Tuesday, April 29, 2014
A blogger at the New York Times claims
that Cliven Bundy, a rancher who has been refusing to pay grazing fees
to the federal government for his use of public land has "accidentally
explained what's wrong with the Republican Party". I couldn't agree more, but hardly for the condescending reason given in the blog post.
Bundy, who had been paying his fees until the government wanted to restrct his use of the land to protect an endangered species, is in arrears. When the Bureau of Land Management came in to collect, in the form of confiscating part of his herd, Bundy led, apparently successfully, an armed standoff with the BLM. He has also, in the meantime, basked in the publicity, volunteering an inconsistent hash of opinions on all manner of subjects, including speculating that blacks were better off under slavery than the dole. Both journalists seem quite happy to equate Bundy with Republicans in general, and to label both "anti-government", hence part of the basis for the conclusion by the Times blogger that Bundy has accidentally spoken a profound truth regarding the lack of traction the GOP has with non-white voters:
Mr. Bundy, weirdly, is onto something here. The rush to stand with Mr. Bundy against the Bureau of Land Management is the latest incarnation of conservative antigovernment messaging. And nonwhites are not interested, because a gut-level aversion to the government is almost exclusively a white phenomenon.I think that the government's ownership of all this land is improper and that the BLM ought to be abolished, but the solution to that problem is not an anarchic revolt. There are ways to change the law, and they involve persuading others that the change ought to be made. I also agree wholeheartedly with the local, interviewed for the news article, that, "You just can't let this go by, or everybody is going to be like, 'If Bundy can break the law, why can't I?'"
To the degree that the Republican Party attempts to take advantage of anti-government rhetoric (as opposed to arguing that we should reduce government to its proper scope), it deserves the lack of popularity it gets.
But the blogger seems too eager to act as if race determines political sympathy. If "minorities" aren't hopping onto the GOP bandwagon, shouldn't one ask why? Might cultural factors enter this equation? Might the relevance of the message to those hearing it factor in, in some way? It could help to recall that, as Ayn Rand once pointed out, "The smallest minority on earth is the individual."
On top of that, the blogger is blinded by the following false dichotomy: that our choice is improper government -- or no government at all. (The whole notion of the government "overreaching" in this matter is a manifestation: Either the government ought to be in the business of owning this land (in which case, it can set whatever terms it wants on its use) or it shouldn't. This is not the same thing as assuming that the only way to remove such government intrusions is to rid ourselves of government.
It's relevant to the electoral fortunes of anyone opposed to improper government that, as the blogger points out, Asians opposed Mitt Romney by a three-to-one margin, or that:
... 55 percent of Asian-Americans and fully 75 percent of Hispanic-Americans say they prefer a bigger government providing more services over a smaller one providing fewer services, compared with just 41 percent of the general population." [links in original]But it is bigoted -- and something that ought to be ignored -- to add that these fortunes will suffer simply because, "... America is not the overwhelmingly white country it once was."
In terms of its actions, the GOP is all but indistinguishable from the Democrats. Furthermore, unless the GOP challenges the assumption that our choice is government meddling vs. anarchy -- by upholding the idea that a proper government is one that defends individual rights -- it will never look like a substantive or attractive alternative to the Democrats. This means it must do a better job of explaining how the kind of meddling favored by the Democrats harms everyone, while also repudiating anarchy.
If the GOP would only start doing those things I doubt it would matter that America is no longer "overwhelmingly white". The party would start attracting individuals -- who would realize their freedom is at stake -- if not in droves, at least in significant numbers.