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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

If the shoe fits . . .

The fine science fiction writer Orson Scott Card delivers a brutal, and well-deserved, rebuff to the Democratic Party.

[The Democratic candidates] platforms range from Howard Dean’s “Bush is the devil” to everybody else’s “I’ll make you rich, and Bush is quite similar to the devil.” Since President Bush is quite plainly not the devil, one wonders why anyone in the Democratic Party thinks this ploy will play with the general public.

There are Democrats, like me, who think it will not play, and should not play, and who are waiting in the wings until after the coming electoral debacle in order to try to remake the party into something more resembling America.

But then I watch the steady campaign of the national news media to try to win this for the Democrats, and I wonder. Could this insane, self-destructive, extremist-dominated party actually win the presidency? It might–because the media are trying as hard as they can to pound home the message that the Bush presidency is a failure–even though by every rational measure it is not.

God knows I am no fan of the Bush administration’s domestic policies, but for the most part the Dems promise more of what I don’t like about Bush. Fine, I can deal with that, I vote for a couple of Democrats consistently because they are sterling human beings, every political system needs to have legitimately competitive parties to keep the bastards in power honest, etc.

However, the truly disturbing development from the Dem side of the aisle is that they have, in important ways, ceased to be a loyal opposition. The Democrats are acting in precisely the way they would be acting if their plan was to deliver victory to the Islamists and their transnational progressive allies, who are the enemies of the US. This war will be won or lost in the domestic politics of the US. If the US can stay the course, then I have little doubt that we can crush our enemies abroad and, at a minimum, install successor governments in the terror states that will not repeat the errors of their predecessors. If, however, the US loses its nerve and follows the policy prescriptions of the Democrats, then the Islamists can and will come back bigger and badder than ever, and one of these days, it won’t be a couple of planes and envelopes with anthrax powder, it will be nukes and smallpox.

Osama bin Laden’s military strategy is: If you make a war cost enough, Americans will give up and go home. Now, bin Laden isn’t actually all that bright; his campaign to make us go home is in fact what brought us into Afghanistan and Iraq. But he’s still telling his followers: Keep killing Americans and eventually, antigovernment factions within the United States will choose to give up the struggle.

The Islamists are counting on party politics in the US to undercut our war effort and ultimately lead us to pull back, probably under the guise of handing over responsibility to the UN, which has a record ranging from utter ineffectiveness in opposing Islamist terrorism to enabling such terrorism.

Much of the current Democratic playbook could have been written by Osama and Saddam – it is a recipe for US pullback, and thus for Islamist resurgence.

Think what it will mean if we elect a Democratic candidate who has committed himself to an antiwar posture in order to get his party’s nomination.

Our enemies will be certain that they are winning the war on the battleground that matters–American public opinion. So they will continue to kill Americans wherever and whenever they can, because it works.

Our soldiers will lose heart, because they will know that their commander in chief is a man who is not committed to winning the war they have risked death in order to fight. When the commander in chief is willing to call victory defeat in order to win an election, his soldiers can only assume that their lives will be thrown away for nothing. That’s when an army, filled with despair, becomes beatable even by inferior forces.

And if we elect a government that subverts or weakens or ends our war against terrorism, we can count on this: We will soon face enemies that will make 9/11 look like stubbing our toe, and they will attack us with the confidence and determination that come from knowing that we don’t have the will to sustain a war all the way to the end.

I would love for the Democratic Party to serve its essential function of loyal opposition, offering constructive criticism of domestic and foreign policies that increase the chances of American success in achieving its long-term, enlightenend self-interest. The current Democratic Party, though, is blinded by hatred and greed for power, and in important ways is serving the ends of America’s enemies.

Perhaps this will mean the end of the Democratic Party, and a major shake-up of America’s political system that could open the door for a new major party that will be more libertarian than either statist alternative. That is a question for tomorrow, and one that will mean little in an American landscape littered with smoking holes like that left in lower Manhattan on 9/11. You may dislike the current American means and methods of fighting Islamist extremism and its state sponsors, but there are no credible alternatives on the table that will result in victory for our side. Any plan that depends on permission from the UN or the current European allies of the terror states is obviously doomed to fail, but that is what the Democrats propose. There is a fine line between positing such alternatives and undercutting an ongoing war effort, but in my view the Democrats have crossed that line, and I see no prospect of sanity breaking out anytime soon.

14 comments to If the shoe fits . . .

  • RCD says, “I vote for a couple of Democrats consistently because they are sterling human beings, every political system needs to have legitimately competitive parties to keep the bastards in power honest, etc.”

