and one maybe-could-have-been win. In 35 fucking years.

You think that had they known that in 35 fucking years they'd still be treading water that they would have bothered with such a farce? Or do you think they'd have heeded Ayn Rand's words and devoted their time and resources to where it would have mattered? Or, even more importantly, would they have devoted their considerable intellectual capital to actually understanding Objectivism (thereby understanding Rand's reasons for so accurately predicting the joke and the futility that the LP was and still is) rather than latching onto falsely-integrated cut-rate versions of such (e.g., Rothbardian-anarchism)?

Isn't the LP example plenty enough to show just where and how and with what the battle is to be fought?

Sooner or later, they're also going to have to face up to the grim realities of how far the economistic Mises/Cato approach is able to get them. Hardly anyone is in the dark about the economic aspects of capitalism as it is, anyway -- and still only a few want it. And it's not just the unwashed electorate that ignorantly rejects it; the academics understand the economics well enough and still reject it. Rand correctly predicted this outcome, too. Time for the doubters to take note and regroup, methinks?

Robert W.

Chris Cathcart's picture

(Someone fix the uber-italicization going on below, eh?)

That could well be a reasonable suggestion. Here in the U.S., there isn't anything that I know of like the Libertarianz in NZ. The U.S. LP isn't anything like that, since it's all about ineffectual, unintellectual, out-of-context political activism. The LP has done exactly nothing in 35 years to help anything. What you're talking about is some largely-intellectual-activist organization with an explicitly and firmly Rand/Objectivist philosophy, with the leadership packing the necessary cojones to keep it that way long-run. (What's going to happen with the Lz's when Linz moves on? Is the next round of leadership going to have what it takes to stay the course, or will the next generation water itself down into the NZ equivalent of the U.S.'s LP?)

Here in the U.S. things might be different than in NZ. The U.S. is a much larger country, more spread out, so I think that a national-level organization with the necessary intellectual integrity could be that much harder to maintain. Multiply the Jim Peron thing by, what, 50? and you've got an idea of how tough it could be. Anyway, even at a somewhat-political-activist level, the focus is still more long-term. You can't realistically expect to field candidates here in the U.S. and spark some revolution within a few elections. The main value won't be in the fielding of candidates, but in the spreading of ideas. I think that we've already got an organization or two here in the U.S. that's doing that job, and is on the cusp of acquiring annual funding resources that will make their job all that much more effective. Yeah, sooner or later, maybe within the next several years even, it'll be time to start considering your idea of forming a party that has a realistic shot of changing things on the political level. Right now, it'd be a waste of time and resources.

A legitimate alternative, if it can be done, is to infiltrate one of the two major parties here. You know, the ones already with name recognition that, in virtue of that alone, gives them at least a chance of winning. Third parties just haven't made any headway in the U.S. system, for whatever reason. At least not in terms of getting people elected to office. The Socialist Party in the U.S. didn't have electoral success under their party name, but they did intellectually, basically by infiltrating the Democrats. Strategically speaking, the Democrats are such an intellectual void right now, that they might be the party to infiltrate and overtake. Think of it like this: academia is currently a leftist stronghold, and yet that's the arena that Objectivists are infiltrating because that's where they're going to have the greatest effectiveness long-term.

Political parties do change over time, through the power of ideas. I don't know if it would work with the Dem Party, but it's a thought. Here's the basic idea, though: as long as the ideas infiltrate the culture, the rest will fall into place, whether it's via the two major parties or some unique third-party success. Once ARI is overflowing with funds, maybe it'll start looking into what can be done at a political level in addition to the academic and media levels.

Hear Hear!!

Adam Buker's picture

I second Robert's last post! Anyone interested?

Adam Buker

Music Composition
www.adambuker.com

Actually old duck...

Robert's picture

the whole point of this thread  -- to paraphrase the question you posed to Democrat supporters -- is " The question is, what do US objectivists intend to do about it."

I've seen three proposals discussed so far. (1) Vote for the statists from team elephant, (2) vote for the statists from team ass, (3) vote for both and cause gridlock. In other words you've seeded the political initiative to the opposition without a fight and assumed a defensive posture -- covering up, hoping to absorb all of your opponents blows until he falls over from exhaustion. Which is surprising because I never pegged Ayn Rand or her intellectual heirs to be defensive minded.

The fourth proposal has not been discussed at all, even though it's one that is offensive minded, one that would allow you (eventually) be a direct threat to the elephants and asses (rather than an oblique one). It happens to be the one suggested by me and the one that NZ objectivists are running with as I write (and edit) this. And it is this: stop supporting the elephants and the asses and form your own party from scratch and have it sincerely advocate policies that have their foundation in Objectivism.

I find myself having to laugh. Not three months ago, Libertarianz was being attacked by objectivists on this site for stooping to permit Libertarianism (albeit a version grounded in objectivism -- a fact lost on many of our opponents) to  muddy the waters of the objectivist philosophy.

