The title is Jonah Goldberg’s. Apologies for forgetting who/what tipped me off to his recent speech. It wanders, but covers much interesting ground.
- On the 2012 election: Romney is a good man, but was a poor candidate from a poor field. His consultants’ disdain for ideas and making conservative arguments led to Romney often sounding like nothing more than a right-wing greeting card. This let Obama paint him (however wrongly) as a rich, greedy prude and to win voters on the basis of “who cares more about people like me”.
- On the 2016 election: It’s rare for a party to win a third term, and we can be sure the Democrats won’t do it with Vice President Biden. Meanwhile, the Republicans will have a stronger field.
- On the GOP’s long-term prospects: The GOP has the right ideas, the ideas that work, but a huge ‘persuasion problem’. Democrats are better at deploying the language of community – such as “government is the one thing we all belong to”, or Clinton’s remark on the politics of “you’re on your own” vs. the politics of “we’re all in it together”. This is a pity, because in real life, conservatives tend to be better involved in their families, communities and causes larger than themselves.
- All political fights ultimately are Locke vs. Rousseau. Locke is the idea that we are captains of ourselves, our rights precede government, the fruits of your labor belong to you (not the collective), society should be organized to maximize individual freedom, civilization is a process of recognizing these things. Rousseau – the opposite: civilization messes us up, rights are granted by the collective, the collective is all.
- As followers of Rousseau, leftists make a basic error, over and over: Fantasizing that government will make them feel loved and bring meaning to their lives. It never works, because government can’t provide those things. [Jeff adds: Not for real. It can provide a fake – a simulation, a temporary illusion of them.]
- With Obama, leftists have successfully ‘scored’ for the idea called ‘positive liberty’, which says that liberty consists of government granting you benefits and entitlements to enable you to do things, e.g., “free” birth control (Sandra Fluke). [Jeff adds: We know the idea is wrong, and is in fact the opposite of liberty, because it means enslaving people or stealing their property, in order to pay for said entitlements.]
- With Obama having years more to run, the worst is yet to come. Conservatives / libertarians will be fighting the bad effects of Obama’s mistakes for the rest of our lives.
- BUT, we will be fighting the good fight: for human liberty and prosperity, the Lockean revolution which is the best thing to happen to humanity in the last 1000 years.
- TS Eliot: there is no such thing as a truly lost cause, because there is no such thing as a truly won cause. The cause can still be won, as long as there are people willing to fight for it.
On a personal level, Goldberg’s speech is a reminder of my limitations. There are many people on this Earth whom I won’t be able to persuade.
As one example: I object to the idea (as voiced by Democrats) that “we are all in it together.” Good people – prudent/productive people who love human freedom – are “in it together” for causes such as natural rights, and the Rule of Law. But when a parasite comes to me saying “Come on, we’re all in it together”, I know I’m about to be looted, and I say “No we’re not, so get lost!” So if Goldberg is looking for someone who is able to win over the mushy American middle by using the language of community, well, it won’t be me.
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