- A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
As with many previous pieces,
Lenora Fulani’s latest
column continues the illusion about left-right coalitions for political reform. Hammering Buchanan for what she deems as fraud (it’s possible, no denying that), Fulani takes a sword stab in Pat’s direction, decrying his attempt to steal the party from the genuinely reform-minded types. How dare he!
Rather than actually deal with this latest Reform Party “outrage,” let me just make an abrupt segue to the real point: Big deal.
Reform is going to remain little more than a political squabble patch unless and until the party can tighten its loose nuts and come up with something resembling ideological coherency.
Reformers are, of course, quick to say that there is coherency; the party has leftists and right-wingers rubbing elbows and roasting marshmallows around the same bonfire: reform. At the outset of their strange bedfellow political alliance, Buchanan and Fulani admitted their many policy differences, but that didn’t matter, they told us, because they were united for reform. This is, however, a bit disconcerting because in the political lexicon, the word “reform” is about as slippery as “is” in the Clinton lexicon.
Reform is changing one thing into something else. It’s reorganizing the status quo. While revolution is just monkeywrenching, reformation is rebuilding.
When John Calvin broke with the Catholic Church, it was because he and his followers had a clearly different vision of Christianity than did the Catholics. Ditto for Martin Luther. The writings of the majority of the Protestant Reformers home in on the same points. Read the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Belgic Confession, the writings of the Scottish Covenanters, and more — while disagreeing on minor points, they agree on the majority. Their diverse, though unified, theological voice broke the power of the Catholic Church within only a few years, while freeing the Reformers to erect alternative institutions to better reflect their particular vision of Christianity. The face of Christendom was forever changed.
Contrariwise, compare this to politics. Fulani’s heroes have no such competing vision to hash out with the present-day status quo. There’s the monstrous middle of modern American politics with its virtually interchangeable two parties, but there’s little in the way of competition to that vision and, consequently, little agreement over what to change about the status quo or how.
The Reform Party and related independent reform groups are a political goulash, a mulligan stew of ideology, a jumble of leftists, conservatives, progressives, protectionists and scores of politically disaffected groups, all factionalized into little cliques and coalitions. If you had to commission an artist to paint a portrait of the Reform Party, someone would have to find a way to resurrect Jackson Pollock. And this rabble is all kum-bay-ya-ing around the banner of reform. The trouble is, what kind?
From the get-go, the left-right coalition builders, Pat and Lenora — who now of course are on the outs with each other — admitted they agreed on very little policy-wise. So let’s say a Reform Party candidate wins the White House someday. What’s the party planning to do? Bicker for four years? What kind of rebuilding and reformation are we going to see with a passel of foremen who can’t decide on the blueprint?
The Reform Party’s strength lies in two points: 1) disaffection with the two major parties, 2) lots of disaffected types. But these disaffected types share only their disaffection in common. When the leftists start yammering for wealth redistribution, what are the right-wingers going to do? Conversely, when the right-wingers want to start executing dope dealers, what are the lefties going to do? Break up the party?
Hallelujah! That’s the most sensible idea so far.
Let the leftists organize on their own, while Buchanan types can plot their own course. Work together when the cause allows, but don’t try to pass it off like the pinkos and paleoconservatives are in any sort of overall ideological agreement. They have irreparable differences in philosophy.
People can point to ideological dissent in the respective Republican and Democratic camps, but we’re really talking about comparing ideological gaps as wide as the genetic jump between a Doberman Pinscher and a German Shepherd. The zoology of the Reform Party is entirely different — more like dogs and orangutans.
And you know how orangutans act at parties.