Thursday :: Nov 27, 2003

True Conservativism Rising?


by pessimist

GOP pulled no punches in struggle for Medicare bill

In an article dated 11/27/03, conservative columnist Robert Novak details the extreme effort exerted by the House GOP leadership toward passing the "Leave No Senior With Medicare Benefits" Act. The leadership used promises of campaign fund support, threats of primary challenges, loss of party status and advancement, and phone calls from George Warmonger Bush, to have their way on the vote.

So much effort to overcome opposition to a bill that "benefits" seniors? This Web-pundit-poster has serious doubts about that motive. As the GOP has before amply demonstrated their abject prostration at the toes of Corporate America, what is to keep one from believing that once again the real purpose of this massive effort was to enhance prospects of profit for corporations?

I've written previously about how the True Conservatives are beginning to stir. Such an awakening is vital to the future of this country for several reasons. One reason is: there are serious changes afoot, and these True Conservatives need to examine these changes and decide if they are warranted.

One of the characteristics of conservatism is to preserve that which exists against unwarranted change. This doesn't always prove to be a good thing as what is "unwarranted" is subjective, but the function of such action is to act as a brake against impulsiveness (of the sort we are about to see from Der Gropenfuehrer in the California budget deficit battle) and to challenge the motivation for change.

Such challenges are to be welcomed, for if the need for change cannot be demostrated beyond reasonable doubt, then the proposed change should be abandoned.

The problem with conservatism is that it is incredibly slow to accept and adapt to previous changes.

For instance, some conservatives in the GOP are still battling changes made by FDR in the thirties. One would think that 60 years of Social Security, for example, has proven its value to the nation. Medicare was intended to be an adjunct to that program, and Medicaid was an enhancement to Medicare. But because these anti-FDR conservatives see this as "socialism" and a great evil, it is to be "corrected" at all costs.

The fact that people benefit from these programs is lost upon such anti-FDR conservatives. It seems that all they can see is that the self is expected to contribute to the benefit of those who are not the self. This is to be fought at all costs.

The philosophies of Ayn Rand come closest in my research to describing the mind set of those who believe this way. She and her followers describe this set of beliefs as "selfishness". There are distinctions between Randism and the normal definitions of the word as most of us understand it, but she is described as insisting that selfishness be used to describe these beliefs. In my opinion, "selfism", in a sense a worship of self as I would define it, is the more correct term, and Ayn Rand can like it.

Regardless of which word is believed the more correct, the main purpose in a person's life is to please one's self. Everything one does is for one's own benefit, and this is the highest ideal that is to be pursued. There is no room in one's life for others, as they are to be chiefly concerned with their own "pursuit of happiness" and fulfillment. One is to associate only with those who achieve this at the same level, for anyone else is "undeserving" and will only try to take away that which was "earned" by the "deserving" self.

This is admittedly a simplistic explanation for my understanding of Randist belief, but I bring it up with a purpose.

Many moons ago, I saw a movie which purported to be based on the sinking of a real ship off the coast of South America. I've tried searching for the title of this film, but I keep getting Hitchcock's Lifeboat which is NOT the movie to which I refer. If anyone recognizes this movie (the following details of which may not be absolutely correct - my bad!), let me know what the title is.

UPDATE - thanks to Dwain, who wrote:
I believe the name of the movie was "Abandon Ship" and the star was Tyrone Power, not Victor Mature. It was indeed.

The captain of this ship, which the dusty cells of my brain says was portrayed by Victor Mature, was tried for murder for his actions while in an overloaded lifeboat with a storm approaching. This captain had the following criteria upon which to base his decisions for who lived and who died: crew, passenger, young, old, male, female, survivability. One by one, someone was put over the side to benefit the rest, but it was each time a short-lived triumph over Neptune, requiring another choice to be made.

This is Randism as I understand it: "I must benefit (survive, in this example) as I am deserving, and everyone else is expendable in that effort".

One of the more-memorable scenes involved one of the surviving officers, who decides that he was not going to live while being responsible for sending others to their deaths. He felt that they should try to save everyone and not make choices that "belong to God".

This officer and the captain debate the relative merits of their duty to their passengers' safety and that of surviving at all costs. The captain, being the ranking officer, has the ulitimate say. The protesting officer then refuses to obey orders he believes to be wrong, and, voluntarily accompanied by an old woman - the one selected by the captain to be first sacrificed and bringing on the debate - goes over the side to lighten the load for the rest.

