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How Donald Trump Would Return Us to Our Constitutional Roots

cooke

One of the wisest political warnings- “Imagine the power you are willing to bestow on an elected office in the hands of your worst nightmare.”

Charles Cooke’s article is an excellent answer to the recent book Relic by William Howell and Terry Moe. The authors conclude that the Constitution is a terrible design that inhibits efficient and necessary action to solve America’s problems. They call for a more powerful president. Their recipe is no different than the progressives of a century ago except that they acknowledge that the professional administrative state is not as free from political factionism as the earlier progressives imagined.

It is more than a bit ironic that Donald Trump may do more to return us to our constitutional roots that we would think and it may be a twisted rationale to support him.

from Charles Cooke at National Review, Is Trump’s Rise Giving Progressives Second Thoughts?

I make this inquiry because, for a long while now, I have been of the view that the only thing that is likely to join conservatives and progressives in condemnation of government excess is the prospect that that excess will benefit the Right. Along with their peculiar belief that History takes “sides” and that improvement is inexorable and foreordained, most progressives hold as an article of faith that, because it is now a “consolidated democracy,” the United States is immune from the sort of tyranny of which conservatives like to warn. As such, progressives tend not to buy the argument that a government that can give you everything you want is also a government that can take it all away. For the past four or five years, conservatives have offered precisely this argument, our central contention being that it is a bad idea to invest too much power in one place because one never knows who might enjoy that power next. And, for the past four or five years, these warnings have fallen on deaf, derisive, overconfident ears.

That’s a serious, not a rhetorical, question. I would genuinely love to know how many “liberals” have begun to suspect that there are some pretty meaningful downsides to the consolidation of state authority. I’d like to know how many of my ideological opponents saying with a smirk that “it couldn’t happen here” have begun to wonder if it could. I’d like to know how many fervent critics of the Second Amendment have caught themselves wondering whether the right to keep and bear arms isn’t a welcome safety valve after all. Furthermore, I’d like to know if the everything-is-better-in-Europe brigade is still yearning for a parliamentary system that would allow the elected leader to push through his agenda pretty much unchecked; if “gridlock” is still seen as a devastating flaw in the system; if the Senate is still such an irritant; and if the considerable power that the states retain is still resented as before. Certainly, there are many on the left who are mistrustful of government and many on the right who are happy to indulge its metastasis. But as a rule, progressives favor harsher intrusion into our civil society than do their political opposites. Are they still as sure that this is shrewd?

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/432832/donald-trump-progressives-rethink-government-power

 

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A Flurry of Good Articles

hkoisrael

I think I am focused or fairly discriminating on what I post from other writers, but over the years I have gravitated toward only a few.  Kevin Williamson and Charles Cooke of National Review are two of the most used. National Review has a large stable with creative and original writer including Jonah Goldberg, David French and many others.

Jonah Goldberg wrote Liberal Fascism in 2008 and I recently reread it as I have focused most of my reading on the history and evolution of Progressivism.  I keep a copy of this book in a prominent spot in my library since the cover is so offensive to my liberal friends.

liberalfascism

Worthy articles that fit my filter seem spotty. I may not find anything for weeks and then there is a flurry of great pieces.

Deirdre McCloskey had a great piece in the weekend WSJ How the West Got Rich – It is excerpted and commented on a few posts away. It is  is adapted from her new book, “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World,” on my reading queue.

Kevin Williamson has been on a roll his his recent piece Engineering Better Voters shows an independent writing style that takes conservative and progressive views to task.  Note: National Review changes or uses titles after initial postings –  something much easier to do online.

And Charles Cooke raised an issue with Trump that I have considered, but not in the articulate manner Cooke has- that Trump’s supreme irony may be that he may make the Progressives question the premise of a strong central government. Maybe the liberal may come to learn that the right’s concern with Obama’s use of power was not his race. Read Is Trump’s Rise Giving Progressives Second Thoughts? 

Some great reading recently with excerpts posted nearby.  Some of these articles are quite rich in content and difficult for me to cull into a short post. I encourage you to read the links in full

 

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Political Inactivism

kevin williamson

Kevin Williamson is probably one of the most excerpted writers on Rebel Yid.  I was fortunate to meet him lat year at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas. He has a creative and unconventional way of viewing the great debates. He gets beyond the left and right platitudes.

The entire link merits your viewing.

From Kevin at National Review, Engineering Better Voters:

It isn’t that voters are not profoundly ignorant, it’s just that making them less ignorant isn’t really going to help much on Election Day, because political preferences are not, in the main, a function of knowledge.

Progressives are a funny bunch in that they do sincerely believe that government should be empowered, almost without limitation, to do the will of the People, who are sovereign, but they imagine that the People speak with one voice, or at least that they should speak with one voice. When the People get froggy and refuse to fall in line behind, say, the Affordable Care Act, which the best experts drew up on behalf of the People, who (so the story goes) gave Barack Obama a mandate to reform health care, then something must be wrong. And we all know what that is: Too much debate and too much political discourse including too many voices, some of which — those of Charles and David Koch, for instance — must be silenced in order for the People to be heard as one voice, the way it was intended. (No, we are not allowed to ask: Intended by Whom?) So we arrive at the strange situation in which the Left desires maximal formal participation in democratic processes but heavy restriction of everything ancillary to those processes, most especially political speech.

