Neo-conservatives, Media and Democracy
October 15, 2008
If the United States is to remain a great nation, Free Speech must be held high. It is the light by which democracy finds its way. This profound contribution to the success of our nation and an enlightenment of the human condition, coming only through centuries of struggle, is one of the crowning achievements of civilization and surest supports.
As long as the small and narrow remains a common denominator in human society, it will remain under threat. It is appreciation of the ability that free speech has to ennoble that is itself, the evidence of greatness and means by which we are conducted to the wide vistas that are the human heritage.
Now, restraint on this fundamental support for our free nation seeks to arise. Certain parties within our nation’s administration have sought to withhold truth from the citizens of this nation to whom they have the responsibility of presenting truth. The mass media, whose large corporations and financial interests are most responsible for upholding the banners of free speech, when government seeks to fail, has been slipping toward the harmful enticement of elevating profit above the obligations of journalistic integrity. News, the lifeblood of a democratic society, has been distorted through the emphasis by which it is reported.
Organizations that strive for wholeness and journalistic accuracy can be marginalized in favor of advocacy in a culture that relishes and the simplicity of the sound bite. Being subtly moved to the side brings loss of news leadership and results in the loss of mainstream revenue. Outlets that report news more favorable to government or popular opinion and reduce emphasis on pertinent information unfavorable to policy or prevailing views are rewarded with access to the halls of power and robust profits. But the consequence of attending more to the bottom line than to the real wealth of necessary information and perspective that is democracy’s lifeblood is the soon impoverishment of everyone’s bottom line, including those who first acted to misinform.
During the Administration’s rush toward War with Iraq, articles advocating invasion received first place attention in newspapers and by media throughout the country. Articles that questioned the rational behind the invasion and the evidence supporting that rational were buried within the obscure back pages. When the folly of haste began to make itself obvious our nation’s leaders sought to hide behind the fiction that the intelligence they were given was wrong. Now that White House insiders, such as its former press secretary Scott McClellan, are opening up about the extent to which the Administration stove to distort the information it was giving the press and public, the current Administration ties to hide behind the fog of personal attack on McClellan’s character, a man known well by that administration and vetted to represent it to the world. The viciousness of these attacks bear sure witness to the truth which he reveals.
A Government that fulfills its democratic mission of responsibly securing its citizens rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness will find no threat to the conduct of its affairs in the public exercise of individuals setting before the world their thoughts concerning law and policy, regardless of whether those thoughts involve reasoned criticism of rules and strategy currently in effect. If a people value democracy, the coercion of both the state and of individuals on the free expression of reasoned thought must be limited. Bad news must be free to travel or bad circumstance will.
Free speech enables the informed development of a culture able to make better the world in which all of us live. Education, Knowledge, and Reason, all of which enable our greater purpose, are lost in unreflective pursuit of particular ends and by silencing viewpoints that might otherwise help avoid improbability, irrelevance, and untruth, the ways by which we frequently and systematically go wrong.
Our country can serve its purpose of being a shining city on a hill only so long as its lights of sound and open dialogue are richly supplied with the fuels of knowledge and reason. Reason soars from the ground of sufficient and relevant evidence. Reason soars and takes its adherents with it. Reason soars like a white crowned eagle, but leaves the “crazies in the basement” – (President George H.W. Bush), those practitioners of the ‘noble lie’, the oxymoron called neo-conservatism, who delude themselves that they have anything more to offer than a simple lie. Let them be known for what they are: not Neo-Cons, a contradiction in terms, but simply Cons.
Edmund Burke, the philosophical father of modern conservatism, pointed out that tradition provides a much sounder foundation for social conduct than does metaphysical abstraction. Tradition draws upon the Wisdom of multiple generations made better by the tests of time. Conservatism is thus properly described as ‘the absence of ideology’ and rightly asserts that attempts to modify, for the sake of doctrine or theory, the complex web of interactions that comprise society will only be broken against ‘the Iron Law of Unintended Consequence’. Thus the neo-cons, attempting to remake the Middle East in an abstraction of their own image have received the primary reward of advancing the interests of the nation of Iran. A pity these ideologues, while pretending adherence, have such little regard for conservative understanding. Otherwise, they might have known in advance of their many mistakes, that to prune and shape society according to ideology is a profound tax on the general Welfare. Theory usually masks inexperience and the narrow yearnings of fashion more than it does tested wisdom. Institutions that have been enriched by the correcting influence of accumulated perspective are to be valued for the richness they thereby gained. With clarity that preceded by centuries the participant/observer conundrums of modern science, Burke pointed out that we cannot know the many ways in which inherent behavior influences thought and makes futile pretenses of society objectively.
Human society is rooted and alive. Burke allowed that; “A state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation,” and reconciled that survival imperative with the notion that change to be successful must be organic, rather than radical. That is, it comes from the roots, not pretending to them, and comes with the force of obviousness. Neo-conservatism infected the canopy of this nation by claiming to be something other what it is: big government globalism pretending that it is not. Its ideology is not that of limited government and free people, but of imposed value. ‘Democracy’ at the point of a gun. Confined to such sophisms, the neo-conservatives have demonstrated little public ability to exceed the argument ad homonym; and it is by the argument ad homonym, that scoundrels and the enemies of freedom make themselves known.
