Calvin Freiburger

You Can Only Trust Democrats to Be Democrats

Posted on May 20 2010 5:18 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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Republican strategist Mark McKinnon has a new Daily Beast column taking Barack Obama and the Democrats to task for still blaming their own failures on the Bush Administration.  He shows that, by and large, the public isn’t buying it, making “Blame Bush!” a less-than effective strategy.  However, a passage near the end of the piece inadvertently reveals that Republican tactics could use some work, too:

There is a lot to admire about Barack Obama. His message was compelling enough for me that, while I continued to support John McCain in the 2008 election, I left his campaign after the primary because I didn’t want to attack the man who was campaigning on a positive, forward-looking and optimistic message about bipartisanship and hope. A new kind of politics is what he promised. I hate to see him reverting to the old politics of the past.

McKinnon’s decision appears to have stemmed from two major fallacies that, if left uncorrected, will only guarantee continued failure for conservatives.

The first is that candidate Obama’s promises should have been taken at their word prior to the election.  But as I’ve blogged about before (see, for instance, here, here, or here), there were plenty of signs during the campaign that the Illinois senator’s centrism was little more than window dressing for his hard-left worldview, and that he was capable of every bit as much duplicity as any other weaselly politician in the US.  Simply put, if you expected an Obama presidency to be anything other than an exercise in stubborn, tone-deaf, unrestrained leftism, you weren’t paying attention.

The second fallacy is that vague appeals to “bipartisanship,” “optimism” and such are somehow as significant, or possibly more significant, than one’s stated political philosophy and policy preferences.  How did such rhetoric translate to concrete goals or actions that voters could evaluate, aside from a few throwaway promises to listen to both sides?  Further, why is bipartisanship assumed to be good in all cases? If one party is correct in its interpretation of the Constitution, conception of good government, and understanding of right & wrong, and if the other party is wrong, then it does no good to blend good ideas with bad ones just for the sake of trying to please everyone.

(Granted, it’s possible to believe that neither side’s philosophy is entirely correct, but if that’s the case, then the task becomes determining which ideas to adopt from each side and which to reject based on their merits, not based on any supposed sacredness intrinsic to compromise.)

At RealClearPolitics, Tony Blankley identifies similar sentiments behind the GOP reluctance to oppose Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court:

[M]ost Republican senators have sincerely expressed their intent to apply the traditional rules of confirmation. Those rules might be summarized as follows: (1) The president is entitled to an appointee who generally shares his views (i.e., a liberal president is entitled to a liberal justice; a conservative president is entitled to a conservative justice). (2) A nominee should be confirmed if he or she is professionally qualified and of generally good character. (3) The only exception to Rule Two is if the nominee’s views are provably and dangerously outside the mainstream of respectable thought.

But as Blankley says, some things are more important than playing nice:

They can either venerate the traditional rules of confirmation or they can venerate the United States Constitution — but not both…If senators continue to honor the rules of confirmation, then they are choosing to continue the march toward the end of constitutional, limited government and will deserve whatever demise the people have in store for them.

Many Republicans are still hopelessly infatuated with the idea that Democrats can be won over if only we try just a little harder to prove that we respect them, that we’re not extreme, and that we play by the rules.  It’s bad enough that they cling to this fantasy despite the fact that recent history and common sense completely obliterate it; but they seem intent upon holding on to it no matter how much it stymies conservative reform and enables leftist ascendance.  With friends like these, who needs enemies?


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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