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05/17/2009

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steve

In my lifetime the GOP has gone from sensible, moderate people like Jack Kemp and Gerald Ford, to lunatic anti-intellectuals like Sean Hannity and James Inhofe.

But it doesn't really matter at this point. They'll keep ranting about global warming, creationism, voodoo economics, black helicopters etc, and the American Public will keep voting for the other, sensible side.

neilehat

The end of the "American Conservative" Movement is really nothing more than a power struggle between what Moderates are left and the Conservatives (former Dixiecrats purged from the Democratic Party years ago), for nothing less than the heart and soul of the Republican Pary. The Liberal wing having long since abandoned it for the Democrats.
A. Lincoln and his supporters along with T.Roosevelt and his are probably rolling over in their graves.

As for the these "Rally round the Flag" Issues, they are nothing more than attempts to polarize the electorate into manipulatible Voting Blocks.

As for the Public, it is sick of it all and has moved on to more important "Bread and Butter" Issues. And if you don't keep up with the Public - you are in decline.

Randy

As someone who tracks left-of-center, for me the most concerning aspect that I have regarding Mr. Posner's opinions is that some of them make a lot of sense. (Perhaps left is the new center). In contrast, the current Republican party is dominated by people who think that man at one time walked with dinosaurs. That doesn't speak very highly of their critical analysis skills, and make is difficult to listen seriously to anything they say.

Randy

As someone who tracks left-of-center, for me the most concerning aspect that I have regarding Mr. Posner's opinions is that some of them make a lot of sense. (Perhaps left is the new center). In contrast, the current Republican party is dominated by people who think that man at one time walked with dinosaurs. That doesn't speak very highly of their critical analysis skills, and make is difficult to listen seriously to anything they say.

Economy

When I tell people that I am a conservative they assume I am a Republican, but that has not been true for years.

As a conservative I value hard work, thrift, and competence. The GOP abandoned those values completely during the terms of Bush Jr. and they show no sign of admitting those mistakes any time soon.

I hold my own opinions on social issues and am willing to debate with anyone willing to offer an honest argument. Alas, the Republicans of today are not willing to explain why they right - instead demanding that everyone bow down and admit their superiority. Not a smart strategy when people are running away from your leaders.

I do not doubt that the GOP will rise in political prominence again - it is the timeline for that taking place that worries me. By abandoning conservatives like me the Republicans have all but ceded control of the U.S. to the Democrats. While I do not share the particular hatred some have for the donkeys I do fear the damage a political party can do when they do not have an effective rival.

W. is all the lesson I need in that regard.

So I am stuck - waiting for a credible political party to rediscover conservatives like me. Whether that is the GOP remains to be seen. In the mean time I will remain an independent, and vote for whoever I feel is best for the task at hand.

Shawn Smith

The comments here and to the previous post portend a dim future for the Republican party. Becker and Posner illuminate the issues that divide conservatives in America - global warming, abortion, gun rights, gay marriage - while the comments provide one case in point after another. The divisions among conservatives could not be clearer.

Reagan was able to unite conservatives around core economic values while convincing them to put aside their ideological differences. Washington was not the place to wage such fights - once upon a time at least.

Things are different today. The issues that divide conservatives can't easily be put aside. They're called wedge issues for a reason, and when you look at them, the future looks pretty bleak for the GOP:

People who believe abortion is murder are incapable of compromise, and who can blame them? Why would we expect people to compromise on what they believe is murder?

People who want to outlaw gay marriage believe that tolerating homosexuality is a step toward the end of civilization. They point to Sodom and Gomorrah. Seriously.

To the people who hold these beliefs, there are not two sides. There is no room for debate. Putting these issues aside under Reagan, then Bush 41, then Clinton(!) didn't get them much. And by the way, all the supposed benefits of small government and tax cuts didn't get them much either. Rove tapped into their deep well of anger, and it worked. We got Bush 43 and a brand new conservative movement.

When you look at it this way, you can argue that intellectual conservatives dug their own grave.

As a final note, the issue of Global Warming is a little different from abortion and gay marriage in that it has two sides. Sure, there's a strong consensus among scientists that man-made global warming is a fact, but it's not a unanimous consensus, and for some reason a small but passionate fringe has latched on to the opposing view. The other thing that makes this unlike the other issues is that, this debate has (political, economic, environmental) consequences we can actually measure.

Bottom line is that many conservatives will go to their grave fighting for these things. Intelligent debate is not coming to Washington anytime soon. Just more of the same kind of name-calling, posturing and pandering you see in so many of these comments.

As for me, I'd like to see the GOP split in two - one piece for the religious right and one for the intellectuals. For good measure, I wouldn't mind seeing the Dems split at some point too.

As John Adams famously said:
"There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures in opposition to each other."

