The Right Caves on Social Issues, Then Loses
This week, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed a significant drop in the number of Americans identifying as conservative, and a significant rise in the number of Americans identifying as liberal. As the Journal described, "For the first time since 2010, conservatives are no longer a plurality: 38 percent identify as moderates, compared with 33 percent who identify as conservative and 26 percent as liberal." The Journal, like Gallup, attributes the drop in conservative identification to increased allegiance to leftist social positions, particularly among young people and women.
Predictably enough, the Republican establishment agrees with this analysis. For years, they have been claiming that the only path to national victory stands in de-emphasizing social issues and emphasizing fiscal ones. After all, as they point out, Gallup shows that conservatives beat leftists on economic issues by a margin of 39 percent to 19 percent. If Republicans simply drop social issues altogether, the logic goes, voters will be able to move into the economic realm, where conservatives dominate.
This analysis is dead wrong. It assumes two facts not in evidence: First, that conservatives can successful drop social issues without destroying their own value system and base; second, that leftists will ever allow a consensus on social issues.
First, Republicans cannot dump the value system that underlies conservative thought. Libertarianism is a fine philosophy of government, but a rotten philosophy of life. Without supportive social institutions to back responsible and moral decisions, free societies invariably crumble into the detritus of their own bad decision-making, and then call for the collective to help. Agreeing to an unwritten social contract of self-sufficiency is all well and good, until someone breaks the pact. And in the absence of religious and moral institutions outside government, somebody always breaks the pact.
Second, leftists will never allow a consensus on social issues. The entire goal of the left, in fact, is to promise consensus, then move the goalposts. Like Charlie Brown aiming to kick Lucy's football, conservatives constantly trust that they will be able to reach an accommodation with the social left. Meanwhile, the social left constantly destroys another heretofore well-accepted social consensus in the interest of casting conservatives as unfeeling.
To that end, the social left called for feminism, defining the movement as the ability of women to work freely; the right agreed. The left quickly redefined feminism to include abortion, the labeling of marriage as a patriarchal institution, and the destruction of any traditional notion of biological sex; the right disagreed. The left labeled the right anti-feminist.
Similarly, the social left called for deregulation of sexual activity; the right conceded. The left quickly redefined deregulation to include special legal protections for homosexuality, then moved on to same-sex marriage, and now pushes for legal measures against religious businesses and institutions. When the right disagrees, the left labels the right intolerant and homophobic.
All of this destroys political debate and conversation in order to label the right bigoted and nasty. And the right buys into the asinine idea that should they concede to the latest cause celebre, finally they'll have taken social issues off the table. And so the right goes from loss to loss, constantly bewildered as to why leftists keep winning even though the right keeps moving left on social issues.
The real answer would be to fight. If conservatism rests on certain basic notions of morality, that morality cannot be jettisoned in the quixotic search for electoral majorities. Those electoral majorities will never materialize so long as the right runs from its own values, tacitly conceding to the left the moral high ground.
Deciding who rules the Middle East isn’t America’s job, but knocking out the Islamic State is
By Angelo M. Codevilla
As the Islamic State expands the caliphate carved from what used to be Iraq and Syria, the American people demand that it be destroyed. Our ruling class responds with dysfunctional debate. Democrats blame Republicans for starting the Middle East's war and vow not to worsen matters by intervening again, while most mainstream Republicans blame President Obama's Democrats for throwing away what they call George W. Bush's victory in Iraq and yearn for American "boots on the ground" to "save it."
One side maintains that the Islamic State, or ISIS, is none of our business, while the other presumes that America's business is to establish acceptable regimes. Both err — the first by neglecting that Middle East potentates' agendas sometimes intrude upon our business, and the second by failing properly to distinguish between what is others' business and what is ours. Both avoid the substance of the American people's demand: Kill the cutthroats who behead Americans, who make converts among disaffected sectors of our population and encourage them to kill us.
Doing away with ISIS requires honesty about what America's business is and is not, what is within our capacity and right to do and what is not. In short, while we have neither the capacity nor the right to determine who rules whom or how anywhere but at home, we have the power and the duty to destroy any individual, band or movement that means to kill us.
Each side recognizes the American people's demand, and avoids it for its own reasons. The Obama administration does so by a de minimis military campaign in former Iraq, combined with mild cooperation with Iran. Thus, to avoid inconveniencing the Middle East's progressive forces, it kicks the ISIS can down the road. Meanwhile, Republicans Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina give that can another kick with implausible calls to "get the locals involved in dealing with their own problems." They seem not to notice that ISIS is our problem now.
Mainstream Republicans — Sen. John McCain and commentators at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal — also seem not to notice it because their salient concern is the same as that of the Bush administration: the unity of territorial integrity, and the decency of Iraq and other states in the region. Focused on other peoples' business — on matters that, patently, are beyond our power or right to decide — they neglect what it takes to forcefully mind our own business.
And so the dysfunctional debate continues. On one side: bipartisan agreement on doing nothing that would compromise "Iraqi unity" regardless of what happens to ISIS — just a lower commitment of American involvement and continued efforts to involve a more local powers in the fight. On the other side: save Baghdad from ISIS by reoccupying at least some of Iraq. Sacrifice American lives, continue giving sophisticated arms to Iraqis who promptly surrender them to ISIS, but make sure that no such weapons reach the Kurds and the Shia because, though they fight ISIS, they pose a threat to the Bushy dream of a "united, democratic Iraq." While our ruling class exchanges nonsense, hunting season on Americans remains open.
