Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the Financial Crisis

While thinking of the current economic crisis, you may keep this in mind: man does not live by the market alone. Therefore, since it is something over which you have no control, you should quick worrying about it. That's my bit of guru advice for the day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thinking About Thanksgiving

I think that this is going to be the fourth or fifth Thanksgiving during which I have not had turkey. I'm actually pretty glad about it. Turkey is a highly overrated bird. People ought to have some variety of duck or drake instead.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"If Only . . ." Thought for the Day

If only Thomas Friedman had called his book "The Brave Flat World" or "The Flat New World" instead of "The World is Flat"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Evangelicals and the 2008 Election

This election gave rise to another (imagined) social category called Obamagelicals. We were told that, because he labored so hard to woo them, because of the ineptitude of the Bush Administration, and because of the desire to put partisan politics aside, born-again Protestants would abandon the Republican Party in droves and put Obama T-shirts on the torsos and Biden signs on their lawns. We were told that there was a new class of evangelical; a class with advanced college degrees who didn't believe in banned books and who supported affirmative action because of their commitment to social justice.

We were told wrong. Or at least none of these claims were substantiated on election day. John McCain took home 74% of the evangelical vote, while only receiving 46% of the national electorate. The Wall Street Journal ran an article in which this statistic (74%) was compared with the 2004 rate (78%) as though it indicated a significant slip in the religious base of the Republican Party.

Actually, what they ought to ask is why was it not more? The Republican Party had behind it one of the most unpopular administrations in American history and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression (never mind that it was actually the Democrats' fault; as Thomas Sowell pointed out, the public didn't appear to care about the truth.) Wedge issues (like abortion and gay marriage) were not at center-stage, as they were in 2004, and anyone who brought them up was bound to look out-of-touch.

Furthermore, these statistics can also be compared with how Bush did against Gore in 2000. (He received 68% of the evangelical vote in that year.) If this is taken into account, John McCain has done better with evangelicals against Democrats on the national level than has George W. Bush; and McCain isn't even an evangelical. McCain also scored signficantly better with the evangelical block than George H. W. Bush or Bob Dole did in 1992 and 1996, respectively.

The point is that the evangelical vote appears to be abandoning the Republican Party by every measure except one: the facts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Republicans: Where Are They Going? Where Will They Be?

Most Young Republicans I meet wish that the Republican Party was more libertarian; most young conservatives I meet wish that the Republican Party were more socially conservative. The reason that I bring this up is that I think this last election has the potential to make a huge rift appear in the Republican Party and conservative coalition. It is already emerging on the blogs and in the media, with N. Gregory Mankiw and David Frum taking up the libertarian banner and Ross Douthat and Doug Wilson still pushing for conservatism. (As usual, I don't expect Rush Limbaugh to budge.) Here, however, is how I see the matter: The Rockefeller Republicans--Lincoln Chafee, et al.--have been completely wiped out, not because of the "Rockefeller" adjective, but because of the "Republican" label. They are unlikely to emerge again as a significant force within the Republican Party, although another branch who shares their same basic precepts might emerge. The social conservatives, while they have not been discredited by anything that's happened in the past eight years, have been abandoned and have never been mainstream enough to stand alone. Therefore, they cling to that which they can, whether it be in the person of conservative Democrats or conservative Republicans in the South and Midwest. The libertarians, while they are still generally respected by the mainstream media (I am not talking about the Libertarian Party, mind you), are on the wrong side of history in that the trends are not now oriented toward smaller government. Technically, I think that the elite class wants less government, but at the same time they feel guilty about a large segment of the population not having health-care; they want universal health-care within a libertarian framework, but the realization of this is unlikely. All this is to say that the Republican Party is up for grabs and what happens next will be decided by how Obama governs and whom he offends. If he governs as a neoliberal, supports freetrade deals, and takes a soft line on illegal immigration, then the populists--Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin (God help us)--will become the naturally leaders of the Republican Party. If, on the other hand, the Obama maintains the working class vote, than the libertarians--Ruddy Giuliani, George Pataki, Tom Ridge--will be the party's natural leaders. Of course, if Obama offends neither demographic, or both, than a candidate who synthesizes elements of both ideologies may be more appropriate (think Charlie Crist, Mitt Romney, Mark Sanford). In other words, there is no saying where the Republican Party will go in the next four years; the next move is up to the Democrats.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on the Revolution in America

There is something tragic in the country. Something that I sense better than I know. Today, for instance, in a conversation with one of my professors, I let slip that I was a big fan of cynicism. This is all related to the election--I know it. It is as though the nation is infected with a terminal disease but will never know it until its too late, and, even then, while in its last throes, it won't understand why it expires. As I listen to Barack Obama's victory speech, I listen to the cheer of the crowd. I am not touched by his words, but I am touched by the idea behind them. An actual idealism exists there, and, though he himself is a Machiavel, he is also a Machiavellian idealist. After he gives the speech he does not twirl a mustache in wonder at how these people have drunk of his molley, for he has drunk it himself. Nonetheless, I know that the America of Barack Obama is one in which my greatest asset--my conscience--will most likely be under constant threat. This, I believe, is at the root of my cynicism, but I still lament that my cynicism drives a wedge between myself and this country. I do not know how I would react to the fall of America; all nations--as with all people--come to an end, though their ideals, like our souls, live on. Nonetheless, there is an America that I love. The America that I meet when I walk out my door every morning--the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter, the combustion, motion, activity, vivacity--this is the world that, within centuries, will disappear. Did I wake or sleep.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Banality of Evil

Hannah Arendt said that evil was actually a quite banal thing. Being alive tonight, election night, is to see the truth of that statement demonstrated.