Univ.Dayton MBA

Becker and Posner:

It is unfortunate that two intellectual giants such as yourselves must deal with the inane comments of the masses. I have been following your blog for a bit more than a year. If anyone is offended by your comments, it is only because they are unable to listen to reason and consider a possible alternative. It is extremely clear that you are not setting out to offend anyone, just to state your well researched opinions and observations through two distinct lenses.

You both represent your respective organizations very well and are, in my opinion, champions of free speech and free thought. Thank you, and keep posting!

Rick Cendo

BRAVO! I want a party with THAT platform!!

Roy D. Schickedanz

It doesn’t matter if Gary Becker and Richard Posner are Conservatives or not. It is the principles, which they live by, and willing to expound in their blog on subjects, which they deem important that will find an audience of concern.

Blogs tend to produce less than critical discussions on any matter.

Under previous president, President Bush, they used the Conservatives in total without any outrage for policies and rhetoric produce.

Thus Conservatives should suffer the consequences of going along and associating themselves. Never saying No, always saying Yes!

The creditability of truth was lost in lies and propaganda. That record in history will certainly judge their performance and deeds.

The revisionists will put a slant, doctoring up the record that was less than honorable.

It became a Presidency of back sliding toward fascism, that we almost lost our Democracy to criminal thugs.

Conservatives refuse to address this record, letting Rush Limbaugh to be their spokesman for un-American activities, wanting the current administration to fail.

The Election had the population on the whole having enough and wanting change from this garbage.

Thatguy

Denver

The other fundamental inconsistency is claiming virtually unbridled executive power due to an endless war on terror - i.e., a massive and totalitarian state yet at the same time claiming to want to preserve individual freedom and limit government powers. Can't have it both ways.

iGod

I completely agree with Posner on global warming and abortion.

On guns I have a different view simply because I believe the Constitution does protect a right to arms. Unless one is willing to discard the role in our repbublic of a meaningful constitution (meaning one whose text actually constrains government action and is not subject to the whimsical philosophical shifts of future generations-otherwise the rule would be "read the text as suits your vision of sound government" and that is logically equivalent to "do what one sees fit in the present") we ought to respect
that.

But these are all small points and the Judge's general thesis is unarguably correct: conservatism currently lacks a coherent and sound intellectual basist. The major republican figures appeal to emotion and religion rather than reason. Most distressingly, specious argments against global warming or stem cell research does not seem to cause the major figures in the party any embarassment whatsoever.

Lance Legel

Becker and Posner: Thank you for your intellectual leadership!

-carpe diem

Nunzio

As to the intellectualism issue, I'm concerned that the conservative free-market thinkers will be in the wilderness for the next decade following the banking collapse, the auto bailouts, and the possible bailouts of some state and local governments.

President Obama so far has successfully characterized the banking collapse as the failure of free markets. While that is true to some extent, the president's solution is not to enact some greater regulation and enforcement to improve the system, but to impose a European style system that the U.S. demonstrably cannot afford to foot the bill for.

Conservatives should devote their energies to curtailing these plans and leave the social issues at home.

Though I'm not a social conservative, I sympathize with the frustration that social conservatives feel at the way they are mocked and depicted in the mainstream news media and popular culture. That said, the spokespersons for social conservativism, for the most part, seem far too strident. Social conservatives should push for respect for their views but not the enactment of those views.

global province

Gentlemen: yes, of course it is in decline. conservatism thrives when people have something to conserve. now everybody has lost at least 1/3 of his or her net worth, and some have lost everything.

global province

Gentlemen: yes, of course it is in decline. conservatism thrives when people have something to conserve. now everybody has lost at least 1/3 of his or her net worth, and some have lost everything.

Alex

Hi, very interesting post. Senks:)

sportart

Hello from Russia, nice blog!

Anonymous

Sirs,

Regarding your libertarian agreement on abortion (to paraphrase “it’s tricky, but we should side with a woman’s ‘right to choose’ unless it’s very late term…”).

How is this materially different than Stephen Douglas’ antebellum arguments? In what way is the pregnant woman’s “right” different than the slaveholder’s “right” – in states (and territories went the argument) that decided to allow slavery? Does it not hinge on the human status of the slave versus the fetus? Does it not hinge on what we consider the status of the fetus?

To realize this simple fact changes the argument to the conservative – and Lincolnian, classic liberal one. To recognize this is to recognize that it is as logically incoherent as Douglas’ doctrine of popular sovereignty to assert that individuals ought to be allowed to arrive at different, personal, idiosyncratic, and final decisions about the personhood of developing feti, based on whim or convenience.

Forget guns and global warming. The understanding that the difficult question of the status of the fetus - by necessity – determines the issue, underscores the difference between natural right, American, conservatism (classic liberalism) and charming but empty libertarianism.

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