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Monday, November 12, 2012

Giant Rats and Tiny Men

On the corner of the street a giant rat squats over the sidewalk, its shadow blocking the cold winter sun, while at its feet, hired men, some with heavy accents, hand out leaflets and chant, "Who are we, What do we want" in the familiar hymn of the hired union protester, not a member of a union or an employee or a shop, but just a man hired by unions to intimidate some store or company into going along.

There's another giant rat creeping its way up the Potomac through the evening fog. Its snout is the size of a skyscraper and its shadow is the night. And there are hordes of smaller rats inside that rat and smaller rats inside it that come spilling out. Call it the Trojan Rat or the Great Rat of the Potomac. Or just call it Washington D.C.

In the year of the rat, the election came down to a whole bunch of men and women loudly chanting, "Who do we are, What do we want." The Democrats had clear answers to both questions. They wanted the rat. They wanted to be rats. They wanted to be the last rats on the sinking ship of state.

That was the hysterical frenzy of the Democratic National Convention in a nutshell. It was the pied piper calling forth all the rats by name and teaching them to march around when the pan pipes played. And the pipes played, the rats went to the polls, they voted, once, twice, three times and then waited around for their cheese.

And who were the Republicans? What did they want?

Watching the Republican National Convention, you got the sense that they were amiable people who like hard work, and talking about hard work, who like minorities and Clint Eastwood movies. They were as American as apple pie, in the way that commercials for frozen apple pies that you defrost in an oven are. Pop the Republican Party in your Sunbeam, punch out 60 years and you'll get the Eisenhower Administration, toasty and fresh in your kitchen.

But the voters didn't want apple pie. Some of them did. The older ones. The married ones. And yes those hordes of horrid white males. But a bunch of the electorate wanted burritos, they wanted hot pockets and a hundred other treats. And they wanted them free of charge.

The Republican Party was proposing a country where anyone can open up their own pie shop, while the Democrats were offering free burritos and degrees in Transgendered Mayan poetry in order to "invest in our future." The party of apple pie came close, but the party of burritos with cheese for voters who vote early and often, came in closer.

The first question of any movement is who are we. The second question is what do we want. And until we can answer those questions and communicate those answers, then we are always going to be flailing, moving from one compromise to another, while our own rats ponder which principle to dispense with first. After all, what good are principles if they don't get you in to ride the rat?

What the Republican Party communicated in 2012 was that it wanted to win an election. It chose the most electable candidate and put on a show that had little of substance. Three nights of apple pie commercials and then months of apple pie speeches about how wonderful this country is. Little was said, but the unspoken message was that policies didn't matter, winning did.

As Churchill said of Chamberlain, "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war." The Republican Party thought it had a choice between defeat and dishonor, it chose dishonor and got defeat anyway. Now we are offered even greater dishonors to avoid greater defeats. And when the GOP has appeased every single element of the electorate except its own base, then surely it will be allowed to win.

But winning isn't the point. Winning is a power play. It only matters if you either expect to ride the rat or if you are fighting for something. The Republican Party fought to win and it lost. Now might be the time to fight for something, rather than to fight for the sake of winning the fight.

Tiny men don't defeat giant rats. Not unless they are fighting for more than themselves. More than mere antipathy for the rat. And men who don't know who they are or what they are fighting for will always be small, no matter how much fame they have or how well known their names are.

And that brings us right back to the question being shouted under the giant rat. "Who are we and what do we want?"

The Republican Party is divided, not split, between an establishment that wants to ride the rat and a base that wants the rat gone. The establishment is still trying to figure out how to win over giant rat voters with the promise of a better, slimmer, but more efficient rat. The base wants it to build a rat trap. But in elections the establishment usually gets its way and whatever the election results are, the giant rat stays around for another year, getting bigger and bigger.

The establishment, that nebulous entity, as at home on the Potomac as its rivals, has few differences with the Democratic Party. It agrees with most of its premises, it just wishes that it wouldn't be so fanatical about them. It would like to trim back the bureaucracy, loosen some of the regulations and make life easier for business. At least it thinks that it would like to do that, but aside from occasional tax cuts, it doesn't really do much about that, because it too likes to ride the rat.