Now the US elections roll around and some of the same objectivists are contorting themselves into unhuman shapes to justify their voting for one or other of the two flavours of statist political-bastards who've been slowly whittling at liberty in the US since the days of the New Deal (and probably before!)

The solution seems simple enough to me. It's time to mix some real political activism into the philosophical activism that your US-based organisations are already working on. I'm not for a minute suggesting that David Kelley or Leonard Peikoff should run for office.

I am suggesting that they -- and the US members of this site -- should seriously start thinking about the political policies an objectivist party would expouse and then start casting around for the right sort of principled, fearless, and personable person to lead it.

What is the alternative? Do you think it's a good idea to let the elephants and the asses run the country into the ground before you start lifting a finger politically? Do you really think that the Objectivists should inherit the poisoned earth?

And I think that you'd be surprised with the results if you made a good and patient go of this political lark. At it's heart I believe that America is still a country that likes men of action and is suspicious and dismissive of those who only sit in Ivory towers making announcements about what other people should be doing...

Which is ironic seeing as I'm employed by an Ivory Tower and I'm telling you guys what to do. On the other hand, I've leant a hand to Libertarianz and I know from experiance that you can agitate for political and philosophical change simultaneously. It's true that it will be a slow and sometimes frustrating task to build a political party. It's also true that you will make mistakes (Libertarianz has). But it's faster than waiting for the statist wankers you guys have resigned yourselved to voting for to change their ways! And for once, you won't need a shower after handing in your voting papers!

I'll tell you one other thing I've noticed about Americans. A great many of them preoccupy themselves with thinking about or wishing that the perfect, most labour-efficient solution to a problem will present itself before they do anything about the problem. There is a time and place for that, but sometimes "Action this day" is your best motto, and IMHO this happens to be one of those times!

Linz

Lanza Morio's picture

Linz, Edward Kennedy of course is beyond redemption but he is a non-factor intellectually. Compare me to him all you like because he doesn't matter and it inspires no rage in me. Michael Moore is (somehow) able to stir up the young generation with his garbage. I, on the other hand, do all I can to inspire the young generation to better themselves. I hate Michael Moore to the core. Ed is a sod. I could get through a couple drinks and play cards with him. Smiling

I'm too beat to respond to the thread content today. I'll get in on this over the weekend.

PS: Have you read the C. Bradley Thompson article?

For me...

Olivia's picture

there is only one major issue. If I lived in the US and had to cast my vote this November it would be for the Republicans, sell outs that they are. They are the ones prepared to wage a war on terror, while the Democrats are too fearful of offending anyone. This is the heaviest issue in the world today and poses an infinitely worse threat to our civilization than Christianity. I hate Christianity, but I hate Islamofascism more.

In the words of the late Oriana Fallaci in her book The Rage and The Pride: In life and in history there are moments when fear is not permitted. Moments when fear is immoral and uncivilized. And those who out of weakness or stupidity (or the habit of keeping one foot in two shoes) avoid the obligations imposed by this war, are not only cowards: they are masochists.

Statistics On The Religious Left

Jeff Perren's picture

Earlier, I asked why it is that some believe that the Democrats are not (as) religious (as Republicans).

Read it and weep.

The Religious Left

Powerless Democrats? Think Again.

Jeff Perren's picture

The view has been expressed several times on this thread, in one form or another, that the Democrats are relatively powerless and will become more so as time progresses.

The basic reasons given are that their philosophy has passed its heyday, that they have lost their 'ideological fire'.

Both these contentions are exceedingly unlikely to be true. Consider the following.

The Democrats, though not in the majority in Congress, nor in the White House for the past 8 years have hardly been unrepresented there. They continue to wield considerable influence in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. And, politics and politicians in Washington being what they are they have considerable influence with the White House as well.

More importantly, they and their supporters still heavily dominate almost all the major ideological generators and vehicles today.

Democratic supporters dominate almost all the universities. They control almost all the major TV networks, and they have the most prominent and visible print media.

The major exception is talk radio, where they fare poorly. (The second, not quite yet major, source is the Internet. Blogs, etc do wield occasional influence, but who dominates is not yet clear.)

They also have very deep pockets. Many of the most wealthy people, and certainly the most visible wealthy people - for reasons surpassing human understanding - are Democrats.

They control the major philanthropic organizations.

And, they still have enormous cultural influence in ways that are sometimes unexpected.

I was in Boston recently in a crowded bar in the evening with a friend, an Objectivist. In a normal tone of voice I made disparaging remarks about John Kerry. He cringed visibly and said under his breath something to the effect of "Be careful. This is Kerry country." If this man, who is certainly no coward when it comes to expressing unpopular views in public, has to fear the wrath of Bostonians for daring to be seen with someone who criticizes the Massachussetts Senator, what does that tell you about the prevalance of political correctness?

There are many major metropolitan areas in this country where very few people would feel comfortable expressing disapproval of environmentalism or welfare programs in a corporate setting or at a dinner party, even though they may disapprove of them in private.

The hold on the culture of the Democrats' philosophy is hardly waning, out of fire, or only weakly influential. Neither are the Democrats.

