Mailvox: the probable irrelevance of the Tea Party

JM explains why he is dubious with regards to the Tea Party’s ability to achieve anything:

In the past, every president has shown great concern with how they will look, and what is said about them, this one has no concern at all, apparently, on those issues, but only regarding his intended goals. His party has remained true to its fundamental principles, it has handily tossed off the handicap of being expected to behave within the constraints of “republicanism”, because people have ceased to relate that notion to the Nation as a whole, and have allowed themselves to confine the term to the party, forgetting that our unique status as a Nation is entirely dependent on the principles of “republicanism”, as most who vote these days were never taught that in school, and won’t learn it by accident.

Add to this picture, the least responsible previous president as the head of a Nation in serious fiscal problems preceding him, and we have in essence, “the perfect storm”, a situation where the fact that playing offense in politics meshes perfectly, and makes for that much more effective gains….

The “tea party movement” has more citizens activated than any other movement in my life, and should, by rights, be sufficient to offset this advantage the social democrats have, however, there is far less real power in simply massing than appears and most protests in the past have made the most impact through the fear of those facing it, than any other factor. It would appear the social democrats and this administration were prepared for mass protests, and while they perhaps didn’t expect the numbers, they are not showing any fear.

I’ve watched riots close up from the crashing of the DNC in Chicago, in 68, and ever since, and from where I stood, each and every time, the entire issue was decided by the reaction of the administrators, not the crowd. If the administration and the party standing behind it do not flinch, the tea party movement will cease to have any influence unless the whole issue devolves into outright uprising and a physical outbreak of war against the illegal government is commenced.

Seeing the way in which Obama is confounding the Tea Party movement tends to remind me of the classic alternative history short story in which the Germans conquer British India and instead of facing imperial British troops, Gandhi finds himself confronting soldiers of the Wehrmacht. Needless to say, satyagraha is rather less effective in the face of a ruthless enemy that is indifferent to bloodshed.

Obama is entirely focused on his goals, not the polls. He is as indifferent to the political pressure from his left as he is to the Tea Party-led pressure from his right, in part because he has largely delegated his legislative priorities to the Congressional Democrats. And being a ruthless pragmatist who has never hesitated to discard others once they cease to prove useful to him, it is extremely unlikely that he is in any way concerned with the Democratic Party’s probable loss of the House in the fall. Obama will simply keep pursuing his progressive goals while relying upon Republicans to do what they do best, namely, crumble under media pressure.

The intrinsic weakness of secular society

I was not a fan of Ross Douthat in the past, but I have to admit that he has really risen to the occasion more often than not and is rapidly becoming the most readable and interesting columnist at the New York Times. In today’s column, he succinctly points out something that I have less successfully been attempting to articulate for some time:

In a way, the muzzling of “South Park” is no more disquieting than any other example of Western institutions’ cowering before the threat of Islamist violence. It’s no worse than the German opera house that temporarily suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because it included a scene featuring Muhammad’s severed head. Or Random House’s decision to cancel the publication of a novel about the prophet’s third wife. Or Yale University Press’s refusal to publish the controversial Danish cartoons … in a book about the Danish cartoon crisis. Or the fact that various Western journalists, intellectuals and politicians — the list includes Oriana Fallaci in Italy, Michel Houellebecq in France, Mark Steyn in Canada and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands — have been hauled before courts and “human rights” tribunals, in supposedly liberal societies, for daring to give offense to Islam….

Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy. For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.

The intrinsic problem with secular society is essentially atheism’s warrant problem writ large. Just as atheism permits individual moralities, but no objective and universally applicable moral structure, secular society has no material foundations upon which to sustain itself. The attempt to manufacture theoretical foundations are fruitless, because the perfectly reasonable hypotheses of intellectuals working in the abstract have no connection to the way in which everyone else actually lives their lives.

Hence the irrelevance of those who suggest that morals “could be” based on a happiness/suffering metric or ask “why couldn’t” a society be founded on one proposed secular principle or another. Many of these ideas could, in theory, exist, but the empirical and observable reality is that they do not exist, they have never existed, no one abides by them, and no one is actually willing to risk anything to ensure their survival.

It is now eminently clear that those who are quick to criticize the Spanish Inquisition 176 years after its abolition would not have uttered a peep against it if they lived in Queen Isabella’s Castile. The ideals that the secularists have proposed to substitute for the Christian values of the traditional West are quite clearly counterfeit, and unlike Christianity, cannot survive in competition with more rigorous rivals. As can be seen in India, Africa, and parts of Asia, only paganism and Christian revival are capable of competing successfully with aggressive Islam, which is why it is increasingly apparent that the 20th century secular societies will turn out to be as unsustainable and nearly as short-lived as the financial system that made them possible.

There are already signs that secularism is devolving into pagan global Gaianism. I suspect that this new religion will become Islam’s primary rival in the post-Christian West, even as Christianity continues to grow exposively in the East and South. This is not to say that Christianity will not survive in the West, of course it will continue to be a significant influence, but it may not be the culturally dominant religion that it has been throughout previous centuries.

WND column

Offense Wins Politics

Defense wins championships. That is the mantra of the National Football League, and it is a valid concept. Last year’s Super Bowl was decided when one of the best quarterbacks in league history couldn’t take the ball downfield against a gambling New Orleans Saints secondary. Superlative defenses are why nondescript quarterbacks such as Trent Dilfer and Jim McMahon own Super Bowl rings while Hall of Fame passers such as Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino do not.

But politics is not football. And in politics, it is offense that transforms the nation.