home > archive > 2002 > this article
Political issues in a post-leftist world
By Bruce Walker
As many people have noted, that putative ideology we call the "left" is nothing more than an amalgamation of groups interested in power for its own sake. They resemble, as much as any other party or ideology, National Socialism, which embraced industrial workers, radical environmentalists, victimology myths, animal rights activists, tribal "nationalists" and a medley of other mad ideas.
The evaporation of leftism will accelerate as the pool of booty to buy support shrinks with cascading electoral defeats. Utterly dependent upon power alone, the loss of power to the left is like the loss in battles of wandering hordes of plunderers. No one holds any true loyalty to a system which is itself loyal to nothing but power.
Does this make politics and policy debate meaningless? Those of us who are called conservative are anti-leftist in much the same way that those peoples who lay in the path of Hitler's ambitions were anti-Nazi. In victory we should, of course, reject all the "nasty little isms" (as Orwell described them) which leftist represented: socialism, communism, fascism, Nazism, feminism and racism.
It is a tribute to the mind control of leftists that many of us will wonder what there is to discuss after the left is dead and cold and silent. Here are some issues that are genuinely unresolved even in the ashes of leftism, and which should keep civic debate lively and meaningful for a long time.
Although the level of federal, state and local taxes is too high, what form of taxation is the least bad? Is a tax on income less harmful than a tax on consumption? Perhaps the best tax is a tax on wealth itself, which may have been inherited and so may be unappreciated by its possessor. Or should the tax burden be a combination of these three types of taxes?
Should taxes be collected by myriad governments, as it is now, or should all taxes be collected by the federal government, and then allocated to states and local governments? Perhaps it should be the other way around - states collect all taxes, and then attribute a share to Washington. Once the federal government essentially collected no taxes directly except for tariffs. It worked once; maybe it would work again.
What form should federalism take in a post-leftist world? Some state governments, like Vermont and California, seem about as wacky as possible. Are we willing to allow the governments of a few states to take silly, and even oppressive, actions against the citizens of that state if we receive in return the right to govern ourselves with little federal interference?
If states are restored to their prior sovereignty, then what about political subdivisions of states? San Francisco and Berkeley have acted often like little nations on issues that offend conservatives, but would we think that good if we were given the chance to genuinely return self-government to conservative leaning cities?
What about monetary policies? What about money itself? Should we allow state governments and banks to issue gold and silver certificates as currency? Should we move away from the levitating "dollar" and replace it with a more objective measurement, like the "dollar of gold" from which the name of our currency derives?
National security is another issue in which there is no "conservative" answer, except that we should spend enough to dissuade any would-be conqueror from even contemplating an attack on America. Should we focus on utter domination of aerospace and aviation, making us rather like Britain when it used naval power to keep it safe? Should we develop a National Guard like Switzerland, which requires each man to defend his homeland without posing an offensive threat?
Somewhere between Prohibition and Prostitution lies a commonly accepted degree of government regulating vice. No state, including Utah, which had powerful cultural objections to alcohol, is "dry" any longer: prohibition does not work. No state, except for one Nevada county allowed an option, has legalized prostitution. These seem to be the rough parameters of government involvement.
But there is much wiggle room between those poles. Should drugs be legalized? Should tobacco be outlawed? Drug enforcement works poorly (though drugs are horribly destructive) and tobacco prohibition would reduce tobacco consumption (though probably create a completely new underworld activity). These are also answers for a post-leftist world.
What rights should an accused person have in our judicial system? We conservatives have long decried the ridiculous contortions of federal courts in inventing new "rights" for the obviously guilty, but most of us also have come to see government as a danger to our rights as well. Should the privilege against self-incrimination be ended, or should it rather be extended to include taxpayers and small businessmen? Should the strong presumption of innocence be watered down, or should it be expanded to include any criminal or civil enforcement action by government?
How much should government be involved with the defense of truth? The Supreme Court effectively gutted libel laws in the 1960s, so CBS News could say pretty much whatever it wished with no consequences. Is the answer to revitalize old legal protections of people against defamation? Or is the answer to allow the marketplace of information to establish truth? If it is the latter, then where do we declare an action "fraud" rather than "persuasion"?
The Founding Fathers - all of whom would be aghast at what leftists have done to America - did not consider that every issue of policy and of government would flow naturally from the contours of limited power defined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They expected disagreement, experimentation, and debate.
When the gaggle of power-mongers which we call "liberals" or "progressives" have finally vanished from our land, then we can all begin to have serious and adult deliberations about issues for which no manifest and universal answer exists a priori, but is rather produced through the process of limited government in a federal democratic republic.
Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also
a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2018, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.