Romney Challenges Genghis Khan for "Furthest Right"

Oh, my.   Besen of MSNBC shares some alarming intelligence with The New York Daily News:
Romney has actually become the most far-right major party nominee in generations, eager to make the Reagan and Bush presidencies look almost liberal by comparison.
Apparently Romney has made it clear he'll dismantle the fabric of American society and re-write the social contract.  In fact, the author of this article uses language that I could swear is a verbatim copy from what I was reading four years ago about another candidate:
The man has spent a year showing the American electorate a road map, pointing at a distant, radical destination. Only the deliberately blind could miss the signals, and only a fool would assume he’ll change direction once he’s in power.
I feel his pain.


MikeD said...

Ya know... I LOVE this silliness. If the Repubs put up John Huntsman, we'd be hearing now how he was the "most extreme far-right nominee in ages". There's literally no pleasing these folks, because they WANT to hate whoever the other side puts up.

Grim said...

On the other hand, there is a sense in which it's really true that the right wing is getting 'more extreme' every year: the whole system is shifting right. Nixon was for universal health care, after all; Reagan, much less liberal; GWB, outside of Medicare pandering, not very liberal at all.

I think the movement began during the busing crisis. It was all very well for Eisenhower to force desegregation of schools in districts that were mixed, but in the 1970s the government decided that it was going after schools well outside of such places. You couldn't move your kids anymore: it was going to decide for you, and ship them where it wanted, and if that inflamed racial tensions and caused violence and put your children at physical risk, too damn bad.

There was an important moral principle at stake in this, to be sure. But it was also the breaking point for the New Deal-era faith that the Federal government was a force for good, and should be applied as "liberally" as necessary to achieve any good desired. After that, I think people began to question whether government could really be trusted with the final say, and enough power to force its decision regardless of the consequences.

In a way, that's too bad: busing really was for a good cause. It's a shame that we couldn't get behind it in a spirit of cultural unity, and try to make it work for the common good.

But we couldn't, even in liberal heartlands like Boston. The lesson was that an unchained government --even when it is trying to do good and only good -- can be merciless in the face of human nature. Misery results, even though the end was a good one.

Texan99 said...

You could also argue that many beliefs that are mainstream today would have been considered wildly leftist and avant garde only 50 years ago. I don't conclude that we've shifted right. Politicians in the 60s who considered themselves fairly conservative could afford to support the occasional leftish proposal as an experiment, but they rarely tried to push them all at once, or they wouldn't have been considered conservatives.

Now that many of those experiments have been tried and failed, conservative politicians are pushing back. You can always find at least one historical conservative figure that they're breaking ranks with with regard to any particular pushback, but they still fit fairly well within the bounds of traditional conservatism from decades ago.

Grim said...

That's true. Maybe it's not really properly framed as 'left/right,' but solely in terms of our trust in using the Federal government to impose solutions. Most of those avant garde policies you mention are issues of "Should we let people do what they want, like smoke dope legally all day long, or should we try to prevent the harm to society caused by their bad choices?"

More and more, we're deciding to let people do what they want -- because the government has generally made the problems worse when it has gotten involved, as with the drug war.

Still, it's worth remembering the good the civil rights movement did. The Federal involvement broke many state-level laws that might never have changed otherwise.

The lesson I take from that is that we really want to find ways of ensuring that the State/Federal split always works for us as a way of defending our rights. Maybe a Constitutional amendment that gives the Federal courts authority to adjudicate whether States are respecting citizens' constitutional rights when individuals challenge them, but State courts the authority to adjudicate such claims against the Federal government. Never let anyone -- even the government -- be be judge in his own case!

Texan99 said...

"More and more, we're deciding to let people do what they want" -- is that how you see it?

Grim said...

It's how I see the general drift of the culture, yes. Obviously the current ruling staff in D.C. is totally opposed to this, as are the bureaucracies that keep churning out endless regulation of every aspect of life.

But I think they haven't realized yet that the culture has turned against them; and the culture hasn't had time for the slow, organic push that will be necessary to unmake all the meddling. Still, when you look at public attitudes on drug legalization, gay marriage, gun rights -- left and right issues, that is -- what is increasingly popular is a sense that we should let people do what they want to do.

The shoe that hasn't dropped yet is that people haven't sorted out the cost issue. Drug legalization may or may not prove to be a costless issue: we can save fortunes on prisons, but there will be other costs to bear. The collapse of the traditional family has huge costs. I don't know how you can let people have the choices without asking them to bear the costs, at least once we get to the point of just doing it across the board: but that means accepting a significant amount of genuine poverty occasioned by bad decisions.

douglas said...

Funny, what I see (and was just bemoaning with a fellow professor) is that our culture is more self-centered, to the point that they want to do whatever they want (because they're wonderful, you know), and if they think they're right about something, others ought to made, by force if necessary, to do what they think is the right thing to do. I'd say that's a drift to the left. The right, with some exceptions, bases its position on personal freedom, with social responsibility. The left, on whatever feels good, no consistency required.

Texan99 said...

There's some of both, isn't there? We've dissolved a number of normative restrictions, but we've also embraced a bunch of new ones. Whatever is in style (diversity, alternative sexuality) tempts each new generation not only to be allowed to do it but to enforce penalties on anyone who hangs back. People really don't care much for freedom on the whole. They just change their minds from time to time about what kind of harmful behavior they want the cops to arrest people for.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The libertarians like to put out a two-axis test of left-right, individualist-statist. Plus, it has changed over time. In the 19th C, liberals were the free-marketers. Messy to describe.

The USSR certainly didn't have any individual choice support, and Eurosocialism is week on that as well. There does seem to be a pleasure/money divide that isn't logically consistent. You can have the pleasures you want, but the government will tell you what to do with your money.

Even that's not a clean divide, though.

douglas said...

"They just change their minds from time to time about what kind of harmful behavior they want the cops to arrest people for."

No, I think the traditional conservative would say that they're happier letting much of it be handled by social mechanisms like shunning or having ones reputation sullied and having that be known. Liberals want Big Brother to go knock someone's teeth out for offending them. If it's real crime your talking about, that I think most people agree on, by and large.

Texan99 said...

Some do. And I admit I was annoyed with liberals when I wrote that -- I had in mind the kind of "freedom" that starts with overturning laws against, say, transporting young women over state lines and ends with thought crimes.