Craig Biddle’s "Notes on the Coming Election"

 Posted by on 2 November 2006 at 1:09 pm  Uncategorized
Nov 022006

Craig Biddle recently posted the following Notes on the Coming Election to Principles in Practice. I’m reproducing it here in full, with his permission.

For whom should one vote in the coming election? What is the principal factor one should consider in judging a candidate or a political party? Should one focus on what a candidate says he is going to do in office? Should one make one’s decision by asking, as some have suggested, what a given political party adds to the debate? No, one should not. One should make one’s decision not by reference to words but by reference to actions—and the motives behind those actions. One should ask: What does a given candidate or party actually do when it is in power—and why?

All of the Republicans who are now in office campaigned on promises of reducing government spending, cutting taxes, increasing freedom, and defending America. But what have they actually done? In regard to domestic policy, they’ve increased government spending and taxes beyond any liberal’s wildest dreams (alleged tax cuts are just that in the face of such massive spending increases). They’ve crusaded against open immigration, a crusade which constitutes an assault on the rights of all Americans to do business with whomever they choose. They’ve assaulted businessmen with (among other things) Sarbanes-Oxley, the most onerous anti-business law ever imposed on producers. They’ve crusaded against abortion and embryonic stem cell research, causing mass suffering and death of actual (as opposed to potential) human beings. They’ve pushed to require public schools to teach so-called “Intelligent Design” in science classes. They’ve crusaded against homosexuality and gay marriage. They’ve passed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, which is a huge blow to freedom of speech. And so on.

In regard to foreign policy, the Republicans have ignored (or befriended) our major enemies, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, and thus given these murderous regimes time and leeway to train more jihadists, procure more weaponry, and plot more attacks against the West. Via the Forward Strategy of Altruism, they’ve brought democracy (i.e., unlimited majority rule) to the Middle East in exchange for the lives and limbs of American soldiers—who are now charged with the impossible task of resolving the consequent civil war—which is sure to end in another theocracy or two regardless of when (or whether) we withdraw what is left of our sacrificial troops. Having celebrated the “virtue” of democracy, the Republicans also set the stage for (among other things) the election of Hamas in Palestine because, as President Bush so aptly put it, “democracy is democracy” (would that he recognized the law of identity elsewhere). In response to the Iranians’ continuing efforts to produce nuclear weapons while chanting “Death to America,” the Republicans have boldly shaken a finger at them and called for more negotiations. In response to the North Koreans actually testing a nuclear weapon, they’ve boldly scolded Kim Jong-Il for defying “the will of the international community” and called for the U.N. Security Council to “condemn the test” and to “impose tough sanctions on  Pyongyang for flagrantly disregarding the Security Council’s appeal not to detonate a device.” There’s more, but that should suffice.

In sum, the actual actions of the Republicans while they have controlled Congress have been utterly irrational, anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-life.

Why do Republicans take such actions? What motivates them? Religion. Their adherence to religion is the fundamental cause of their choices and policies. Consider:

  • If, as religion holds, you are your brother’s keeper, and you’re supposed to “be openhanded toward… the poor and needy in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:11) and “give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you… not demand it back” (Luke 6:30), then the legitimacy of increased welfare spending and taxes is simply unassailable.

  • If, as religion holds, people are inherently evil (via Original Sin), then we obviously can’t have open immigration; we can’t trust hopelessly evil people to be honest, productive, and self-sufficient. If we open our borders, the evil Mexicans will come here and break our laws, steal our stuff, and live on the dole.
  • If businessmen are by nature corrupt—and what, according to religion, is more corrupt than a businessman?—then we can’t very well let them engage in accounting practices that suit their greedy needs. Rather, we must dictate accounting practices and implement monitoring devices to thwart their greedy efforts and counter their evil nature: hence Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • If, as religion holds, God creates one’s soul at conception, then abortion and embryonic stem cell research are clearly murder and must be outlawed.
  • If creationism is true, as according to the Bible it is, then it certainly should be taught in schools.
  • If God says, as He does in the Bible, that homosexuals should be murdered (Leviticus 20:13), then, at the very least (until such time as biblical law can be implemented in full), they should not be permitted to marry—and, better yet, they should be forbidden to engage in their deviant sexual behavior.
  • If people are so base as to engage in homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and other ungodly acts, God only knows what they’ll broadcast if free to air whatever they choose: hence the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act.
  • If you’re supposed to “love your enemies” and “resist not evil” and “turn the other cheek” and “judge not that ye be not judged” and so on (see the Beatitudes), then we should have a foreign policy essentially like the one advocated and implemented by the Republicans. (I know, I know. God also said “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” and Jesus said “these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.” Religion involves all manner of contradictory edicts. I’m not vouching for its consistency, but pointing out its insanity.)

Although Republican politicians do not necessarily cite or even see religion as the motivating factor in all that they do, religion is their philosophy, and one’s philosophy is what guides one’s choices and actions. Implicitly or explicitly, the Republicans govern by reference to religion. This is why, when Republicans are in office, they expand the welfare state; increase spending; thwart free trade; attack businessmen, women, and gays; strive to corrupt science and retard the minds of children; appease our enemies; sacrifice our soldiers; and endanger our lives. When Democrats are in office they do most of this, too—but less so—and none of the damage they inflict is ever blamed on their being capitalists or “hawks.” All damage caused by Democrats is blamed on their being socialists and “doves.”