    I hope this means that you vote for Libertarian candidates for similar reasons. I think it is important the the Libertarian party get to the point where it wins or clearly commands the margin of victory in a few major races, precisely because we need to keep the bastards honest, if for no other reason. If the two-faced monoparty thinks it can’t lose, things will never move in a libertarian direction. “Major party” candidates will continue to spout the rhetoric of liberty on the campaign trail (if even then!) and, once in office, govern like the tinhorn statists they are. On the other hand, if the Libertarians offer a credible threat to the monoparty, the latter will either need to distinguish itself as an option that is worth embracing for its own sake, or co-opt the Libertarian opposition’s issues and positions. I’d bet on the latter, but not unless the monoparty has strong motivation. Libertarians must, at very least, hold the monoparty’s feet to the fire, and they need every last vote to accomplish even that.

  • “The current Democratic Party, though, is blinded by hatred and greed for power, and in important ways is serving the ends of America’s enemies. ”

    Here’s a post that makes a very similar point, in very similar terms, tying the hatred and greed to the apparent desire of many on the left for bad things to happen.

    “Let’s Hope Something Goes Wrong – and Soon!”

    Some commenters were upset, as if a nerve had been hit…

  • R. C. Dean

    James, where Libertarian candidates are the best on offer, I vote for them. I sympathize with your desire for a small-l libertarian party to become a force to reckon with, but I gave up my membership in the Libertarian Party a few years ago.

    As an institution, it is utterly hopeless, and will never grow to the point where it commands a plurality at the polls. However, because it exists, all libertarian efforts at electoral success get diverted into its dead-end, so I concluded that the current Libertarian Party is worse than nothing, and got out.

    As the two major parties become increasingly indistiguishable on domestic issues, openings are created for competitors. Currently, no major competitor has emerged with any staying power. I am now thinking that, for a number of reasons, the American polity will never have more than two parties that matter, and we need one of the current ones to implode to make room for a new one. This has happened before in America, and I think it may happen again soon. At that point, there will be an historic opportunity, but in the meantime, I just can’t bring myself to support the Libertarian Party.

  • JC

    This was initially published in his local “rag” that he writes for, and is now also archived at his “political site called The Ornery American It’t worth a look at his other columns and there’s a decent discussion board there too.

  • RCD says, “As an institution, it [the Libertarian Party] is utterly hopeless, and will never grow to the point where it commands a plurality at the polls.”

    What makes it hopeless? That’s a strong word. I submit to you that if you feel a membership organization of a few thousands or a few tens of thousands is so hopeless that the active and interested support of thousands of people such as yourself cannot redeem it and enable it to hold the monoparty’s feet to the fire, then an organization such as the Democratic Party or Republican Party, with a much more entrenched power-elite and a much larger effective membership (hundreds of thousands or millions, depending on how one counts), will be even more impervious to salutary change. So much for the exhortations we frequently hear from people, that small-l libertarians should work “within the system,” through one or the other faces of the monoparty.

    Really, if the Demos or GOP can’t be changed, if the LP is hopeless, if the ballot-access barriers to entry and campaign finance restrictions augur ill for the ascendance of any viable third party, we might as well just be apolitical altogether.

    I personally think it would be easier and ultimately most effective, to fix the LP than pursue any other avenue. An alternative might be to get one or both of the two faces of the monoparty to self-destruct. The Democrat party seems well on that road. In California, the GOP appeared to be careering down that same path, but it tossed the hail mary pass with Arnie in the recall election, and scored. If THAT can happen, I am convinced that a Libertarian candidate can win major office within my lifetime. The party needs to be able to jump on and exploit golden opportunities, however, which it failed to do in the most spectacular fashion during the California recall election season. Amazing that, in a state with such stringent gun control, the local LP always manages to find a way to shoot itself in the foot.

  • It may well be that the Libertarian Party could provide the structure for a viable libertarian political force in the United States. It may even be the most effective way to achieve this, if enough pragmatic Jacksonians could conspire to carry out a takeover. Right now I see them as being so caught up in their ideology as to be effectively agents provocateurs for the statists.

    I believe in the seperation of school and state. In an ideal world we should be able to find a better way to make universal education available than to confiscate people’s money to pay for it. To oppose vouchers now because of that ideal is in fact to defend the government school monopoly.

  • John Galt

    The Democratic party is a dying dinasour.
    And there is no future in the Libertarian party.

    The future right now belongs to the Republican Party. My prediction is that we’ll see a 65-year Republican rule a la what the Democrats enjoyed from 1930-1995, and the Republicans before that from 1865-1930.

    As a hardcore Libertarian, I will vote Republican.

    The reason is simple. A libertarian wing of a great rightwing party like the Republicans will do more than a pointless vote for a 1% meaningless party.

    Ask yourself for example this: When did Libertarian Ron Paul have more power: As a candidate for the Libertarian Party in 1988 winning less than 3%, or as a winning candidate for the Republicans in Congresss since 1992?

    I know, I live in his congressional district.

  • Matt W.

