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This week I wrote a post at Loyal to Liberty about the one-way coin flip “the controlling forces of the elitist faction are offering to principled conservatives, i.e., people whose goal is to conserve, in fact and principle, American self-government of, by and for the people.” As I see it, whether the Romney/Ryan ticket wins or loses, the fight to restore respect for the premises of American self-government (as they are epitomized in the logic of the Declaration of Independence) may be hopelessly compromised. In my blog piece I shared some thoughts about the implications, in this regard, if the Romney/Ryan ticket is slated for defeat.
Now, what about its victory? If we look only at their current words and presently professed convictions, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan appear to be principled conservatives in the above-mentioned sense. But when their past actions and professed convictions are taken into account (including what can reasonably be called the recent past, e.g., 2008 to the present) the facts warrant the strong suspicion that the image they are now projecting is a façade that masks the de facto abandonment of principled conservatism in favor of status quo conservatism.
In the latter guise, the term “conservative” becomes an inherently shifty concept. Its meaning entirely depends on the nature of present circumstances. At present America is in the grip of a pervasively socialist-minded elite faction. The Democrats represent its risk-taking, “Gordian knot” wing (socialism at one blow); the GOP’s elitist leadership represents its more risk-averse “gradualist” wing (socialism one bite at a time.) But, on the whole, the infamous Newsweek magazine cover that announced “We are all socialists now” speaks for this elite faction. Emboldened by Obama’s election, it openly declared what has, de facto, been true of America’s political elite since Ronald Reagan left office.
After Obama’s orchestrated “victory,” one glimpsed the possibility that the elitist GOP leaders are also tempted openly to jettison the GOP’s principled conservative façade. In 2009, Mitt Romney joined Jeb Bush and others “for the inaugural event of the National Council for a New America.” As reported in the Washington Times, the air was filled with talk of the principles and core values of the GOP. But the newspaper’s editors chose to headline what they portrayed as Jeb Bush’s view that it was “Time to leave Reagan behind” (as Reagan said the Democratic Party did when it turned openly to socialism?); “to give up … nostalgia for the heyday of the Reagan era and look forward, even if it means stealing the winning strategy deployed by Democrats in the 2008 election.” Take note: The Obama faction’s 2008 strategy was the typical left-wing socialist ploy (used, for instance in post-World War II Eastern European countries during the phase of free elections before the Soviet-backed Communists Party consolidated control) of campaigning on pliably empty slogans of change, progress and unity to avoid premature focus on their real goals, which they knew many voters would reject.
Is it unreasonable to suppose that the GOP wing of the socialist-minded elite has been following Jeb Bush’s advice? Instead of the cattle-prod slogan of change, they are employing the more powerful cattle prod of fear, anger and revulsion against Obama. They project an Obama “bogeyman” in order to pretend that the threat emanates mainly from his person, not the more pervasive elitist forces whose socialist predilections he merely represents. Why the pretense? Because Mitt Romney also represents those socialist-minded elite forces. Until recently it was impossible to repress the facts showing that Romney’s actions and record marked him as a key leader of the GOP wing of the socialist-minded elite. That was before attempts at GOP party-line repression (ironically also typical of Communist style party politics) emboldened its enforcers to start calling people “traitors” if they dared to discuss Romney’s record.
Paul Ryan’s selection as Romney’s running mate is proof positive that this attempt at repression didn’t work. Thanks to Romney’s “reversion to type” reaction to the Chick-fil-A uprising and his reiteration of opposition to the BSA ban on homosexuality in scouting, the off-putting odor coming off the bulk of his career was again wafting across the political airwaves. It offended conservatives for whom principle is not a slogan but a moral imperative. So Romney chose a running mate who ostensibly accepts that imperative. The choice is supposed to be the spritz of air freshener that ousts offensive odors and brings people back to the GOP’s political table.
But Ryan brings his own discordant flavors to the table. Though hyped in the elitist faction media as a tea-party champ, his effectual (i.e., not merely symbolic) voting record during the Obama era largely exemplifies the congressional GOP’s betrayal of the tea-party agenda, on both the fiscal and constitutional fronts. There’s also the odor coming off his supposedly repudiated (but still awfully fresh-smelling) admiration for the God- and Christ-hating guru of self-righteous elitism, Ayn Rand. She’s the idol of sophomoric “conservative” libertarians who a) haven’t yet realized that her version of freedom for the “superior” people placidly contemplates loveless perdition for the rest; b) don’t care that it does; or c) like Rand herself, wrong-righteously revel in that fact. If Romney’s career represents the socialism of the GOP’s currently prevalent leadership, Ryan’s represents the unlovely roots of its elitism.
As I point out on my blog, Ayn Rand rejects both Christ and the Declaration. Paul Ryan has more than once said that her views provide the best moral justification for capitalism. How, then, does he escape the suspicion that he has also abandoned them? Certainly not by siding with those who call for a moratorium on dealing with the issues that most seriously involve America’s moral understanding.
Conservatives who vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket will have to believe in not one but two possibly cynical and provably improbable conversions that, in each case, reversed a long-standing commitment to ideas that are demonstrably contrary to America’s founding principles. If Romney/Ryan wins and it turns out that they have not changed, the politically motivated but false proclamation that they are principled conservatives will invest them with all the credibility they need to gut the meaning of the conservative brand forever.
When evil wins an election that is a battle lost. But what if victory in a political battle leaves the constituents of that victory cut off from the understanding that inspires the cause for which they fight? That is the post-Pyrrhic victory by which they are undone. And if such a victory for “conservatives” is in fact what the elitist faction engineering the 2012 election has in mind, how socialist will “conservative” become?