While the Republicans are in office, whatever they do in the name of defending America is regarded as the most we can do. “We’re doing everything we can,” the Republicans tell us daily. And since Americans have accepted the false alternative of conservatism or liberalism, and since the Democrats call only for retreat, Americans by and large believe that our alternatives are the status quo or surrender; thus, Republicans are scarcely encouraged to do more. Conversely, if the Democrats gain control, whatever they do (or don’t do) to defend America will properly be seen as too little; thus, they will constantly be encouraged to do more. We need to turn the tables.

That actions speak louder than words is not a particularly profound principle; it is a mere truism known even to a child. Yet this truism is apparently regarded as untrue in the minds of those who insist that the Republicans are doing better than the Democrats would do at waging the so-called “war on terrorism.” The general argument from the pro-Republican camp is that, “well, at least the Republicans talk tough and are trying to kill terrorists.” Even granting the notion that their talk is tough (it is not), the only way their so-called “tough talk” will ever translate into remotely tough action is when they are sitting on the sidelines lying to the Democrats about what they’d do if they were in office.

As to the notion that the Republicans are at least trying to kill terrorists: Suppose you hired someone to rid your yard of leaves, and he proceeded to pick up one leaf at a time between his fingers and walk it to the curb while ignoring the bright-red rake before his eyes. What would you say to the claim that “he is trying to get rid of the leaves”? We have excellent tools that are specifically designed to eliminate regimes that attack or threaten America. Politicians who ignore those tools in favor of sending American soldiers off to die as sacrificial lambs cannot objectively be said to be trying to win anything—except perhaps the favor of an alleged God.

To the charge that the Democrats would be worse than the Republicans, I ask: Where is the evidence? Pointing to the Democrats’ words is entirely insufficient. Their words are meaningless. Today’s politicians don’t act on their words; they act on their motivations. Consider the case of Bill Clinton and healthcare, which he promised to socialize. Once in the White House, he did no such thing; rather, he instituted relatively few new government controls and even signed into law major welfare reforms. Why? Because the American people demanded it. While Republicans are motivated by religion, Democrats are motivated by power, and they will say anything to gain it (they’ll even quote scripture). Once in power, however, they will also do anything to stay there—and that means doing what the American people tell them to do. Granted, such an arrangement is hardly ideal, but it is certainly better than the current situation. However bad for America a Democrat-controlled Congress would be—and it would be bad—it would not be as bad as the Republican-controlled Congress has been and would continue to be.

Democrats today don’t have any ideas to speak of; they’re dried-up, unserious, discredited socialists who just want to be in power because it makes them feel like big shots. Republicans do have ideas, religious ideas; they want to be in power because they want to impose their faith-based, man-hating, rights-violating, sacrificial ideas on America. Yes, some Democrats are me-too-ing the Republicans and pretending to be more religious than they actually are, but this is because the culture is warming to religion; thus, the Democrats think it will help them get elected. If elected, however, that pragmatically pious veneer will quickly peel away and expose the puppet that is a Democratic politician—a puppet that the American people can then proceed to manipulate in accordance with their more-secular, life-promoting values.

America is not now a theocracy, and it may not be one anytime soon, but the religionists are chipping away at the ever-weakening wall between church and state, and we are already suffering various faith-based initiatives, faith-based advantages, faith-based laws, and, worst of all, the faith-based policy of so-called “Just War”—with its roots in that foul, crooked, sordid Augustine—which has hamstrung our military, sacrificed our soldiers, emboldened our enemies, zapped America’s will to fight, and made impossible a proper assault on Iran.

The issue comes down to this: The Republicans are essentially religionists. They believe that faith delivers knowledge; that the Bible is true; that while the U.S. Constitution currently prohibits them from following God’s word to the T, they should persistently strive to remedy that problem; and that we must fight a so-called “Just War”—a war in which the lives and limbs of American soldiers are systematically sacrificed for the sake of enemy civilians and mystical savages. The Democrats, on the other hand, are effectively idealess power-seeking puppets: They want to be in office so that they will feel some (pseudo-)self-worth. Vote for the pathetic puppets, and then work to spread the right ideas to their constituents.

It is time to oust the Republicans. I’ll be voting for Democrats and letting the candidates of both parties know why I did; I urge you to do so, too. Even if there happens to be a relatively “good” Republican candidate on your ballot, vote Democrat and inform the Republican that you voted against him despite his virtues because of his affiliation with and support for a party that is profoundly anti-reason, anti-America, anti life. Let him know that if he wants your vote in the future, he must openly repudiate the Republican agenda—openly denounce religion, statism, and the Forward Strategy of Altruism—and openly advocate reason, capitalism, and a foreign policy of self-interest.

Finally, no single election is as important as the underlying cause of the political nightmare in which we find ourselves today. That cause is bad philosophy, and the only way to counter it is by understanding, embracing, and spreading good philosophy. However you choose to vote in this election, study and spread Objectivism, donate to the Ayn Rand Institute, read The Objective Standard, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. The future is still ours if we are willing to fight for it.

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