"I mean, say what you like about the tenets of the Republican party, Dude, at least it's an ethos..."Apologies to Joel and Ethan Coen...
There has been a recent meme circulated by the leftosphere, that the Republicans... in fact any opponent of the Obama agenda... are nihilists.
Now, I have to say, I don't think most of the people promoting this idea even know what a nihilist is (and if they did, many of them would realize THEY are the ones that come closer to fitting that bill), never mind that current republican ideology is nihilist. Current republican ideology is empty, obstructionist, and reactionary; but that's not actually nihilism... or even close to it.
A few days ago, a person whose intellect I generally respect, John Scalzi randomly tossed off a comment calling republicans (and Obama oppositionists) Nihilists.
Well.. at least John knows what a nihilist is... which is why I was disappointed in his statement... because as far as I'm concerned that analysis is just lazy.
Then a few days later, as part of his commentary on the state of the union speech, he wrote this:
"As for the Republicans, a recent reader was distressed when I said they were “hopped-up ignorant nihilists,” but you know what, when your Senate operating strategy is “filibuster everything and let Fox News do the rest,” and the party as a whole gives it a thumbs up, guess what, you’re goddamned nihilists. There’s no actual political strategy in GOP anymore other than taking joy in defeating the Democrats. I don’t have a problem with them enjoying such a thing, but it’s not a real political philosophy, or at least shouldn’t be."Ok... not much of the core of the analysis there I can disagree with... but again, it isn't nihilism.
Today however he posted a link to further explain the position he was trying to express in shorthand by calling the Republicans nihilist.
Again, there's nothing I can really disagree with in this analysis:
[N]othing could be worse for the GOP than the illusion of success under present circumstances. Worse than learning nothing from the last two elections, the GOP has learned the wrong things… Not recognizing their past errors, the GOP will make them again and again in the future, and they will attempt to cover these mistakes with temporary, tactical solutions that simply put off the consequences of their terrible decisions until someone else is in office. They will then exploit the situation as much as they possibly can, pinning the blame for their errors on their hapless inheritors and hoping that the latter are so pitiful that they retreat into yet another defensive crouch.The best thing though, is the source of that quote: The American Conservative
Is the GOP in a worse position than a year ago? On the surface, no, it isn’t. Once we get past the surface, however, the same stagnant, intellectually bankrupt, unimaginative party that brought our country to its current predicament is still there and has not changed in any meaningful way in the last three years.
Thus showing, once again, for those who don't already know; that Republican does not necessarily mean conservative or libertarian, nor does conservative necessarily mean Republican.
Oh and continuing in that vein, conservative doesn't necessarily mean religious either; nor does religious always mean conservative (especially if you're Catholic).
I am neither a Republican, nor a conservative; but I DO register as a Republican because my state has closed primaries, and I like to vote against John McCain and Joe Arpaio.
I am a minarchist, which is a school of libertarianism that pretty much says "hey, leave me alone as much as is practical, and I'll do the same for you, thanks".
I'm well educated (perhaps overeducated), high earning, catholic, married with two kids, and a veteran. I was raised in the northeast but choose to live in the Rocky Mountain west, because I prefer the greater degree of freedom and lower levels of government (and other busybodies) interference.
I don't care who you have sex with or what you shove up your nose, down your throat, or into your lungs so long as I don't have to pay for it, or the eventual medical bills you rack up.
I KNOW from direct personal experience we need a strong national defense, but that freedom and liberty (which are two different things) are rather a LOT more important than internal security.
I have no faith in the government not to do with... really anything other than defense... exactly what they did with Social Security, or AFDC, or any number of other programs that they have horribly screwed up, wasting trillions of dollars in the process.
Yes, there is great benefit to some of those programs at some times (and I was on welfare and foodstamps as a child, I know directly this is true); but the government couldn't make a profit running a whorehouse, how can they be expected to run healthcare, or education, or anything else for that matter.
Oh and for those of you who believe that government really can do good, without a corresponding and greater bad... I'm sorry, you're wrong.
It's a sweet ideal, but it just isn't true. Good intentions don't mean good results, unless combined with competence, efficiency, passion, compassion... HUMANITY in general; and the government is not a humanitarian organization.
Governments are good at exactly two thing: Stealing and Killing. Yes, they are capable of doing other things, but everything they do proceeds from theft, coercion, force... stealing and killing.
That doesn't mean that good can't come out of it; but everything the government does has an associated harm that goes with it. Sometimes that's worth it, sometimes it isn't and it's DAMN hard to figure that out. Who gets to decide? You? Your friends?
Do you have the right to tell me what to do, how to live my life? Do I have the right to tell YOU how to live YOUR life?
So why is it ok if you get a few million of your friends, and I get a few million of my friends, and just because you have more friends than I do you get to tell all of us how to live and what to do?
Sorry but, HELL NO.
I want the same things you want. I want people to be happy, and healthy, and have great opportunities... But the government doesn't have the right to steal from me to help you do it; anymore than you would have the right to hold a gun to my head and take the money from me personally.
Actually, the government doesn't have any rights whatsoever. The PEOPLE have rights, the exercise of which we can delegate to the government. The government therefore cannot legitimately do anything that the people as individuals cannot legitimately do.
It absolutely amazes me that both liberals and conservatives understand that the government isn't to be trusted; they just believe it's not to be trusted over different things:
Liberals trust the government with your money, education, and healthcare; but don't want them to interfere with your sex life, or chemical recreation.
Conservatives on the other hand are just fine with the government making moral, sexual, ethical, and pharmaceutical choices for you; but don't trust it with your education, healthcare etc...
Well, I don't trust them with ANYTHING except defense (which they also screw up mightily, but which is at least appropriate to the coercive and destructive nature of government).
It's axiomatic that the intelligence of any committee is equal to that of the least intelligent member, divided by the total number of members.
There are 435 members of the house of representatives, 100 senators, 21 members of the cabinet, 9 supreme court justices, a vice president, and a president; for a total committee size of 567.
Now, if we're charitable and say they're all geniuses with IQs above 140 (don't hurt yourself laughing), that's an overall government IQ of .25
Why on earth would you want THAT spending your money, or making any decisions for you whatsoever?
Now... Given that thumbnail philosophy, what's MY demographic? Who am I supposed to vote for?
I certainly can't vote Democratic; they want to take all my money and either give it to other people, or use it to force me (and everyone else) to behave as THEY decide.
On the other hand, I can't much vote for Republicans, because they still want to give my money to other people (just mostly different other people than democrats), and use my money to force me (and everyone else) to behave as they decide.... They just want to take a little less of it.
And I really can't vote for Libertarians, because they are profoundly unserious and incapable of effecting any real political change. I want to vote for someone who will PREVENT the worst abuses of government, and sadly, voting libertarian has no hope of accomplishing that goal.
I end up voting for whoever, or whatever, I hope or believe will reduce those undesirable characteristics of theft and coercion inherent to government.
Often that means voting Republican, but that shouldn't be taken as an indication of my support for Republicans.
So tell me, is that nihilism? I don't think so. I think it's playing defense, which isn't a winning strategy; but it's not nihilism.
Nihilism would be standing by the sidelines say "there's no point in playing, you're all going to lose anyway"... which coincidentally is the position of a lot of Libertarians.