When it comes to explaining the American conservative viewpoint, few are as articulate, convincing, and engaging as Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Rubio has only been a Senator for about a year, but he is definitely making a name for himself. I have watched him in action (aka Youtube) several times, including his campaign victory speech, on the Senate floor, and on the sides of Florida’s streets and come away impressed every time. This week he spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and once again failed to disappoint. The twenty-three minute speech is full of heartfelt conviction clearly laying out the conservative political and social message and includes some great lines, including my favorite; ‘Conservatism is not about leaving people behind. Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up.’ Check out the whole speech:
Archive for the ‘Conservative’ Category
We are back with our second installment of FMFP responding to my inquiries about the ongoing Republican Party presidential nomination process. It’s non-stop titillating action and debate!
1. Here comes Michelle Bachmann…(poof), here comes Rick Perry….(poof), here comes Herman Cain…(poof), here comes Newt Gingrich….How would you explain this pattern of GOP presidential hopefuls who seem to one after another rise and fall so quickly? And will Newt’s candidacy follow this pattern and peter out?
FMFP: I think this is a healthy thing generally for the GOP and the country. The Republican nominee should be vetted carefully and it will only help to get all the stuff out now before the general election begins. The conventional wisdom is that the contenders you mentioned had their day because they were seen as possible alternatives to Mitt Romney. Each has shown they don’t have what it takes or don’t deserve a chance for various other reasons. Newt is an interesting one. He has weathered the first storm back in May/June and we already see the second one coming with reports about his consulting company’s ties to Freddie Mac, the health care industry and the ethanol lobby. He has a tough road ahead for sure. No one doubts his intellect but his character has always been the issue. Whether a perceived deficiency in character is more viable than a perceived deficiency in conservatism (i.e., Romney), we’ll find out. I am skeptical though.
2. Which of the present GOP candidates do you consider to be the best match up to defeat President Obama? In other words, who is the best general election candidate and why?
FMFP: Very difficult question. First, because I think the President is vulnerable to a few of the candidates running for the GOP right now. Second, because it’s not clear that a “moderate” candidate – in his ideology – would necessarily drive the high turnout on the right and among the tea partiers that is needed for a GOP nominee to win. Romney is said to be the choice that would attract the middle while the right grudgingly pulls the lever for him out of opposition to President Obama. I’m not so sure. I think Newt could very well be a contender but might prove too polarizing for many in the middle who have been trained by the media to view him as a right wing nut for many years. Cain could be a good candidate if he can survive the current sexual harassment/unqualified criticisms (the latter of which should be more disconcerting). So after all that, I’m going to default to…grudgingly….Mitt Romney.
3. We both know that there are numerous smart, engaging, and skilled Americans who happen to be Republicans. Why than do most people agree that this current field is lackluster? Most would agree that President Obama is in a weakened position and that the 2012 election is up for grabs, so how do you explain the lack of GOP thoroughbreds entering the race?
FMFP: Honestly, it’s perplexing. At a time when the stakes are so high and strong leadership is needed more than ever, many Republicans, including myself, see the need for a genuine defender of the free market to come forward. This country hasn’t had one for nearly 23 years since Ronald Reagan left office in 1989. That said, we should recognize that whoever the GOP nominee is will no doubt lodge a very strong campaign to unseat Barack Obama. Republicans will rally around the nominee and for the sole fact that that individual has been chosen, he (sorry Bachmann, it ain’t gonna happen this time) will sound more presidential than he does now.
4. What is at stake in this 2012 election?
* The future balance of the Supreme Court (Ginsburg is nearly 80 and Scalia and Kennedy will be by 2016),
* The future of health care (whether the government will be the one in control or whether we move toward a more patient-centered system),
* The size of government (in terms of spending, taxes and role in your everyday life)
* Serious tax reform (likely to take place one way or the other in 2013)
* Energy exploration and development (whether we decide to move away from Middle East dependence by drilling and using domestic resources or whether we try to shove green energy projects down the consumers throat by raising price of oil/gas and subsidizing more crony capitalist ventures like Solyndra).
* Telecom regulation (whether the gov’t seizes on the opportunity to regulate and tax the internet, making it less free and innovative)
* Foreign policy (whether we play the role of world leader like we can and should be or whether we slowly recede into “leading from behind”)
And I could go on but you get the point. 2012′s a big deal.
