For my critics, here is a rant. If such rants are to be expected of me then so be it. My rant may not be worthy of the intellectual acumen of First Things circa the End of Democracy case (with footnotes) back in the early 1990s, nor does it carry the weight and authority of Fr. Neuhaus short and acerbic barbs which made up the print precursor to blogging in his On the Square writings—a post which he maintained for over 20 years.
I am surely an idiot in comparison. Sorry that one of my posts on this “First Things” blog about Ron Paul angered so many and raised so many serious questions.
Nonetheless, I could continuously pick a fight with the phoniness of Ron Paul, and such a fight would be worth fighting. Because I think Paul offers an overly simplistic plan to solve Americas problems by cutting the government toward the mere functions of the fire department, I write my own stupidity. It may be ridiculous. Sorry.
So, in response to the Paulistas, I have little to rant about, as if I ever had much to rant about anyway. I don’t rant. In my earlier post I thought I was just pointing out problems and contradictions regarding the positions of Ron Paul.
So let’s try again.
To be sure we have a sustainability problem regarding the long term survival of our public liabilities. President Obama sometimes talks about it, but he speaks of it in terms of a technocratic sense that he (and his smart advisors) know how to deal with, but in terms of which he seems consistently to act otherwise. Sovereign bankruptcy may not be a problem that the president and his advisors recognize given what they take to be the current economic needs. To them it is simply a problem that can be finessed and managed by promising more general security by raising the taxes on the wealthiest amongst us.
Romney too has his 59 points to solve our current fiscal (and overall financial and economic) problems. He claims not to care for the “poor” as his wife drives “two” Cadillacs. You could call “Romneyism” a newer science of politics different from Obamas retrograde progressive change that we can believe in. Apparently the future must be one between Bain Capital vs. Harvard Law. Neither of which seems to be good except on paper. “Parchment solutions” are as good as “parchment barriers.” Santorum, whose virtues I praised only as an indirect criticism of Mitch Daniels, can only offer the rank populism that hates college. I agree with Charles Murray’s dirty little secret (and against my own self interest as a college professor) that a college education is not necessary for everyone. But I suspect Santorum, in order to get elected, would offer a Ph.D. to any decent coal miner, truck driver or pizzas delivery guy who voted for him—all of which simply shows his desperation.
That said, I have my doubts regarding the certainty of truth that Paul has toward the “parchment” of the Constitution in terms of its obvious direction as he says it is. He’s a typical imaginative legalist like southerners have always been, e.g., John C. Calhoun. In his legalism, Paul is as ideological in his faith that markets will solve all problems as Obama is ideological in his change. He seems solid in his belief that when the government stops providing services we will see a million flowers of civil society bloom (on the federal level) to provide the needs of a thousand points of light (to mix political metaphors of an earlier Bush), but such a belief belies his critique that 100 years of federal dependency has sapped the individual initiative to which Americans have become accustomed.
So I will point to a recent article that speaks of the problem of popular government under law in relation to securing the rights of all in terms of the argument of constitutional legalism (i.e., only one problem amongst many) in words better than I could ever say. Nonetheless, constitutionalism is not the only issue, but a people attached to their fundamental law, and willing to work out differences in terms of its agreed upon rules is surely a prerequisite for civil society. If this sounds too Lockean, then so be it. What is the alternative? The state of nature or utopia? No doubt, we need an agreed upon modus vivend i, as Rawls puts it, but one which also does not exclude comprehensive doctrines (as Rawls also unfortunately puts it).
‘We” pomocons must consider the issue of choice for its own sake as unencumbered selves as a practical reality of the times, but “we” pomocons ought not to argue against the necessity of “peacableness” as a basic modicum of political order too. However, with that constitutional order established—a ratified and established order handed down by ancestral agreements—it could possibly be a position from which a more robust way of life could be defended.
In regard to the linked article, one should read the entire oeuvre of Alexander Bickel, including “The MORALITY of Consent.” But as much as I admire Bickels writings, his framing of the problems of late democracy only scratches the surface of the problem.
Carl Scott speaks to deeper issues when he writes on such silly issues as popular music and its affects/effects. Carl is on to something beyond consent, legalism and liberalism.
As the new wave/folk band Timbuk 3 said, ” Life is Hard .”
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