By Bruce Walker
What vexes conservatives most? We often think our only foe is too much government, but that is a mistake. The leftist giants of privately owned media, almost en masse, advance a cultural and moral agenda utterly at odds with what conservatives believe. Private colleges indoctrinate young adults with hateful propaganda. The entertainment industry coarsens our morality, savages our faith, and mocks our patriotism.
We want limited government -- and we should want limited government -- because more government means less liberty. But even the most manifest modern versions of vile malice, like Hitler's Third Reich or Stalin's empire, were not so much sins of "statism" as sins of "partyism." Nazis and Bolsheviks saw government as a hand puppet of the Party. In 1942, enemies of Nazism were writing of the "Nazi system, with its .. .absolute claim to the precedence of the Party over the whole State" (The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich, London: 1942). The very term "Nazi" refers to a party, not a government.
Those familiar with the grim saga of Soviet power know that the Communist Party, a completely voluntary organization, wielded real power. Stalin, virtual dictator of the Soviet Union, did not even have a government job until May 1941, when he became premier. By that time, Stalin had managed to murder millions, purge many thousands, and terrorize everyone in the Soviet Union -- how? He was General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The Party, Nazi or Communist, ran the state, and not the other way around.
Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and our other great founders grasped this. They constructed in our system of government safeguards for little states against big states, separation of legislation and execution of laws, sovereign states to limit the federal government, and so on. Without party trumping government, "checks and balances," "separation of powers," and "federalism" are self-correcting mechanisms. The toxin the founders dreaded was "factions."
We saw this dysfunction during the health care debate. The legislative branch adopted, without reading or understanding it, a massive bill that Obama wanted. State governments, whose interests lay in opposing this federal power grab, instead responded to ObamaCare along predictably partisan lines. Six of twenty-six Democrat governors, all from conservative states, voiced concerns about ObamaCare. Nearly all Republican governors -- Arnold being an exception -- opposed ObamaCare. Democrat state attorneys general were much more reluctant to file lawsuits against ObamaCare than their Republican counterparts. It is party driving the state, and not the other way around.
But it is more than just "political parties" which threaten us. Not all parties are the same. Some are based upon philosophies of governance; others are based upon "interest group" advocacy. Those of us called "conservatives" simply want an impartial government. That is why we favor proportional taxes, oppose affirmative action as bigotry, and want government to do what it rationally can do best. The Republican Party supported equality for blacks when that principled stand cost them one-third of the nation and huge numbers of white votes outside the South.
The left, by contrast, is an interest group movement, just like the Nazis and just like the Bolsheviks. It embraces Nazi themes like "social justice" -- consigning whites, males, Christians, the affluent, patriots, and others into a leftist-patrolled ghetto. The KKK also supported "social justice" -- so did Father Coughlin, Juan Perón, Fidel Castro, and all those sibling interest-group parties or movements. The state can be used by these odious types, but it is the social justice thugs, not the state per se, which are the problem. In the current immigration firefight, what do conservatives want? More government! We want the federal government to rigorously enforce the law. The left wants the state to vanish and our borders to become meaningless.
This sort of bigotry against certain citizens in favor of others is so common now that we forget that the prostitution of government to the needs of only some Americans is the opposite of what Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin wished to leave us. Whatever structure of government is bequeathed to a people, political parties which champion particular interests will, inevitably, destroy the worth of that structure. Interest-group parties are poison to ordered liberty.
Nominal parties -- Republicans, Democrats, Federalists, etc. -- can also be corrupted. While certain parties, like the Democrats today, seem to be in the belly of the beast that is interest-driven government, certainly Republicans like McCain and Crist can be just as debased. That is why the Tea Party resonates so well. Far from championing any particular factions of America like Obama, who plans to reinvigorate his party by enthusing the young, African-Americans, Latinos, and women, the Tea Party champions simply ordered liberty.
This elevating and ennobling view of American government means that the rights of greedy, creepy leftists in Wall Street firms are just as sacred to us as our own rights are. The process of freedom is our cause. We view government as we view juries: Verdicts should not be based upon group interest, and laws should not, either. When government acts, it should be only in the general welfare, and those words of Article I are in direct conflict with the toxin of "our group's interest." We defend Wall Street not because Wall Street likes or helps us, but because it is right.
Government has a role only as an unbiased arbitrator of those parts of life which the marketplace cannot mediate. When government acts this way, as it should, then parties and factions still remain, and they still quarrel and feud -- but if government is robust, then the mischief of parties is controlled. So when the KKK lynches a black, more government is required, and when Storm Troopers terrorized German streets or Mafia internecine wars decimate Sicily, more government is required. Factions are the infection, and when these infect government, we are lost. The abuse of government for special interests, not just government itself, is the mortal blow to liberty.
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