From my Ricochet friend Rodin. I could not have said it better myself. Please read, and comment.
The nation is in great danger and the problem and the solution is the same: party politics. Political parties are vehicles, not ideology. They can be tuned up and powered like race cars or left in disrepair like junkers, but they remain vehicles all the same. This helps explain how a party that supported slavery, Jim Crow, and farmers can be transformed into a party of social justice, Wall Street, and Big Tech. How a party that supported abolition, prohibition, and small government can be transformed into a party that adopted “the Southern Strategy”, endless war, and the working man. Parties do not have fixed ideologies; they have organization and discipline. People populate a party’s ideology and the party develops strategies, dispenses favors and punishments to gain support for that ideology. A party is a predator always in search of a meal. And the party responds to a sort of gravity that pulls it toward the ideology that best feeds its rapacious appetite for more power.
Politics is war by another means. And you may not be interested in politics, but politics is always interested in you. The spiritual strength and deadly flaw of people who are attracted to “90s Republicanism” (h/t @stina) is that they simply want to be left alone and to outsource to the Republican establishment the task of keeping enough representatives in office so that the country doesn’t come completely under the control of authoritarian Democrats. Politicking for most Republicans is an odious task — like taking out the garbage or cleaning the bathroom. Got to do it; don’t like it. So why not outsource it?
But one of the consequences of that outsourcing is to make it attractive to “uni-party” professionals; the people who “go along to get along”, who feather their own nests and rationalize that they are doing so for “the greater good”. And then our small businesses burn, and our voices are silenced, and our rights are “disappeared”. News is replaced by propaganda. And the Progressives roll on.
If it were simply that the Progressives “roll-on”, 90s Republicanism would be fine. But it’s where they are rolling to that is the problem: war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. There is a schism between the governors and the governed, between some states and other states, between central control and checks and balances.
The animating cause of the newly minted Republican party in the 1850s was the abolition of slavery. And so it must be again today. We need to call out today’s slavers in our midst — the ones who deny agency through the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, the ones who control minds by controlling the content and flow of information, the ones who promote identity politics over individual opportunity, the ones who use Ponzi scheme financing to rob our great-grandchildren for their benefit today, the ones who traffic in human beings for profit, pleasure or power.
Every Republican office-seeker must be Abraham Lincoln, over and over again. Animated by the twin goals of anti-slavery and national integrity; observant of the constitutional design while pragmatic in constantly pushing toward these goals. Abraham Lincoln was a nation-builder — in America. He sought ways to minimize the cost of doing right which neither pleased those who would insist on doing right immediately nor those who would not do right ever. He was reviled in the press and the object of scorn from many supposed allies. He committed misdemeanors to redress felonies. Only in death was a politician transformed into a statesman.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Fellow-countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it—all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully.
The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.
The great animating cause of the Republican party was anti-slavery. It must be so again. Slavery comes in many forms but it has the same quality: slavery denies equal opportunity. Either by law or indifference to law, individuals have their decisions and choices circumscribed not by their own abilities and effort, but by arbitrary limits imposed by others either under colour of law or by indifference by law enforcers toward persons imposing such arbitrary limits on another.
In the 1850s, the struggle was against chattel slavery of those persons imported to America from Africa and their descendants who had no legal standing as citizens. Thereafter the struggle was of women who had chattel status in marriage and no voice in their governance. And there has been a constant struggle against the phenomena of addiction to drugs, alcohol, and other substances and the circumstances by which men are ensnared or profit from the addiction of others. There has been a struggle over the individual agency of persons who are classified as unmarriable or non-reproducible. There has been a struggle over the freedom to think, speak and associate freely and not have their minds enslaved by approved thoughts, speech, and associations.
We are called to a great cause: the cause of liberty. And that is that with which the Republican Party must associate itself and become its indelible brand. It must be the lens through which everything is judged: does this policy promote more individual agency or less? Forget the trappings, ignore the tweets, do not be fooled by the wrapping paper on the box. Focus on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yes, there are compromises to be made in implementing the balancing of interests in everyone’s individual liberty. “Your rights end at the end of my nose” and all that. But pursue the most liberty for all, not complete liberty for a few at the cost of the loss of liberty for so many. And never promote license over liberty: the presumption that liberty is granted by state power.
Let’s make the Republican party the Liberty party. Tune-up the engine and go.