Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Conservative Blogger Debate #3 - Third Party? My Response

My rebuttal to Don's response.

First, a reminder. The debate question is here, from moderator Steve at Motor City Times. Also moderating, The Classic Liberal. Punditry at That's Right and Mind Numbed Robot.


Hoooo boy... As I sit to type this, I'm bracing myself for the flaming to come. I'm about to take on one of the conservatives' sacred cows.

In his rebuttal, Don quotes Ronald Reagan:

"Our first job is to get this message across to those who share most of our principles. If we allow ourselves to be portrayed as ideological shock troops without correcting this error we are doing ourselves and our cause a disservice. Wherever and whenever we can, we should gently but firmly correct our political and media friends who have been perpetuating the myth of conservatism as a narrow ideology."

While many conservatives seem to venerate Ronald Reagan, I have a different opinion - and it doesn't mesh with his own words quoted above. While Reagan, like most politicians, has said and done things I do agree with, in some ways he is as guilty of big government overreach and social engineering as the worst progressives.

Remember, it was President Reagan who hugely escalated the "War On Drugs" which has wasted more tax dollars and imprisoned more non-violent citizens than almost any policy in American history. Reagan brought us federal drug sentencing guidelines. It was Reagan who brought us the "Anti Drug Abuse Act", which established a death penalty for drug "kingpins". Reagan also gifted us with the "Federal Bail Reform Act", which allows some drug defendants to be held without bail. Where is small government in this?

Further, it was Reagan who established the Office of National Drug Control Policy and created the office of "Drug Czar", a position and office that has grown more powerful with nearly every administration since. When you consider the seizure laws that have been born of our drug policies, you can't begin to defend Reagan or this office he created as conservative.

This is the same Ronald Reagan who sat silent for SIX YEARS as the AIDS epidemic began and spread like wildfire. Why? Because like many so-called conservatives, homosexuality offended his sensibilities. In a statement about AIDS education, Reagan said:

"Let's be honest with ourselves: AIDS information cannot be what some call 'value neutral,' " said the President, who rarely has spoken about the disease in public. "After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don't medicine and morality teach the same lessons?"

So we have from President Reagan a sterling example of a conservative who allows his own moral beliefs to affect policy - at the cost of many, many thousands (now millions) of lives.

I agree with Don that we have seen third party candidates "throw a monkey wrench" into elections, so to speak - remember I admitted I've never voted third party over this belief - I do NOT agree that the Republican Party (or many conservatives) are going to abandon this mindset. This belief that smaller government is a good thing until it comes time to control private behavior is entrenched, and it is what has scared off many moderates and independents.

If "true" conservatism is for smaller government and less federal intervention across the board, than not even Reagan was a "true" conservative. And if we can find some true conservatives, I'll vote for them regardless of their party affiliation - or lack thereof.


Matt said...

GRRRRR You have insulted Reagan! MUST DESTROY!!!!!!!

OK, you laid out a reasonable argument here. Reagan was not without his flaws. The war on drugs, while noble in thought, failed just as prohibition did.

I do agree with Don on the AIDS thing. Reagan could have spend a trillion on AIDS, and it would not have made a single difference. HIV is spread as solely a consequence of human behavior. When humans change the behavior, the problem will go away. To this day, we spend more on AIDS than we spend on cancer, and far many more people die of cancer each year. If we can't stop it now, there's no way that anyone in the 80's had a shot.

Reagan also failed to keep a campaign promise by not killing the Department of Indoctrination. That would be my biggest quarrel with him.

ScratcherMMBI said...

Thanks for being fair. I wondered if I might not be dodging bricks over that post.

To be honest, the WOD pisses me off far more. Thanks to such wrong-headed policies we now have paramilitary-style teams doing no-knock midnight entries in American homes... and not even always the right house!

And I didn't expect Reagan to stop AIDS. He wasn't omnipotent. But I remain disappointed that he held silent so long.

Forgot about the DOE, or I'da thrown that out there, too. (Heh. Already in the doghouse. I might as well have given it all!)

Matt said...

Don't worry about it Scratcher. We have debates and disagree all the time. It's not personal. Don and CL have gone at it a few times. As long as we learn something in the end, it's all good.

As for the AIDS thing, who would have listened? He was a "mean evil conservative," after all. The gay community would have ignored him, and the left would have portrayed him as a person that wanted to ban homosexuality.

When you think about it, how long did it take the folks at ground zero (San Franfreako) to shut down the bath houses? How long did the local effort, which should have been more effective, take to ramp up?