Libertarians, probably. The week’s column at The Daily Caller is here.
How can a messenger so problematic get such traction from his message? Real talk at The Daily Caller:
Establishment Republicans act as if prosperity is a first-order or foundational good — for the country and for the individual. Some people might really believe that. But, as great minds as varied as Hobbes, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Emerson, and Nietzsche understood, in a democratic age, prosperity is merelygreatly desired — a preferred outcome rather than a foundational concept. In times like ours, the ideas that can capture the political imagination of the people are ones familiar from the American and French Revolutions — liberty, equality, and fraternity.
So, despite the unwillingness of the establishment to come out foursquare in his favor before Newt Gingrich could bring chaos to the race, Mitt Romney is transparently establishmentarian because he tells us that prosperity is our purpose, that prosperity is what makes America great, that only the Republican Party can offer it — and that he is its well-trained champion, best suited, for that reason, to take on Obama.
Alas, these campaign pitches — especially his framing of the president as a man who must go because he doesn’t really want maximum prosperity — are proving to be big disappointments.
The common thread? They’re all topics of conversation on this episode of The Point, a YouTube/Young Turks joint. If you appreciate free enterprise, Eugene McCarthy, or Joan Jett — though I also (alone!) defend Tim Geithner — you might want to watch this one all the way to the end.
At Foreign Policy I take a grim look at America’s major strategic malfunction — and president Obama’s apparent fantasy that Europe is a sleepy, post-historical backwater:
The Obama administration seems to think Europe deserves to be treated with secondary importance because it is largely cordoned off from world events. But how can such a precarious hodgepodge as Europe remain, as the new strategy review describes it, “our principal partner in seeking global and economic security” now and into “the foreseeable future”? Europe’s ability to maintain its security position, much less project security, is on a precipitous decline.
A weakened, conflict-averse Europe will struggle even to respond militarily to unstable or adversarial neighbors in North Africa, the Middle East, and Eurasia. The deepening terrorist threat will siphon what military resolve there is into a preeminent urge to protect the homeland — an urge most likely exacerbated by austerity-driven civil unrest. Not only will the rest of the world continue to imperil European security, but Europe’s own insecurity is apt to spread like a contagion to surrounding regions.
There’s got to be a right for the party to lurch there. And right now, the policy standards for defining a conservative are increasingly up in the air. I quibble with Ezra Klein at Ricochet:
Rather than the consolidation and triumph of some purified form of ultraconservatism, what has defined the GOP of late has been an unprecedented proliferation of counter-orthodoxies among a growing number of Republican factions and subfactions. Various components of the Republican coalition have brought to the table squishiness on gay marriage, squishiness on illegal immigration, squishiness on the drug war, squishiness on entitlements, squishiness on military spending, and squishiness on surveillance and security issues, to name a few. Big government conservatism is alive and well — but so are permissive libertarianism, corporatist Whiggery, national greatness elitism, and Jacksonian anti-globalism.
Romney’s attempt to run a traditional Reaganist/fusionist campaign failed miserably in 2008, and Pawlenty’s attempt to do the same thing failed even more miserably this year. Santorum’s votes-for-felons hit on Romney shows that not even a blue-collar Catholic from a coastal rust belt state can run as a simple conservative. When it comes to the definition of conservative, there is no settled science. There is hardly even a consensus.
The week’s column at The Daily Caller:
There’s a new campaign logic hiding in plain sight, just waiting for Romney to pick it up and run it to the end zone. It draws a sharp, damaging contrast with Barack Obama. It appeals to conservatives at the level of first principles and contemporary concerns. And it does all this without rehashing past Republican glories in a way that seems stale, rote or uninspired.
At The American Interest, I take a look at how the new US defense review might tee us up for war with China:
Instead of a tit-for-tat race to the belligerent bottom, perhaps the Obama strategy augurs the dawn of a true sphere of mutual prosperity for East Asia.
On the other hand, the differences between the present situation in the Pacific and the one that led to World War One may be far greater than the similarities, and U.S. policymakers ought to beware the limits of such a comparison. In at least four key ways, today’s China is quite unlike the Germany of the now-distant past. More important than the rhymes or echoes of history are the novel circumstances that define the strategic contours of the US-China relationship. Those circumstances, combined with America’s response to them, may make the future of that relationship more dangerous than any that Britain or the United States experienced with the Germans. Unfortunately, American efforts to avoid a Guns of August-style tinderbox could be planting depth charges capable of touching off a worse conflagration to come.
Something I want to say more about. Toe dipped in at Ricochet:
Were Europe fit to shoulder even a third of our current burdens, offloading those burdens would not seem or look very much like decline. By contrast, the British Empire offloaded its burdens, beginning spectacularly with the handoff in Greece, because it was crumbling fast. Good thing it managed largely to do so, too.
We are obliged to start handing off burdens — and remember, it is not decline to resume our natural position of not solely shouldering all the West’s burdens and more — before the risk of an actual collapse of our position becomes a reality. Because if a collapse does come, hold on to your seats — the New World Disorder will be upon us. There is no backstop.
Priority number one of our grand strategy therefore should be to create at maximum speed a framework of major powers capable of assuming the burdens appropriate to major power status — in maximum accordance, of course, with our interests and values. Is Obama doing this? Haltingly, with India. Otherwise? I can hear a pin drop.
And I lived to tell the tale. I talked about Ron Paul, meaning his newsletters. Slightly dated but more relevant than ever, ish.