This nation has not been well served, in this respect, by popular apologists for this Big Government neo-conspiracy such as radio talk show hosts Rush “Limited Government” Limbaugh and Sean “you cannot advocate significant expansion of government and call yourself a conservative” Hannity. Although demonstrating some ability to articulate the conservative perspective, it seems they were easily fooled when big government and its unrestrained executive was able to reinvent itself in Republican red. Unapologetic about their own practical abandonment of conservative ideals such as limited government, the rule of law, free political speech, strong national security and recognition of the tax or inflationary burdens that inevitably result from the out-of-control federal spending and free trade deficits of the fiscally irresponsible cons, these radio hosts continued to use their public influence in support of an Administration that fails a real-world conservative litmus. That these well remunerated self-styled advocates of conservative policies failed to raise the alarm at the Bush Administration’s assault on, in Rush Limbaugh’s own words; “…the most magnificent governing document ever ratified by any nation – the U.S. Constitution. Along with the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes our God-given natural right to be free, it is the foundation on which our government is built and has enabled us to flourish as a people (2005 op-ed, The Wall Street Journal),“ can only be understood in recognizing that its principles never have resonated as deeply within such people as in the souls of articulators truer to its construction, people such as Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, and William F. Buckley, Jr. Conservatives are never weaker than when they cease to advance their principles.
For W Bush is no Mr Smith gone to Washington. Although by most reports he did a good job as governor of one great state, he was unprepared for higher office and seems to have become so enamored of the power available to the President of the United States, that he lost himself in the siren attractions of big government, forgot his mandate, and sought to free himself from constitutional constraint to set about on a prodigal task of using American taxpayers resources to spread liberal democracy throughout a world that largely wishes we would go home, let them run their own affairs, while we attend to ours as strongly suggested by our governing documents and as wisely advised by our own Founding Fathers. It seems that onservatism has advanced in many parts of the world with the outstanding exception of the Republican Party. Trying to use the power of the US Government and the funds of American taxpayers to change the culture of the oil rich Middle East ignores the Constitutional mandates of the Office he took an Oath to assume which mandates spell out limits to the governance of our own great people and create none for trying to change. Those who easily forget the principles by which they advanced high in life are usually those in whom such principles never had deep root, even though good speechwriters, paid well by other people’s money, can make it sound otherwise.
The Bush Administration has been a constitutional, fiscal, and national defense disaster. One cannot help but reflect on how much more prosperous the American People would have been, had only this President chosen to govern according to the precepts which he campaigned to gain office. That such abandonment of principle should be defended by the air wave populists who call themselves conservatives makes a mockery of conservatism. The harm brought to Reagan Republicanism and to the Conservative movement by this Bush administration will take a generation to undue. That harm has been compounded by these apologists who seem unable to discern that a creature with feathers, web feat, and a tendency to quack, is probably a duck even through it wants to call itself an antelope. Cheerleading the largest expansion of Government since LBJ’s Great Society, and the most fiscally irresponsible President in US history, undermines any serious claims to conservative credentials. Perhaps our radiosts didn’t want to see the obvious. Having made a good living doing their best to advance conservative politicians, when those politicians turn out to have little regard for conservative principles, it becomes troubling to face a potential hit against income and influence that might come by admitting a mistake and reasserting those principles. Whether unable to discern our just reluctant to talk about the large discrepancy existing between the conservative rhetoric and big government performance of the Bush Administration, the air wavers failure to comment contributed greatly to the shambles the Bush Administration made of the Conservative movement in America, a movement largely victimized by the appearance of its own success. Any ability to resurrect the movement these people claim as their own can only be poorly served by now lamely asking, “What would Reagan do?” Conservatism never lives in the cult of personality, which at its best buries the greatness of an authentic life by ossifying it into mere ideology.
Empire building is the ultimate in Big Government activities. It’s of little use to those not members of the empire building elite, even though these are the ones called to pay most of the costs. Those who appreciate the Wisdom that guided this Republic’s founding need little encouragement to avoid the folly of unintended consequence such paths bring. Best do the good job well described in this nation’s founding documents and statements of Principle and avoid such other inventions, perversions of purpose, and squandering of a nation’s resource.
Governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. So began our country. A government that tries to delude that consent makes itself unworthy of that consent. A state that represents its intentions has no fear of shadow and by its open strength proves itself worthy of the confidence its people extend. Such a state remains dedicated to the cause we have advanced for our own: “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
E Pluribus Unum: These are our American roots and We Americans became a great nation because We the People found common ground in the warrants of forming a more perfect Union, establishing Justice, insuring domestic Tranquility, providing for the common defence, promoting the general Welfare, and securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. We Americans will remain a great nation so long as all those of good will and honorable character continue to assume the responsibilities of preserving, protecting, and defending these very American freedoms of thought and speech; doing so by means of limited and transparent government, the Rule of Law, and appropriate mix of marketplace efficiency with a dynamic promotion of the general Welfare. Those who aspire to keep alive the dream of individual rights and equality of opportunity, from all enemies foreign and domestic, and those who uphold the practicalities of integrated tradition, not “demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth” – (Barry Goldwater), have every reason to continue their common interest in this noble experiment that is the America experience.
by Charles Edmund Coyote
To preserve the sanctity of the American Constitution and prevent future presidents from ignoring the republic’s founding document, here are some addresses:
Call the House Judiciary Committee at (202) 225-3951 and tell John Conyers or other members to support HRes 1258 for impeachment
Call your congressional representative at their local offices and demand they support HRes 1258 for impeachment at the Washington, D.C., office at (202) 225-3121
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