What isn’t at stake is a better question.
1.’The ‘Anti-Christie’ Agenda Driving Connecticut‘ – Steven Malanga, Real Clear Markets
This is the story of the new Democratic governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, who apparently fancies himself an anti-Gov. Chris Christie. Good luck Connecticut, as it seems likely you are just speeding up the time when you’ll need your own Chris Christie:
But despite proclamations in the press and the statehouse that Dannel Malloy, the state’s first Democratic governor in 20 years, was seeking to distinguish himself from anti-tax governors like Chris Christie and also from Connecticut’s past, the new ruling regime in Hartford is merely taking the state in the same direction it’s been heading for decades, albeit at a quickening pace. Under previous joint rule by Democrats and Northeastern Republicans, Connecticut became one of the nation’s most heavily taxed, heavily indebted, and economically struggling states. The new Connecticut looks suspiciously like the old one, maybe just on steroids.
Back when those ‘tax-cutting’ Republicans were in control of the governor’s office in 2009, for instance, Connecticut already had the highest per capita state and local tax burden in the country, according to the Tax Foundation. The state’s commercial taxes, the foundation estimated, amounted to the third highest burden on businesses in the country.
2. ‘China’s Cyberassault on America‘ – Richard Clarke, Wall Street Journal
Clarke, former head of American counterterrorism, warns that cyber attacks from the Chinese government are becoming more and more threatening to American national security:
Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America’s advantage.
The Chinese government indignantly denies these charges, claiming that the attackers are nongovernmental Chinese hackers, or other governments pretending to be China, or that the attacks are fictions generated by anti-Chinese elements in the United States. Experts in the U.S. and allied governments find these denials hard to believe.
3. ‘Nobel Prize Winner Analyzes the Obama Growth Gap‘ – Daniel Mitchell, CATO Institute
Mitchell provides us with some telling graphs of the US economy by economist Robert Lucas. These graphs show a sharp fall in GDP growth for the US during the current recovery, a troubling sight to see when many expected a strong turnabout after the recession ended:
I’ve explained before that one of the most damning pieces of evidence against Obamanomics is that the economy is suffering from sub-par growth, something that is particularly damning since normally one expects to see faster-than-average growth following an economic downturn.
In a recent presentation, Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago included a couple of graphs that illustrate this phenomenon. This first chart shows the history of U.S. economic growth over the past 140 years. As you can see, the growth rate was remarkably constant over time, and there were always periods of rapid growth following economic downturns.
4. ‘GOP shifting on anti-tax policy‘ – Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times
This article details the internal debate within the GOP regarding closing tax holes and deductions, highlighted by the recent ethanol subsidy vote in Congress:
The ethanol tax credit provided a glint of a breakthrough for Coburn. But other tax breaks are more complicated. For example, an oil company tax break long in the crosshairs of Democrats also applies to countless other industries nationwide.
Even more politically fraught are tax breaks for individual earners: tax-free employer-sponsored health benefits, the tax-deferred 401(k)-style retirement accounts, and the sacred mortgage interest deduction. Republican congressional leaders have flatly declared that taxes will not be on the table during the summer’s negotiations over increasing the nation’s $14.3-trillion borrowing limit. But proposals to raise revenue are being pushed onto the table over GOP resistance. Both the Obama administration and congressional Republicans want to streamline the tax code, an issue that could come be up for debate later this year or next.
5. ‘Who Is James Johnson?‘ – David Brooks, New York Times
In short, he’s a crook who made a fortune for himself and many other powerful political friends while helping collapse the American housing market, a devastating result for millions of families:
The most devastating scandal in recent history involved dozens of the most respected members of the Washington establishment. Their behavior was not out of the ordinary by any means.
For that reason, the Fannie Mae scandal is the most important political scandal since Watergate. It helped sink the American economy. It has cost taxpayers about $153 billion, so far. It indicts patterns of behavior that are considered normal and respectable in Washington.
The Fannie Mae scandal has gotten relatively little media attention because many of the participants are still powerful, admired and well connected. But Gretchen Morgenson, a Times colleague, and the financial analyst Joshua Rosner have rectified that, writing “Reckless Endangerment,” a brave book that exposes the affair in clear and gripping form.
