Tuesday, May 08, 2012

From Modestinus
  • A friend directed me to Matt Welch’s column, “Why Big Government Is Offensive.” While the article is a rehash of arguments which have been advanced in many different forums before, the thesis reminds me of some recent online discussions I’ve been having: Namely, that the use of state (legislative) power to enforce morality, and the size of government which is presupposed to carry these enforcements out, is a bad idea. For while your cause might capture enough votes to get your way today, the other side will come right back at you tomorrow. There’s an undeniable attractiveness to these sort of “live and let live” arguments, though they are often advanced for instrumental reasons in support of “libertarian values” – which are often minority values. But I can understand why Christians, particularly conservative ones, are attracted to these sort of arguments as well. After all, if there is no chance that your confession can hold the reins and keep them, why risk a values struggle where the force of law can so easily be used against you? But because there are still so many Americans – very many, in fact – who believe that this is still a “Christian nation” with something akin to a “moral majority” somewhere out there, there’s still a steady (and wrongheaded) belief that whatever advancements are made today in the name of morality won’t be undone tomorrow. Yes, if the church had political power I’d still be a libertarian.
  • Criticizing trads.
  • Prediction:
    I wouldn’t be surprised if both the House and Senate become Republican-controlled. That means we’ll be “treated” to at least two years of legislative deadlock, with a potential voter backlash in 2014, and then a lame-duck period for the President leading up to November 2016.
    Worked well under Clinton.
    During that time unemployment will hold steady at 8-10%, at least one minor recession (if not another major one) will kick in, and the polarization so many people lament over will reign supreme. Maybe we’ll see some sporadic “people movements” like the Tea Party and Occupy pop up, but I doubt they will be sustainable. People, for a laundry list of reasons, get bored with these sorts of things, and because of the aforementioned polarization, there’s always a countermovement waiting to expend its energy discrediting the extreme version of the other side; meanwhile the status quo goes unchallenged.
    Those ‘movements’ are Astroturf anyway: fake grassroots. For example the local Tea Party is a mainstream GOP puppet taking advantage of well-meaning red-staters at heart.
    I don’t have an idealistic bone in my body, and I always expect things to get worse, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But you asked if I thought “real change” was coming, and I don’t – not even if things get worse. In my view, things would have to radically deteriorate for drastic action to be taken at the top; the bottom-up approach of various movements have too poor a track record for me to place much faith in them (though I’m usually not very supportive of these things anyhow). I think the best we can hope for is the uncovering of a Midwest-sized oil deposit out West. That will save us.

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