Posts Tagged ‘conservative

Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist

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I’m not going to go into depth too far on this, as doing so would probably require writing a book. Regrettably I haven’t the time for that at the moment. Anyhow, I have been reading Joseph Ellis’ Pulitzer-winner Founding Brothers, which reviews some of the key conflicts that arose after the implementation of the Constitution. The conflicts stemmed primarily from ongoing disagreements about the role of the federal government. Sound familiar? The battle cries of today’s Tea Party movement come to mind, as do the boisterous arguments of the disciples of Ron Paul’s 2008 Campaign for Liberty. In Ellis’ book, he examines among other things how the Congress was at loggerheads in 1790 over the idea of the Federal government assuming the war debts of the states. Treasury Secretary Hamilton, a reasonably competent economist, recognized an urgent need to consolidate the national debt, get in good standing with the states’ debtors, nationalize the economy, and put the national debt to work. Anti-federalists, and the Southern states in general, saw this is a dastardly power-grab by the federal government. Virginia, for one, was apoplectic over the thought of the fact that assumption would leave it with a net loss–it would end up paying more for other states debts than it would hand over to the federal government. Furthermore, it directly challenged the independent Spirit of ’76. We fought the British to win freedom, they argued; not to have power centralized in a despotic federal government. The states were sovereign, not subservient to a central government.

And so the anti-federalist cry went then, and variations thereof were heard when other issues arose when the nation was in its infancy. According to Ellis, the assumption debate ended up being resolved behind closed doors through a deal wherein southern states gave in to assumption after securing the concession of some numerical voodoo regarding the debts and the establishing of the nation’s permanent capital in the south (in DC). As we can see, little has changed since then. Our debates over stimulus, healthcare, cap-and-trade, etc. occur along similar lines of division between competing schools of thought regarding the federal government’s role. It is highly illuminating to revisit the arguments of the early years of the United States not simply because they have so many similarities with our contemporary debates, but because they are simpler questions that are less removed from the core philosophies that drive the arguments. Getting down to the meat of those philosophies makes us I think better equipped to understand contemporary questions. Unfortunately, it seems as if the only people who take the time to understand the genesis of all this are academics and the hobbyists like myself–not the politicians and commentators who have a louder voice in the national debate.

I challenge you to go back to history and look at the debates going on then with regard to the role of government. Understand the core philosophies underlying these debates. The parallels with contemporary politics are fascinating. Big government was as big a concern then as it is now among conservatives. And the biggest problems of the days got solved back then in much the same way as they do now–not in open debate but with deals cut behind closed doors.


Written by John Riewe

January 16, 2010 at 4:25 am

MoveOn Hates Joe Lieberman

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Just received an email from “–Nita, Carrie, Wes, Steven, and the rest of the team” at asking me to help them get the word out to all Connecticutians that Joe has got to go–that “he can’t be reasoned with. Most of all, Joe Lieberman can’t be allowed to stay in the U.S. Senate.”

“It’s outrageous,” they fume. “Joe Lieberman is single-handedly blocking our best chance at strong health care reform in years!”

I think they might have meant “best chance at strong big government power grab in years.” Whatever it is they desperately pine for, the message is consistent from MoveOn—anyone who crosses their path will be attacked mercilessly with a campaign funded by hundreds of thousands of $5 donations from MoveOn’s army of misguided hipsters and do-gooders.

The height of folly would be to misunderestimate MoveOn. According to the warm and fuzzy little email, “In less than 24 hours MoveOn members have donated an astounding $650,000 to send Lieberman home for good. That’s awesome—thank you!”

Can you donate $5 today?

Written by John Riewe

December 16, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)

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Why? Because it will soon be here. I beg your forgiveness for the tacky (yet pertinent) Fleetwood Mac reference.

In the wake of Obama’s triumphant elevation to the Presidency last Tuesday at the hands of millions of starry-eyed voters, many of my conservative friends determined to head for the hills. “I’m going into hibernation for a few weeks,” a Senate staffer told me, “You may not hear from me for awhile.”

This is precisely the wrong approach for activist conservatives. For those of us that spent the last few months contributing in various ways to the effort to stem the tide of Obamamania, there is no rest-only a slight change in focus. Faced with a federal government dominated by a socialist-leaning Democratic party on a power trip, it will be crucial for us to continue the fight. Starting now, it will be not about individual candidates but about issues, something that got little attention during the recent campaign. Issues took a back seat as the media and pundits focused largely on the shallow but glitzy rhetoric of the candidates, especially that from Barack Obama. Problem is, while Obama’s “Change” and “Hope” rhetoric is rather nebulous when it comes to specifics, the ideas that gave rise to rhetoric are products of the influence of 1960s-vintage New Left thought; and these ideas will be the guiding light for Obama as he at determines how to bring “Change” to fruition as policy.

To combat this, we as conservatives must become a very vocal minority. But first, we must become educated. In order to spread the word, we must be able to articulate clearly why Obama and Pelosi and Reid are wrong. We have to be literate in the language of conservatism. This does not mean mastery of the GOP talking points of recent years. It does not mean strident partisanship. It does not mean tasteless jokes about watermelon patches at the White House. What it means is understanding why we as conservatives believe what we believe about the government’s role. It means recognizing that the GOP has in recent years been guilty of straying from the brand of limited-government conservatism most us signed up for. Once we get back to the basics of the conservatism of Reagan and Goldwater, we must be clear in communicating our opinions to our elected representatives in Washington, be they Republicans or Democrats. We must also talk to friends and neighbors and get them on board. We must win the battle on the ground for all those minds that think they are Democrats until a conservative friend explains to the them how our redistributive tax code works.

The groundwork must be laid for picking up seats in Congress in 2010-a mere two years from now. We cannot sit by idly and hope that the Democrats fall on their face and thereby hand seats on Capitol Hill back to us. We must point out there faults and show how conservatism would remedy them. We must do this actively and constantly.

Now is not the time to let up or give up. Now more than ever we must be on our game. If we are, then the era of Democratic domination will be short-lived.

Written by John Riewe

November 9, 2008 at 10:39 pm