When they get into power, they -- as anyone would -- will do everything they can to put their philosophy into action, as they have proven time and time again.

How bad the Demons can be

Chris Cathcart's picture

Seems that the tantrums being thrown about the Reepers now don't take into account just how sick of the Demons the same folks would be soon enough. Seems that some have forgotten how sick so many people were of the Demons running things back in '94. When the Demons had control of exec and legislative branches, they were all prepped for runaway-gov't mode. Ever higher spending, and ever higher taxes to cover it. When the Demons were last running things, they were intent on shoving through a socialized-medicine "Health Security" plan. The proposed regimentation and bureaucracy was staggering. Prez Clinton brought out a surreal-looking "Health Security card" that he envisioned everyone would be required to carry. Long story short, last time the Demons were running things, Europhile socialized medicine was on the table. For 12 years now, it's been safely off the table. Yes, the Reeps pulled their trillion-dollar prescrption-drug stunt and we can kick their asses up and down the street for that, but socialized medicine? You'd need Demons in charge to make it happen. And very eager they would be to see it happen indeed.

Last time that the Demons were all in charge and took advantage of an opportunity to cut taxes? Gotta go back to the early '60s with the Kennedy cuts. JFK was so gracious to reduce the top tax rate from 91 to 70 percent. That's the extent of Demon tax-cutting that we have to thank them for, and in a span of 45 goddamn years at that. Carter & Friends fought tooth and nail against tax cuts while going after windfall profits and pushing non-military spending through the roof. Tax hikes? We've got Demon Congresses working with a lip-moving Reep and Clinton to thank. John Effing Kerry promised more of the same (assuming he could ram it past a Reep Congress, anyhow).

The fuckers are still McGovernite tax-and-spenders at heart, still want to socialize your medicine, still want to gut the military, still want to be gallingly outrageous towards the productive, taxpaying sectors of society. ("Just give us more of your money every year, and screw you.") Ahh, and everyone just loved those runaway Carter days of 13 percent inflation and 21 percent interest rates. And the gas lines. Surreal, but that's the way Europhile pinkos like to run things, innit.

Almost makes me want to say that folks nowadays have too short a memory to realize just how good they've got it with the Reeps (by comparison). Sure, it makes sense to be pissed at the Reeps, but let's not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, mmmm?

Robert (et al)

Chris Cathcart's picture

(Trying not to repeat points I already made, but rather some closely connected points.)

It's true, the Left doesn't have any ideological fire; ideologically, it's so inept and far gone now that it's retreated into a fallback position, i.e., subjectivism. Since they can't win the ideological battle any longer in the realm of reason, their last gasp effort is to undermine reason and objectivity itself. If they can't win, they want to see to it that nobody can. (Now, of course there are plenty of otherwise confused, pro-reason, pro-objectivity, pro-secularism, even -- would you believe it -- pro-America people on the American left who may well be dismayed by the emergence of the cancer that is eating away at their intellectual base. The question is, what they intend to do about it.)

Then there is the related matter: what do you expect or envision will happen with how the war on terror (ultimately, against Islamofascism) is conducted if the Reeps are replaced by the Demons. Now, I'm not saying that your vote's going to actually sway any election outcome; I'm asking what you expect would happen if your electoral preferences actually came to pass. So the Reeps have been doing a disgraceful job running the gov't the past 6 years, and you favor their being taught a lesson. But what if this is to cut off one's nose to spite one's face? What makes you think that the Demons won't run things even worse?

I do agree with you about the moral evaluation of people's voting decisions. Seeing the absence of a plausible cause-effect relation between an individual's vote and the electoral outcome, the question of moral evaluation of a voting decision is pretty much moot. But there is, as you also suggest, place for moral evaluation of a person based on his reasoning process in support of one preference or another. And, as you also suggest, this moral evaluation is objective, not intrinsic or subjective; it does look intrinsicist for Peikoff to be making a commentary on the morality or immorality of an act of voting (how do you judge the morality of an act without also implying something about the moral status of the person?) irrespective of their reasons for voting one way or the other.

As we've seen, plenty of folks on "both" sides have provided, in strategic terms, plausible-enough reasons on Objectivist grounds for holding that one party in power would be preferable over the other. Or, of course, for advocataing the gridlock position. I think what all this points to, anyway, is that without the right dominant philosophy in the culture, the polity is fucked to some extent or other. The major parties are, more fundamentally, the effect rather than the cause; it's the culture's dominant philosophy that is more fundamental, than which party happens to be in power, to generating the policies that we've seen. The parties are merely reflections of the polity's values. This is not a mess that is going to be cleaned up in an election or two; elections are only (short-term) concrete manifestations of the culture's (long-term) dominant philosophy. Gridlock is only a value from an Objectivist standpoint if both parties are so bad that you couldn't stand to see one side get all of its way.

