Thomas Sowell (surprisingly) gets it wrong on Ted Cruz

| February 19 2014
Greg Conterio

1856 all over again

I very rarely disagree with the great Thomas Sowell.  After all, he is an intellectual giant to my puny little ant-self.  But even the brightest can miss important details, as I think Sowell does in “Cruz Control?”  It’s a very short post, and as with everything Sowell ever publishes, I highly encourage you to read it, but to synopsize, Sowell here cautions that leaders like Ted Cruz risk fracturing the right-side of the political spectrum so severely we lose all hope of rolling-back the destruction wrought by Obama and the Democrats.

But what the federal government can do is not dependent on what the Constitution authorizes it to do or what Congressional legislation gives them the power to do.

The basic, brutal reality is that the federal government can do whatever it wants to do, if nobody stops them. The Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision shows that we cannot depend on them to protect our freedom. Nor will Congress, as long as the Democrats control the Senate.

Sowell is absolutely correct.  A lawless federal government will not stop itself, as we are watching happen before our eyes.  Our best recourse is to replace them via the ballot box, and if we sweep the Dems out of office this November, it will severely curtail Obama’s ability to act with impunity, as he has been doing.  But then there is this:

The most charitable interpretation of Ted Cruz and his supporters is that they are willing to see the Republican Party weakened in the short run, in hopes that they will be able to take it over in the long run, and set it on a different path as a more purified conservative party.

I don’t know that I agree this is the most charitable interpretation.  Sowell goes on to compare the current circumstances to Germany in 1932, right after the election in which the Nazi Party became a minority-member of the German coalition government.  We all know what happened after that.  While I agree with Sowell that we should collectively not take our eye off the ball, and remain cognizant of the overall goal, which is to curtail Obama’s power, I think what Sowell is forgetting is that there seems to be a significant faction within the Republican ranks who are perfectly fine with Obama doing whatever he wants, so long as it doesn’t jeopardize their own personal position and privilege.  We have come to call these Establishment Republicans.  RINO is really not quite the proper term for them.  It’s not that they are closet liberals or progressives, it’s that they lack any principles at all, apart from wanting to hang on to their own place in the system.  To that end, they will support anyone and anything that looks like it will keep them in office, even if it means enabling Obama to trample the Constitution, usurp the roles of the legislative and judicial branches, and micro-manage everything from the Oval Office like a dictator.

I submit there is another, historical example better representative of our current circumstances.  In the late 1850s, things had come to a head within the Whig party.  They had spent much of the previous 10 – 20 years as the minority party, and they were heavily fractured by the most divisive issue of the day: Slavery.  While the Democrats were decidedly supportive of slavery as a party, the Whigs tended to be split between the “radicals” who were strongly abolitionist, and the “establishment” who wanted to just go-along with the Democrats, and let slavery eventually go-away on its own, in its own time.  Like today’s Establishment Republicans, the north-eastern Whigs wanted to not rock the boat, wanted to hang-on to their own position, prestige and privilege.  The “radicals” had different ideas.  By 1856, the Whigs were but a shadow of their former party, having lost a great deal of ground, as well as defectors to the new Republican Party, led by men like Abraham Lincoln, who won the election of 1860.

The Republican Party is at a similar crossroads today.  On the one hand, we have Establishment Republicans, who can seemingly be counted on to do nothing that might threaten their personal hold on office.  Timid and accommodating, they are bereft of principle, and have failed to uphold the issues their constituents sent them to Washington to fight for.  On the other hand, there is the Republican faction led by the likes of Cruz, who steadfastly support the underlying principles of fiscal responsibility and constitutionality, even if it means fracturing the party.  And I agree with them.  If the “loyal opposition” is not actually willing to oppose anything the President and his party want to do, even if it’s utterly lawless, then what is the point?

7 comments
dleeper47
dleeper47

Great post, Greg ... it's vindication for my view, identical to yours. Even Sowell (my favorite conservative writer) gets one wrong from time to time.

My view is that Boehner (ostensibly) went along with the conservatives on this one with the intent of (1) seeing it fail, (2) blaming conservatives, and (3) winning some favorable editorials from the Democrat-servile media.  Instead of taking the argument about the debt & unfunded liabilities  to the American people, they followed a "damnation by faint praise" approach. Boehner even had the nerve to bask in "I told you so" glory on Jay Leno. That one really made my teeth hurt.

I hate to sound too cynical, but I believe that while the GOP leadership now in power would like to win, they really doesn't mind losing too much.

Look at the advantages of losing: They get to stay in their leadership posts, enjoy their perqs, get favorable press for bashing the Tea Party Movement, and have few expectations to meet because after all, they are "only 1/2 of 1/3 of the govt". And best of all, by blaming their losses on conservatives, they can keep the Tea Party movement in its place, subservient to the establishment GOP.

To be sure, they'll stand at the microphone from time-to-time, engaging in political theater by spouting conservative themes, and then wink at their Democrat colleagues as they go to lunch with them. John McCain and his BFF Chuck Schumer come to mind immediately.

Sadly, as feckless and timid as it may be, the GOP is still an ally of the conservative movement. I wrote in another post that they are to conservatives what the Russians were to the allies in WW II. We didn't care much for Russian communism, but they fought on our side.

Come to think of it, scratch that ... it's really unfair to the Russians ... they fought like tigers against the Nazis and won the Battle of Stalingrad, arguably the turning point of the war. There isn't an establishment GOP politician in Congress with that kind of determination.

We're all on raft drifting toward a waterfall of national fiscal collapse. Ted Cruz had the nerve to start back-paddling, and the raft's leadership attacked him for all the splashing ... I wish I could draw ... maybe there's a cartoon in there somewhere ... 




GregoryConterio
GregoryConterio moderator

@dleeper47 David, we will have to have a discussion someday about Stalingrad, and it's place of influence in the war!

WesternFreePress
WesternFreePress moderator

@dleeper47 @Gregory ConterioI wonder if all of that is conscious, though. I think there are a lot of those forces at work (the need for media adulation and all that), but I suspect that some of their behavior is less that 100% consciously intentional.


Also, forgive this nitpick on what was obviously a harmless allusion, but wasn;t there a line of Russian officers at Stalingrad who were shooting footsoldiers who tried to retreat?

GregoryConterio
GregoryConterio moderator

@WesternFreePress @dleeper47 @Gregory Conterio It wasn't just Stalingrad.  Throughout the war, the Soviets had what were called "political officers" who were there for no reason other than to make sure all officers in particular, and enlisted (read: conscripted) secondarily, were adhering to Marxist doctrine in the pursuit of their duties.  It wasn't enough to just win a battle, if you won it in some way that could be criticized as counter to party principles, you had some 'splainin' to do!  And yes, the duties of political officers included drafting details to make sure the men went forward when they were supposed to be going forward, including turning the machine guns on them if they did not charge in the right direction.