Conservatives Focus On Obama To Their Detriment

For three and a half years, we conservatives have been longing for – reaching for – impatiently waiting for November 2, 2012. We do not like the Obamanation.

But in focusing so much on our displeasure with Barack, we have sacrificed substance. Conservatism has become – more than anything else – about simply defeating Barack Obama.

But that’s a negative definition: “Conservatism is NOT Obama.”

Few of us have bothered to ask, “Well, what IS conservatism, then?” (I asked it in a recent post.)

What do we want from the supposedly-conservative Republican party? I would contend that, because we don’t know the answer to that question, we have ended up with an empty suit at the head of the presidential nominee race – Mitt Romney. And in that way, Obama has defeated us already.

On Mitt. I’m tempted to say, “He seems like a nice guy, I just don’t think he’s a conservative.” But I’m tired of all the pretense. When I look at him, I see a man who is all politician – a man who, as evidenced in myriad video and audio clips, will say or do just about whatever he thinks will be politically expedient.

This is the man who passed the equivalent of Obamacare in his own state, but who criticizes Obamacare. This is the man who was pro-abortion before he was pro-life. This is the man who railed against Hilary Rosen for saying his wife had “never worked a day in her life,” but who also said that stay-at-home moms should “have the dignity of work” at an outside job.

At last weekend’s Missouri district conventions, it seemed apparent that Missouri Republicans are attempting to coalesce behind Mitt. Well, except Ron Paul people. We Ron Paul people worked hard to obtain delegates, but in the end, people just listen to FOX news more than they listen to the bells of liberty and the overtures of reason. After the convention, a Romney supporter who had observed our passion for liberty attempted to exhort Kate and me to “keep that spiritedness going” (or something like that). As though he thinks passion is transferable. As though he thinks that if I can be passionate for Ron Paul, I can be passionate for Mitt Romney.

I can not be passionate for Mitt Romney.

Why not?

Well, first, this brings me back to my original point: the only reason to like Mitt Romney is because we’re told he can beat Obama. But beating Obama is not my goal! Oh, it’s a means, but it’s not the end. But for most Republicans, I fear it’s the end. We don’t care who gets elected…”anyone is better than Obama.” We heard that said over and over at the Republican primary debates, by pretty much every candidate.

Except Ron Paul. He didn’t say it, because he knows that not anyone is better than Obama. If we have another president who provokes worldwide warfare, who bails out big banks and corporations on the public’s dime, who continues to drown our country in budget deficits and public debt, and who expands the role of government further into the private lives of citizens through things like the Patriot Act and the Affordable Care Act…well…actually, now it sounds like Bush and Obama were about the same. So we want to elect another president just like the previous two? No thanks.

In an age of seemingly strong, divisive partisanship – at least as the media would have us believe – the reality is that Republicans and Democrats are nearly the same. All hunger for power and money, and we have given our politicians the authority to obtain them.

But why else can I not be enthusiastic about Mitt Romney?

Because he possesses nothing about which I can be enthusiastic. It is not Ron Paul’s good looks or articulate speech that excite me (he has none). It is not his track record of “getting things done in Congress” (he typically votes “No,” and always votes “No” on spending bills…always). It is not his “electability” or his “presidential” air. No, none of those things can compel me to vote for a man (or woman).

But when Ron Paul talks about liberty – about restoring to individuals the freedom to live their lives as they please, without excessive taxation, without inflationary government policies that steal money from their pockets, without onerous laws and regulations over their private lives, without the heavy hand of government groping their children at the airport and peering into their private data without judicial permission, without losing their neighbors and children on foreign soil fighting meaningless wars, and with the promise of reverence for all human life and financial responsibility from the halls of Congress – when he talks about liberty that way, who wouldn’t be compelled to jump to their feet and cheer? Then, when I see the man’s voting record after three decades in Congress – a record that never betrays his principles – I know “this is a man of integrity.” This is not a flip-flopper who says what is politically expedient. This is not a man who cozies up to corporations for mutual benefit at the expense of the people. This is an honest man, committed to liberty and justice for all. This is the only person I want for president.

So I will not aid our nation in trading one corrupt dictator for another.

“If you don’t vote for Romney, you’ve essentially voted for Obama,” a person might reply.

But I disagree. Romney has given the party no vision for conservatism. Romney has given no concessions to the Tea Party and to those who want drastic cuts in government. Romney is an empty suit. Romney is unelectable, because Romney is just un-. He’s not any thing, he’s just not Obama. Not even Sarah Palin has faith that he’s a conservative (this video, 9:00-10:00)!

