Six Principles

Jeff G. at Protein Wisdom -- there's a name that rings a bell, though it's been long enough since I last heard it that I can't remember why -- has a proposal for a unifying set of principles for a new political party. He has brief explanations of what he means by each of the six of them. It's not the worst set of suggestions I've ever heard.

I'll take the liberty of quoting his principles and explanations at length because, after all, he's trying to start a new party and probably wants you to read all of this more than he cares where you read it. Besides, it's a relatively small excerpt of a much longer post.
1) Individual liberty
2) Federalism and representative republicanism
3) Constitutionalism
4) Judicial originalism
5) National sovereignty
6) Free-market capitalism

These are the foundations of a new and potentially revolutionary party, one that does not react defensively to being principled nor considers “purity” in defense of its core beliefs anything but solid earth upon which to pitch its tent. Anyone can join this party; but to do so they must accept as inviolable the 6 foundational platform items. The price of admission, in other words, is a belief in the social compact upon which this country was founded. Nothing more.

1) Individual liberty: the Constitution exists to constrain government and delineate its proper function. It is a physical realization of the ideas found in the Declaration of Independence, chief among which is the concept of natural rights that government exists to protect but can never remove. These are individual rights. And as such, the perversity of contemporary nationalism — which attempts to homogenize the state around a national government that claims to stand in for a supposed collective will — is rejected. We are a nation of individuals. Not of individuals subservient to a mythologized nation state.

2) Federalism and representative republicanism: Those powers not enumerated as belonging to the federal government belong to the several states. Period. No longer will the states be satellite clients of a federal government whose prime lawmaking function now flows from the Executive branch through an unelected and untouchable bureaucratic apparatus. States and the citizens of those states will choose representatives to speak to their interests. Direct democracy was considered a danger by our Founders and Framers. Our party will hold caucuses, not primaries. We will work to choose those we believe will reflect our interests most rigorously. We won’t be held hostage by open primaries or preference polls open to those swayed solely by name recognition, incumbency, or temporary emotional pique. One goal of the party will be the repeal of the 17th Amendment — a result of a prior populist push that rendered the current Senate redundant. Too, we will use the power of recall to thwart those who wish to run under our brand but then refuse to govern as it demands.

3) Constitutionalism: We are a nation of laws. Equality before the law is a central conceit of Constitutionalism and to the very idea of equality as we understand it. Equality of outcome is anathema to individual liberty as a social project. We are born of the American Revolution, not the French Revolution. We are a propositional nation, not a tribal one. Those beliefs that prove incompatible with the Constitution are to be rejected and never willingly imported: Fabian socialism, Marxism, communism, Maoism, Sharia — these are alien and destructive parasitic political philosophies seeking a host in our body politic, with the long-term hope of hollowing out the host to make of it a puppet disguised in Constitutional garb. Religious freedom is not freedom from religion; tolerance is not a right never to be offended; a well-regulated militia is not a delimiting descriptor but rather an all-encompassing one, etc.

4) Judicial originalism: long-time readers of protein wisdom will know instantly how this plank is perhaps the most crucial in the platform. In the absence of some metaphysical force that can arbitrate all disagreements in textual interpretation, the best we can do is embrace the very model that performs our Constitutionally prescribed lawmaking function: law is written and ratified by a legislature made up of corporate agency that intends; law is therefore to be conceived of as a fixed product of that intention — albeit within the conventional constructs we abide by when it comes to judicial interpretation. To that end, the role of the judiciary is to as closely as possible determine that intended meaning and appeal to it as the fixed meaning of any law. Laws are made by a specific collection of individuals in a specific spatio-temporal context. They mean what they mean, not what they can later be made to imply. Stare decisis is often the bane of judicial conservatism. No more. Deference is given to the Constitution, not to some faulty misrepresentation of its meaning by those inclined toward linguistically incoherent hermeneutics.

5) National sovereignty: We are a nation state. We can and must determine our own parameters for national autonomy. And that determination belongs to the people through their representatives, not a unitary Executive. Thus, we are entitled to control immigration, provide whatever obstacles to it we think in our best national interests, and remove those who have broken our laws — including secreting themselves into the country illegally, whether through border jumping or visa overstays. Our foreign policy will be designed to reflect our national interests. The Reagan model of Kirkpatrick/Weinberg will hold in check the impulse toward Wilsonian democracy projects and neoconservative nation building exercises. But it will also recognize the importance of allies and of American presence in international relations.