In order of preference, the best (least worst) outcomes right now are probably (1) Gridlock, then (2) Reepers in charge, and then (3) Demons in charge. I don't know who seriously wants to put forth, on Objectivist grounds, a preference for Demons running things. To prefer that, you'd have to think that the Demons would do a better job on the most important issue right now (terrorism). I don't believe even Peikoff thinks that. Longer-term, he's got some reasonable fears about Reeper attempts at theocracy, but also longer-term, what happens with Demons running the war on terror and everything else? Of course, longer-term, the polity is going to get what it asks for regardless, by the necessity of its dominant philosophy.

So what exactly are we talking about in expressing our preferences or voting intentions in some upcoming election, given the structural mess that our culture and polity are in? The real, long-term, structural battle lies elsewhere, yes? That said, the party more representative of, and more committed to ideological and (politically-feasible and implementable) existential evil, would be the Demons. And I can only hope that this is the reason for their electoral mishaps, i.e., that the polity is sane and uncorrupted enough to see their evil for what it is. They'd likely prefer Reeps generally, but would rather have better versions of the ones that we see in charge now, and they probably feel confused and helpless as to how we could get a better crop of Reeps to replace the current one. And this, of course, is where Objectivism can have its greatest (long-term) potency.

Re-read the thread, then pick up a newspaper.

Jeff Perren's picture

Mr. Nasir has either not read or not been persuaded by the post I wrote just prior to his. (Nor, apparently, by the dozen of others further down, nor by anyone elses.) But where there's life, there's hope. So, here we go again.

He makes several errors, which I comment on in no particular order.

There is no longer such a thing as the Left and the Right, as I explain in the post prior to his.

As bad as Bob Dole was, it was obvious even before (though not long before) Clinton was elected the first time how awful Clinton would be. (The second time around, it was obvious even to the Democrats.)

There is a common theme among some that the Republicans should be punished.

For what? Failing to live up to ideals they never espoused or held, such as being in favor of laissez-faire?

Who is being punished more when you vote for a Democrat, the Republicans or the American people?

And just how responsible are the Republicans for the current situation, particularly the far less-than-satisfactory situation in Iraq? Most of the result is due to their refusal to stand up to the Democrats whining about Iraq. ("Oh, we should never have gone." they cry, blanking out the fact that hindsight is 20-20; "Oh, a soldier died today," they simper, blanking out the fact that the casualty rate is lower than in any major conflict in the last 5,000 years; "Oh, some Iraqi civilians died today," they wimper, blanking out the fact that if the Iraqi citizens were more forthcoming with information, many fewer would suffer such a fate.)

The Republicans bear much responsiblity for failing to have the courage to ignore their crying, but who is doing the constant haranguing in the chambers of Congress, in the newspapers, and on the thousands of university campuses? If the Democrats had been behind the effort, beyond being willing to spend a ridiculous amount of money, the whole thing could have been over by now, because the weak-kneed Republicans would not have tied the military's hands at the Democrats' urging.

But punishing the Republicans for their cowardice will not help you or the American people. It will only serve to accelerate the trend you intimate you would like to reverse.

Most importantly, what will you think of your 'lesson' when the Democrats do everything they can to lose the war against Islamism? If you doubt this, consider the following. The other day, an American unit in Iraq cleared out yet another pocket of pus. Was there any praise for this action -- or has there been for any other -- from Demmocratic quarters? The Iraqi government chastised the Americans for undertaking the raid. Was there any outrage expressed in the New York Times or elsewhere for their effrontery?

It is simply against the evidence to say that they have no ideological fire left, though adimittedly it was dampened somewhat for a few years. I recommend you read the newspapers and watch the discussions on the Lehrer News Hour and other venues where Democrats express their views. You will see plenty of passion for their philosophy and their proposals.

The Democrats are not merely 'a smidgen less dangerous', as I have been at pains to explain.

Your self interest would be best served by inducing the split you wish to create within the Republican Party, in order to produce a new one more in line with what I can only hope are your values.

"You're actually going to vote for the unspeakable Dems..."

Robert Nasir's picture

Linz writes to Chris: "You're actually going to vote for the unspeakable Dems...?" 

No, I'd guess he intends to vote (if he does vote at all) against the Republicans.  Reminds me of 1996, when I was compelled to vote against Bob Dole ... by voting for Bill Clinton ... a wee bit harder on the soul than when I voted for GWB in '00 and '04, but necessary none-the-less.

I find myself compelled by my own best judgement to again vote Democrat - and partially for Mr. Tracinski's reasons(!).  That is, I don't think the Left has any great ideological fire left (and are consequently a smidgen - but only that - less dangerous), while the Right needs to be slapped down for the unforgivable job they've done while controlling the government for the last six years (and the Congress for six years before that). 

In the 1996 presidential election, the Republican Party was told by the voters, no, you may not offer an uninspiring, entranched, pragmatist, tax-and-spend beaurocrat as a presidential candidate.  This year, they will receive, I hope, a similar message.

Most importantly, I believe that the best we can get right now is a divided government split along party lines.

