His Own Predecessor

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Time does not permit me to look at the news much this morning or, fortunately perhaps, to ruminate for too long on how a country -- Is this really America? -- could actually reelect such a horrendous president.

For now, I will share two post-election thoughts.

First, I take some comfort in James Taranto's latest column, which made a tongue-in-cheek case for reelecting Barack Obama, of which the following paragraph gives a taste:

If Obama is re-elected, he will inherit this mess from himself. There will be no blaming George W. Bush for a two-term Obama presidency. History will hold Obama accountable for the results, and the electorate will hold his party accountable in 2014 and 2016. As H.L. Mencken observed: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
"This mess" includes onerous tax increases on "rich" people making more than two hundred fifty thousand a year that will automatically kick in at the end of the Bush "tax cuts", and ObamaCare's new taxes and regulations, which were designed to start during the presidential term after Obama's first. Of course, Obama's cheerleaders in the press will resolutely ignore (or at least refuse to connect) whatever dots they see, so it will fall to the "alternative" media to make sure the blame goes to where it belongs: to Obama, his party, and anyone else who feels that the needs of some justify theft from others.

The time horizon for pro-capitalists has quite likely gotten much shorter, but perhaps in this way, the task is easier.

Second, I see that Scott "Elizabeth Warren: Not Who She Says She Is" Brown lost. This is deservedly so, and good riddance to him. I didn't follow his campaign closely, but his obsession with Warren's disputable claims of Amerindian heritage caused him to end up sounding like he'd be first in line to vote for a real Elizabeth Warren. Memo to GOP: Learn from this. The way to defeat an opponent is to say something to the effect of, "My opponent is wrong. I am better, and this is why." Follow this with actual arguments.

Barack Obama did not win comfortably. He has no mandate. If America is so brain-dead as to actually want this non-entity for President again, our goose is cooked. But this "win" seemed more like something happening by  default. Perhaps if voters had had a clearer and more inspiring choice, the result would have been different. Perhaps Scott Brown wasn't the only Republican who sounded too much like his opponent, but only the most obvious one. Obama -- or the man who first signed ObamaCare into law in his own state? A man who wants to run a massive welfare state somehow -- or one whose Vice President wants to save the massive welfare state by slowing its rate of growth? This wasn't really much of a choice, was it?

-- CAV


Today: Reworded a sentence. 


Dismuke said...

For a rather gloomy but I fear accurate take on what the election means, John Hindracker has an intelligent posting on Power Line:


Yep. Dark times indeed.

Steve D said...

'If Obama is re-elected, he will inherit this mess from himself.'

It could be funny if he slips up and blames the previous president, though.

“Don't blame me. 08 Obama left me with a bigger mess than I expected!”

‘He has no mandate.’

Here is where I sort of disagree on two levels, although not completely on either. First of all, he does kind of have a mandate. He won both the popular vote reasonably securely and the Electoral College, although there were enough really close state calls that it could have easily gone the other way. His team picked up seats in the senate. While it seemed by default to you and me, people for whatever reason still voted for him, albeit not enthusiastically. Even if they didn’t really want him, they picked him out of six candidates and gave him their vote. What else did he need?

Also, from the conservative point of view Romney was a pretty good candidate at least compared to any of the others in the primary. Although I don’t agree with a lot of his views on gay marriage and abortion, these are the general conservative views so that doesn’t take away from his efficacy. He gave good speeches to sold-out crowds, had a pretty impressive record in both business and government (again not usually to my liking but that’s not relevant to his efficacy). He didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. I’m not sure what a better ‘conservative’ candidate would look like. Do you think he should have really tore into Obama (from a strategic point of view)

That said, it is still true, that many of the people I spoke with did not seem to understand the full story or meaning but is that due to blindness or a refusal to see? I’m not sure.

Secondly, I’m not even certain what a ‘mandate’ really is or how much it means for a president to have one. He still has the same powers as he would have, if people had really wanted him. He can still veto bills and use Executive Orders. He can still gut the military. If he governs as if he had a mandate, whose to stop him?

Gus Van Horn said...


There is a silver lining to your post: "The answer is that conservatives have entirely lost control over the culture. The educational system, the entertainment industry, the news media and every cultural institution that comes to mind are all dedicated to turning out liberals. To an appalling degree, they have succeeded. Historical illiteracy is just one consequence. Unless conservatives somehow succeed in regaining parity or better in the culture, the drift toward statism will inevitably continue, even if Republicans win the occasional election."