And this sums up the whole problem I have been trying to articulate. When the Republican party focused solely on removing Obama, they lost themselves. Instead of being advocates for small government, the Constitution, and liberty, they just railed against Barack. They spent so much on demolition, they forgot to invest in reconstruction. And for that lack of positive, substantial vision, the Republican party is now vacuous, and seems bent on putting a vapid, vacuous man in the White House.

So I would contend that, if you voted for Romney in the primaries, you actually voted for Obama. Because if Romney is the nominee, Obama will be the president.

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17 Responses to Conservatives Focus On Obama To Their Detriment

  1. Matt says:

    “So I will not aid our nation in trading one corrupt dictator for another.”
    Do you really mean this?

  2. I mean Obama dictates against our Constitutionally-outlined liberties via executive order (even after railing against the executive order in his ’08 campaign). And I don’t think Mitt is any different from him when it comes to the use (abuse) of executive power.
    I guess you could be asking “Do you really mean you will not vote for Mitt Romney?”
    I can think of some scenarios in which I WOULD vote for Mitt Romney – one of them involves him promising to install Ron Paul as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

    • Matt says:

      I was asking if you thought that Obama was a corrupt dictator. And if I understand your reply, if a president ever does anything that goes against a constitutional liberty, that makes him a dictator. I think that your definition is overly strong. I also think that if you are setting that as the definition, you are being unreasonable.

      To label someone as either corrupt or a dictator, should, in my mind, place them in a category that is not filled by a score of presidents before him. Those labels should be reserved for the truly despicable. To tag President Obama with the same descriptor as Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and Hugo Chavez is disingenuous.

  3. I can appreciate the reference to Castro and his ilk. Clearly, those men were/are tyrannical, violent oppressors of their people. I don’t think Obama is that. defines “dictator” as “a person exercising absolute power, especially a ruler who has absolute, unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.” So Obama is not EXACTLY a dictator, since there do seem to be some limits on his attempts to exert his will. However, he has been more or less flaunting his willingness to employ the executive order (“stroke of the pen, law of the land”) to force actions that the Republican-controlled Congress won’t allow through the legislative process.
    This article talks about that in depth:
    From that article, Senator Charles Grassley (R – Iowa) is quoted as accusing Obama of becoming “more and more like a king that the Constitution was designed to replace.” So I think I’m not alone in pointing to his liberal use of the executive order as a dictatorial move.
    As for corruption, well, I don’t know that he’s quantitatively more corrupt than plenty of the folks in Washington (on both sides of the aisle). And the thing about Washington corruption – as far as I can tell – is that you can be corrupt and at the same time be certain that you are working for the common good. But when he bails out corporations – privatizing gains and socializing losses, when he appoints Michael Taylor (former VP at Monsanto) as senior adviser for the FDA…especially when he pretends to be an advocate for “the people”…that seems corrupt to me. I REALLY don’t like the corporatism and the cozy relationships between big money and politicians.
    So no, I don’t think he’s a Castro or a Hussein or a Hitler. But I still think he’s corrupt, and I still think many of his actions could be described as “dictatorial.”
    As for the score of presidents before him…well…I don’t have much grace for them, either. I think Washington has needed reform for quite some time…

  4. Matt says:

    1. I appreciate that you admit to the hyperbole. That is really all I was looking for from the outset. I do think, though, that when you write an article that makes a lot of sense and has some really logical points, that you can ruin it by losing half of your audience (assuming that half your audience likes, or at least doesn’t hate the POTUS) with just one sentence.
    2. I had to look up ilk. I like it very much and will be using it in the future.
    3. I think your usage of EXACT is ridiculous. That definition has three parts. BHO does not fit ANY of them. So instead of saying that he’s not exactly a dictator, I would say that he’s nowhere near one.
    4. I was unaware as to the extent of Mr. Obama’s usage of the executive order until reading that article. (Bravo to you, by the way, for picking a really liberal source to reference.) But I think that you cherry picked some quotes. There is far more in that article referencing the fact that what is being done from the White House right now is nothing out of the ordinary, than there is saying that it is a blatant disregard for the law and for history. It specifically states that the four presidents before BHO were all avid users of the order (basically, the entire time that you and I have been alive…), so his use of it is far more consistent with the past than a break from it.
    5. What has he used the order to accomplish? “But increasingly in recent months, the administration has been seeking ways to act without Congress. Branding its unilateral efforts “We Can’t Wait,” a slogan that aides said Mr. Obama coined at that strategy meeting, the White House has rolled out dozens of new policies — on creating jobs for veterans, preventing drug shortages, raising fuel economy standards, curbing domestic violence and more.” HEAVEN FORBID!!! If he were trying to erase term limits, or institute a President for Life office, that would be one thing. But the fact that the congressional Republicans are accusing him of ‘power grabs’ is ludicrous.

