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The Wages of Appeasement Class War

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After Clinton or Obama, Woman-centered Conservatism

by Christopher Chantrill
December 20, 2007 at 2:43 am

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WHICH OF the two Democratic frontrunners would Republicans prefer to run against? That was what Hugh Hewitt asked his listeners last week as the Democratic race began to tighten.

But he was asking the wrong question. The right question is: which Democrat would you prefer to have in the White House in 2009, or more exactly, at the next mid-term election in 2010?

Even if a Republican wins the White House in 2008 they won’t have much of a mandate. If the voters want “change,” whether Obama’s “Change You Can Believe In” or Clinton’s “Ready for Change” or some other kind of change, it will be difficult for a Republican to offer it. There’s a Republican in the White House, and many voters will keenly feel the chill headwind of the mortgage meltdown, the Iraq war, and the high gas prices.

On top of everything Alan Greenspan has now mentioned the “R” word. There’s a 50-50 chance of recession, he says. Whether he is right or not, you can expect an uncomfortable economy in 2008, enough to encourage the Democrats to reprise the Clinton refrain of 1992. “Worst economy in 50 years,” they said, just after the mildest recession since World War II.

Let us not think tactically about how to beat the Democrats in 2008. Let us think strategically about how to storm back into power when the voters next get fed up with Democrats.

Today the Republican program of reform is dead in the water. Whenever Republicans suggest what Mark Steyn helpfully calls the “teensy-weensiest little tweakette” of reform to the welfare state the Democrats say: Over my dead body.

We are never going to reform the welfare state in a set-piece battle. The time to reform entitlements is when Democrats are on the run or playing possum after an election like 1980 or 1994.

Both elections, in 1980 and in 1994, were elections in which a surging Republican Party cold-cocked the incumbent Democrats. You can’t win that kind of election when a Republican is in the White House.

So the long-term view would be to ask which Democrat you’d like in the White House when Republicans come storming back after two or four years of a lackluster Democratic administration.

On this view, which of the two, Clinton or Obama, would be better for Republicans?

Clinton is the more experienced, and the more cunning. We could expect her to excel at creating stealth programs to advance the Democratic vision of Life as a Defined Benefit, craftily doling out to Democratic voters dollars taken from Republican taxpayers.

An Obama administration would be more likely get pushed around by the permanent government of the Democratic Congress, the Democratic bureaucracy, and the Democratic activists. Whatever Obama may say about change, the permanent government is devoted to the continuation of the Democratic vision of Life as a Defined Benefit.

It’s a tough call. But after a couple of years of another President Clinton we can anticipate eruptions of acid reflux among the voters.

Under any president the long term challenge for conservatives remains the same. How do you persuade the moderate white middle-aged woman voter to sign onto reform? You are asking her to change a government school system that is all she has ever known. You are asking her to agree to health system changes that will confuse and annoy her aging mother. Women just won’t step out into the unknown like that.

You must provide them with an alternative. That’s what Margaret Thatcher said.

Conservatives must start to build a parallel system to demonstrate the conservative version of the services that women care about. We want those moderate women to start hearing from their friends about a new school that is really helping a child with special problems or a new clinic that is really helping an older women friend with her health problems.

It means making a reality out of the empty slogan Change You Can Believe In. You can believe in it because it already works.

Call it woman-friendly conservatism. The next Republican president must show women the conservative program of limited government and its luxuriant underbrush of mediating institutions actually working for women.

Then they will be ready to believe that the conservative agenda of family, church, and neighborhood delivers a much more woman-friendly world than the heedless bureaucracies of big government.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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