Jacksonian Party

The Jacksonian Party:

Way back in January, The New Republic was speculating on a collapse of the Democratic party if elections didn't go well for them this time. I doubted we'd see it, but if we did I would want to found a new party:

If it comes to that, I will start a new party myself--I think we will call ourselves the Jacksonian Party. I mean, of course, James Jackson, and therefore a Jeffersonian party; but people who like Andrew Jackson will be welcome too. It's a big tent for American Classical Liberals, and ought to be able to pull from Republicans as well as Democrats. It will be founded on the real, and honorable, left of American culture: Jefferson's vision, which James Jackson shared, and for which he fought so valiantly.

It is that left which does not merely idolize the poor, but upholds them and finds ways to make them powerful. The support of unions is one way. Another is by supporting their right to bear arms, so that they do not rely upon a distant and disinterested state for their personal security or that of their families. Even in the city, the state is distant when the bandit is already in your home. Furthermore, and more importantly, an armed citizen is not merely more independent of the state. He is personally capable of defending the state, the lawful order, and the common peace, wherever he goes. Whether it is felons or terrorists who threaten that order and that peace, he is ready. The disarmed citizen is a ward of the state. The Armed citizen is its guardian. The state is his to uphold.

Another matter: we need a renewed focus on the rights and duties of the citizen, so that the poor will understand the power they already have by statute, but have forgotten how to wield. Consider jury nullification. Special interests may write the laws, but we have every right to make exceptions. The powerful and the rich do not sit in judgement over us: we judge ourselves.

Another matter: the defense and support of small businesses, who are the 'Yeoman Farmers' of the city. No man is freer than he who employs himself, whether it is the owner of his own land, or the owner of his own shop. If we are going to fiddle with tax policy, let's fiddle with it in a way that encourages and supports small businesses and farmers.

Another matter: education culture. Private-sector unions are a defense for the poor, but public-sector unions are the enemy of everyone outside themselves. Private-sector unions encourage profit sharing, but there is no profit in the public sector--there is only tax money, which must be drawn from the poor as from the rich, and which is drawn at the point of a gun. Restraining public spending is a civil rights issue. The less money you must send to the government, the more you can use to build your own personal capital, and pull yourself up from poverty.

On the same topic, educators should themselves be educated. This should be a real education on the topic they intend to teach, not an education in "educational theory." No one needs that. By the time they are prepared to teach, they have had the most practical education in educating--they have attended twelve years of public school, four years of college, and have at some point had the practical apprenticeship of being an teacher's aide and a student teacher. They have seen education done for more than a decade, have a number of working models in mind, and have practiced the art themselves. What they need is to know their subject matter. We need historians teaching History, and mathematicians teaching math. A large majority of the public is being educated by people whose knowledge of a given subject is no greater than the textbooks they have been assigned. They can't enlarge upon the text, and they can't tell the students when the text goes wrong.

In foreign policy: we should recognize that international terrorist organizations actually are subject to an existing international law: the law of the sea. Precisely like the roving bands of brigands and pirates of the 1600s and 1700s, they are organized against civilization, travel through multiple jurisdictions and through lawless areas alike. They are not combatants of any state, and are protected therefore by neither the Geneva Conventions nor the rules of war. Like pirates, they are subject to summary execution by the officers of any nation that comes into control of them; or by interrogation and some more merciful response, if we prefer and at our discretion. This brutality on the part of civilized men is justified for the exact reason it was justified of old: the threat these bands pose to the transportation infrastructure is a dagger at the heart of civilization. We cannot maintain our cities, our populations, our ability to combat disease or famine, or our relative freedom from total war over resources, without the massive but fragile transportation capacity we have developed.

This is not idle or of small importance. A small increase in transport costs kills at the margins--for example, aid to Africa is reduced as it is more expensive to transport, but resources are fixed. A large increase threatens civilization itself. Our cities do not contain enough food to feed the populace for more than about three days. That is no problem; more food is coming. But if the ability to transport that food is severely harmed--starvation, and in many regions of the world, disease. A serious disruption could unleash a resource war by nations that see mass starvation if they don't capture food, oil, and other needful things. Such a disruption is possible if these terror groups continue their infiltration of the West, and come into possession of WMD.

For that reason, the reform of terror-sponsor states is paramount. So is the reform of failed states that are not necessarily terror-sponsors, but where terrorists are able to travel freely due to bribes of local officials or through outright lawlessness. So long as we can do so while maintaining an all-volunteer force, the United States ought to feel free to act on these places one by one. This has the practical matter, for a Jacksonian party, of bringing liberty and strength to the poor and unfree abroad exactly as we wish to do at home.
Perhaps we need a "Purple Party." I suspect this one would occupy a strong position on the political spectrum's middle ground.

I didn't consider gay marriage at the time -- it's one of those subjects that I've never given much thought, except for a real concern about the turmoil that would come from an attempt to resolve the question judicially. However, I think that it would be perfectly in keeping with the original Classical Liberal principles to reserve the power to the states, and then let each state do as it wanted. That solution -- Federalism -- is being called for, I've noticed, by a number of commentators lately. It seems correct to me.

UPDATE: As I think this over, I believe a clarification is necessary: I think America needs a Jacksonian Party. But it doesn't have to be called "the Jacksonian Party." It could be called "the Democratic Party." It could also be called "the Republican Party." It could be a third party, but it need not be.

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