The Republican and Democratic leaderships might be divided into the moderate and extreme wings of the same party. But their bases are very different.

The old Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democrats have become Republicans. The Republican Party is at the voting level, the rural party, the party of those skeptical about federalism and looking to lock in liberties with the Bill of Rights. At the same time its leadership consists of Hamiltonian Federalists who are interested in moving business forward. Throw in a moral traditionalist base and the party becomes even more impossibly conflicted.

Meanwhile the Democrats have become what the Republican Party turned into after Lincoln, corrupt, elitist and widely hated. A modernist party that postures as a party of civil rights, but views black people as walking votes and tools for extending the federal power grab of fanatical unionists. It is a party with no more vision than consolidating authority into central organizations that are run by the incompetent and it is not above pulling any and every illegal trick in the book to violate the Constitution. Its only reason for success is that its opposing party has so comprehensively disgraced itself that much of the country will not even consider voting for it.

But as rotten as the giant rat of the Democrats may be, it at least knows what it wants. The same can't be said for a Republican Party that is stuck in a schizophrenic state. It is united, not by a vision, but by an opposition to the left.

The one thing that the Hamiltonians, Jacksonians and Jeffersonians can agree is that they don't like the left and its vast bureaucracy that is hostile to business and bent on total control of all aspects of human life.

This opposition transcends federalist issues or moral divides. The Republican base and leadership may differ on how much big government they should be, but they can all agree that the endlessly expanding horror show of the giant rat, towering over Washington D.C. and sharpening its teeth on the Washington Monument is too much.

America is the other thing that the Hamiltonians, Jacksonians and Jeffersonians agree on. They all like it and think that it's a special and exceptional place. And turning conventions to that theme is a point of agreement. Unfortunately the unwillingness to define what makes America special, beyond the ability to open your own apple pie shop and the ability of immigrants to open their own apple pie shops, means that there is little disagreement, but also no real message.

The Hamiltonians turn Jeffersonian when talking to the base. But then they revert back to being old Alexander. Romney is the first presidential nominee in generations to run on such an explicitly Hamiltonian platform and the results should surprise no one. Hamilton was a good deal more popular after he was killed by Aaron Burr, probably the most ruthless American progressive of all time, who makes ratlings like Ayers or Alinsky seem downright inconsequential, than when he was alive.

Ideology follows interests. The Hamiltonians are city dwellers. They believe that men need regulation but that free markets don't. They understand the power of the economy in building a nation and how making unpopular decisions that hurt people in the short term can help them in the long term. But they don't understand people and are terrible at getting their message across. They are sophisticated enough to think big, but not to think small, and the populists beat the stuffing out of them every time.

The Jeffersonians are rural and suspicious of cities and central organizations. They want to keep their way of life by limiting the power of the central government. They are passionate about freedom and instinctively dislike the Hamiltonians. Jeffersonians can win the majority of the country by land area, but the cities stifle them. They are instinctive revolutionaries, but like the Hamiltonians they struggle to communicate their deeply felt beliefs to the rest of the country. They always think small.

And then there are the Jacksonians, who go deeper, challenging the disenfranchisement of the public by the elites. The Jeffersonians still believe, to a degree, in the basic decency of their opponents. The Jacksonians do not. They suspect, and sometimes rightly so, that their opponents seek a one party state. They don't just protest, they organize public outrage, marshaling the frustrations of those who feel excluded to challenge and overturn the entire system. The Jacksonians can think big and small.

The question is are we going to be Hamiltonians, Jeffersonians or Jacksonians? The question is what do we want?

Do we just want to prune back regulations and make life easier for big business, tidy up the debt and keep the train rolling for another decade? Do we want to smash the Federal system to keep our own corners of the world safe from the overreach of its power... or do we want to use the Federal system to smash the institutions of the left? Do we want to ride the rat, kill the rat or teach the rat to eat its own young?