But this year, despite the fact that I intend to vote, if not a straight Dem ticket, then close to it, one difference between Dr. Peikoff and I ... the issues, from the day-to-day to the philosophical, local to national, and especially from the simple and concrete to the complex and long-term/long range, are so many and so dependent on an individual's knowledge and context that I couldn't fault anyone who has put his best, honest effort into deciding how he should vote this year - whichever way he concludes.

('Cept myself, of course!)

1962 Has Passed

Jeff Perren's picture

It is no longer 1962.

Much as I sometimes nostaligically long for it, long gone are the days when the divisions between political groups was left and right. With few exceptions, Democrats were Left, and Republicans were Right.

Then, the Left was identifiable with secularism, moderate reason and skepticism, moderate socialism, some amount of 'social concern', and such things.

The Right was more interested in being tough on criminals, having a strong defense, lowering taxes, and preaching watered-down Christianity.

(However, even then the lines were not sharp. Jack Kennedy was a Catholic, after all. Truman was a fairly typical Missouri Christian.)

Today, Republicans have considerably softened their opposition to taxes, welfare, and have become much more 'left wing'. Too many of them are as politically correct as the average Democrat.

Democrats have long ago abandoned both reason and secularism. But this does not mean they do not have an identifiable philosophy.

Democrats, to the extent they are not as purely pragmatic as their Republican counterparts, embrace a world view, an epistemology, a set of values, and an aesthetics every bit as comprehensive and detailed -- and internally cohesive -- as that of any devout Christian.

There are several, not very accurate, names for it -- post-modernism, nihilism, etc. -- none really capturing the essence or the totality of this philosophy.

But the evidence that it is there, that it guides their thought processes, choices, and actions is everywhere. Pick out three TV shows at random. Pick up any of a dozen major newspapers. Listen in on any of hundreds of college lectures across the country.

The religious-theocracy thing

Chris Cathcart's picture

Greg Perkins presents a view more or less mirroring Diana's and Peikoff's:

"That's why the Left couldn't sustain more than a couple of generations in creating hell on earth with communism and such, and their preoccupation with environmentalism would similarly pass. But the religionists can hurt us just as much existentially -- and they have proven they can hold humanity down in the muck for millennia, not just a few generations.

"So when I do the math on the fundamentals, one side looks horribly bad while the other looks apocalyptically bad."

I think this is worrisome only if average American voters took religion seriously enough to allow a theocracy to take hold. But -- and here's why the Repugs aren't likely to be "apocalyptically" dangerous on this front -- the whole thing about religion in modern Western society is that it's so watered down with the values of secular reason that it's not the threat to life that it used to be. As Linz points out, the only deadly anti-life, anti-reason, anti-West theocracy that really threatens us nowadays is that of Islamofascism. With GWB & co., we get watered-down religionism; with the Europhile-Saddamite appeasers, we get capitulation to unadulterated religionism.

Meanwhile, as the Repugs would overwhelm us with religion watered down by secular values that a majority of Americans hold dearer enough than faith, it's the chief secular value -- reason -- that is unapologetically under assult by the postmodernist Left. They would give us un-watered-down anti-reason and anti-objectivity. So what's the alternative that the Left has to offer to the Right's watered-down religionism coupled with watered-down capitalism? A Europhile Islamophile anti-capitalist appeaser thugocracy, possibly paving the way for de facto Islamic theocracy on a widespread scale. I see more "apocalyptic" implications from the Left running rampant these days than whatever the Right could realistically get away with.

Lanza Morio

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Linz, Michael Moore? It's a good thing I like you and that you're thousands of miles away. For that kind of assault to my honor I'd gladly spend a little time in jail.

Make that a lot of time in jail, since I'm now adding Edward Kennedy to the list. Smiling

Not saying you, Diana, Peikoff et al are like those low-lifes, just trying to shock you into awareness of whom you're lining up with in this crazy rush to vote Dem. To see such delinquency dressed up in the garb of O/ist epistemology is horrifying.

No one is addressing Tracinski's clincher.

Linz

The shift in the poltical dynamic paradigm since Rand's day

Chris Cathcart's picture

Thought some nice pomowanker language was appropriate to my point here. In Rand's day, she held a basic contempt for Repugs/"conservatives" for their me-tooism and lack of will in defending capitalism on the grounds is needs to be defended on. The "liberals" of her day, she said, held at least the basic value of reason and had defended their socialism from some bad premises.

The postmodernism that has eaten away at the Left nowadays, however, has made the Left virulently anti-reason; gone is the pretense of defending socialism on the grounds of reason. Now, objectivity is an enemy of socialist ideology. That pretty much takes away that particular intellectual high-ground, if you will, that Rand had conceded to "liberals" over "conservatives" of her time. So the "At least the 'liberals' uphold a respect for reason" excuse really no longer applies now. They are at least as committed to undermining reason as the "conservatives" are right now -- which is why the two main alternatives right now are a party that is dangerous ideologically for the longterm and dangerous for present-policy purposes, and a party that is dangerous ideologically for the long-term and not-as-dangerous for present-policy purposes. So there is a means of breaking a tie now, whereas it was more a mixed bag in Rand's day.

