Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Silly and Intriguing Thoughts Floating in the Public Square

First, I have this comment from a DJ on a local Huntsville radio station:
I'm tired of all this political stuff. I wish we just had a king who could decree cool stuff.

Okay, fine. Let's renounce the American Revolution, offer fealty to Queen Elizabeth II, and give up on the whole independence thing.

Comment from Rush Limbaugh listener:
We've got people who are Republican in name only. We've got two candidates now, Huckabee and McCain, who have the same mind-set as the Democrats, but they're on the Republican ticket -- and they're taking this down to a one-party system. I think that's the most dangerous in the world. That is more dangerous than just the Democratic Party, if you only have one party.

This one is a little smarter. The "neocon" revolution has undone the small-government nature of the Republican party. The neocons agreed with Ronald Reagan's belief in American exceptionalism and a strong national defense. However, these disenchanted former Democrats were still big-government types. In a sense, the Neocon Revolution has combined the worst of both parties: excessive spending on domestic spending plus excessive spending on the military. And so we got George W. Bush, who spent domestically like Franklin D. Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson, but also got tied up in a semi-unpopular war, like LBJ. In any case, we now have Republicans governing like Democrats used to, and Democrats governing like softish Trotskyites.

Did the country really move to the right? Maybe for six years (1994-2000). With Bush's election, Republican domestic spending went through the roof, and then we got the Bush Doctrine, which is an extension of the Clinton Doctrine, which stated:
[That] the United States would forcefully intervene to prevent human rights abuses when it can do so without suffering substantial casualties

That is already a violation of the concept of non-intervention in other nations' internal affairs (if you're a believer in the Prime Directive). The Bush Doctrine pushed the envelope a little farther, believing, in the light of 9/11:
that the United States should depose foreign regimes that represented a threat to the security of the United States

Both of these doctrines are inherently imperial. Neither is necessarily in our national interest if we continue to define ourselves as a republic. A republic doesn't get involved in the internal affairs and arrangements of other nations until and unless its own people or specific interests are being harmed. Open-ended mandates like "human rights" or "terrorism" are excuses to invade worse and worse pieces of real estate for less and less important reasons.

Limited-government types are a vanishingly rare breed. And if John McCain gets elected as a Republican, they will become even more so. Regardless of the party, we are moving more and more toward centralized control of our economy and society from Washington. And more's the pity: I've lived there, and aside from snobbery and expensive real estate, I can't quite understand what else the town has to offer.

In previous eras, imperial nations took booty or other important resources from conquered nations in order to pay for the troops that invaded or glorious monuments at home. We're more enlightened than that, of course, because despite the "war for oil" in Iraq, we are actually paying MORE for the commodity we supposedly went to war to liberate. We haven't stolen precious metals or works of art to pay our troops--though I understand the petrodollars we captured from Saddam Hussein's palace did go to the Iraqi people. How, exactly, are we benefitting from being an empire? That sort of "incompetent empire" (as Jerry Pournelle would call it) cannot last long. Eventually we'll start invading countries and demanding something of them--soldiers, money, or resources--to justify to Americans why they're binding their sons to exile in strange and godforsaken lands. And, of course, once we've given up all pretense of ruling the world for its own good, but instead ruling it for ours, the days of the empire will be numbered.

In any case, one-party rule is not far away, and we should be aware of the consequences.

No comments: