Monday, January 19, 2009

JR Dieckmann Resigns from the Republican Party

Larwyn has forwarded JR Dieckmann's recent post about his resignation from the Republican Party on his Great American Journal blog. Dieckmann outlines the GOP's failure to bring the birth certificate question to the fore; ineffectual campaign strategies in the recent election; failure to stand up to the Democrats and to me, most significantly, the Republicans' "move to the left". Dieckmann writes to Mike Duncan, national chair of the RNC:

"I hold you equally responsible along with the liberal media for the results of this 2008 election and the carnage that is sure to follow. The Republican party is devoid of credible leadership and conservative principles. Much of the blame belongs to George W. Bush for his lack of conservative fiscal, small government, and domestic policies. His first four years were spectacular, especially on the foreign policy and national defense issues. Then after reelection, he became a Democrat-lite, along with the entire Republican led congress, which seemed to have adopted the Democrat agenda.

"Conservative" is not just a word you can throw out there to try to hold onto core Republicans, it is an ideology and a conviction that seems to have escaped you and the Republican 'party leaders' - if you can call them that. You should have listened to George Allen, Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, Rick Santorum, Mike Pence, Tom Colburn, Duncan Hunter, and others who have tried to get the conservative message out, instead of allowing them to be thrown under the bus.It is for all of the reasons stated above that I feel the Republican party no longer represents my views and beliefs in the political arena."

Dieckmann raises two sets of issues: strategic and ideological. The strategic problems amount to a failure of practical reason and are probably easy to remedy. Whether or not to emphasize the birth certificate is a war tactic on which reasonable generals can disagree; and failure in one election can lead to success in the next. However, the difference in ideologies does not strike me as so easy to remedy.

It is a puzzle to me how and why the Republicans were not able to perpetuate the "Reagan revolution". Ronald Reagan was a symbol. He accomplished a few small things. He continued the shift in monetary policy that had begun under Carter and allowed Paul Volcker to stabilize the price increases. This took courage. Volcker's policies likely cost Carter reelection and caused a significant economic slowdown. In contrast, when the tech bubble burst at the beginning of George W. Bush's career, Greenspan's response was a new round of inflation, which has led to the current situation. The "bailout" and second round of re-inflation under Bush-Bernanke (and supported by Obama) will lead to serious problems in the current period. The first Bush and Clinton perpetuated the Reagan revolution to a moderate degree. Relative to the George W. Bush administration, budgets were not excessive during the George H. and Clinton administrations (although they were of course excessive compared to pre-1950 America). The Republicans hated Clinton but their replacement, George W. Bush, has turned out to be a joke. Yet, incomprehensibly, many Republicans keep talking about how great George W. Bush was. Someone who uses tax money to subsidize banks, insurance companies and automobile companies is not a conservative. He is far to the left of Clinton. Can we not blame the stupidity of conservatives for what has occurred in the GOP? Forgetting the ugly character issues, Clinton actually was better than George W. Bush. Inflation and monetary games that have became serious under Bush had disappeared under Clinton, and by 2000 I forgot about the 1970s. Bush, Greenspan and Bernanke have reinvented the 1970s--and they have reinvented them in a stupid, incompetent way. The only thing worse are the conservatives who have cheered massive increases in government spending, monetary expansion and regulatory bloat. They haven't taken the time to listen to complaints about education policy, monetary policy and a host of other policies. As George Bush has de-limited government, spent endlessly, destroyed the spirit of entrepreneurship in favor of stupidly managed firms like Citigroup, General Motors and others, may we conclude that conservatives have gotten the leadership they deserve?

The Republicans under Bush became the party of big government and inflation. Sadly, however, not to be outdone, the Democrats also elected an anti-Reagan candidate. Perhaps I realized that there had been a shift when the Economist crowed that American politicians were no longer "ideological". That was about four years ago. At that point I stopped subscribing to the Economist and became interested in monetary issues for the first time since 1983.

Of the two parties the Republicans are the more freedom-oriented one despite the leadership vacuum at the top. I take issue with Mr. Dieckmann's position that the Republican leadership is to blame for the follies of the 2008 election. John McCain won the primary votes. It was not a top down decision. I was unaware of how bad McCain was because I was not politically active until 2004 or so (I had been in the 1970s and until 1982 or so, but not between 1984 and 2004). Seeing McCain campaigning was an education in itself. He should have been the leader of the Socialist Party. I appreciate his war record, incredible bravery and also suspect he has leadership ability, but his ideas are ridiculous.

Because the Republicans are the more susceptible to the pro-freedom argument at the rank-and-file level, I have chosen to remain a Republican. I follow Ayn Rand in that regard, who did not belong to the Libertarian Party. I do, though. In New York the LP is not a Party, so I am a dues-paying LP member but a registered Republican, and I contributed to a fine Republican Congressional candidate in the 22nd New York Congressional district, George Phillips, as well as McCain.

I would urge Mr. Dieckmann to reconsider his decision and to join the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group of free market Republicans within the Republican Party. The last new party was the Republican Party, which was reformulation of the Whig Party. Leading Whigs like Abraham Lincoln, who was allied closely with Henry Clay, transferred to a newly formed party.

America has always had two parties except for the "era of good feelings" after 1800 and before 1820 or so. The two parties have always been pro centralization versus pro decentralization. In the 19th Century the Democrats were pro-decentralization and the Republicans were pro centralization. This continued until 1932 (although there were exceptions, like Woodrow Wilson). After 1932 the Democrats between the party of the "union" and the Republicans became more closely aligned with states' rights and freedom. Unfortunately, between the election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the Republicans lost their way, retaining the Progressive orientation that they had created in the early twentieth century but failing to emphasize the liberal or libertarian impulse that some Republicans still emphasized. In 1964 Barry Goldwater attempted to renew this impulse, but he fought an uphill battle following the JFK assassination in 1963. Ronald Reagan fulfilled the Goldwater insurgency in 1980.

Since 1980, there has not been a Republican leadership that has been committed to freedom. This failure of vision comes from two sources:

-bad education in American elite colleges
-failure of Republican activists to demand better vision from the leadership

The bad education in American elite colleges has been discussed by David Horowitz and many others. I returned from a meeting of the National Association of Scholars that was held on January 9-11 in Washington. This is an organization that all Republicans should be supporting, but I have not heard of many Republican activists taking an interest in higher education. Indeed, the Bush White House appointed a host of left wing extremists to the Department of Education.

The failure of the Republican activists to demand better vision can be seen in the McCain nomination. It can be seen in the failure to demand abolition of the Departments of Education, Energy and Labor. It can be seen in the appointment of left wing ideologues to numerous DOE posts. It can be seen in the complacency with which Republicans have allowed their leaders to demand ever higher tax rates at the local level with hardly a peep.

Remedying these challenges needs to be done from within the Republican Party. The choice between Democrats and Republicans is a dismal one, but we have to start from somewhere, and the ashes of the Reagan revolution are the most likely place.


Greg Goss said...

I hope Mr. Dieckmann hears and takes your advice to stay within the party. I believe the republican party will become stronger, in light of the recent events, not weaker. There is a renewed interest in politics in general and of conservatism in particular. I can point to many stories of example but the sudden overwhelming surge in gun ownership comes to mind.

The birth certificate issue is not going away either. I believe the people, including people like JR Diekmann, will only become more emboldened to succeed in seeing our Constitution Republic survive.

Ted said...

The question is not IF there will be an interdiction of Obama’s Presidency by the Supreme Court, the questions are WHEN and HOW that interdiction will transpire — that is, if the USA is to continue as the Constitutional Republic that now exists.