Playing The Smoke-Filled Room: Democrat edition

[For rules and set-up instructions, see yesterday's post.]

We’re the big Democratic honchos meeting in a Denver hotel room, designing a winning ticket for a deadlocked convention. . .

OK, Carville, Begala, settle down. Let’s get started. Wait! I’m personally offended. We don’t have enough women or minorities. Donna, pull in that cleaning lady from the hall. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t speak English, since her kind is anti-abortion anyway, but we have to stand on principle. Wait! I’m personally offended again. You union bosses, put out those cigars! The Democratic caucus does not allow tobacco. Sean, give me a hit from that joint that is passing around. Anyone else personally offended about anything? Good. Let’s get started.

We have two really good candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But which one would be stronger at the top of the ticket? Or would the two together be weaker than either one of them separately. Might having the first woman AND the first African-American be derided as the politically-correct ticket that would put off the general public?

No, Donna, we cannot have two vice presidents. I know, a Clinton, Obama, and Richardson ticket would also let us add the first Hispanic. The constitutions doesn’t allow for that. I know, it’s an evolving document suited to the needs of the time, but I don’t think we could this through the courts in time. Maybe for our second term.

I’ve got it! A slate consisting of Clinton and Clinton! That would be perfect. The 22nd Amendment keeps anyone from being ELECTED to the office more than twice. If the vice-president had to take-over because the president died, that would be OK, wouldn’t it? And if the Supreme Court doesn’t go our way, even after we will have packed it, if Hillary dies, Bill could resign, and NANCY PELOSI would be our new president! How perfect is that?

[Your move. . . .You can be serious if you want to.]

What is a Reagan conservative?

The conventional wisdom is that the Reagan coalition was an alliance of economic conservatives, national defense conservatives, and social conservatives. Some say that in this election the Reagan coalition is coming apart.

Joe Carter, though, who just finished a stint with the Huckabee campaign, challenges that tripartite classification of conservatives. He says that it might apply to the insular world of Washington think tanks and pundits. But he argues that in the heartland of America one finds few of those distinctions. A conservative there embraces all three of those positions. Reagan’s genius was in mobilizing ordinary Americans and turning their home-grown conservatism into a national movement. Reagan was in many ways a POPULIST, which is not some advocate of a liberal agenda but someone who is an advocate for the ordinary American. Mr. Carter maintains that Huckabee’s populism is very much in the tradition of Ronald Reagan.

Read what Mr. Carter (former editor of the World blog, by the way) has to say by clicking the evangelical outpost: The One-Legged Stool:
. I don’t know whether you are ordinary or extraordinary, but let me know what you think.

More Stem Cells without killing

Yet another major breakthrough has taken place in generating stem cells without killing an embryo. Scientists have found a way to take one cell from an embryo and multiply it into human stem cells. The procedure does not kill the embryo, and, in fact, embryos that have had this cell haircut have been successfully implanted and brought to term. This method seems especially promising because, unlike other non-lethal approaches discovered recently that require more research, it already works in creating new lines of stem cells!

Playing The Smoke-Filled Room: GOP edition

Let us play a game. We will call it The Smoke-Filled Room.

Here is the set-up: No candidate has a majority of delegates coming into the convention. We are all grizzled machine politicians gathered in a smoke-filled room to broker the convention by coming up with a winning slate. (Neither our own preferences nor the good of the country come into the game, just winning.) We propose alternatives, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, argue with each other, and see if we can come to a consensus.

Today we play the Republican edition. Tomorrow we will pretend to be Democrats. I’ll go first:

All right, I think our evil cabal is all here. Mr. Burns, Krusty, come on into the hotel room. Karl, do you have a light for my seegar? Where are the Halliburton and Exxon representatives? They have to approve everything we do, you know. Let’s get started. . .

McCain and Huckabee would be good together, but that would leave out a big part of our base: conservatives.

How about Huckabee and Romney? Or should it be Romney and Huckabee? Or would that be seen as the weird religion ticket?

We could do Thompson and Giuliani–the Law and Order ticket! C’mon, help me out here. . .