1. ‘Hard Times, Fewer Crimes‘, James Q. Wilson, Wall Street Journal/City Journal
Preeminent political and social scientist James Q. Wilson debunks the myth that crime is caused mainly by economic factors. So then, what causes crime to increase or decrease? Wilson has a few provocative proscriptions in this must read piece:
When the FBI announced last week that violent crime in the U.S. had
reached a 40-year low in 2010, many criminologists were perplexed. It
had been a dismal year economically, and the standard view in the
field, echoed for decades by the media, is that unemployment and poverty
are strongly linked to crime. The argument is straightforward: When
less legal work is available, more illegal “work” takes place.
The economist Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, a Nobel
laureate, gave the standard view its classic formulation in the 1960s..
Yet when the recent recession struck, that didn’t happen. As the
national unemployment rate doubled from around 5% to nearly 10%, the
property-crime rate, far from spiking, fell significantly. For 2009, the
Federal Bureau of Investigation reported an 8% drop in the nationwide
robbery rate and a 17% reduction in the auto-theft rate from the
previous year. Big-city reports show the same thing. Between 2008 and
2010, New York City experienced a 4% decline in the robbery rate and a
10% fall in the burglary rate. Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles witnessed
2. ‘Give Me That Old Gray Religion – If the New York Times says it, is it the “absolute truth”?‘ – James Taranto, Wall Street Journal
Taranto does here what he does best: offer a scathing critique of poor and dishonest journalism, this time with the New York Times as his target:
It may be the most revealing quote ever published in the New York Times. It appears in a story about the New York Times, and its source is a top editor of the New York Times: Jill Abramson, who will become the top editor of the New York Times in September, when Bill Keller steps down, the New York Times reports:
Ms. Abramson said that as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she considered being named editor of The Times to be like “ascending to Valhalla.”
“In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,” she said. “If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.”
The Times has of late acted a great deal like a corrupt religious institution. This column has chronicled its often vicious and dishonest attempts–both on the editorial page and in the news sections, which Abramson will head–to shore up its own authority by trying to tear down its competitors. Examples:
3. ‘Ike, D-Day and the Age of Accountable Leaders‘, Mark Salter, Real Clear Politics
On twitter (@gtpowerpolitics), I often finish my tweets with #whereareourleaders? after I post a link to an article about our sky rocketing debt and seeming inability to tackle major problems. It is in this light that I read this moving piece describing the quietly strong leadership of Dwight Eisenhower during the D-Day invasion of France in 1944:
The heavy burdens of his command were plainly evident in his behavior. Eisenhower drank 15 to 20 cups of coffee and smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. He had high blood pressure and migraines. He suffered from insomnia, so he often worked through the night.
Ike had a bad temper, but he never complained or gave the slightest impression he thought he deserved anyone’s sympathy. He disliked flattery and had no use for the perquisites of high command. He had been given a mansion as his quarters, and rejected it for a modest two-bedroom house in a London suburb. Only to his wife did he write of his loneliness and doubts. “No man can always be right,” he told her. “So the struggle is to do one’s best.”
His statement to his troops was broadcast at every embarkation point, ending confidently with an assurance of success:
“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
In his shirt pocket, he carried another statement. He had written it alone, and informed no one of its contents:
“Our landings . . . have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
4. ‘Accusation That Voter ID Is Racist Demeans Blacks‘, Mark Prager, Real Clear Politics
In what George W. Bush called the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ there are many people out there, mostly on the Left, that view such policies as showing a photo ID at a polling both, racist toward African Americans. Prager takes those who promote this idea to task for either wallowing in ‘white guilt’ or for using it strictly for political opportunism:
Democrats and others on the left virtually unanimously condemned all Republican attempts in state legislatures to pass legislation requiring voters to show a photo ID. The Democrats labeled it a means of “disenfranchising” blacks. Many Democrats compared it to Jim Crow laws.
“Jim Crow, move over — the Wisconsin Republicans have taken your place,” charged Wisconsin Democratic State Sen. Bob Jauch, referring to his state’s new voter ID law.
It is hard to imagine a more demeaning statement about black America than labeling demands that all voters show a photo ID anti-black.
This is easily demonstrated. Imagine if some Democratic politician had announced that demanding a photo ID at the voting booth was an attempt to keep Jewish Americans from voting. No one would understand what the person was talking about. But why not? Jews vote almost as lopsidedly Democrat as do blacks. So why weren’t Jews included in liberal objections to voter ID laws?
