Friday, March 20, 2015

What Do Conservatives Want?

So, over at the HQ this morning, commenter jwest raised an interesting point.  His comment is too long to quote in its entirety, but the gist seems to be this:  Conservatives, especially in the blogosphere, are too ready to pull out the Long Knives whenever one of our allies (actual allies- a Perry, or Walker, or Cruz, or Lee) makes a tiny misstep.  So we should probably make some decisions, as a movement, about where we really stand.

So here are some areas he highlighted, and my thoughts on them (all quotes: sic; I'm not a proofreader).  I'll follow up with a couple more at the end.

1: Immigration/Border

On immigration, has anyone defined what the word "amnesty" means? We can't simply say "follow existing law", because than entails kicking in doors at 2am and dragging mothers away from their children (which looks bad on the evening news). It would be good to have a well written position on what true conservatives want.
Amnesty means "officially not administering just punishment for a crime."  Any "path to legalization" or "path to citizenship" is Amnesty.

Step 1 (before anything else) secure the border (or take real, substantive steps to secure it).  Step 2 Make explicit that illegal aliens are not eligible for any federal benefit, reduce Medicaid payments to States who pay State benefits for illegal aliens.  Step 3 Come down like "a ton of rectanular building things" on any employer- large or small- found to be hiring illegals.  Step 4 expedite deportation hearings, stop releasing illegals into their own recognizance.

2: ObamaCare/Health Care/Health Insurance

On healthcare, certainly everyone wants Obamacare repealed, but that's not a position. Never in the history of the U.S. has the government been able to give citizens free shit and then turn around and take it back. Those who think this is an option just aren't being serious. We need a conservative plan on what is going to replace Obamacare.

Burn it down. 
Scatter the stones. 
Salt the earth where it stood. 

The federal government has no authority over health care/health insurance.  The only space where the feds have authority is to end the prohibition on interstate sale of insurance.  Would consider making personal health insurance tax deductible, just like employer coverage... but that has issues (since I want the tax code to be much less complex).

3: Defense (esp. Defense Budget)

On defense, some are taking the position that patriotism can be gauged by how much we spend on the military. Others know that at some point, enough is enough. It's hard to make the case of being a budget hawk while handing out blank checks. We should nail this down so that voters know where we're at.

I'm sorry, Hawks, we don't have money.  I don't want to cut defense spending, but neither can we let it grow (or, at least, grow much).  Let's fix the procurement process, cut out the "diversity" stupidity, and see any other avenues available to make the defense budget more efficient.  If that's still not enough, *then* we can talk about more money.

4: Social Security

On Social Security, for decades the holy grail of the conservative side of the aisle was a plan to privatize SS. If this is still the plan, it could be marketed in such a way as to gain the black vote. Of course, our side needs to agree on plan first.

One-time payment of "your" SS money into an IRA.  Retirement planning is your business, not Daddy Government's.  For current or near retirees, we'll have to figure out a plan.  Some kind of phase-out will be necessary, but not sure exactly how that would work.

I'll add on top of that:

5: Taxes

A massively simplified tax code.  Flat tax, fair tax, even a progressive/graduated tax which is simple to understand would be far better than what we have today.  I don't think, realistically, we'll ever get a true "flat tax," and the "fair tax" scares me unless we can repeal the 16th Amendment.  Repeal the estate tax, drop corporate taxes to around 15%, stop taxing capital gains (and maybe dividends).

6: Budget

A balanced budget amendment is way over-due in this country.  Texas has one in our State Constitution, and it has contributed to tax surpluses (since people and especially businesses know that there aren't huge deficits, Texas is seen as very tax-payer friendly).

What are your thoughts?  Jwest is right- the sooner the *base* figures out our starting point, the easier it will be to judge when someone has deviated from it, and to what degree- thus (hopefully) preventing some of the circular firing squads which have led to the last two disastrous Republican presidential candidates.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On Virtue

We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst 

--C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man

It is often said that Conservatives can't simply be "against" things, we have "to have a positive message."  Many Conservatives then protest that we *do* have a positive message, it just gets drowned out because we have to oppose all the cultural rot, or the Progressive agenda, or whatever.

While there is a point there, it must be said that our message *does* get drowned out.  So it is good, from time to time, to remember what it is we are for.  But what are Conservatives for?  What do we want to "conserve?"

I would suggest that Conservatives are for Virtue.  Honor, Courage, Justice, Thrift, Sobriety, and Industry are character traits seemingly in short supply.  Anyone who argues against government expansion, but does argue for personal virtue is arguing for chaos.

John Adams is quoted as saying "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

We have fallen into the trap C.S. Lewis mentioned in The Abolition of man.  Every "advancement" of the progressive era has served to remove virtue.  Welfare has assaulted industry and thrift.  The Left's assault on self-defense (see also: Martin, Trayvon) is an assault on courage.  Every HBO or Showtime show seems to be an assault on sobriety, and often justice.

The results have been predictable.  A society which will not maintain its own virtue will require an ever growing government.  A People which does not practice Honor and Justice will become a police-state.  A People which does not practice Thrift, Sobriety, and Industry, will become one constantly on the verge of economic disaster.

Conservatives seek to promote Virtue.  A People of Personal Virtue are a people who do not need a big government.