May 14, 2005


Interest-Group Conservatism:
George Bush's philosophy of government. (Jacob Weisberg, May 4, 2005, Slate)

In this, the third year that Republicans have controlled everything, a variation on the old interest-group liberalism has emerged as the new governing philosophy. [...]

When Democrats held power, liberal officials became beholden to the party's biggest financial and political backers. These included unions (in particular public employees and teachers unions); women's, civil rights, and gay lobbies; senior citizens; welfare advocates; the entertainment industry; and trial lawyers. One hallmark of Democratic governing became the disproportionate focus on policies that mattered far more to these groups than to the country as a whole—job protections for teachers and government workers, expanding affirmative action and abortion rights, opposition to malpractice reform, the continuous growth of benefits for the elderly, and so on.

Today the dominant conservative interests form a rival constellation: corporations, especially in the energy and military contracting sectors, evangelical Christians, wealthy investors, gun owners, and the conservative media.

Mr. Weisberg raises an obvious question--consider these numbers:
12% of Americans belong to unions

1-2% of Americans are gay

12% of Americans are below the poverty line

Americans respect trial lawyers less than any other occupation

On the other hand:

45% of Americans have a gun in their house.

Half of Americans own stock.

77% of Americans self-identify as Christian.

Over 40% of Americans self-identify as "conservative," compared to 19% as "liberal"

So, the question: at what point does a group stop being an "interest group" and become simply the majority of the American people?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 14, 2005 4:38 PM

Congratulations. You have put your finger on the distinction between a Madisonian FACTION and civil society itself. Federalist 10 answers the question. A faction is adversarial to civil society: its interests are adverse to those of the polity as a whole.

For years gone by the DemocRAT playbook has been to cobble together a coalition of such factions into a majority--no more. One more note: if we do not have the--sand to identify the faction par excellance, we cannot think clearly about these issues. Black Americans qua Americans will share in the progress we make by ridding ourselves of the vestiges of the DemocRAT machine. Blacks as a faction constituting one leg of the DemocRAT tripod are to be rolled over. To its great credit, the Bush Republican party is handling this very well right now. We shall see if they have the--sand to carry through with it.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 14, 2005 6:25 PM

I'm sorry, but what the heck is the word "the--sand" supposed to be?

Posted by: SP at May 15, 2005 9:33 AM

Additionally, I'd lay off the "DemocRATS" thing. It mars an otherwise compelling argument and post.

That's the stuff of Free Republic/Lucianne talk -- i.e., the mark of conversation best ignored.

Posted by: SP at May 15, 2005 9:36 AM

SP, my thanks for the constructive criticisms. I do believe that our ability to think and speak clearly about any issue upon which the principal organized racial minority has taken a position is marred by a certain squeamishness.

Affirmative action is an un-American abomination--let us say so. "Racial studies" are a mixture of lies, racist fantasies, false statistics and treasonous subversion--let us say so. That we do not do so is in part an attempt the pay the Danegeld, fearing that if we do not pay some people off we may have to fight them some day, and in part a kind of dismissive condescension.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 15, 2005 11:22 AM

Until we give them what they were promised affirmative action is a moderate enough corrective.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2005 11:26 AM

Blacks have gotten what they were promised, and much more.

"40 acres and a mule" is, at heart, a promise of self-sufficiency.
Setting aside for the moment the inadequacies, shortfalls and absurdities of the current system, a black kid can, with effort, get a decent education from free schools, and even get fed twice a day by the school if the kid is low-income.
After high school, a black kid can get grants and loans sufficient to allow her to attend a state college that will provide adequate instruction in most fields, or she can do the same to go to a trade school where, within a year, she can be trained to be an auto mechanic, HVAC tech, surgical tech, bookkeeper, etc.
If the black kid chooses a trade or college major wisely, trade school can be a route to a middle class life, and college to actual riches. All for free, or subsidized.

In addition, the Civil War era promise of self-sufficiency was not intended to imply that blacks would be equal to whites, merely not enslaved.
Now, however, blacks not only have their farm equivalents, but also first class citizenship.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 15, 2005 2:01 PM


No, it's a promise of a startup to makeup. just give every black person in America the cash equivalent in their personal SS fund.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2005 6:03 PM

"Makeup" for what ?
Those stolen from Africa deserve far more compensation than $ 50,000, (which is what 40 acres, a mule, and a well go for here in Eastern Colorado), but their children deserve far less.

After all, if blacks had never been taken from Africa, then almost all blacks now in America would have to live in Africa.
If we compare the current value of being an American citizen, raised in American society, with the value of being a citizen of a West African nation, we see that American blacks have gotten the equivalent of 4,000 acres and a 20-mule team.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 15, 2005 11:15 PM

Except that having lost the benefit of the normal immigrant experience they lag behind even modern Haitian and African immigrants. The damage we did is quite enduring.

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2005 11:32 PM
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