Do we want to keep the urban federal technocracy going or pull back to local government? Does our future lie with big institutions that plan to do a lot or small ones that we control? Do our economic interests, short term and long, lie with free trade and open borders, or small business and domestic manufacturing? Do we believe in the system or in the family? Do we believe in the expert or the wisdom of the mob? Do we want to push on into the future or protect our past? These are the debates that we need to have if we are ever going to move forward.

We all know what we're against. The question is what are we for? Once we answer that question then we'll know not just what we're fighting against, but what we're fighting for. And until then we will not be able to step out of the shadow of the rat.

32 comments:

fsy said...


Do we want to push on into the future or protect our past? These are the debates that we need to have if we are ever going to move forward.


"into the future"?

"move forward"?

Sounds too much like someone who should not be named.

Leo said...

Yes, "move forward" etc may sound eerily familiar, but I guess here it is merely "change the current poor state of affairs to the better" ("better" along the lines of "is good", as opposed to "feels good").

Ex-Dissident said...

Very thoughtful and thought provoking essay. There is one item you initially touched on, that requires greater attention. The fact that the pied piper played a tune and the rats marched towards the voting booths ready to vote once, twice, three times, or however many times the piper told them to do so. In a real fight, if your opponent fights dirty and there is no referee, you must be able to counter that dirty play. We will not come out of this mess with clean hands.

I like imagining that I am surrounded by people who play fairly, value honesty, and are responsible for themselves. However, I am often confronted by the reality that shows a very different form of humanity. I want the giant rat gone, but will it take an even bigger rat to accomplish this??? How do we tell the bigger rat to go away afterwards? Something else we need to figure out, moving forward.

Leo said...

@Ex-Dissident: same old story, "who will guard the guardians". Incidentally, the nation's founding documents address the same problem. Although, one can always offer a better solution.

Anonymous said...

Good article. I especially am interested in how Americans will define themselves. "Who are we" - I don't know anymore. We, as a nation, need to find out.

Sorry, I'm still seriously disappointed in the election process. If I thought it was just and accomplished with integrity, then I would accept the Obama Administration's leadership. But I do not believe it was a fair and just election. We need to work on that voter fraud thing.

Shloimo Seskutov said...

republicans are lost only because democrats,
who choose unfair methods of fighting (because they didn't have anything good to offer, just freebies, lies, fraud, etc.)

but shame on republicans, who gave up so far
and i think if one side choose fraud (dems) it's legitimate for another (reps) to choose whatever unfair methods they can have

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

ex-dissident, or maybe it's using a 1000 small rats to beat one big rat

whether a 1000 small rats is an improvement over 1 big rat is a matter of opinion... but there is a limit to how big small rats can grow

Ex-Dissident said...

Leo, our founding fathers lived in a far more moral society and a world dominated by individual farmers and small business men. Now the majority of our country lives in industrial age cities and most people work for someone else; they rely on others for responsible decisions. They have different values and are not constrained by traditional sources of moral behavior. They really need a big government to control their lives.

Ex-Dissident said...

Daniel,

Are we ready to turn ourselves into dirty rats? I don't think there is any other way to fight this monster.

Keli Ata said...

Must it be an either or scenario? I guess you would say I am a Jeffersonian who can probably be converted into a Jacksonian.

Keli Ata said...

Ex-Dissident--there is truth to what you wrote. There are no swans in the sewer, the natural habitat of rats.


It's hard if we become too much like our enemies that will leave a whole lot of people confused and unable to differntiate the corrupt from the clean.

Anonymous said...

"And when the GOP has appeared every single element of the electorate except its own base, then surely it will be allowed to win."

Surely "appeared" is supposed to be 'appeased.'

ErisGuy said...

The question is are we going to be Hamiltonians, Jeffersonians or Jacksonians

Those, alas, are not the choices. That America is dead. The choices are Chavez, Georges Boulanger, or Francisco Madero.

VA_Rancher said...

As a staunch Fiscal & Social Conservative, if the only way to win is to become that which I abhor, then I reject "winning".

If the only way the GOP can win elections is to become Progressive... Then I will not be a member of the GOP.

I wholeheartedly reject all the defeatist and appeasement talk I am hearing from supposed conservatives.

Words have MEANINGS. Take your statements and replace "Democrat" with "Islamic Terrorist" and replace "Republican" with "American Citizen" and do you still agree with your statement?