The Cultural Agenda of the Left

In Jeffrey Bell’s article discussed below, he makes an even more important point, one of those obvious-if-you-think-about it points that nevertheless may come as a revelation. The social conservative’s emphasis on culture is crucial because cultural change–not economics–is the main agenda of today’s leftists.

At first it was widely assumed that the collapse of Soviet communism, and of government ownership and/or direction of business as a serious economic recipe, had dealt a devastating, possibly mortal, blow to the left. But after a brief period of licking its wounds the international left found itself far from devastated. The truth is that old-fashioned, state-administered socialism had become something of an albatross for the left, impeding rather than advancing its ability to benefit from the worldwide political and social upheavals of the 1960s.

Indeed, not long after those upheavals peaked in 1968, it became obvious that the enduring, truly revolutionary impact of the 1960s was moral and cultural, not economic. By the end of the 1970s a new and adversarial form of politically engaged feminism not only became all but unassailable among North American and European elites, but also took a central political role almost everywhere the left was strong.
. . . . . . . . .
But when it first arose in recognizable form in Europe in the closing decades of the 18th century, the left was primarily about other things [than economics]. Among these were ending monarchy, eliminating or at least circumscribing the role of traditional religion in society, and liberating humanity from what it saw as repressive institutions. Often included among such institutions was the traditional family, anchored by the Christian ideal of monogamous marriage.
. . . . . . . . .
The striking thing about the history of the left is its singleness of vision amid a breathtaking variety of means. The goal of the left is the liberation of mankind from traditional institutions and codes of behavior, especially moral codes. It seeks a restoration (or achievement) of a state of nature, one of absolute individual liberty–universal happiness without the need for laws.

The proposed political way stations chosen by the left in its drive toward this vision have varied greatly. To name a few: abolition of private property (socialism); prohibition of Christianity and/or propagation by the political elite of a new civil religion to replace it; confiscatory taxation, especially at death; regulation of political speech to limit the ability of certain individuals or classes to affect politics; the takeover of education to instill new values and moral habits in the population; confiscation of privately held firearms; gradual phasing out of the nation-state; displacement of the traditional family in favor of child-rearing by an enlightened governmental elite; and the inversion of sexual morality to elevate recreational sex and reduce the prestige of procreative sex. This is, it must be emphasized, a partial list.

While many conservatives in Europe and the United States focus on free market economics and small government, they do not realize that hardcore leftists do not really care about such things! Meanwhile, they are marching through the culture unopposed. This is why the country needs social conservatives, since there is no one else to counter the left’s assault on the culture.

What do you think of this analysis? How could social conservatives be more effective? To what extent is this a political issue? Might there be other forms of cultural activism that social conservatives might pursue?

What is a social conservative?

Thanks to Rich Shipe for alerting me to this article in “The Weekly Standard” by Jeffrey Bell entitled: “Alive and Kicking: Reports of the Demise of Social Conservatism Are Greatly Exaggerated. Mr. Bell notes that social conservatism has taken hold nowhere but in America, that the conservative parties of other Western nations have acquiesced to abortion, sexual permissiveness, the decline of marriage, and other cultural changes, concentrating instead on economic issues. Then Mr. Bell says this:

But there are several offsetting factors at work that have made and will continue to make social conservatism hard to marginalize. For one thing, social conservatism is the only mass-based political persuasion that fully believes in the core ideas of the American founding. It has taken over that role from parties, professions, and ideologies that used to perform it, and as a result it is touching a deep chord with millions of American voters.

Most social conservatives believe that the central principle asserted in the Declaration of Independence is true: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” While almost all Americans respect these words at least as a sentiment or metaphor, it is a fact that most–not all–social conservatives believe them to be literally true, while most–not all–opponents of social conservatism do not believe them to be literally true.

As long as these key assertions of our nation’s founding document continue to be taken literally by many Americans, social conservatism will resonate among Americans in a way that competing philosophies cannot–and in a way that, given the very different founding narratives of most countries in Europe and elsewhere, cannot easily be replicated beyond these shores.

Does this explain social conservatism? What would you add?