Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Derb needs some hope

It is always amusing when I lambast someone for their pessimism, but John Derbyshire is none too optimistic about the potential for positive change in his adopted country. Despite his role as a political commentator, he finds himself thoroughly bored with the race. He writes:

What's dragging me down into the swamps of indifference — aside from the fact of having grown up in a nation where election campaigns last two weeks if you're unlucky — is more a generalized feeling of despair about the entire federal government. They can't do anything. They're hopeless. No president could do much with them.

Probably true. But it is especially true if you settle for the gaggle of usual suspects: Rudy McRomney, and, increasingly, and surprisingly, the equally hopeless, though a bit more likable, Mike Huckabee. Regular readers can fill in the rest.

Our financial regulators have let a ghastly credit crisis develop. Our customs controllers have let the country be flooded with poisonous toys and toxic pet food. Our intelligence agencies, we now know beyond any reasonable doubt, have essentially done nothing useful for about half a century. When they've managed to agree on anything, it's been wrong. Our diplomats screw up our relations with other countries so badly we get into wars; then the diplos balk at going to serve in the war zone.

The folk who direct our armed forces have spent four and a half years struggling inconclusively with a rabble of fanatics who have no navy or air force, no armored units, no regular formations at all in fact, and munitions they operate with cell-phones and lengths of string. In three and a half years, our grandfathers turned two mighty, sprawling fascist empires to rubble. What am I missing here?

What Derb is missing is that the enemy we currently face has not been named; it is far more elusive than the Nazis and the Soviets were. For one, the opponents of yesteryear wore uniforms. But the real reason we cannot win against the "rabble of fanatics" is that we've settled on the idiotic notion that victory will only come when we force democracy upon a people that has never known it. Destroying a conventional army is something the United States can do; terminating a nebulous organization, and forcing deeply divided people to play nice is a nice thought, but it is a far more difficult matter. Hence we have failed.

The most elementary function of the federal government — one that, in fact, it jealously guards as its own alone — is the management of immigration and border control. This, as we surely all know by now, is a complete shambles. It's not just illegal immigration; the legal kind is fubar, too — read this. I've been blaming George W. Bush and his predecessor for a lot of this. They didn't give a damn, I've been saying. They're sentimental and clueless about immigration, or hooked up with business interests hungry for cheap labor, I've been saying.

This is the part where I reintroduce Ron Paul. I'm not certain how much good he will be able to do--even if he manages to surpass all expectations and win the presidential election. But I do know this: if Ron Paul can't fix the problem, we're completely hosed. If Derb is right and governmental inertia will prevent any real changes from happening, it doesn't matter who you support. As a matter of fact it doesn't. Unless you decide to support Ron Paul.

Paul's adherence to the Constitution allows him to stand apart in a sea of more-of-the-same. The president, especially one who abides by the Constitution, has limited power; Paul can veto every bill he wants, but he's still going to be liable to an override, and he will be forced to sent the troops to war if Congress demands that he do so. Nonetheless, insofar as there remains a hope to reverse the trend of decades of history; if it is possible to return to a humbler foreign policy, and to call the troops home to defend, not the borders of other countries, but only our own; if we can yet again subsist on a sound currency and balanced budgets--Paul is that hope. My hope is that enough of us realize this before it's too late.


troutsky said...

I remember the blogger who wasn't going to fall for electoral politics again! Anyway, when you speak of troops gaurding borders, are we talking federal troops on State property? Just National Guard? A "well regulated militia"?

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A Wiser Man Than I said...

Supporting Paul is the right thing to do. While people claim to support the Constitution, he has a record of supporting it. Like I said, if Paul gets elected and can't do anything to restrict the growth of the government, then I know that there is no hope--politically speaking.

Anyway, when you speak of troops gaurding borders, are we talking federal troops on State property?

Clever, but even libertarians admit that the Feds have some duties. One of them is to protect the border. In short, I have no qualms with U.S. troops on State property. It sure as heck beats putting them in the hundred plus other countries in which they currently reside.