Monday, 5/9/16

  1. Single Issues
  2. Singularly Unifit
  3. Downticket Dilemmas
  4. Big Media’s death does ramify
  5. Straw Men

1

[W]e are going to have to surrender any hope of changing the world through politics, at least for the foreseeable future. This is going to be hard for many, many politically engaged conservative Christians to accept.

In my own case, it means that henceforth, absent some black swan event, I am effectively a single-issue voter: religious liberty. In practice, that means I am a default libertarian … Think about it: society is going the way of radical individualism anyway — faster with Democrats than with Republicans, but they’re both on the greasy slope down the side of a steeply graded mountain. At least with principled libertarians, we stand to get some protection. With these Big Business Republicans, at least at the national level, I think we don’t have much reason to hope.

If any Christian conservative readers of this blog want to make a case for staying in the GOP (which I left years ago), please do. Seriously, I want to hear it.

(Rod Dreher)

The arguments to stay in the GOP have been pretty rare and pretty unconvincing. Here and here and here and here.

For a long time, I was a single-issue pro-life voter. But I’ve always been drawn to the “seamless web” type pro-life stance, which led me to ambivalence or rebellion as imperialist neocons increasingly dominated the GOP. (I read someone the other day who said he’s like to see how anti-war Gary Johnson, the presumptive Libertarian POTUS nominee, would remain once he got a full national security briefing. The thought had occurred to me before that my stance may be a luxury purchased by ignorance of something that seems to turn Presidents heads.)

But today, I’m pretty much with Dreher. I suspect that there will be several SCOTUS vacancies in the next four years, and that Trump’s nominees would be at least marginally better on abortion and religious freedom issues than would be Hillary’s nominees.

That’s the very best case I have to vote for Trump.

On the other hand, he has pretty clear fascist tendencies. Compared to that specter, marginally better SCOTUS nominees strikes me as making the trains run on time. And one dare not credit any particular pledge he’s made. And, well, see the next item.

So I’m pretty much with Dreher: who’s likeliest to preserve religious freedom? My new “single issue,” so rapidly has this country gone to hell on every other thing that matters to me.

2

[W]hat if you’re a conservative who isn’t a Reaganite, or you believe that Reaganite ideas have long passed their sell-by dates? What if you agree with Trump about the folly of the Iraq War, the perils of open immigration policies, or the need for a different right-wing economic agenda? What if you think his populism might bring about some necessary creative destruction to a backward-looking G.O.P.?

Then supporting Trump for president could make ideological sense, and the crackup I’ve just described might seem like an advertisement for doing so.

But there still remains the problem of Trump himself. Even if you find things to appreciate in Trumpism — as I have, and still do — the man who has raised those issues is still unfit for an office as awesomely powerful as the presidency of the United States.

His unfitness starts with basic issues of temperament. It encompasses the race-baiting, the conspiracy theorizing, the flirtations with violence, and the pathological lying that have been his campaign-trail stock in trade.

But above all it is Trump’s authoritarianism that makes him unfit for the presidency — his stated admiration for Putin and the Chinese Politburo, his promise to use the power of the presidency against private enterprises, the casual threats he and his surrogates toss off against party donors, military officers, the press, the speaker of the House, and more.

(Ross Douthat) Well, yes, I guess there’s that.

3

“The people have spoken — the bastards.” (Dick Tuck, after defeat for state senator in California, 1996)

For Republicans further down the ballot, the balance is a tricky one: How to avoid alienating Trump’s supporters, without being tied too closely to him?

(Karen Tumulty)

4

The death of traditional news media in the Internet Age ramifies.

“All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

(Ben Rhodes, on how the Obama State Department misled America about the Iran nuclear deal,)

5

The legislature decided it had a reason for the discrimination—to keep supposed transgender rapists away from children—and so everything is fine.

(Garrett Epps in The Atlantic)

Isn’t “transgender rapists” a straw man? I really don’t know, as I’m not in a state that passed one of these Bills and I didn’t follow whatever debate there was in states that did. But that just seems goofy — notwithstanding an internet video that took the bait.

But it seems to me (maybe I’m projecting) that the legitimate concern is the impossibility of determining what gender someone identifies with, hence the unintelligibility and peril of the local ordinances that said “you can use the bathroom of the sex you identify with” — the silly, ineffectual progressive gesture that provoked the state legislature’s rebuke.

I’m not worried about a man who really thinks he’s a woman, with or without surgical and hormonal interventions to create the similitude of womanhood, raping women. I am concerned with guys who might otherwise drill peep-holes or plant voyeur cameras in women’s restrooms just strolling in for a look, saying “who are you to tell me I don’t identify as a woman?”

And, for the record, I doubt that before these ordinances, the Rolling Stones’ Lola or Caitlyn Jenner or Jazz Whatsisname were going to men’s restrooms, terrified for their safety, rather than going to women’s restrooms, or that women who think they’re men, dressing and grooming accordingly, were getting beaten up or arrested in men’s rooms.

Once again, progressives get a free pass for gratuitous legal virtue signaling and conservatives get savaged for their response.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.