This is an example of a conservative seeing that there is a battle of IDEAS to be waged. If enough pro-capitalists realize this, it can be the beginning of a real turnaround for our side.


You make good points about the mandate. In addition, since he CAN'T get reelected, he may figure he has real room to "damn America" as his mentor, Jeremiah Wright, might put it.

Also, see the post Dismuke refers to, regarding where America is, cuturally. It reflects my biggest worries.


Dismuke said...

"This is an example of a conservative seeing that there is a battle of IDEAS to be waged. If enough pro-capitalists realize this, it can be the beginning of a real turnaround for our side."

True. But, after last night, one has to wonder if America is, any more, the best place to wage that battle.

Harry Binswanger just sent out a posting pointing out that older people - a demographic actually more dependent upon government checks than the general population - voted overwhelmingly for Romney. Those under 30 who are the products of our Leftist controlled education system, who are too young to remember the collapse of communism and its lessons in what a disaster socialism is and have never even been taught about it in their history classes voted overwhelmingly for Obama. And, with time plus a bit of assistance from ObamaCare rationing and its Death Panels, there will be fewer and fewer of the old people.

The problem is that we now face an increasing population of people under a certain age who will be difficult if not impossible to educate. They don't have the education that enables them to have command of even the most basic knowledge of history, let along logic and thinking skills. They have not been taught to regard thought and thinking as virtues but rather raw emotion.

It makes me wonder if there is perhaps some other country somewhere where the education system has not been so thoroughly corrupted. Perhaps that country is currently even more Left wing in its policies than we currently are. But if the education system is not as corrupt, there might be a chance that there are minds there who are not only potentially open to better ideas but also CAPABLE of actually grasping the arguments that make the case for them.

I don't know the answer to that. But maybe that is something worth exploring. ARI's strategy has always been to focus on waging the battle to improve the intellectual climate on the USA on the premise that the USA is the best place in the world for Ayn Rand's ideas to resonate. My question is: at least with regard to young people, is that still the case?

If there is such a country, it may very well be that the necessary renaissance will actually take place there and not in the USA. If so, then that country will end up being the world's dominant power and the USA will be to it what Europe ended up becoming compared with the USA during the 19th and early 20th century.

Steve D said...

I agree with the gist of the article. Definitely the country is slowly losing its bearings and the fact that Romney ran a relatively decent campaign and Obama won the youth vote by a huge margin is scary.
Overall, it seems to me that Obama’s victory wasn’t huge, so it is hard to say how close to the tipping point we are. The other thing that is interesting is that the number of actual voters seems to be decreasing every election. I wonder why. Are people opting out; going Galt so to speak?
This is Victor Hansen’s take on it. I fear he is correct. The comments are interesting as well.
I have an even greater worry. There is a very real chance here that the good guys will not win this one. Historical cycles are real (albeit not inevitable) and the periods in history which have been ruled by reason few and short lived. We tell ourselves that we only need to get the word out, to educate and eventually people will see the truth – but we are up against for the most part willful blindness. Human psychology seems to be working against us. We need to understand psychology as well as philosophy to have any chance in this fight.
The silver lining is that we don’t need to convince everyone or even a majority; a small percentage of new intellectuals could pull along the entire society – if this happens voting will become almost irrelevant. There will be no need to vote in better representatives, since the politicians will follow the culture.
We win or lose this inside men’s minds. It will be a long battle. The liberals knew this. That is why they targeted education first (just read John Gatto). It seems the conservatives are the last to figure things out but those who follow the teachings of Rand knew better a long time ago.

jay said...

what happened the last time the US, and the world accepted such a left leaning president. What will happen to avoid blaming liberalism for the failures of these 8 years?
Is 1939 = 2016 ??? FDR # 2, (didn't he get us out of the second great depression, my memory's quite fuzzy)

Gus Van Horn said...


That is a fair question, but one for which I don't have even a ready guess as to an answer.


Gus Van Horn said...

Jay and Steve,

Ah, I see that Google remains too busy to assimilate everyone into Google+ to be bothered assimilating Blogger's comment system smoothly into its other products (despite owning it for ... how many years?)

