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Turning On the Sixties The Party of the Middle Class?

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It Ain't Gonna be Pretty

by Christopher Chantrill
July 31, 2004 at 8:00 pm


NOW THAT THE Democratic National Convention is over, we can begin to see just how badly Senator Kerry is positioned in his campaign for president of the United States.  Liberals are embarrassed by the corny patriotism of John Kerry reporting for duty, and conservatives are scornful of the flip-flopping content of his speech.  Perhaps the undecideds liked his speech.  How could the Democrats have gotten into such a mess?

It’s all the fault of former Vice-President Gore.  It was he who riled up the base to contest the November 2000 results in Florida, and then kept them riled up after the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in the matter.  Look, it’s fine to rile up the base during an election, and even after it if you want to contest a couple of the close results.  But then you’ve got to pay off the troops, sign the peace treaty, and declare that we are all Americans together.  But Al Gore didn’t do that.  He contested the results, and then he never really conceded defeat.  And prominent Democrats fanned the resentment in the base for months and years with stab-in-the-back theories about President Bush being “selected not elected.”  Now they are going to pay the price, big time.

Senator Kerry has three big problems going into the general election campaign.  First of all, just about every partisan Democrat thinks that President Bush is stupid.  The truth is: you should never, never, never misunderestimate your adversary. 

Second, the Democrats believe that war is unnecessary.  They believe that in the modern world we should be beyond things like war, violence, and killing.  Whenever there’s a war they look around to figure out a “root cause” for the violence.  They are completely unprepared to deal with radical Islamists who really believe the Prophet’s injunction to make war until every infidel is converted to the one true faith.  The truth is that we should save root causes for root canals. Young men like to kill unless society carefully socializes them from gang membership into team membership.  Instead of looking around for some idiot to blame when a war gets started, we should rather look around for the genius to praise when some war gets resolved without anyone firing a shot.

Finally, the Democrats have stopped listening.  Anyone that disagrees with them on race is called a racist.  Anyone that disagrees with them on defense is called a warmonger or a false patriot.  Anyone that disagrees with them on sex is called a homophobe.  Anyone that disagrees with them on religion is called a bigot.  Anyone that wants to change the welfare state is called mean-spirited.  The truth is that most Americans disagree with them on race; most Americans disagree with them on defense; most Americans disagree with them on sex; and most Americans disagree with them on religion.  And Republicans have been diligently working for fifty years, with some success, to change Americans’ minds on the welfare state.

You could see these factors last Thursday eating away like acid on Kerry’s campaign for the presidency.  Because he and his partisans cannot take Bush seriously, his speech really did not attempt to mount a serious political challenge to the president with a program that dared to offer a serious alternative.  Because he and his partisans believe that war merely continues a “cycle of violence” he was forced into the foolish celebration of his military service 35 years ago in a war that Democrats have insisted for a generation was immoral.  If there is one thing they have stood against, it was the phony patriotism of military salutes and corny Hollywood movie lines like “I’m John Kerry, and I’m reporting for duty.”  And their devotion to the cult of genius and its self-validating individual blinds them to the distaste that most Americans feel for a range of liberal vanities and hypocrisies but about which they are forbidden to complain.

I don’t know about you, but I can almost hear the chuckles from Karl Rove and his headquarters staff as they check in with the battery commanders that are already in position to enfilade the Democrats with withering canister and shrapnel in the coming weeks.

The Democrats find themselves in the position that Republicans occupied for so many humiliating years in the age of the New Deal.  The Me-too Republicans offered everything the Democrats proposed, only not so much.  That’s where Senator Kerry finds himself today.  Yes, he will prosecute the war on terror, but not enough to annoy the anti-war activists.  He will improve education, but not enough to inconvenience the teachers.  He will extend health insurance to the uninsured; but don’t worry, patients and doctors will make the decisions and not evil HMO administrators.

But Americans may well ask themselves why they should settle for half a loaf, when Republicans are offering to supersize it.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

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

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”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

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


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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