    Corruption: I HATE that the big businesses in the U.S. have as much sway over politicians as they do. And maybe Ron Paul could change that. But I guarantee you that no other ‘Republican’ will even try to go down that road. (quotes because you and I both know that Ron Paul is no Republican) Is BHO a politician? Yes. Are most politicians corrupt? Yes. Is BHO corrupt? Maybe. I’ll give you that. But I’m going to need more evidence than someone that has a lot of experience in the private sector being appointed to an adviser position. If that man were the head of the FDA, maybe, but adviser? I think that’s a stretch. Furthermore, would you rather that a former VP of Chrysler be given that position? Or Dell? It seems to me to be a good, rational fit.

    Ron Paul: Spoiler….this will probably make you mad. Ron Paul is brilliant. No one will deny that. Ron Paul is a Constitutional scholar. No one will deny that. Ron Paul votes his convictions, even if it makes mad the people around him. No one will deny that. But does voting NO on 100’s of bills make one fit to run the nation? I’m not sure that it does. And I have a real suspicion that all of those years in the House, going against all of his colleagues, could make for a really tough time in office. Ron Paul has some great ideas for the country, many of which I would love to see adopted. But suffice it to say that not all of those ideas are incredibly popular. And, seeing as it fits with the topic at hand, the POTUS does not just get to pick and choose which things he wants to become law. Well, not under the constitution at least. So my question to you is, do you really think that if Dr. Paul were to get elected, that he would be able to get 1/10 of his ideas through congress? Because I think that 1/10 would be one of the greatest political victories of all time. And when the congress, be it because of it being controlled by the evil Democrats or because the Republicans just think that he’s a little to libertarian for their tastes, decided to lock him out, do you think that he would sit for four years, after having worked so hard to get to office with all of his legitimately fantastic ideas rattling around in his head, and NOT exercise an executive order? You might think that he would stand on principle, but I do not. Having voted for BHO, and feeling that buyers remorse that we’ve spoken of, I’ve realized that candidates have to promise the world in order to get elected, even if they can only deliver a small fraction of that. No one would elect someone that gave campaign speeches saying that they realistically will only get a couple of years, if they are lucky, with a congress who would vote for their bills, so they are only going to try and do one or two things. You have to inspire people to get votes. And Ron Paul does that. No doubt about it. But the issue we’re talking about today is not the ability to inspire, or lack thereof, but BHO has that. Love him or hate him, he gets people riled up. What we’re talking about is what do you do when all of that piss and vinegar you were so full of to get into the White House, is suddenly cut off? When the exact same great ideas that got you elected are no longer popular?

    I know I’ve written a lot, and I really need to get to studying, but here is the gist of what I’m getting at: If Obama works within the system when the system is to his advantage, he’s a socialist. When Obama doesn’t flaunt the system when it is against him, he is a pansy. And when he does work within (historically, if not maybe absolutely constitutionally) legal, albeit forward, means, he is a dictator. How can the man win?

    “This is what presidents do,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “It’s taken Obama two years to get there, but this has happened throughout history. You can’t be in that office with all its enormous responsibilities — when things don’t happen, you get blamed for it — and not exercise all the powers that have accrued to it over time.”

  5. taylor says:

    Matt, in your point # five you cite a quote of the things Obama has accomplished with his executive orders. None of which he has the power to do according to the Constitution. Those thing are most likely good for people but should be implemented at the state level, according to the Constitution.

    Also, you are dead wrong to not believe that Ron Paul would not use executive orders. That is a wrong belief.

    I do agree with you that “dictator” was not the best choice of words, but I share the intensity of conviction Nate has that our current President is power grabbing. And, sadly many presidents have done this, even Lincoln.