Resurrecting Iraq — or Syria, for that matter — ceased to be possible long ago. The local powers have their own agendas, none of which involve re-establishing respect for American lives, or stopping the growth ISIS' contagion to America. That should be America's agenda.
If it were, our political and military tasks would be straightforward: Publicly recognizing that ISIS is one component (in conflict with others) of one side of the great Sunni-Shia war that is convulsing the Muslim world, and the United States would declare its absolute neutrality in that war. America will do nothing to advantage or disadvantage either side. Whether Sunni or Shia rule any part of the Muslim world is none of America's business. But having outraged Americans, destroying ISIS, along with anyone who gets in the way, is America's business. We mean to mind this business of ours with maximum power.
We should begin with a total economic blockade on ISIS-controlled areas, notifying all governments that the United States will cut off economic intercourse with any country from whose jurisdiction persons or goods reach ISIS, or within which any ISIS-related financial transactions occur. Air patrols over the desert access routes can finish starving the cutthroats as a U.S. expeditionary force moves in around them. Never again must Americans be sacrificed in house-to-house fighting. Artillery and bombs from B-52s should do the bulk of the killing. The expeditionary force would finish off survivors. No prisoners. The Geneva Convention does not apply to pirates or cutthroats.
U.S. forces should come home quicker than they left, having minded our business by showing what happens to those who harm America.
• Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
By Melanie Phillips
The country has changed again over the last five years. I'm talking about Israel and many of the things I saw and experienced while there. They are building everywhere in Israel. The industries are growing, housing in both Jewish and Arab areas are building throughout the country, and people families are growing too. Cars are newer and yet some things remain the same.
Israeli's still drive like lunatics showing little to no patients and seemingly always in a rush to heaven knows where. At lights horns get blown even before the light turns green, people park on sidewalks and parking lots lines are merely a suggestion which are largely ignored. People smoke a myriad of things.
The growth in Israel is clearly seen everywhere from north to south and from east to west. No matter what the United Nations and the politicians are doing the citizens on the ground are slowly beginning to integrate. Yes the tension is still present, but the ones who want to live their lives and feed their families are opening businesses next to one another and the staff is mixed of Arab and Jew. Christian Arabs, Muslim Arab, and Jews alike are all living and working in neighborhoods. Jews shop in Arab stores and Arabs shop and work in Jewish stores.
The business industry is booming. I spent a week in Haifa where Intel, Google, Microsoft, Coke, and other huge industries are based. The port is huge with cargo ships lined up delivering goods. The world may be plotting against the Jews, but G-d has other plans for the holy nation and making Israel strong economically is one of them.
So many American things are being imported and all the American fads are there. Maybe McDonalds isn't doing great here in America but they're all over Israel and some are Kosher. As one Israeli told me about an un-kosher McDonalds in Jerusalem -the meat is kosher and the cheese kosher it's just putting them together which created the problem.
Family life is thriving, there are kids everywhere with mothers and fathers together and life is lived as a family doing things together. Every neighborhood has parks and family centered entertainment. Fathers, mothers, and kids doing things together the way America used to be gave me great hope for the little nation and deeper despair for America.
Speaking to my friends who live there in both Israel proper and the West Bank life in Israel is complicated. Israel is an expensive place to live because so much is imported. As an example, my daughter forgot her mascara so we went to buy some. In America her mascara costs about $7 in Israel it's $40.
The tiny country is growing like crazy and this is making real estate market is insane. In Jerusalem apartment houses begin at $900,000 to $1,000,000. The average house seems to start around $400,000 anywhere near Jerusalem. In Israel you own the home but not the land, an unsettling thing especially for those living in the West Bank.
There are many positive things happening in Israel and yet there is still big problems the people are trying to work on. Most Israeli's seem to understand the Palestinians do not want to live peacefully side by side with Israel and that seems to include Arab Israeli's. I think it's why they are integrating now because they realize the two state solution is not going to happen anytime soon so they are settling in for the long term. In Efrat (A West Bank town) both Arab and Jew are building stores side by side and working together. In the winter they had 2 feet of snow and no snow shovels. My friend said the Arab had shovels for 40 shekels while the Jewish run store had a similar shovel for 80 shekels so, as in most of life's problems, the Jewish citizens bought from the Arab store who was thrilled to sell his shovels and make a living. Even in Jerusalem's Arab quarter the Arab's have shops and need to sell goods in order to feed their family and pay the rent so they don't want trouble with people they just want to make a living.
On another level there is the conflict which pops up within the same growth. The Arabs are the ones who do the building of houses and do a good job with the building too. When asked they tell the Jews they want to do a good job because the house will eventually be theirs.
Yet simmering just below the growth within the same community of Efrat is an intensity which is both dark and dangerous. While waiting for our armored bus to take us to Hebron to see the Cave of Macpelah, the burial ground of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, & Leah, the danger is real and within 2 hours we had to real threats averted which, if not in one instance an alert Israeli soldier things might have turned ugly and the other I would have to say situational awareness may have averted the other. To say we weren't in Kansas anymore is a real understatement.
In the West Bank Jews and Arabs are building, a fact the world doesn't want to talk about. Only when Jews build is it an issue.
All and all the future for the tiny nation is inspiring and though the anti-semites of the world plot and plan the facts on the ground are a testament that G-d is the one orchestrating.
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