5. ‘No, You Can’t Keep Your Health Insurance‘, Grace-Marie Turner, Wall Street Journal
Despite one President Obama’s major promises during the health care debate, that if you like your plan you can keep, a recent report the highly reputable McKinsey & Company shows a different story:
ObamaCare will lead to a dramatic decline in employer-provided health insurance—with as many as 78 million Americans forced to find other sources of coverage.
This disturbing finding is based on my calculations from a survey by McKinsey & Company. The survey, published this week in the McKinsey Quarterly, found that up to 50% of employers say they will definitely or probably pursue alternatives to their current health-insurance plan in the years after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. An estimated 156 million non-elderly Americans get their coverage at work, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Before the health law passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that only nine million to 10 million people, or about 7% of employees who currently get health insurance at work, would switch to government-subsidized insurance. But the McKinsey survey of 1,300 employers across industries, geographies and employer sizes found “that reform will provoke a much greater response” and concludes that the health overhaul law will lead to a “radical restructuring” of job-based health coverage.
1. ‘Democrats join Republicans in questioning Obama’s policy on Israel‘, Peter Wallsten, Washington Post
Who said President Obama was a divider? His position on the Israel-Palestine conflict seems to be uniting Democrats and Republicans in opposition. This was visibly seen during Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on Tuesday:
Top Democrats have joined a number of Republicans in challenging President Obama’s policy toward Israel, further exposing rifts that the White House and its allies will seek to mend before next year’s election.
The differences, on display as senior lawmakers addressed a pro-Israel group late Monday and Tuesday, stem from Obama’s calls in recent days for any peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians to be based on boundaries that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, combined with “mutually agreed swaps” of territory.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and other Democrats appeared to reject the president’s reference to the 1967 lines in his latest attempt to nudge along peace talks, thinking that he was giving away too much, too soon.
2. ‘A World of Our Making‘ – G. John Ikenberry, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
Esteemed International Relations scholar G. John Ikenberry provides an in depth look at the changing global order, warning that though its current liberal make up will remain intact, changes are a coming:
This American-led liberal hegemonic order is now in crisis. The underlying foundations that support this order have shifted. Pressures for change—and for the reorganization of order—are growing. But amidst this great transformation, it is important to untangle what pre-cisely is in crisis and what is not. My claim is that it is a crisis of author-ity—a struggle over how liberal order should be governed. But it is not a crisis over the underlying principles of liberal international order, defined as an open and loosely rule-based system. That is, what is in dispute is how aspects of liberal order—sovereignty, institutions, participation, roles, and responsibilities—are to be allocated, but all within the order rather than in its wake.
If the old postwar hegemonic order were a business enterprise, it would have been called America Inc. It was an order that, in important respects, was owned and operated by the United States. The crisis today is really over ownership of that company.
3. ‘A Formidable Republican Field‘ - Jay Cost, The Weekly Standard
Cost makes a compelling case that the current GOP presidential leaders, Pawlenty, Romney, and Huntsman, are a more formidable challenge to President Obama than many in the media would have you believe. Cost also reminds us that contrary to what many Obama supporters hope, a Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich candidacy, the Republican Party has for the past 40 years chosen a mainstream candidate:
With Mitch Daniels having taken himself out of the GOP nomination battle, the field has come into sharp focus, and the view is not good for President Obama and the Democrats.
If one were only to read commentary and analysis from the mainstream media, this would surely come as quite a shock, as the GOP field is usually portrayed as uninspiring and lackluster. But then again the MSM is often behind the curve when it comes to the Republican party, seeing as how most journalists and pundits do not identify with it or the modern conservative movement that animates it. Most are politically aligned with Obama, and so unsurprisingly they think his would-be Republican challengers are second-raters.
My position over the last three months has been that Republicans need to evaluate each contender along three key metrics: general election competitiveness, legislative skill, and party stewardship. I think conservatives have legitimate concerns about the field, although it’s also worth waiting to see whether the main contenders can address this issue to the right’s satisfaction.