The cynic might here observe that what’s really going on may be something entirely different, that progressives want more participation by voters because they assume that those new voters will agree with them, and less participation in political discourse because they believe that those new voices are less likely to support them, while conservatives want fewer voters because they believe the ones remaining will be more conservative, while they do not worry about all the new forms of political persuasion because those have been mainly conservative. And it probably is the case that many among our political professionals are exactly that calculating.

What is actually needed is a set of conditions under which fewer questions are decided by democratic politics, which is, even in its highly refined American form, a pretty blunt instrument. Some questions are inherently political, but most are not. We needed a positive act of the federal government to rally the country in making war on the Nazis, but invading Normandy is a different thing from invading the kindergarten toilets in Grover, N.C. I’m with Henry David Thoreau: “I heartily accept the motto,—‘That government is best which governs least;’ and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.”

Which is to say, there’s a time for political activism, but we could do with a bit of political inactivism, too.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435685/voter-education-futile-exercise

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When Ideas Start Having Sex

mccloskey

The internet gave rise to Google and Facebook. The iPhone gave rise to Uber. The ideologies are important only to the extent that they facilitated ideas. Our current development is less dependent on assets and physical capital than ideas. We grow in spite of institutions, not because of them. In fact many of the new ideas render our institutions increasingly irrelevant.

This is one of those articles rich with analysis and thus hard to excerpt- so please link to the whole article.

from the Wall Street Journal, Deirdre McCloskey writes How the West (and the Rest ) Got Rich-This essay is adapted from her new book, “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World,” published by the University of Chicago Press.

What caused it? The usual explanations follow ideology. On the left, from Marx onward, the key is said to be exploitation. Capitalists after 1800 seized surplus value from their workers and invested it in dark, satanic mills. On the right, from the blessed Adam Smith onward, the trick was thought to be savings. The wild Highlanders could become as rich as the Dutch—“the highest degree of opulence,” as Smith put it in 1776—if they would merely save enough to accumulate capital (and stop stealing cattle from one another).

A recent extension of Smith’s claim, put forward by the late economics Nobelist Douglass North (and now embraced as orthodoxy by the World Bank) is that the real elixir is institutions. On this view, if you give a nation’s lawyers fine robes and white wigs, you will get something like English common law. Legislation will follow, corruption will vanish, and the nation will be carried by the accumulation of capital to the highest degree of opulence.

The capital became productive because of ideas for betterment—ideas enacted by a country carpenter or a boy telegrapher or a teenage Seattle computer whiz. As Matt Ridley put it in his book “The Rational Optimist” (2010), what happened over the past two centuries is that “ideas started having sex.” The idea of a railroad was a coupling of high-pressure steam engines with cars running on coal-mining rails. The idea for a lawn mower coupled a miniature gasoline engine with a miniature mechanical reaper. And so on, through every imaginable sort of invention. The coupling of ideas in the heads of the common people yielded an explosion of betterments.

Why did ideas so suddenly start having sex, there and then? Why did it all start at first in Holland about 1600 and then England about 1700 and then the North American colonies and England’s impoverished neighbor, Scotland, and then Belgium and northern France and the Rhineland?

The answer, in a word, is “liberty.” Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not. By certain accidents of European politics, having nothing to do with deep European virtue, more and more Europeans were liberated. From Luther’s reformation through the Dutch revolt against Spain after 1568 and England’s turmoil in the Civil War of the 1640s, down to the American and French revolutions, Europeans came to believe that common people should be liberated to have a go. You might call it: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To use another big concept, what came—slowly, imperfectly—was equality. It was not an equality of outcome, which might be labeled “French” in honor of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Piketty. It was, so to speak, “Scottish,” in honor of David Hume and Adam Smith: equality before the law and equality of social dignity. It made people bold to pursue betterments on their own account. It was, as Smith put it, “allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice.”

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A Totalitarian Impulse

Why has the left become so intolerant of dissent? The quality and the rationality of any position can be discerned by its tolerance for dissent. In a world of absolute truth there is no safe space, in a world of relative truth there is no room for dissent.- HO

from the Wall Street Journal, Progressivism’s Macroagressions by Michael Warren

Perhaps the fundamental difference between yesterday’s liberals and today’s postmodern progressives is each side’s conception of truth. Liberals believe truth is external and can be determined through reason. A good liberal uses his reason to achieve justice and equality for all. But postmodern progressives are moral relativists. For them, truth is internal, discerned by and specific to particular individuals. Today a good progressive defends the individual’s internal truth—particularly if the person is an “oppressed minority”—against all foes, including reason. Small wonder that the postmodern left has turned on its own.

The competition between individualized truths—“an unending conflict between identity tribes trying to capture the state for their own narrow group interests”—is what Mr. Holmes believes makes postmodern progressivism a cousin of radical libertarianism. But while radical libertarianism tends toward anarchy, postmodern leftism has a totalitarian impulse. The goal of a postmodern progressive isn’t universal truth, which supposedly doesn’t exist, but power, which is presented in the guise of equality and social justice. The left’s quest for power isn’t of the goose-stepping, arsenal-building kind employed by 20th-century dictators, Mr. Holmes takes great pains to insist. But, he allows, progressive liberals are “willing to dip into the totalitarians’ illiberal tool box.”