Visualizing the GOP as the captain of the sinking liner "SS (Social Security) America, and the people as the passengers whose ultimate fate is in the hands of the crew, those I have tabbed True Conservatives seem to be about to take on the role of the officer who questions the Captain.

One True Conservative's Tale

From Novak's article:

Rep. Nick Smith had never experienced anything like it. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, in the wee hours last Saturday morning, pressed him to vote for the Medicare bill. But Smith refused. Then things got personal.

Smith, self term-limited, is leaving Congress. His lawyer son Brad is one of five Republicans seeking to replace him from a GOP district in Michigan's southern tier. On the House floor, Nick Smith was told business interests would give his son $100,000 in return for his father's vote. When he still declined, fellow Republican House members told him they would make sure Brad Smith never came to Congress. After Nick Smith voted no and the bill passed, Duke Cunningham of California and other Republicans taunted him that his son was dead meat.

A steadfast party regular, he has pioneered private Social Security accounts. But he could not swallow the unfunded liabilities in this Medicare bill. The 69-year-old former dairy farmer this week was still reeling from the threat to his son. ''It was absolutely too personal,'' he told me. Over the telephone from Michigan on Saturday, Brad Smith urged his father to vote his conscience.

The conservative Club for Growth's Steve Moore, writing to the organization's directors and founders, said defeat of the Medicare bill ''would have been a shot across the bow at the Republican establishment that conservatives are sick of the spending splurge that is going on inside Washington these last few years.''

Hammering the conservatives to prevent that may have been only a short-term triumph.

A Senior Moment

Stephen Moore, writing in the National Review Online says:

None of these fiscal realities seems to matter much to the White House or the congressional Republican leadership, which at this moment are dangling pork-barrel goodies in front of the noses of conservative health-care skeptics in the House in order to buy their acquiescence. Their reservations do not matter, because Republican political strategists are convinced that this bill will earn Bush the gratitude of senior-citizen voters, who will flock into the Republican column in November 2004.

This is a potentially tragic political miscalculation on the part of the GOP deep thinkers. In fact, the Medicare prescription-drug bill could have just the opposite electoral effect: It could easily antagonize enough seniors to bring an end to the Republican majority in 2004.

As evidence of the political unpopularity of the drug bill, consider the poll results released this week by the Club for Growth. The poll of 800 seniors finds that retirees' support for the bill transforms into hostility when those over the age of 65 are told the full details of what this bill would actually provide. For example, when seniors are told that as many as one in three of them "may lose" his private drug coverage, 71 percent say they disapprove of the bill. When seniors are told that they will have to pay premiums of roughly $500 to $600 a year, 72 percent say they oppose the bill.

As the researchers at Basswood Research, which conducted the poll, conclude: "The more seniors learn about the prescription drug bill, the less they like it." Only 19 percent of seniors support the bill when they are informed of the full costs and the full risks. Republicans are especially vulnerable to retribution by seniors if employers accelerate the trend, already in motion, of firms' discontinuing the prescription-drug packages in their health-care plans. As the poll finds that 81 percent of seniors with private coverage are satisfied with their current plan, these seniors could end up as livid as late arrivers at the weekly church bingo game who can't find a parking space.

The prescription-drug bill is based on a faulty premise: that seniors want to swallow the pill that the Republicans are offering. That is perhaps the biggest myth in American politics today. It's a myth that could create a Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the House in 2004. And we know that this latter concern trumps every other consideration for our elected officials in Washington or we wouldn't be having this debate at all.

This latest Medicare bill is similar to the captain of a sinking ship deciding who to abandon for the survival of the rest. Representative Smith is the symbol of the officer whose standards won't be violated.

The point I make is that the sensibilities of True Conservatives are being affected, and they may soon rise to the defense of the status quo against the Bush (mis)Administration. Robert Novak seems to think that this is about to happen, and I hope it does, for there is no other political force in the nation that the Randian-Rovian GOP can completely defend themselves against.

Without these True Conservatives, George Warmonger Bush will have to play Risk at his Crawford ranch if he wants to take over the world.

pessimist :: 11:51 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!