    Finally, (i may be putting words in your mouth, if so, forgive, please), but it seems based on the concluding paragraph of your response that you feel that Obama is merely using a power that has, regardless of origin, found its way into the office’s arsenal, and he is attempting to use that power (particularly executive orders) to accomplish something while holding said office. If this is your position (or close to it), then to that I would say it is not within his power according to the guiding document of our nation’s founding, and therefore we should either 1. correct the misstep(s) (insert Ron Paul) or 2. have the president issue an executive order nullifying the Constitution.

  6. thelyniezian says:

    Forgive this Brit for thinking your citing of the Affordable Healthcare Act as an example of unwarranted intrusion into the private lives of citizens is a little overboard, but…

    It surely cannot be so much worse than, say, requiring drivers to pay car insurance (we do that over here, at least).

    The only problems I can see is that a. it forces people to do business with a private organisation (I actually believe that taxpayer-funded state healthare is actually better ideologically) and b. there were calls to force people to buy plans which covered things they objected to on religious grounds.

    • I would contend that it’s nothing like the requirement to buy auto insurance (even though the Republican nominee seems to think it is, too). You have to buy auto insurance only if you buy a car. That’s like being required to carry certain kinds of insurance IF you take out a loan – it’s a requirement that is contingent upon a choice you make. Lots of people don’t have cars, and don’t need them, and therefore don’t need auto insurance.
      The healthcare mandate, however, requires you to buy health insurance simply for existing. It’s a tax on existence – as onerous (or perhaps more) as the death tax.

      • thelyniezian says:

        It seems like that until you think about it: how about a tax on the chance you’ll always potentially need healthcare, and might not have a choice about it? Assume someone is lying by the side of the road unconscoius after an accident. Somone calls an ambulance to take him to hospital for emergency treatment. Do you think the ambulance or the hospital are going to check for whether the guy has insurance or can afford to pay, or even wants treatment given the potential cost? As far as I understand they have a moral duty to treat him anyway.

        I happen to believe the wrong way of doing this is orcing people to enter into a business arrangement with a private company (indeed the same for car insurance- I’d think the potential cost of having to pay accident compensation will be a strong incentive to buy insurance anyway- let the markets do their job- and before you say the same with healthcare, I’d think there are those who can neither afford a car or insurance but still require the benefits the latter would provide). Most of us understand the need to pay taxes for certain things that are of mutual benefit and can thus be legitimately provided by the state (unless you’re some sort of hyper-libertarian type who thinks the state is only resposible for maintaining a basic level of order and defending the country, and shouldn’t even be involved in education, highway building &c.). So I think it is morally viable to heave healthcare as a public service, not as something which requires one to line the pockets of private enterprise.

        And it actually works out cheaper than the sytem you guys have had hitherto, accroding to one study, I think by the WHO itself.

  7. Hmmm….hoping this doesn’t forever alienate you and other readers, but I think I may be the “hyper-libertarian type who thinks the state is only resposible for maintaining a basic level of order and defending the country, and shouldn’t even be involved in education, highway building &c.” As a caveat to that, I think those things about the government at the FEDERAL level, since that’s how our country’s Constitution lays it out. The tenth amendment reserves any powers not delegated to the Congress by the Constitution to the states and the people. So, if states want to try state-run healthcare, I say let ’em….some of ours already have. If a person hates it, they can move to a different state…if they live elsewhere but wish they had it, they can move to a state that does.

    • thelyniezian says:

      Well, yes, I suppose those things would be rightly provided at the state level in the case of America. But one thing is certain- there seems to have been serious problems with the provision of healthcare to all citizens of the United States,where people without insurance and unable to claim Medicare/Medicaid type benefits have been discriminated against in terms of cost, and put off essential treatment because of this. And I’ve heard tales of people in the lying-in-a-coma-by-the-side-of-the-road type incidents being potentially bankrupted. This problem needs to be fixed somehow (if it be by the states taking action, so be it, if it be by society in general working independently of government to provide for such by better charitable provision, so be it)- and I understand the way Obama and co. have gone about it is to use the Constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce to do what hey are doing. I don’t think it’s the ideal solution but it’s a way of doing something. It’s not non-commerce because, as I said, someone will always potentially need healthcare.

  8. Matt says:

    It seems to me that we, as a nation, tried to be a loose confederation of independent states with a weak federal government once. Then we wrote the Constitution because the Articles of Confederation were inadequate. So why is it that it didn’t work then, but it will work now? It’s all too easy to get caught up in the idea that we don’t need a big government now, when it was exactly that big government that built all of the infrastructure you use everyday to criticize the big government.