    I have to agree with John Galt, in the 2000 election I voted for Brown, merely because I had a jaundiced opinion of Bush from his father and I thourougly *hated* Gore for being practically a luddite. I’ll certainly vote for Bush this coming year though…I might be annoyed with his crass political triangulation with Medicare and subsidies but I can swallow it when I consider he has done much to lower taxes and certainly to follow a hawkish foreign policy. Even more so when I consider no Democrat aside from Lieberman would take a more conservative tack on domestic ecomonics (and then only because of Republican Congress control) Then again Lieberman has been in the vanguard for about every media censorship campaign you care to mention, so I find it rather odd rooting for him to win the DNC. Me personally, I stopped *really* considering myself Libertarian when I realized that a majority of the official party were doves even after 9/11, which I couldn’t abide.

    Also, being as the Republican party has its vocal free-market factions (granted they’re for the time being crowded out by the big-spending “neocons” for want of a better adjective, which I wouldn’t begrudge if it weren’t for domestic pork) I figured from now on it would probably make more sense to vote Republican, even if many of their political figureheads were centrist careerists at least their pundits made a good deal of sense… BTW, I agree that the Democratic party *has* to have some sort of shakeup, I don’t know if it would ever be enough to destroy such a long-standing party, but a more centrist wing would have to take control if they want to ride it out.

    But as to Libertarians filling the void if Democrats really did dissolve? hmm, it certain would be a lovely dream, to completely shove collectivist doctrine out of politics here for good, sadly I doubt we’ll see that happen. Beside, I’ve frequently seen shoulder-rubbing in libertarian opinion as well, as usual on the matter of everything surrounding the war on terror, with a division between the hawks and the doves.

  • R C Dean

    I second triticales comments on the Libertarians. The Libs have shown no interest at all in doing the what it takes to actually win elections and exert influence and power. They are terminally caught up in doctrinal disputes that are hopelessly outside the mainstream, splitting hairs over essentially theological issues. “My randian kung fu is stronger than yours!”

    The Libs have what is essentially a revolutionary program that will never, ever, attract more than 2% of the vote. Serious political parties in the US know this, and go at their goals in incremental slices. There are plenty of reasonable stands that would be attractive to voters, but they all involve taking on a multi-generational project of rolling back government bit by bit. That is the hard and compromising work of politics, and the Libs have shown no inclination to take it on.

    The Libs let the perfect murder the good, the cardinal sin of getting things done. I have no time for people who cannot get things done.

  • ed

    In any organization there are two fundamental forces. The converging desires and policies, that draw the organization’s members together, and the diverging desires and policies, that force the members apart. A perfect organization would achieve equilibirium between these two forces which would allow for maximum appeal to a plurality, thus the diverging desires, with a strength of conviction, thus the converging ones.

    The Libertarian Party however is strongest on the diverging and thus is always doomed to divergence. As has been stated before the LP is overwhelmed by doctrinaire theorists and Alcolytes of the Plan leaving nothing for any sort of practical convergence. The result is endless anarchy.

    Centrifuge thy name is Libertarian Party. Pity.

  • rico

    “The Libs let the perfect murder the good, the cardinal sin of getting things done. I have no time for people who cannot get things done”

    I always thought that was kind of the point of libertarianism – governments NOT getting things done”

  • Matt W.

    Maybe the minarchists want to streamline government, I’d love to see the US gov restricted to interstate infastructure, police, military spending, and research & Development, (being as there’s no civilian alternative i’ll also begrudge them NASA, bloated dinosaur that it is) Then again there are anarchocapitalist libertarians that want NO state at all (which I think just plain would never work, it makes as many leaps of faith about human nature as communism does). I just wish government would be efficient in the things it was chartered to do, you won’t see me crying for wont of efficiency in the BATF or IRS.

  • R C Dean

    rico – the problem with the current crop of Libs is that they won’t sign onto anything that reduces what government does incrementally. I was addressing reform of government, not government activities themselves. The Libs can’t quite bring themselves to support any intermediate steps towards a smaller government, and consequently never support anything that might actually have a prayer of passage into law.

  • Isabelle Hewitt

    As an outsider to the debate over who to vote for (I live in England), can I please ask you to consider carefully the fact that Bush could be in power for the next 5 years if you vote him in again. Please also remember that voting for Bush is also voting for his administration, he does not appear to be an intelligent man and I would think he does not formulate most of the policy that he follows.
    Some of this policy is not coherent, how can one be pro-life and pro-death penalty at the same time? America is supposed to be a democratic country yet currently shows incredible disregard for FUNDAMENTAL human rights in Guantanamo Bay. The rest of the world is shocked by it.

    What would you say if your daughter/sister/wife/friend/girlfriend got pregnant and didnt want that baby?
    What would you say if someone you knew was convicted and charged of an offence worthy of the death penalty? would you really want them to be killed?
    What if you had to give a lethal injection? Could you live with yourself afterwards?

    How much do you really want this man running your country?