Today, I want to look at things strictly from the competitiveness metric, and here I think the main contenders — Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney — all score very, very well. I see four reasons for drawing this conclusion…
4. ‘Chomsky’s Follies‘ – Christopher Hitchens, Slate
Chomsky, who Hitchens (And Paul Berman) correctly note, still enjoys some reputation both as a scholar and a public intellectual, had some remarkably delusional things to say regarding the American killing of Osama Bin Laden. Hitchens takes the creepy, radical leftist to task:
It’s no criticism of Chomsky to say that his analysis is inconsistent with that of other individuals and factions who essentially think that 9/11 was a hoax. However, it is remarkable that he should write as if the mass of evidence against Bin Laden has never been presented or could not have been brought before a court. This form of 9/11 denial doesn’t trouble to conceal an unstated but self-evident premise, which is that the United States richly deserved the assault on its citizens and its civil society. After all, as Chomsky phrases it so tellingly, our habit of “naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … [is] as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ”
In short, we do not know who organized the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or any other related assaults, though it would be a credulous fool who swallowed the (unsupported) word of Osama Bin Laden that his group was the one responsible. An attempt to kidnap or murder an ex-president of the United States (and presumably, by extension, the sitting one) would be as legally justified as the hit on Abbottabad. And America is an incarnation of the Third Reich that doesn’t even conceal its genocidal methods and aspirations. This is the sum total of what has been learned, by the guru of the left, in the last decade.
5. ‘Word of the Decade: ‘Unsustainable”, Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal
Peggy Noonan lucidly describes how Americans are coming to terms with our unsustainable fiscal situation:
We’re at a funny place. The American establishment has finally come around, in unison, to admitting that America is in crisis, that our debt actually threatens our ability to endure, that if we don’t make progress on this, we are going to near our endpoint as a nation. I am struck very recently by the number of leaders in American business, politics and journalism who now get a certain faraway look at the end of an evening or a meal and say, “It’s worse than people think, you know.”
The accepted post-election narrative in NY-26 is that the Republicans overreached on Ryan’s Medicare reform plan and the voters socked it to them. Make no mistake, this is the Democrats’ narrative that the media was anxious to adopt. However, there appear to be some inconsistencies with this story.
First, why did the newly-elected Democrat Kathy Hochul denounce support for Obama’s health law? If this was such a victory for the Democrats’ protection of Medicare and their new health law, why would the Democratic candidate not only steer clear of it but even voice her disapproval?
Second, the Tea Party candidate was a wealthy, liberal Democrat that for all intents and purposes seemed to be an impostor trying to co-opt and sully the Tea Party brand. This might be a successful strategy for Democrats going into 2012 but it doesn’t say much about the Ryan Medicare plan.
Third, a steady rule in politics is once you own something, you better defend it. This holds true even more so if it is a bold reform plan – taxes, immigration, entitlements, for example. George Bush got clobbered for his attempts to create private accounts for Social Security when he was unable to rally Republican support. This occurred despite the fact that it was solidly a Republican idea. His failure to rally, and Republicans’ failure to engage in the debate, left the party open to attack on the issue without a real defense of their position. Similarly, John McCain did not invest enough time and energy learning his health care plan in 2008 and got beat up at every turn because of it. This was not because it was a bad plan. In fact, it was a very good one. But it took explanation and impassioned defense. The Republican candidate needed to more forcefully own and defend the Medicare reform plan in NY 26, not present a mealy-mouthed defense for what her party is trying to do.
This is the future Republicans face in 2012 if they do not choose to embrace their own ideas. They don’t have to applaud every detail and say it’s perfect but right now the Ryan plan is the only game in town. And it’s pretty good compared to what the other side has, which basically lets Medicare become either insolvent or vastly rations care.
Democrats have 756 days without presenting a single budget proposal. Moreover, to the extent the Democrats have a plan to save Medicare, it can be found in “Obamacare” and its rationing board made up of 15 bureaucrats (IPAB). It is the ultimate fatal conceit to think that 15 health care professionals are going to be able to effectively and humanely make health care decisions for all of America’s seniors. But this is the current law! So why aren’t Republicans out there making sure America knows that until another alternative plan is presented, this treatment denial board, IPAB, is set to make their health care decisions for them in a few short years? We can be sure America has no clue of this board’s existence right now, nor that this is the new “status quo.”