Winston Churchill in 1941 said "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

His statement is STILL correct today.

Some dude said...

It would have saved you a lot more time if you just linked to this

http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/what-the-2012-election-would-have-looked-like-with

Truth is ugly.

Adam Greenfield said...

Gen Stanley McChrystall
Gen Carter Ham
Gen David Petraeus
Gen John Allen
Colonel Harry D Tunnell
Gen Kip Ward

These are just the impeccable leaders whose careers have all been eviscerated under Barack Hussein Obama's tenure that we know about. why would there suddenly be so many Military high level brass losing their careers after, in some of these cases, never having a single black mark on their records? Well, it’s become known that these brave leaders of men would never turn their military power on their own countrymen. And as we all know, that just won't work for a dictator.

In the Congressional District formerly held by Retired Col Allen West, voter turnout last week reached 141.1%. Yes, more people voted than were even registered to vote. And I checked, you have to register in Florida 28 days prior to the election. If elections are this corrupt, why bother having them? And as you opined last week Daniel, there is no guarantee that elections will continue in the future. we had that Southern Female Governmor say out loud during the 2010 midterm that Obama should just suspend the elections.

So I don't think it matters if we try to out rat the rats or not, I think America may have just seen it's last Presidential election.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Those, alas, are not the choices. That America is dead. The choices are Chavez, Georges Boulanger, or Francisco Madero.

That America isn't dead... and it is up to us to define ourselves.

Adam Greenfield said...

We can all remember North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue (D) stating in 2010, “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.”

It may have been poor wording to say "last election" maybe I should have said last one for a while. Looking back on some of your previous works, such as the discussion on how Obama could never get the military to back him with Marshall Law and would need the police unions to help him with that, not if he eradicates the current military leadership and promotes more Administration friendly officers.

Just after the election you cautioned us to not take the election process for granted because it might not always be around. I agree now. You were right yesterday when you pointed out that they only stole elections in certain localities rather than taking the whole thing. Its all an illusion to make us think we are still represented. Many Countys are reporting more than 100% turnout at the polls. weird. Some districts are reporting not one single vote for Romney? Mostly in urban highly populated areas. Not one vote? I can see him getting shalacked, but not one single vote? Vegas bookys would find that amazing.

Anonymous said...

The Republican Party was proposing a country where anyone can open up their own pie shop, while the Democrats were offering free burritos... Spot on.

I would add, the Party was proposing a country where anyone can get a job in a pie shop.

Or in that candy factory in Nevada... I was very impressed with what the RNC was selling. But nobody was watching, and the MSM wasn't going to talk about jobs in candy factories.

Anonymous said...

Another great, but fruitful, cry in the wilderness? The magic formula needs to reach those whose main goals are to utilize their sexual organs as much as possible, stuff their faces, and have other people's money find their way into their pockets. In short, the classic "O" man voter. Unless you pay this crowd in cash, and perhaps give them a free car, I doubt Republicans will ever get their vote. I wonder if you can be high-minded if the lowest common denominator determines elections?

Anonymous said...

Adam G. - West was not running in his old district. Rooney was our rep. The Florida republican party re districted and West ended up in this newly created district and Rooney in a safe new district to the west of here. It was suggested that the establishment republicans in Florida did Col. West in at the time. Turns out the talk was correct. Col. West was probably taken out by his own party.
Terry
St. Lucie County

Anonymous said...

The democrats know what they stand for and how they will get it. They have always been the party of hate and racism and now that hate and racism has turned against White America, via millions of third would brown hordes; both legal and illegal.

What does the GOP stand for? They want to “evolve” and start pandering to the brown hordes themselves. Who is looking out for the dwindling number of White Americans in this country? We need our own Golden Dawn party to rise up and represent White America.

Steve D said...

‘amiable people who like hard work, and talking about hard work, who like minorities and Clint Eastwood movies. They were as American as apple pie, in the way that commercials for frozen apple pies that you defrost in an oven are.’

