Monday, March 21, 2016

Answering the skeptics about the GOP Post

To my delight and surprise, my last post was met with enthusiasm and delight by friends on the right and on the left. I say surprised and delighted because I somewhat expected the post to (borrowing a phrase from David Hume) fall dead-born from the press. So, when my friends on both sides praised the post, I warmed to it.

However, just like any other post, even those who liked it had some concerns, and I plan to answer them in this post. As a philosopher (or an aspiring one anyway), you have a duty to not only explain and argue for your theories, but to also defend them against criticism. If you don't, you are not a real philosopher, but merely an apologist (not that apologetics in themselves are bad or useless.)

In a comment I received after his reading the post, my friend who is  political philosopher brought up these three criticisms: 1. The GOP establishment and the nominee will never agree to work together, at least not for very long 2. If the GOP stays intact, it won't be meaningful 3. I seem to make saving the GOP a good thing when death may be the better alternative. All of these are valid criticisms, so I will attempt to answer them all here. I will leave it to the reader to decide whether or not I am successful.

First, on the GOP and the nominee working together. The question assumes that because the two main contenders are Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz have portrayed themselves as outsiders, they will never work with the establishment (the insiders) to make an agenda and implement this as policy. This seems valid on the surface, but is ultimately flawed. Take for instance a case on the other side. Then Senator Obama ran on the idea of universal healthcare (not single-payer, but a public option). However, once he got into office he saw that it would not pass Congress (which was controlled by his party), so reduced his aims and gave a nearly identical bill to that of Bob Dole from the 1990's. In other words, he saw that his power was limited and did the best he could rather than throwing a tantrum.

Likewise, if Cruz or trump becomes president and the GOP retains control of congress, they will have no choice but to work together and from policy. Due to the separation of powers, neither can do something without the other ultimately. If Donald Trump wants to build a wall, Congress will have to fund it (Mexico is not going to pay the bill). If Cruz wants a flat tax, Congress will have to approve it. While both of these gentlemen are pretty stubborn, their egos will humble them because they will not be want to pegged as presidents who did nothing. So, whether they want to or not, they will work together.

The second criticism of the GOP reforming not being meaningful will have to depend on the reform. Currently, the GOP is in what I would call stubborn child stage (I would say racism, but I am hopeful the disagreement is beyond President Obama's skin color, but I digress). Leaders such as Paul Ryan have noted that the party is broken and needs to be reformed, and also he is know to have reached across the aisle on numerous occasions. Under his leadership, there is hope that the party can reform to be closer to a center-right party than a fundamentalist right party. I have to say that this is a possibility, rather than a certainty. Also, it Trump were the nominee, it is more likely the party will reform because he is also closer to the center-right than the fundamentalist right. We have to take a wait and see on this.

On the life or death of the party, I was not arguing in the previous piece that it is necessary for the Republican Party to survive for conservatism to survive; conservatism is independent of party. If the GOP were to die, it also would not matter all that much. If it die it would be reborn under a new name, or it would infiltrate a 3rd party a then become the same party. All the parties that have died in the past (the Federalist and Whig for example) are still alive and well in both parties. They just don't share a name. For example, the Federalist idea of centralized government, support of business, and low taxation are alive in the Republican Party, even though the party of Hamilton has been long dead. So, the death of the GOP would accomplish nothing than continue the cycle. I suggest we forgo the Resurrection and just do a reform. Makes more sense and will be better for everyone.


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