6) Free-market capitalism:
Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. Ted Cruz at the FTC. This is to be vigorously juxtaposed against the destructive forces of corporatism and crony capitalism preferred by the two major parties, their lobbyists and donors, and influence buyers like Donald Trump. Such “capitalism” is the foundation of liberal fascism, which is the political stage nearly all proto-socialist countries eventually settle into, with government choosing winners and losers, rewarding friends, punishing foes, and using mere caprice to determine policy. It fights to quell competition at the behest of those already at the latter’s top. It is an attempt to kidnap and zip-tie to a radiator the Invisible hand. The idea that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders might be allowed to dictate where a company settles or whether or not it qualifies for “punishment” is, to put it as clearly as I can, batshit crazy.
I of course agree with all of these principles. The only problem is that these are -- aren't they? -- the same principles we've been fighting for all along. In 2010, we were making these arguments. In 2004, we were making these arguments. In 1994, we were making these arguments. Today, no candidate for President represents any part of any of these arguments. The three remaining candidates and, I should add, all of the top vote-getting candidates from either party have stood for opposing principles across the board.

I don't think the American people want this anymore. We do, of course. But Trump voters don't. And Clinton voters don't. And Sanders voters don't. The Republican leadership in the House and Senate don't -- they're the ones floating the President on TPP and T-TIP, just to point to one way in which they oppose points 5 and 6. The Democrats certainly don't -- they're directly opposed to all of them. With a very few honorable exceptions, the whole elected government plus all the remaining candidates -- and all likely Supreme Court nominees from any of these candidates -- are against these principles. Large parts of the civil service are opposed to most of these principles.

That is not to say these aren't the right principles. It's just to say that there may no longer be any hope of defending them. Democracy has spoken, repeatedly, against everything we believe. It doesn't seem that we're heading down the road toward a new discussion of what principles ought to animate America, either. It seems as if we're headed down a road in which, like Brazil, American voters are chiefly divided by race, with the Republicans under Trump rushing to fulfill on the white side the strategy the Democrats have long leveraged with non-white voters. Clinton voters are cheerful and happy to accept a woman who is demonstrably on the take of what they call "the 1%," and who has clearly violated American law on numerous occasions, provided she'll keep the benefits flowing to their cliques.

American politics seems to be becoming less rational, in other words. It shows every sign of becoming more driven by irrational forces like racial identity -- which, like 'transgender identity,' doesn't even point to anything actually biologically real -- or by naked interest in extracting for one's own a bigger piece of the Federal pie. I doubt the efficacy of a new rationalist attempt to explain political principles and hope people will be persuaded by the arguments.

I wish it were otherwise.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Wonderful. It's a pretty libertarian list. To differentiate it from that I think another set of ideas needs to come into the discussion. We like being a nation, and we want to help our fellow-citizens when they need it. Help them at some very minimal level when it's their own fault, more when it seems to be just bad luck, more still when they have demonstrated their reciprocity, as veterans/taxpayers/volunteers have. It may be less efficient than the strict free market, but it is who we are.

We may or may not feel some obligation to non-citizens and people around the world under duress. We take those on a case-by-case basis and accept that it might not always go our way. But we emphatically do not insist that other Americans be world citizens. They can if they want, it's optional. Not our affair.

Steve Sailer talks about being a "citizenist," as a reason to favor African-Americans over immigrants, especially illegal immigrants. I see the sense of that. I feel some obligation to those born her, but it's not unlimited.

Tom said...

My focus over the last year or so has increasingly shifted to American culture. If we just look at politics, we may think America is going insane, but all our fellow citizens who vote for Trump or Clinton or Sanders are doing is following where our culture, our Pied Piper, leads.

While I would consider changing to a new political party, that's not where this war will be won, or even fought. It is being fought first and foremost in the culture, in the movie theater, in fiction sales, in poetry readings, in TV series, in music, in video games. That's the most valuable terrain on the field. Second is the university, because that's where our experts are taught. Even our warrior leaders have to go through the universities. The third most important terrain is the obvious political arena.

The crime of the citizens of Hamelin was refusing to pay the Pied Piper after he lured the rats away, and so he took their children. Ours, I think, has been failure to treat culture as something important. In a sense, we haven't paid attention to it as it deserves. And so many of us have lost our children as well, or have become lost ourselves.

Larry Harman said...

Tom has said it. The reason that the politics have changed is that our culture has changed. I think it's been said here before, and probably better than I can. What our culture values has changed. So many definitions have changed. There are no absolute standards being defended any longer. We can tax cigarettes and legislate to limit the size of soft drink cups in restaurants. We can talk about how certain minorities have a higher incidence of poverty which might be related to their higher prevalence of single parent families. We cannot draw any conclusions about all of the negative consequences of single parent families, such as that being married before having sex is the correct order. Because that is intolerant. We cannot (seemingly) prevent our society from being poisoned by the replacement of absolutes with self-gratification, at the risk of being judgmental.

Ymar Sakar said...

Tom, act local, think global. Tactics < Strategy < Logistics