All that said, given the way that Rand spoke about Reagan, would she vote for Bush were she alive today? I doubt it. I think, for reasons of her own (aside from my own, regarding the futility of voting), she probably wouldn't have voted in these last two prez elections. It may well be that the stench is so bad that not even holding one's nose is enough to overcome it. Or she might have opted to express her preference as voter, for gridlock.

Anyway, the war against Islamofascism is the single most important and dominating policy issue right now. I'd ask those who argue (and probably with very good reason) that Bush's present approach is bad, to explain how they think a Demon policy wouldn't be worse, and probably significantly moreso. How would a postmodernism-cancer-ridden Demon policy not be an outright disaster?

Uh, no way

Chris Cathcart's picture

"You're actually going to vote for the unspeakable Dems, contrary to your earlier protestations that you'd abstain? Makes sense. That's the abstainer's default position."

Ohhhh, no no no no no.

Linz, were I even to bother voting, the dreadful state of American politics itself right now would have me holding my nose in the voting booth. But I'll put it like this, as it applies to most Repugs and most Demons: as much as I can come up with plenty of reasons to fucking hate the Repugs, all you have to do is turn around and see the alternative the Demons have to offer, and you high tail back over to the Repugs. The evil of the religionists might actually be contained and tamed; the evil of the postmodernists, which are like a cancer eating away at the intellectual left, is a pretty out-of-control raging kind of evil, hell-bent on destroying the good as such. It's like the Repugs are evil by accident, while the Demons look and act like they're evil on purpose it's so disgustingly vicious what they promote -- as one poster around here put it, something about beating the productive out of their money. No real morality behind it to justify it; just take what you can while it's moving. (The likes of "Piksmeat" lap that shit right up.) That's just for starters. On foreign policy, for 5 years now they've had absolutely fucking nothing to offer in contrast to GWB on how to wage the war on terror, and their track record from previous administrations leaves them with zero credibility as it is. Their Europhilia (the desire to be like the Euros -- socialism, Islamophilic appeasement, and all the rest) speaks for itself.

So I do go with a semi-consensus amongst a majority of Oists that the Repugs are pretty fucking bad, but the Demons are typically even worse, and in more openly obnoxious ways. I think that's pretty much how Rand saw it as well. Dick Nixon may well have been a thoroughly noxious character, but when the alternative is a pinko looter cancerous America-underminer down to the root like McGovern, what can you do? As bad as GWB may be handling the war on terror (and intellectually speaking, he's totally self-emasculated from being able to wage any such war in an ideologically sound and robust fashion), all you have to do is look at the alternative: John Kerry. How could one think that he'd be better? At least Bush grasps the idea of how to say "Fuck you" to the idea of selling out U.S. foreign policy (and selling out Israel while you're at it) to the Saddamite-infested U.N.

The idea of gridlock in this whole mess is an intriguing idea, though it's a matter of the right kind of gridlock we'd want given the options. The best of the bunch would be a hawkish Dem president (and there are a few such Dems) with a Reep Congress. A Reep Congress would have a better time stonewalling a Dem prez on non-military issues. (So much the worse for proper legally-recognized gay marriage, I know. Defeating Islamofascists who like to execute gays is a higher priority, though. Tells you all you need to know about the ugly hypocrisy of Islam-appeasing Dems, BTW.) Had Kerry showed any kind of testicle about foreign policy, rather than the aimless to-and-fro he offered in the campaign, I'd have felt good about him in the White House with a Reep Congress. As it is, it was pandering to the non-identity post-modernists and all their America-hating bedfellows.

Anyway, we're still quite a ways off from (intellectually, first and foremost) extricating our country from the mess it's in. On present course, though, it's in holding-one's-nose mode. And in terms of policy options in the meantime, the Demons look like the more deadly, but with Reeps doing their damnest to sell-out capitalism intellectually, as per their standard MO in the past 40+ years. So I'd put it something like this: intellectually, they're both reprehensible, but as a matter of practical policy outcomes in the present state, the Repugs come out a bit less filthy.

If anything, as much as I'd love to hear the whole context of Peikoff's DIM course (make it goddam affordable, will ya Lenny?), I have a hunch that I could turn his own DIM argument around against the Demons, i.e., that in practical political implementation right now, they're the somewhat more consistent practitioners of anti-life ideology (in their case, the various outgrowths of postmodernism). Thankfully, as much as GWB is so widely hated, the Demons have been so totally incompetent lately at putting one over on the voters that postmodernism is what they should want and need. And despite quasi-theocratic ambitions of GWB and the religious right, I don't see a major threat of a theocracy materializing anytime soon; the voters have their priorities that make the Repugs politically viable, and it doesn't have a lot to do with religion. It has to do with a natural aversion to postmodernism, to footing the bill for big government, and to spinelessness in foreign policy post-9/11. (And a solid economy doesn't hurt.) For all their own stumbling around, ugliness and policy failures, the Repugs have the Demons beat on these counts. For that sort of thing to happen, it basically means that the Demons have had to be really appallingly bad, and rabidly committed to continuing being so.

