Wednesday, January 04, 2023

The Republican Opposition's Gnostic Rebellion: Or, why McCarthy's opponents should stop acting like a bunch of liberals

Makis E. Warlamis
The failure of Kevin McCarthy to secure the speakership of the U.S. House certainly doesn't reflect well on McCarthy. It is his first test as a leader: can he secure the support he needs in his own party? If he can't win his fellow Republicans, how can we expect him to command leadership in a chamber in which the opposition party has almost as many seats as his own?

Still, the main problem is not the opposing party, but the opponents within his own party who, without any alternative, are preventing McCarthy's installation as House Speaker. The only alternative McCarthy's Republican opponents are offering is some ghostly political democratic ideal, some non-McCarthy Shangri-La which will allow them to legislate in peace and eternal bliss.

It's enough to make smoke-filled rooms look positively attractive in comparison--and themselves like a circular firing squad. They're going to shoot themselves in the hope that some of the gore gets spattered on McCarthy.

Why should McCarthy's opponents be expected to sully themselves with the course political realities necessary in a parliamentary body? Every time you hear a politician rail against backroom deals and behind-the-scenes coalitions and cross-party alliances, make a mental note that this person is either being completely dishonest, or simply doesn't understand how politics works. In the first case he cannot be trusted and will end up engaging in the very behavior he condemns as soon as he's out of earshot; in the second case, he is a complete innocent who will never be effective and should be sent immediately to a monastery.

The legislative process has been aptly compared to a sausage factory for a reason.

McCarthy is not perfect. No one disputes this. Both sides know it. The difference is that his Republican opponents offer, as an alternative to McCarthy, some kind of ideal the details of which seem to elude McCarthy's most ardent detractors--some sort of Trumpian Shangri-La, some unrealistic Arcadian vision of ideal politics. It is the spectacle of a bunch of self-professed conservatives championing what Thomas Sowell has derisively called the "Vision of the Anointed."

The chief characteristic of this alternative is that it is not McCarthy. Beyond that lies the unknown.

Note that McCarthy's opponents are offering no actual alternative to McCarthy other than people who actually support him. There is no alternative except some dreamy political ideal that is so perfect it cannot even be described.

Is there a Swamp in Washington? Sure there is. Can it every be completely drained? Of course not. Such political swamps have existed time immemorial. And to think they can be completely drained is to cease to be conservative because it is to cease to be in touch with reality.

The problem with this kind of conservative ideal is that it is not conservative. Conservatives are practical and realistic. They are not dreamy and delusional. They acknowledge reality and try to find the best ways to ameliorate it. In economics they adhere to a few bedrock realities, like supply and demand and reject the idea that you can spend unlimited amounts of taxpayer money and not ever have to pay it back. In social policy they accept the simple reality that there are two sexes and reject the belief that there are some 75 different genders, the exact number depending on the time of day.

They accept the idea of Original Sin and that life and politics will never be perfect. Delusional perfection is the province of the Left: it is the Left's job to deny Original Sin and to constantly be casting some unrealistic vision of perfection that everyone knows really does not and cannot exist.

If the Republicans really want to succeed as conservatives, they should focus on the amelioration of the imperfect not the installation of the ideal. The Gnostic Republicans now making a bold stand against reality should stand down and deal with things as they are not as they wish they could be.