The recent failure of the repeal of Obamacare, with the “defection” of several Republicans has brought this back to mind. Unfortunately some of the economically most insupportable provisions of ObamaCare remain highly popular.
Elsewhere, the discussion came up again about the political landscape. Some people, frustrated by Republican lack of anything resembling a spine and repeatedly rolling over for the current administration (Update: and seem in some cases Hel-bent on rolling over for the previous administration now) are talking about “alternatives” including going third party, “letting it burn” (and thus having society and rule of law collapse), or worst of all “revolution.”
First, let’s be clear on one thing: If we lose liberty here, it’s over. Unlike past generations, people elsewhere in the world living under tyranny, we have no place to go. If the US stops being a Constitutional Republic of limited powers where ultimate sovereignty comes from the people and individual liberty is the primary watchword, then there’s no place else to go.
This is not a new idea:
Some people look at the American Revolution and say “we need to do that again.” What they miss is that the situation here in the US at the time of the Revolution were unique in history, they haven’t been recreated since, and don’t hold now. By the time of the US break with Britain, we had a nation of immigrants “self selected” to a large extent for desiring freedom. Oh, it may have been the freedom to create their own highly insular and regulated communities but the key words there are “their own”. Even the “loyalists” were more “we can work something out to keep our freedoms” than “we should just kowtow to being ruled” (at least that’s my impression from my readings over the years).
The American revolution is, therefore, unique. Looking at other revolutions in other times and places does not lead to happy making feelings “Liberte, Fraternite, Egalite” and The Terror. That’s a more common model, especially “The Terror.”
If it does come to actual revolution, I expect that to be the most likely outcome, not “a new birth of freedom, kumbaya”. The odds are so very long against getting anything like a free society out of an armed insurrection that, well, things have to be pretty far gone indeed for that forlorn hope to look like the better option.
As for the actual conduct of such a revolution itself, that will get ugly. Incredibly ugly. I’ve discussed that a bit elsewhere:
In 2008 a movie was made about Jewish resistance fighters in Nazi occupied Bellarus. One of the things I noted was the partisans execution of an informer. That’s exactly how things will have to be. Doesn’t matter how intimidated you are, doesn’t matter if they beat it out of you or threatened your family, or what. You inform; you die. And if (more like when) that doesn’t succeed in stopping informers (or keeping the level low enough that the insurrection can proceed) the next step is to escalate: you inform; your entire family dies.
Immoral? Downright evil? Yep. But that’s where it will be. That’s what it will be. That’s what an armed “Second* American Revolution” will come to.
Better be damned sure it’s justified before pulling that trigger.
Some other thoughts to ponder about a Revolution. Back in the days of the American Revolution, what most Americans wanted was to be left alone. They liked the idea of liberty. They might disagree on whether negotiating with the King or declaring independence is the best way to get that but they pretty much agreed (oh, there were exceptions–there always are–but by and large). The problem was outside, the King and Parliament.
We have almost the exact opposite situation here. Now, in America, entirely too many people are infected with “there ought to be a law” or a lust for “goodies that other people pay for.”
So, you have your revolution. You win it. It isn’t hijacked by people wanting to use it for their own ends rather than the cause of “Freedom”. (Three miracles in a row of which the last is the greatest, but let’s go with that.) Now what? The people are the same people. You have your new Constitutional Convention? The people who send Pelosi and Boxer, Schumer and Jackson Lee, to Washington are also going to be sending delegates to this convention. How do you prevent them from doing something just as bad?
If you set up a Representative government, you’ve got the same problem because you’ve got the same voters with the same attitudes. What are you going to do? Kill or forcibly deport everyone who disagrees with you? There is a word for that. (Actually several words, but I’ll just go with “evil”.)
Or maybe you’ll go the other way. A benevolent dictatorship can be as free as a Constitutional Republic: provided you get a dictator whose goal is to leave people alone. There’s very little necessary connection between the form government takes and the freedom of the people under it. So, that can work for a generation, maybe two. Of course how benevolent is a dictator who puts himself in power by force of arms likely to be. (A fourth miracle, greater than the other three combined?)
So you get your revolution and you win it. Now what?
Now as for this “third party” vs. “working within the existing parties” argument. I note that the Libertarian Party to use one example for which I have numbers) was founded in 1971. It has run candidates in every Presidential election since 1972. So far, it has only once been able to capture even 1% of the vote. If you plot its results out as a trend it‘s several thousand years before they reach a level high enough to actually win the Presidency.That should put paid to the “third party” idea.
“But, but, that compromise approach is what got us into this mess.” Yes, because the other side has been willing to go for a little bit here, a little bit there, “compromise” so long as they can get some net gain. taking any setbacks and redoubling efforts for the next round.
The exact same “long game, make small gains where you can, minimize losses where you must” approach that I advocate, has been extremely successful. It’s just the other side that’s been doing it. But it takes discipline, patience, and perseverance. Strange that these are the traits that supposed “conservatives” seem to be lacking in politics
I wasn’t particularly surprised by the House and Senate continuing to roll over after the last election. That’s not a sign that “voting for new people does no good”. If you look at the way the new folk vote vs. how the old folk vote you do see a change. But there aren’t enough Cruzes and Gowdy’s and such yet. It’ll take a few more iterations before the balance shifts enough to really be felt–that is if people have the discipline to keep the pressure on. Update: and we’ve had some improvement since the original post on this. Still not quite enough. There are a couple of Republican senators that yet need to be “primaried” and replaced by actual small-government conservatives.
If I ever start voting third party, it will mean one of two things: either the third party has somehow managed to get into the double digits in the vote (hey, I can dream) or I’ve simply given up. It won’t be because I think voting for someone who can’t even get one percent of the vote is going to make things better in any way.
It will also be about the time I start drinking.
(Update) As it happened, I did vote third party this last time around. Going into the election, we had two people with a history of being liberal democrats. One of them was claiming to be a Republican, claiming all sorts of things. However, he’d also wrote the book on saying whatever you have to to “make the deal” to get what you want. I had no expectation that it would be any better. So, I went third party, playing the long game in the hopes that libertarian ideas would be seen as popular enough that some future candidates would see it as “politically profitable”* to support them.
So I voted third party. And I started drinking.