The political discourse is uglier today than it was in the last two campaigns I have followed (04 & 08). However, I have attempted to find some equilibrium between the side that says that the Republican Party has completely lost its way and there is nothing redeemable, and the other side who supports it blindly and ignorantly. My friend Andrew Isker and I had a brief exchange on the issue of whether we should be grateful that the Republican Party will be adding the Gold Standard to their platform or whether we should simply view it as a few more empty words. Here is Andrew’s post, and following is my reply.
And I agree that incremental change like this is good. But the biggest problem with incrementalism is that with each successive increment, that many more people become satisfied and complacent. And yes, I know you understand that too, but far too many people become satisfied with those who simply parrot a few anti-Fed lines and never really intend on doing anything. It’s the same way with abortion. Pro-lifers were understandably excited with a Republican House and Senate as well as President were in office from 2001-2007. During this time they could have overturned Roe vs. Wade with a majority vote in both houses. They did not. The most (supposedly) ardent pro-lifers (see Santorum, Rick) did not seriously entertain that perfectly legitimate option, despite the fact that one would suppose the most radical pro-life congressmen would, regardless of pragmatic concerns over the success or failure of such a measure. The Republicans simply bought off the support of naive pro-lifers with only the most basic, effortless, and least costly policy changes despite having the ability to not only do more, but actually put an end to it. The best antidote for incremental lackadaisicalness is healthy skepticism. I don’t want to be in the business of quoting someone who is the poster child for those who should have this method employed on them, but “trust, but verify.”
My response follows:
Andrew, this may be a way of appeasing the RP crowd, but I also view it as a sign that when someone speaks truthfully and consistently for 30 years things suddenly become less strange. We may be at a stage where “conservatives” may be finally willing to at least consider–or for some–re-consider the gold standard. There is no doubt the Federal Reserve system has never been more threatened than it is now, and many conservative voices are beginning to express the same level of skepticism about America’s militaristic agenda. It is true that some will vote Republican without ever giving attention to these matters, but I think there is a growing trend of people who are open and truly curious about Austrian Economics and related issues. We need to be more optimistic of the political discourse. From my perspective, this is a tremendous improvement, even if little in your estimation. On the other hand, I separate the issue of gold and the Fed from the issue of Life. In one (the first) there is room for discussion and incremental change, since it requires education within the Conservative movement. On the other (abortion) Conservatives should know that incrementalism has done nothing for the Pro-Life movement in these last 30 years (just look at Deace’s statistics in his introductory essay). So, we need to provide a hierarchy of matters, so that not everything becomes creedal, but certain things become legitimate secondary topics which the more discussed the more others will see their legitimacy.