So to recap, yes, yesterday’s election had a lot to do with Medicare and its need for reform. But the lesson is not that Republicans need to run from Paul Ryan. Rather, they need to put their running shoes on and JOIN Ryan as he defends his plan to save Medicare. Republicans will abandon him at their peril. Or to quote Ben Franklin, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Founder and editor of National Review magazine, William Buckley, Jr. wrote his first book “God and Man at Yale” shortly after graduating from Yale University. The book was released in 1951, shortly after the Second World War ended and in the early years of the McCarthy-era. The divide between the East and West was hardening as their respective philosophies on man, capital and government duked it out.
In the United States, the East’s (e.g., U.S.S.R. most notably) biggest supporters had just enjoyed significant influence in government under FDR and his New Deal agenda. Many would find their way out of government and into academia. While many of their collectivist leanings were just as dangerous philosophically as the leaders in Moscow and Beijing, these individuals were treated as the best and brightest our country had to offer. Likely, this had a lot to do with where they were standing (here instead of Moscow).
But Yale was supposed to be different. It was a private college that had a long history of promoting individualism, critical thinking and of course, strong religious (predominantly Christian) values. These ideals were imprinted on its students and alumni, written into its charter and frequently used to embody the university and its faculty’s mission statement.
Buckley’s thesis was that, in fact, Yale had deviated from their mission statement and betrayed their founding ideals. By 1950, through faculty members, assigned textbooks and campus atmosphere, Yale was effectively preaching religious skepticism and political statism. Naturally, the reaction to Buckley’s book was unfriendly. He received enormous push back from Yale’s faculty who were under attack, an administration worried about their reputation and funding and also, the media that generally supported the teaching of collectivist/statist ideology. Indeed, one observer, Dwight MacDonald, amusingly commented that Yale’s authorities “reacted with all the grace and agility of an elephant cornered by a mouse.”
Over the first few chapters, Buckley lays out his case for why he believes atheism and collectivism have been granted a favored role in the Yale curriculum and among lectures given by the faculty. He goes in to significant detail to highlight the textbooks used and the dearth of faculty members who would consider themselves proponents of the private sector/capitalism and religion’s role in understanding the world.
Buckley’s case is quite persuasive as he discusses the range of classes and material that students would face as they go about meeting their pre-requisite courses. And while the education is delivered under a shroud of “academic freedom” – another subject that Buckley spends a good deal of time discussing – it is undeniable that the open hostility of the vast majority of faculty members toward capitalism/democracy and faith/piety greatly influence the impressionable minds of their students.
For Buckley, a stalwart of conservatism, individualism and Christian values, this is a travesty. Not merely because of the indoctrination of views contrary to his own but more importantly, because the views being taught are anathema to the founding principles and mission statement of the university and our country. Furthermore, this institution – likely representative of the education in many of the best schools around the country at that time – was producing the country’s future business leaders, judges, diplomats and political leaders.
Buckley’s fear was that the university was headed down a dangerous path that damaged the institution and failed its students. On a deeper level, though, I believe Buckley was expressing his concern for the academic direction our country was heading in as a whole. For he thought, as goes the graduates of Yale, Harvard and Berkeley, so go – to an extent – the future of our country’s government and business leaders.
In my view, his concerns were quite prescient. The academic freedom movement quickly morphed into the cultural relativism and political correctness that has done such great damage to our educational institutions and broader culture in the last 50 years. (For more on this subject, Alan Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind” is a must read.)
Buckley was also right about the gradual upheaval of the individualist mindset among today’s faculties across the country. Because although communism had been discredited utterly and completely after the fall of the USSR, its younger sibling, socialism remains alive and well. Now does socialism pose the same threat as communism? No. At least not in the short term. But does its fundamental objective rely on collectivist philosophy which also underpins communism? Absolutely. This philosophy posits that an imposing, well-funded government – a group of elected politicians and unelected bureaucrats – is necessary to protect regular citizens from the evils of the free market system. It is premised on the idea that the government is better suited to make decisions for the individual than is the individual. For the government can spend the individual’s money better than he is able to spend it himself. And on and on.
At its core, collectivism looks to the redistribution of wealth to accomplish its ends. Reminiscent of the famous Marxian slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” collectivism is the tie that binds socialism and communism together. Under socialism, though, its muted enough so it doesn’t offend the sensibilities of the average American as much. In this sense, it is allowed to exist and continue to permeate our culture and ideas.
As a close, I would highly endorse this book for readers interested in a thorough examination of the perilous road our academic institutions have taken us down by advocating for religious skepticism, collectivism and cultural relativism.