Getting from Z to A

Indians croppedWhile perusing Facebook just now, I was reminded of a breakfast conversation I had yesterday with a friend.

One of my Facebook friends put this comment on her wall:

…conservatives/libertarians should make the Constitution their first priority. Otherwise, we will fail.

This got quite a conversation going. One of the many good comments:

If you stand on principles you can win many of the arguments and policy debates and over time reshape the electorate even if you lose an election. Imagine if McCain had taken this approach. We may still have lost but we might have pushed Obama and the country towards sanity and fiscal responsibility. We could have fostered a respect for individual liberty and the rule of law, and made the case that the solution to our economic problems is to grow the economy through long term policies aimed at reducing taxes on savings and investment. Instead we said the word “maverick” a lot.

This is when I remembered my conversation from yesterday. My wife and I had a New Years breakfast at Cracker Barrel with two old friends we don’t get to see much any more. Talk got around to politics (yes, I was careful!). My friend expressed his opinion of Bush, more about personality than policies. His opinion wasn’t too high. We talked about restoring government back to what it really should be doing. Basic, middle-of-the-road libertarianism.

This was the prescription I shared (in the words I just typed on Facebook):

Quit trying to go from Z to A in one, all-or-nothing step. While affirming we need to leave Z (bloated, overreaching federal government, unaccountable bureaucrats, activist judiciary…), we need to recognize that the vast majority of voters have been tricked, mal-educated and hypnotized. They need to be educated one patient step at a time. Learn to take people from Z  to Y, then Y to X…

One of my criticisms of Ron Paul and many of his followers is that they seem unwilling ever to take half a loaf. It’s either go back all the way to the beginning, in a day if possible, or…nothing.

Most folks realize what we’re doing right now isn’t working.

As I talk to real life people, people earning a living, trying to be good parents, get along with their neighbors, take care of elderly relatives…Most folks realize what we’re doing right now isn’t working. It’s just that they don’t know enough history, are not familiar enough with the Founders’ vision, don’t know enough of what’s behind today’s arguments. They cannot be convinced to return to written constitutional government because they don’t know any  better. But when you talk about Kelo or government incompetence or national security, you can show them what’s at stake and how to fix that particular problem.

Abortion is an example. I have both pro-life and pro-choice friends. Both sides need to understand that a) an abortion right is not found anywhere in the Constitution, b) a decision to overturn Roe wouldn’t make abortion illegal, and c) that abortion rights are a state’s decision, not the federal government’s. Remember, “We the People”? Almost everybody I talk to can understand and agree with this, even though they don’t agree on whether abortion should or should not be made illegal.

While you’re explaining abortion and activist judges, you can show them many clear-cut examples of activist judicial rulings (fiats) and how, even when they’re good policy, they damage The People. It’s not rocket science. But it takes patience and focus and knowledge.

There is no way on God’s green earth that normal, average, everyday voters are going to go along.

Ron Paul and his acolytes want to fix everything at once. Even when their focus is more limited, their policy prescriptions are extremely radical (and I’m talking about the ones I basically agree with!). There is no way on God’s green earth that normal, average, everyday voters are going to go along. Abolishing the Federal Reserve System, returning to the Gold Standard, Letters of Marque and Reprisals. It takes years for the average person to become knowledgeable enough about these particular issues to be ready for changes. And yet these are the typical focus of Paulite discussions.

Why can’t we roll things back one step at a time?

Why can’t we learn to take people from Z to Y?

Z to Y is a whole lot better than what’s happening now, which is Z to Z. Or even Z to AA…

Also see…

Restoring the constitution: Teddy Roosevelt & the progressive ideal



2 thoughts on “Getting from Z to A”

  1. I think it’s a merely a mistaken impression that imputes to Paulites this belief that the needed changes must happen simultaneously, at once. In a previous post here, for instance, I specifically repudiated this notion, in favor of a more realistic, incremental approach. I think that this mistaken notion is a result of our (Paulites) tendency to focus on first principles. That we have come so far from them is ample evidence that they need closer attention. The impression that we advocate drastic, abrupt action stems from the vast size of the distance between what our government now does and what we think it ought do. There is a stark contrast. But this is not to say that we are opposed to sensible, incremental policy changes. But the problem is that the “new conservative” position is one that has fallen disastrously far from those first principles, so what is needed is not simply dramatic action, but dramatic reorientation towards our basic principles.


    1. It’s great hearing from you again, Lorin.

      Yes, I remember your comment and was both pleased and surprised by it.

      I was surprised because your were the first Paulite I’d talked to who actually suggested an incremental approach or cooperation with conservatives and less-radical libertarians (which a great many conservatives are).

      If you re-read my post, you might notice that I talked about both the breadth and depth of issues Dr. Paul and his followers focus on in their discussions. And I think it’s more than simply a focus on first principles involved here too. Neither the Gold Standard nor the Federal Reserve System are about first principles in any meaningful sense of the term. They are complex and tertiary violations of both first principles and common sense. One of the things I intend to talk about when I intelligently can, is the need to work in a sort of bifocal fashion, talking about real, historical first principles (real principles, not policy problems and applications) and whatever contemporary and accessible problems are occurring from their violation.

      From your earlier comments, I think you actually agree more with me on this than you do Dr. Paul and the Paulites.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s