The Welfare State: Monument to a Barbarian
For example, yesterday reader Julie linked to an article called American Catholicism's Pact With the Devil, which makes the point that Catholics who vote Democrat have no right to complain when they are deprived of their first amendment rights by the very regime they voted in.
Likewise, the Republican party has only rarely been the explicitly conservative party. As such, just as liberalism is slow-motion socialism, Republicanism has tended to be slow-motion liberalism, or super slow-mo socialism.
I have once again been reminded of this sobering truth in reading Steven Hayward's new Guide to the Presidents, from Wilson to Obama. I've read a number of these "Politically Incorrect Guides," some of which are quite good, others rather lame (especially the ones that come from a far-right paleo-conservative perspective -- you know, the usual suspects who argue that Lincoln was an evil dictator or that states have "rights").
I've almost finished the book, and one implicit theme is just how temperamentally conservative American presidents have been, even when they have been politically liberal. This shows the extent to which conservatism (by which I mean classical liberalism) is in America's DNA if not its DNC. In turn, this is why undisguised leftism has been such a tough sell in America, and why the left must always resort to deception or force (as in judicial force) in order to enact their schemes.
Some of our worst presidents, e.g., Wilson, Roosevelt, LBJ, and Carter, were clearly at odds with their own conservative impulses, which is probably what made them so damaging. Each of them exemplifies Murray's point about liberals not preaching what they practice.
Let's take the wretched LBJ, whom acquaintances describe as "power-hungry, cruel, bigoted, ruthless, deceitful, vain, grasping and... immoral." People who knew him more intimately characterize him as "treacherous, dishonest, manic-aggressive, petty, [and] spoiled."
As a senator, the dignified Johnson routinely whipped out his and "urinated in public, raged at and belittled his staff, used racial epithets with abandon, stole elections, and collected prodigious sums of campaign donations in cash."
Indeed, "despite" spending his entire life as a "public servant" in DC, LBJ somehow amassed a fortune of some $15 million. In other words, typical liberal.
The fact of the matter is that Johnson had no articulated political philosophy, but was a .... what was he?
I raise this question because the current fiscal crisis we are living through is a direct result of policies put into place by LBJ, who is responsible for more liberal legislation than any other president, including FDR. But upon what principle is all of this founded?
Answer: no principle (and certainly no constitutional principle).
So: trillions of dollars down the drain, and trillions more charged up to future generations, all in defense of the principle of... no principle.
If LBJ wasn't motivated by principle, then what did motivate him, and is it fair that we should all be on the hook for it, forever?
As to the first question, "Johnson had a voracious appetite for political achievement, and an unquenchable thirst for distinction and adulation." As to the second, we might say that our multi-trillion dollar festering sump-hole of Great Society debt is like an ongoing monument to Johnson's awesomeness.
As Hayward writes from out on his limb, "There do not appear to have been any political principles at Johnson's core." By now it is common knowledge how much damage the "War on Poverty" has caused to black Americans, but the truth of the matter is that Johnson couldn't have cared less.
Before becoming president and building his leviathan legislative monument, he was as racist as any other mainstream Democrat, for example, writing in 1960 that "I am firmly opposed to forced integration and I firmly believe that the doctrine of states' rights should be maintained." Acting on his beliefs, he "worked to water down the civil rights legislation that President Eisenhower had proposed to Congress" (Hayward).
Not only was Johnson uninterested in the damage caused by his programs, he didn't even want to know if they were effective. And yet, despite it all, he still nurtured a tiny core of American conservative principle inside his desiccated soul, in that he absolutely never envisioned putting into place a permanent welfare state and thus fundamentally altering our way of life.
Which means that not only are we on the hook for the grandiose dreams of an unprincipled barbarian, but that this has been followed by a systematic misapplication of his lack of principles, which we call the Welfare State. His absence of principle has been turned into one.
In other words, the War on Poverty, like all wars, was intended to be time-limited. Instead, five decades on, it has resulted in a permanent war that is a completely unsustainable fiscal cancer.
Consider how the idealistic Johnson reacted when he discovered that welfare was subsidizing bastardy: "They want to just stay up there and breed and won't work and we have to feed them.... I don't want to be taking taxpayers' money and paying it to people to just breed."
In other words, WTF?!
Too late! To the everlasting consternation of the left, human nature is human nature, and it cannot be changed. The tiny little flaw at the root of liberalism is the insane belief that human beings will not respond to the perverse incentives it puts in place. Other than that, it works beautifully.