Expansion of an earlier post from my older blog.
Folk who know me know that I am not a Trump supporter. I have not been a Trump supporter. I am not a Trump opponent either. When he does something of which I approve, I say so. When he does something of which I disapprove, I say so for that too.
On balance, I think that he has proven to be better than the alternative we could have had, at least once we got to the general election.
On the other hand, going into the election I had no reason except the word of someone who admitted that you couldn’t trust his word and that everything he said was “just flexible suggestions” as to his being any better than Hillary. I was able to cite five, possibly six, of the Bill of Rights that he was willing to violate in order to get what he wanted.
And people cheered this.
Still, since then he has proven to be better than I expected and farbetter than I feared, especially in appointing, and getting confirmed, a Supreme Court justice that actually considers the Constitution to be the Supreme Law of the land rather than something to “get around”. And then he did it again with a Justice that, while not perfect, was at least as good as the one he was replacing. Neither was the absolute disaster for Constitutional law and the rights of the individual that Trump’s main opponent and the only one who would have had a chance at winning, would have chosen.
So. I was wrong. And I have never, ever been so glad to be so wrong about anything in my life. He’s not been perfect (Civil Asset Forfeiture, the continuing Prohibition II, Bump Stocks, and some other things), but far better than I had any reason to expect.
That said, I keep running into people who are insist on only voting for the “perfect” candidate. “The lesser of two evils is still evil” is a common watchcry and that doing so is simply a somewhat slower slide into tyranny.
The flip side is that voting for the “perfect” (from my perspective–I expect yours would be somewhat different) candidate when that candidate can’t even get the support of 2% of the voters is a quicker slide into tyranny.
“All or nothing” is a good way to get “nothing.”
I like the metaphor that Neil Gaiman used for his career. It’s like a mountain in the distance. And as long as I can keep moving toward that mountain I’ll eventually get there. Don’t try to do it all at once. That will fail. But I can get a little bit closer than I am now. Then, from this new position, look to see if I can get a little bit closer from that. And then again. And so on.
By this chart at the top of this I’m a pretty much a Paelo-Conservative/Classical Liberal. Some infrastructure things (roads on the chart) I think are appropriate for government, others not. On the flip side I’m of mixed feelings about education so between them I figure it’s pretty much a wash and the “Paleo-Conservative” label fits fairly well. Add in that with “health care” and that things like with infectious diseases other folks actions, or inaction, threaten me and it gets a bit complicated. But still, Paleo-Conservative is probably pretty close.
But look at where we are now. We’re so far from that “goal” that the Hubble couldn’t see it. If I had a true Paleo-Conservative candidate to run for office, it’s extremely unlikely he could win (even in a fair election, never mind when the other side(s) cheats). And if, by some miracle, he (or she) did win, there is simply no way I’d get a paleo-conservative Congress to go along. Republicans, the so-called “right wing” aren’t even close to that paleo-conservative position. Consider the claimed desire to repeal and replace Obamacare, while keeping things like the pre-existing condition mandate (regardless of how economically unsupportable it is)? The claim is often made (with pretty graphs to “prove” it) that the “Left” and “Right” have become more extreme–the Left has gone more Left, the Right more Right–but they really haven’t. They’ve both moved (or been shoved) in the same general direction. One may be moving faster than the other increasing the separation between them but “More right” has not been the direction the Republican party has been moving. It’s only by redefining what constitutes the “center” that this illusion is perpetuated. And the Democrats? Well look at that chart again. Is there anything in the “Total Socialism” in that chart that they aren’t agitating for?
In the end, despite how much the media makes of the issue it’s really a matter of “modern conservative” and “modern liberal” (Republicans and Democrats) having both moved bit outward on the chart.
There’s a concept called the “Overton Window“. Basically, it’s an expression of the idea that people in general are risk averse. They’re used to the situation that they find now. Big changes from that are risky so most people aren’t going to support big changes. The changes that are made at any given time have to be modest or people will reject them. (Note also that this tendency toward risk-aversion is why the left, with its promises of security, has had such success, but that’s a topic for another day.) So, we have to pick modest goals and focus on them piece by piece, in an incremental approach, to have any expectation of success.
So, I’m not going to get paleo-conservative, not in terms of national, or even State policy, not for a long time if ever in my life. But I might get somebody a little bit closer than we are now. And if I can get that, then the next cycle, maybe I can get somebody a little bit closer than that. And a little bit closer the next time. And the same shifting “Overton Window” works here. As government becomes less intrusive, less restrictive, less all-encompassing, why people can get used to that too, just as they have motion the other way.
The problem, of course, is the other side is doing the exact same thing. So not only do I have to try to move in the direction I want, I have to resist their effort to move back the other way. And if I’m not strong enough to prevent that adverse movement, I have to at least slow it down, try and put myself in a position to strike back when I am stronger (or when they’re weaker). And that might sometimes mean trading. When you can’t hold everything against a strong opponent then you have to pick your battles. You might have to give up ground in one area in order to gain or hold ground in another.
People tell me “compromise doesn’t work.” Actually, the cases they site are excellent examples of how very well it does work. It’s just that it’s been a weapon used against us. Conservative/libertarian types are like folk sticking to single shot rifles to “not waste ammo” while the other side has been using repeating rifles and machine guns. Win small concessions, then use that new position as a springboard to win more. Repeat until you’re where you want to be. It’s a tactic that works. So far, it’s worked for our enemies. Maybe it’s time for it to work for us.
So look at that mountain. What can we get that moves us closer to the mountain, even if only a little bit? Get it. And then keep the pressure on.
The mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.