I’m grumpy, I hate hard work; I hate talking about it even more. I am not even sure if I’ve ever met a minority (whatever that word means; are their non-human aliens around somewhere whom the Republican’s like?) and I’ve never seen a Clint Eastwood movie. (In addition, I stopped watching James Bond after the second movie failed miserably)

I’m also Canadian and I prefer blueberry pie. Apples give me heartburn.

So technically I’m not Republican but Romney was one of the few people I have ever seen who could call himself both decent person and a politician. Why anyone in his right mind would vote for a nihilist like Obama over him is a mystery to me.

larrhal said...

My heart says 'Daniel Greenfield is right.' My head says 'Adam Greenfield is closer to the truth.'

I write from Israel. Once upon a time, I thought the system here was more corrupt than the American one. Twenty years ago, it was. Now, and despite the overwhelming power of 'liberal' justices, I no longer believe that.

I think Obama and Axelrod stole the election. Romney rolled over - unlike the great Allen West. The great Allen West should be President one day, and play the role of Churchill against Islam and 'Islamism.' In the meantime, we have Bibi - it's not that much but it will have to do.

fsy said...

Today the word "conservative" really applies only to the Left, who are always working to conserve and expand their power base. Those of us who still dream of some sort of freedom are the real radicals. This intentional misuse of language, beginning with the co-opting of the word "liberal", is one big cause of the huge confusion in people's minds.

Keli Ata said...

fsy--I couldnt agree more

Adam Greenfield said...

@Terry St. Lucie County - This still doesn't explain the unexplainable phenomena of 141.1% voter turnout. You guys have a law that voters have to be registered 28 days prior to the election. This means peoople can't register at the polls like some states allow. How is it that more people voted than were actually registered?


Keli Ata said...

Adam--you are absolutely right. The problem, from a Conservative perspective is that questioning corruption at the polls in primarily African American communities carries the risk of being charged with voter intimidation. Or at the very least accused of it.

Not that there actually was voter intimidation --in the GOP--but rest assured that the left would find some reason to get people charged or accused of it.

But election fraud is also illegal and a 141.1-percent voter turnout clearly demonstrates election fraud.It's very doubtful that a liberal would be charged with that, though.

The US election system is a mess.

james wilson said...

Adam Smith's brilliant insights wound up being applied in, among other things, the Federalist and the Constitution of the United States. Ambition against ambition, in defect of better motives. But the Constitutional Convention only happened after the horrifying experience of 1783-1789, well described in Greenfield's Rhode Island Country Party post.

Toward the end of his life Smith labored to write another book which, instead of general insights, contained specific remedy, but when he was near death Smith ordered his servant to burn every last note. Burke,Tocqueville, and Russell Kirk offered similar advice--deep understandings form prepared minds, which suddenly, and unexpectedly, find oxygen and form when calamity kills or enfeebles commonly held beliefs.

There can be no progress under universal suffrage. Tocqueville described it as not only the most despicable element of democratic government, but a powerful revolutionary instrument as well. No one can make an honest case otherwise.

When conservatives join in this contest, we improve a product in decay and forget who we are at the same time and at the same rate. Then we wonder why there is no messenger. There can't be a messenger. Romney may have been even be better than we deserve.


Daniel Greenfield is like Adam Smith. A prepared mind can sometimes only prescribe action when events prepare them, and until that time comes no practical remedy will do. Universal suffrage is a powerful revolutionary instrument and the left finally learned to take ownership of it in 1933. They took off their berets and their whiskers, buried their bolshevism, and went to live inside the gates. That is the carny game. You can play; in fact, they need players. But you can't win until you cross to the other side.

Anonymous said...

The Rinos are "Tiny Men".

Anonymous said...

Sounds dangerously like an argument to vote based on principle -- a principle other than the Republican candidate winning.

PAULTARD!
LIB ... ERTARIAN!
UNSATISFIED WITH THE ORDAINED REPUB!
YOU ELECTED OBAMA!
IT'S YOUR FAULT!
SUBVERSIVE!

A-HOLE!

Conform, or else you're just another Obama voter.

Keli Ata said...

LOL. Well, I suppose there's a FEMA camp or gulag or something in my future since I won't conform to either party under duress.

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