A quick reply to jay... I don't recall off the top of my head which Objectivist(s) made the argument, but at least one made a good case that I can recall to the effect that Roosevelt's policies actually prolonged the Great Depression.


Steve D said...

I think several economists have made the argument that Roosevelt's policies actually prolonged the Great Depression. I don’t remember which ones.

Steve D said...

One other thing that struck me this election was the fear and desperation exuded by both sides but most especially on the right. It wasn't just the anger - that's there every election, but a desperation born (I think) from a clear sense that time is running out.

Gus Van Horn said...

I barely got to follow this election at all and got that. I think the desperation from the left came from some dim self-awareness of how impotent they are -- a "hope", as it were of things breaking their way even though they shouldn't.

Steve D said...

In fundamental philosophical terms it was the Platonists vs. the Kantians; mirroring the fundamental conflict of our age...and Plato lost.

Gus Van Horn said...

I must be missing something here. Isn't the fundamental conflict between Aristotelians and everyone else?

Except for possibly gaining time with a less-bad electoral outcome, we lost the election from the get-go.

jay said...

what I meant to say was that for 60 years most people were willing to give FDR credit for ending the depression, that doesn't mean its true. These people(most on the left) are willing to give credit to any leftist no matter what happens. You can't give credit for ending something that doesn't end however, and if the poor economic slump continues, something, anything will need to happen to convince people liberalism isn't at fault. What happened in the 30, was a world war, which helped kill off the unemployed. We haven't had a far leftist in the white house since then. Give the mindset of Obama and his followers, are they so evasive that they would accept/welcome/ignore a policy bringing about some kind of war knowing in the back of there mind that it will help Obama politically. I mean what else could he do. There will be a time when Obama will have to act in some way to avoid going down as the worst president ever, it's not like freeing up the economy is an option for him.

Steve D said...

The fundamental metaphysical conflict is essentially between Aristotle and everyone else (essentially led by Plato) but according to Leonard Peikoff, there are three fundamental modes at the level of epistemology based on how a person integrates his concepts (meaning higher order concept formation and induction).
You can either integrate your concepts correctly (I), incorrectly and make floating abstractions (M) or purposely work to disintegrate them and make floating percepts (D). Aristotle is I, Plato is M and Kant is D.
I was extrapolating and speculating a bit from his new book “The DIM Hypothesis” where he discusses these three main modes of integration (D, I, M) and the modern conflict between the misintegrators (M; Plato but the modern version would be the Christian right) and the disintegrators (D; Kant but the modern version are the secular nihilists otherwise known as the left).
He makes the point that most of history has been ruled by the integration method of Plato (M) since the nihilist version recommended by Kant (D) is simply too anti-life to last long in it’s pure form.
For this reason plus modern trends and a general propensity of people to gravitate toward religion, he believes that within fifty years a theocracy (M) may establish itself in the US and that the current ascendency of the left is mostly illusory. He believes D has no real chance at this point, but I (Aristotle and the modern version would be Ayn Rand) might still have a small chance to overthrow M.
While I am still not certain he has correctly gauged today’s society the theory does seem to explain the last 2000 years of Western history and it’s a rather interesting way to look at the world.

Steve D said...

Except for possibly gaining time with a less-bad electoral outcome, we lost the election from the get-go.
Since our guy wasn’t running there was no way for us to win. Our options were to lose or to lose worse.
It also occurred to me when reading Peikoff’s book that his theory would explain why most Objectivists dislike the left more than they do the right. Their metaphysics are equally bad, but at least the right has a world view and a way to get there (albeit wrong and anti-life), while the nihilists on the left are pure destruction.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

In this case, the standin for Plato would be your religious types like Romney, Akin, Mourdock, etc.

The opposition was the post-modern leftist and they are the progeny, through several forebears, of Kant.

Aristotle was represented only at the margins and not very well represented at that.

So I think Steve called this one. There almost no overt Aristotelians in the Republican party and none at all in the Democratic party. So Plato vs Kant it is. And this time, Plato lost.

However, once the Kantians finish up their job of taking down what remains of the American Republic, those Platonists are gonna look mighty good to the survivors.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...

Ah. Thanks for the clarification, Steve and C.

You, too, Jay, although I have to disagree with the notion of WW II "killing off" the unemployed. For starters, the total number of dead from WW II was about 400,000. I've heard, but haven't time to verify, that there were something like 12 million unemployed during the Great Depression.

-- Gus