GLEN COVE, NY — Every four years, the professional
politicians and their con-artist employees who run the media extravaganza
that passes for a Republican Convention talk about a “big tent.” To
them, a “big
tent” is a metaphor for a Republican Party that welcomes those
who want to bump off unborn babies and old people, abolish the idea
that it takes a man and a woman to make a marriage, and destroy public
Abortionists, mercy killers, homosexuals, and pornographers have
no more business being welcomed at a party national convention than
they do being held up as role models for Boy Scouts. This is not to
say, however, that a “big tent” is a bad idea. George Washington’s
first cabinet, after all, included both Hamilton and Jefferson. The
problem is that the Republican establishment abhors a true big tent.
Sam Francis once pointed out that when the conservative movement
turned away all the “Birchers, racists, anarchists and assorted
monarchists, and kooks,” it was left with apparatchiks and an
occasional con artists and outright crook, having rid itself of just
about anyone who was “interesting, different, or creative.” That
is a pretty good description of the neocon Republican “big tent.”
As long as the apparatchiks run the show, the list of the people
who will not be allowed within shouting district of a microphone at
a Republican convention is long. First and foremost are former Presidential
candidates who want to talk about the culture war. Second are those
who want to defend the valor of the Confederate Army or its Battle
Flag, as well as those who believe that Reconstruction was corrupt
and tyrannical or that the compromise of 1876 should be respected.
We will not hear a peep out of anyone who wants to end communist
oppression in Cuba, mainland China, or North Korea, much less anyone
who would like to see the Shah’s son back on the throne in Iran,
or anyone who sympathizes with any monarchist movement in Europe. Indeed,
the convention will not even hear a serious discussion of our policy
in the Middle East beyond its purely military aspects.
There is a good chance that in November some Republican freshman
senators and representatives will be elected, people who have original
and exciting ideas about reforming Social Security and the Federal
Reserve Bank. Do not expect to hear from them at the 2012 convention,
The list goes on. The problem is not limited to national politics.
Do not expect much bold discussion of states’ rights, limited
government, anticommunism, patriotism, immigration, or public decency
at National Review, Commentary, Fox News, or even the Wall Street Journal.
Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan did not get where they did by avoiding
controversial ideas. The modern conservative movement was not born
by shunning ideas but by considering them. The staff of National
Review in the 1950s was full of people with exciting and conflicting ideas.
From the conference tables of conservative magazines to the midnight
hamburger hangouts of college students, traditionalists and libertarians
argued in a constructive fashion.
When we refuse to consider ideas, even those we consider absurd —
Eisenhower was a communist, or the Civil Rights movement was wrong,
or the role of government powers should be limited to preventing fraud
and violence, or government should not exist, or even that government
should be headed by a king with vast powers — we limit our options
unnecessarily like the child who covers his ears to avoid hearing something.
These absurd ideas are not important in themselves, but if we start
excluding them we could soon begin to exclude more useful ones.
We need to be open to proposals like halving the number of cabinet
departments, turning over the role of the Federal Reserve banks to
private banks, giving Social Security contributors more control, replacing
Social Security with a more private and rational system, returning
control of the political systems and voter qualifications to the states,
developing a new nationalist foreign policy, and other approaches that
reflect the ideas of Goldwater and Reagan. Even Ayn Rand’s zombies
have some ideas worth discussing.
The conservatism of the 1950s was created by thinking and arguing
about unconventional ideas. We have now the worst of both worlds —
we no longer defend those ideas, and we no longer imagine what we can
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2010
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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