    • Well, they did build the infrastructure of the Internet – as a military implement if my memory serves me well. And in another way, they built up their own excessive size, and that infrastructure has given me (and others) a laundry list of complaints (in the spirit of the colonists’ complaints against King George).
      I’m not advocating for a government as laid out by the Articles of Confederation. I want one as laid out by the Constitution. We don’t have that.
      If time revealed the Articles of Confederation government too weak, time has also revealed that our current government’s ever-expanding size and scope (under Democrats and Republicans alike) has nearly bankrupted this country.
      I’m considering writing in Calvin Coolidge on Nov. 2nd.

      • thelyniezian says:

        If it’s any consolation, the rest of the Western world, and Japan, is just as broke.

        Unlike you, us Brits don’t have a written constitution to model ourselves after- which I think is just as well as it means Parliament is less constrained, and have still managed to work our way out of the unfree and mercantilist mess that we had in old King George’s day- mostly. (Though it would at the same time be nice to have properly codified exactly what government is and is not allowed to do, just what is the role of each branch of government, including the Queen, what our rights are &c..)

        Now it is not my intention to start a my-country-is-better-than-yours argument (I believe each country’s way of doing things differently is in fact a good thing, as long as we can learn from each others’ mistakes) but I think at the end of the day it boils down to not what ought to be the form of government, but the way governments are acting. A lot of which could involve stupid wars and interference on the world stage, pandering to crony interests, and so on. Maybe it could involve people like me needing to get a job. Maybe it could be society in general playing fast and loose with our expectations of the economy- which has since crashed and left us unable to support previous levels of spending.

  9. Matt says:

    The issue at hand is not whether we should have the Articles or the Constitution, the issue is, ‘why did we need the constitution in the first place?’. And I think the answer is that even in 1789, our founders were well aware of the fact that trying to proceed with anything less than a strong central government was a fool’s errand, and they committed treason in order to fix the status quo.

    You use more infrastructure than just the internet. How is that computer powered? What is in your glass right now? How did you travel to the store to buy that computer? Again, I think that it’s very easy to point fingers saying that the government doesn’t have to play a role in something, when the government has already played that role; if you didn’t have interstate highways, electricity, and running water, you might be whistling a different tune.

    As far as going back to the Constitution is concerned, I’ll leave you with a little T.J.

    “No society can make a perpetual Constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please during their usufruct. They are masters, too, of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The Constitution and laws of their predecessors extinguished them, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every Constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years. If it be enforced longer it is an act of force and not of right.”

  10. Well, there’s a lot to respond to here, but I think you want to take it to the question of authority. Why should we have any particular form of government – what authority sets it up and perpetuates it?
    That’s philosophical, and if our disagreements on that are sharp enough, and if they fairly reflect the varying sentiments in our nation, then I would say to follow Jefferson’s advice extremely, and be willing to permit schism – without some bloody civil war – so that each group can try governing how it best sees fit: one with a strong, central government; another with a limited government; a third with a monarchy where I’m king. See Plato’s Republic for why the latter is the best idea.
    Seriously, though, why did we fight the Civil War? I mean, if we’re really okay with re-forming the design of our government every 19 years, then why not just let states go when they want to? Why force people to accept a form of government when they are so philosophically opposed to it?
    On the “infrastructure” note, I wasn’t trying to deny that our government has created any other infrastructure. However, my electricity is provided by a private entity – Ameren – and my water comes from a well. So those aren’t really government infrastructure. I think that trying to find ways to be thankful to the government for all the good things it has brought us…well, I think that’s a terribly dangerous attitude that only predisposes one to embrace tyranny. I prefer, “People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people.”
    Marx and Nietzsche were right – the history of man is a history of oppression and the will to power. Men have not – and will not, without the aid of Christ – changed, and so their tendency is still to exert power over one another. If they can do this via government, they will. They’ll also use things like deception and dishonesty in business and investment relationships.
    Government can be a useful tool for establishing order in a society. It helps in providing for the national defense, and for basic infrastructural elements that are better tended to by the group than by individuals. But – and here’s the philosophical angle again – its role ought to be extremely limited, because men hunger for power. That’s my opinion.
    All this for healthcare.
    I could wish the technology had never been created that would cost us so many billions of dollars. I personally wish that I had the fortitude to refuse expensive medical treatment, should an accident occur. I can’t say whether I do or not.

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