Leonard is losing his marbles

Jason Quintana's picture

But of course that has been happening for a long time. Christian conservatism is an ideological problem, but the left is stronger then many realize both here in America and especially around the world. Where do muslim extremists get a good portion of their ideological firepower and propaganda? They get it from the radical America hating and capitalist hating left.

The best strategy is to vote on specific candidates and when that fails (when neither offer anything of value) vote in a way that will place the legislative branch in a position where it can pass as little legislation as possible. IE, vote for the party opposite the president. The reason I take this position is that the republicans are really no longer dedicated to cutting spending and entitlement programs. Their latest gifts to us are the incredibly expensive "prescription drug benefit for seniors." and massive unnecessary wads of money thrown at the Katrina problem.

At this point I am more likely to support a Republican president, but when it comes to congress I am interested in seeing as much gridlock as possible. An even or split house and senate isn't a bad thing. In this election I will root for the democrats to pick up just a few seats but not enough to wield any serious power.

- Jason

Stem-cell Research, etc.

Jeff Perren's picture

The Republicans', more specifically President Bush's, stance on stem-cell research is wrong. It's wrong in conclusion and the basic reasons for that conclusion are worse than wrong.

But look at all their reasons, not merely the one that irritates you.

Observe, as in the abortion debate, why they take that position. Many, including Bush, genuinely believe that human life begins with the fusing of ovum and sperm. Therefore, in their view, abortion -- and similarly, stem-cell research (of certain kinds at least) -- is tantamount to murder.

(Some of the Republicans hold this position innocently, others do not.)

In other words, they hold that position because they hold that each individual life is a value, inviolate and not to be terminated by others. (Granted, some hold this because they believe that life is an intrinsic value, and that their God, as reported in their Bible, says it is sacred, etc.)

Observe, by comparison, that most Democrats are hardly in favor of technological progress to enhance human life. Witness their position on environmentalism. The majority of Democrats, and their basic philosophy does NOT hold that individual life is a value (only, for some, that of the tribe; for others no human life is a value).

Some will argue that the Democrats are better because they arrived at their position via reason, whereas the Republicans arrived at theirs by faithful adherence to their Bible's dictates. That's unlikely to be true for either party.

Have you ever reasoned a Communist out of his or her position? Do you really believe that most Christians believe life is a value primarily because their Bible (or their Pastor) says so?

In any case, the issue -- though important -- is not a deal breaker, especially since before long the Republicans are going to lose on this issue anyway. Other countries are pursuing the research already and research in this country continues, albeit at a reduced pace, in the presence of Bush's refusal to fund the research.

Ron Paul

Lanza Morio's picture

So this Ron Paul guy looks interesting. I'm going through his voting record and agreeing and agreeing and agreeing and then I come to:

"In a recent speech before the House of Representatives, Paul expressed his concern about the possibility of an Iran War. He claimed that the circumstances under which it would occur would be similar to those under which the Iraq War began, and urged Congress not to begin a war with Iran."

I'll have to look into him more.

Linz

Lanza Morio's picture

Linz, Michael Moore? It's a good thing I like you and that you're thousands of miles away. For that kind of assault to my honor I'd gladly spend a little time in jail.

Regarding Theocracy. Let's slow down and think about this. The argument is not that America is going to be like Iran in 20 years, where the culture is dominated by mysticism. The argument is that the government will be directed in large measure by faith-based politicians. The voting block of the religious right is very large. They already have a significant voice in Washington. It is easy to imagine them gaining enough power to justify the term theocracy. Please please please look at those faith-based initiatives and what the politicians are saying/doing about stem-cell research.

John G, I definitely can see your position. I hate to think of all the appeasing the Democrats will do. But then I think that the Republicans, for all their lip-service to the contrary, are appeasing in just the same way. They are not fighting a war. Either they identify an enemy and defeat them or they don't.

Jeff, thanks for the link. I'll check it out now.

Voting records

Jeff Perren's picture

Lance,

Here's the link to the other thread I mentioned. From the ARI Denounces E-Gambling law thread:

Voting records

Jeff

Well...

jtgagnon's picture

The Republicans have screwed up in Iraq...they're in bed with the religious right...they've become so fiscally irresponsible it isn't funny...

And yet, I'm still going to vote Republican. Why? Because while the Republicans have their share of problems, the Democrats are far worse - can you imagine the Democrats trying to run a war? After all, these are the same folks who regularly engage in military-bashing, prefer welfare programs over defense spending, and go around acting like political correctness police. They are the ones who overtly value terrorist lives on an equal level as American soldiers and run around wringing their hands about international opinion.

I share Peikoff's concern about a potential American theocracy. But, it is so far off in the future as to be virtually irrelevant as an issue when considering the present context. This isn't short-run thinking on my part - rather, I am convinced that the threat from Islamic fundamentalism is so profound that it should - and must be - dealt with first. Once we take care of that, then we can discuss internal problems. If we don't take care of the threat Islam poses, we may never even have the chance...

