Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Power to the - Party?

From andrewsullivan.com, read this essay, and then see my comments on it.


The essay sums up a particularly troubling trend for me. Nowadays, people swear fealty to a party, not an ideology, which brings about shifting standards for judgment. Actions no longer are judged by how they stand up to beliefs - they're judged by who initiated it and who will be hurt by it.

The best examples today are, of course, the Republicans. This is the "conservative" party who have passed budgets that are Enron-esque in their juggling, the "conservative" party of small government who wanted to overturn the filibuster, the "conservative" party of state's rights who gleefully intervened in Florida over Terri Schaivo and who went against various bills in other states (Oregon's medical marijuana, for example) when they felt it was wrong by their standards.

All these actions should have truly conservative people screaming out loud, tearing out their hair, even threatening to cancel their subscription to National Review. But most aren't. A few have raised objections here and there - William Buckley condemned Abu Gharib and other abuses, and George Will has, now and again, mentioned that some of Bush's ideas and plans aren't too well thought out. But the rank and file - Rush Limbaugh (rank emphasized there), Ann Coulter (and again), Jonah Goldberg, et al - don't care that many of the current Administration's actions go against all tenets of conservatism. They just look at who started the acts - the Republicans - and bingo! All is well.

This makes any beliefs very easy to abandon - if it benefits my side, it's okay. It also makes formulating your philosophy very hard - it comes down to "I'm against it unless my party does it and for it unless the other party does it." Sand in high tides are more stable.

The blogs are, of course, front and center in the intellectual eliding. Power Line wholly supports things they would have WORN OUT THE CAPITAL LOCK KEY over if Clinton had done them. Instapundit has yet to admit anything wrong happened in Iraq, from WMD fallacies to prison abuses. Some have admitted problems - The Moderate Voice has been reporting on troubles in Iraq even though they supported the war, Balloon Juice has been very vocal about problems he sees in Republican acts, and Andrew Sullivan has also been commenting about troubling issues. But for the most part, conservatives seem willing to betray ideals for the sake of the party. To see how dangerous this is, imagine if Powell's views on Iraq had been able to gain ground, i.e. more men on the ground and better post-war planning, instead of his being vilified and ridiculed and ignored.

The intellectual abandonment is horrifying, because if you base your whole belief system not on personal thoughts and philosophies but only on who offered it, you're nothing more than a drone who will help push a party over the cliff. If anything they do is okay, everything they do is okay, until people who do think - a seemingly vanishing breed but still around - rebel and either switch sides or start their own party. At least one blog has said they feel that a rebel from outside politics could be the dark horse this next Presidential election cycle (I'm sorry I can't recall which one), and I can see that as well. Either way, the party (here the Republicans, but Democrats have their own sheep followers as well) will suffer.

This is the test to use - for any action, bill, motion, etc.: would you feel the same about it, if it hurt your party/helped the other party? If you say yes, you're actually thinking. If you say no, you're substituting party loyalty for gray matter.

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