How about voting for the candidate...

Marcus's picture

...who most shares your principles than along party lines.

It is because people are so hung up on party divisions, a matter of religious belief for many, that they get such spineless representatives in the first place.

Linz wrote:
"But Peikoff is arguing a theocracy will take over America in our lifetimes if people vote Republican."

That's interesting. Wasn't he claiming at least 20 years ago and more that the US was on the verge of becoming NAZI germany?

So, Chris ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You're actually going to vote for the unspeakable Dems, contrary to your earlier protestations that you'd abstain? Makes sense. That's the abstainer's default position.

Peikoff, Diana, Scumbarra, Cathcart, Adam Reed, Michael Moore ... my, life's rich tapestry. Goodness!

Linz

Linz

Chris Cathcart's picture

You wrote:

"Westen Civilisation is under potentially mortal siege & folk are saying they'll vote Democrat, which'll make the potential actual, because Bush vetoed taxpayer funding of stem-cell research?! I am incredulous. And contemptuous."

FWIW, there is such thing as a greater danger in taking a correct position for the wrong reasons. The effect of the acceptance and influence of those wrong reasons can be worse than the fact of having taken the right position in this concrete instance, by accident.

That explains much of Ayn Rand's antipathy towards the "libertarian" movement in the U.S., especially given that their political conclusions happen to be (well, at least have the appearance of being) correct. Better to have a deadly mistaken defense of an incorrect position than of a correct position, undercutting the intellectual credibility of the correct one. It's the greatest degree of similarity to Ayn Rand's political ideas that makes an intellectually credible defense of those ideas all that much more crucial, and a bad defense all that much more deadly, a la the wolf in sheep's clothing.

So it's in that context that I evaluate the benign and "pro-freedom" opposition to government funding of stem cell research. The fact is that it's an irrational, anti-life ideology that underlies Bush's position, and it's an ideology with much more insidious effects than whatever position he happened to take on some political issue. This is where ideas of are much more fundamental and long-term importance than one's stand on a single concrete issue. As it stands, Bush's position is based in evil. There are basically one of two rational positions to take on this issue: (1) To get government out of the business of funding research entirely, or (2) As long as it's in the business of doing so, as it is now, funding decisions should be based on rational, pro-life priorities.

(You'll note, in the end, that neither the standard Repugs nor Demons take either of these two positions. So, yeah, singling out Bush's evil on this wouldn't be "fair," as far as fairness goes in these things.)

Alas, a 'mispelling'. I

Aaron's picture

Alas, a 'mispelling'. I thought there was an edit existing post button but don't see it now.

The US Libertarian Party has been being watered down by influence of the Libertarian Reform Caucus such that some uncompromising, principled platform planks have been dropped. I've even seen it use tame, lame, Republican-worthy slogans such as Libertarians believe in 'lower taxes'; 'lower' my ass, what happened to the commitment to zero?!

I'm actually with Chris on this one. Since there's already a proliferation of election posts, I may create one more explaining expected payoff of voting vs. expected payoff of the lottery and gauging which is more rational. Smiling

Aaron ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

That's "impassioned."

And you will be voting for ... ? (Your Saddamite "Libertarian" friends?)

Such empassioned arguments

Aaron's picture

Such empassioned arguments for political parties with barely a lick of difference between them when measured in action as opposed to rhetoric. A favorite description I've heard of the major parties (I paraphrase and don't remember to whom to give credit, maybe it was O'Rourke?):

"It's true that Republicans are now taking America to hell in a handbasket. The Democrats would be happy to take charge instead - to remind us they're going to the same destination via slightly different conveyance, say a stolen shopping cart."

Michael on the Money as Always

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I would have to say we have a long, long way to go before we devolve to a point where Darwin is replaced with Genesis. That is just one concrete, but it is interesting to view it from that perspective because it is the same issue in different time periods--so its awfully difficult for me to accept that a widespread religious Renaissance is just around the corner.

Exactly. But Peikoff is arguing a theocracy will take over America in our lifetimes if people vote Republican. And is urging them to vote for the most vile people imaginable in order to avoid this hysterically reality-defying scenario. Even more unbelievably, we're now being asked to believe this lunacy is the result of a superior, long-range epistemology to which only Objectivist PhDs are privy. Jesus Christ! If that's DIM, all I can say is that it's dim indeed. If ever I saw existential confirmation of my prejudice that the greater a person's academic qualifications in this day and age the greater his nincompoopery, this is it.

Westen Civilisation is under potentially mortal siege & folk are saying they'll vote Democrat, which'll make the potential actual, because Bush vetoed taxpayer funding of stem-cell research?! I am incredulous. And contemptuous.

Even worse is the likelihood that some are saying it just because Peikoff does. For Galt's sake!! What happened to independent minds?! Idiots who'll vote for McGovern's heir just because Peikoff will?! Dear God!!

Linz

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