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You Can't Outleft the Left

The dominant struggle of the 20th Century was the attempt to reconcile the growth of industrial economies with the social welfare demands of the left. The various attempts to "Steal the Thunder" of the left by adopting its social programs led to horrors such as Nazism on the one hand and the growth of the welfare state on the other.

Communism was finally defeated by adopting its program. The national battle against a Russian
Communist empire was won while the domestic struggle against the left was lost.

The welfare state created a fifth column of bureaucrats and recipients to act as the left's electorate. Instead of stealing the left's thunder, they subsidized the triumphant long march of the left.

The liberal Republican prescription is still to Outleft the left, adopting some of its more popular ideas and social policies in a more sensible fashion. And they have never understood that the strategy, even when it succeeds in the short term, is doomed. You don't win by making your enemy stronger. The left understands that. That is why it's strategies once in power involve deepening and expanding its institutional power while destroying those of the right.

The temptation to Outleft the left is always there and always doomed because adopting the ideas and positions of the left means that you have already lost.

Mastering the craft of political expediency only gets you through an election. But if you adopt enough expediencies, moving left to win battles, the day will come when there are no more elections because the war has been lost.

Allying with the far left against the left on national security can be as tempting for some libertarians as bending on social welfare and amnesty is for some liberal Republicans. But it's equally a dead end.

The media has begun conniving in the downfall of Obama because the election is over and the next election will require a Democrat who will run against Obama in the same way that Gore ran against Clinton and McCain ran against Bush.

In 2008, Obama ran to the left of Clinton on national security. There are signs that this time around Hillary Clinton will try to run to the left of Obama on national security taking advantage of the national dissatisfaction with multiple wars to push a return to a 9/10 Clinton Administration era of ignorance and inaction.

The ultimate beneficiary of the NSA outrage will be Hillary Clinton. And even if that we're not the case, trying to Outleft the left still fails even when it appears to work. Mainstreaming the ideas of a Glenn Greenwald because at a given time he makes a useful club to beat Obama with will only ensure a future version of Obama who is even further to the left.

Outlefting the left only radicalizes it and then the left radicalizes the country. Defeating Obama by empowering the left would be as pyrrhic a victory as winning the Cold War while empowering the welfare state.

What distinguishes conservatives within a party whose political operatives all too often sacrifice principles to political expediency are those principles. It is often said that those who hold to their principles lose sight of the bigger picture. But principles are the bigger picture.

Either we fight for principles or for power and it's easy to tell the difference. Principles are consistent regardless of who is in power. Everything else is political expediency.

There can be a conservative case made against NSA data mining, but the case had to be consistent. Treating drones as an ingenious weapon under Bush but an evil death machine under Obama is not a principled position. If the NSA is bad, it was bad under Bush. If drones are bad, they were bad under Bush.

There is a fundamental difference between opposing a political targeting program in the IRS under Obama and jumping on the left's side of any national security issue because it allows us to hit Obama even when the issue did not originate under Obama.

Not all scandals are created equal. Some scandals are an outrage because they violate our principles and because they are a declaration of war against us. Others are a scandal because a bunch of international left wing activists who oppose every conceivable American military action say that they are.

A conservative case on any issue does not rely on the likes of Glenn Greenwald for support. If what we truly fear is the tyranny of the left, then what possible good can come from empowering the far left?

That's not allying with Stalin against Hitler, it's allying with Stalin against Socialists.

If you go into a struggle of ideas, you should know what your principles are and derive solutions from them. Greenwald and the rest of the far left does. Their principles lead them to reject terrorism as anything other than a response to American foreign policy. Their solution would be total surrender and appeasement. Imagine a policy that makes Obama look like a militarist and exceptionalist and you're there.

Many believe that there can be nothing worse than Obama. History suggests otherwise. There can always be worse and the seeds of that are here today.

The Democrats embraced the anti-war movement to bring down Bush and the end result of that alliance was Barack Obama. If Republicans embrace the anti-war movement to bring down Obama, forcing the Democrats to go even further to the left, what political monsters will be spawned from that mating?

In a long struggle it is easy to lose sight of your principles. The question is have we lost sight of our principles in fighting terrorists, as the left insists, or after fighting a long bitter war against Obama for so long are we losing sight of the fact that our larger struggle is not against Obama, but the ideas and institutions of the left that he is a part of?

The enemy isn't just Obama or his flunkies. It's also Glenn Greenwald and Michael Moore. It's the entire transnational idea that denies the right of nations to defend themselves and indicts them endlessly for imaginary crimes against the Third World.

The only way to make a conservative case against tactics like the NSA wiretapping is to reject that premise and the likes of Greenwald. Unless that is done, the case belongs to the far left and adopting it is not an act of principle but expediency. Trying to beat Obama with the ideas of the left by undermining America will only give the left an even bigger victory.


  1. Anonymous12/6/13

    please edit your takes, Krauthammer, Hanson do it on one + half pages

  2. As a practical matter who is in charge of a weapon of war makes all the difference. Imagine a US Senator excitedly talking about a powerful new fighter jet, and then you discover that he is talking about a new fighter jet in the Chinese or Russian arsenal. His excitement suddenly seems odd, perhaps treasonous. Obama being in charge of the NSA especially after the IRS scandal seems like it could lead to problems. No matter what idealists want to believe you cannot define rules that are both specific and general enough (an obvious contradiction) to work for all as yet unforeseen circumstances. The US Constitution lasted for a while, but it's clear that it has not failed, and failed catastrophically. It could not foresee Obama, nor FDR, nor Wilson for that matter, nor of course could it ever be capable of coping with an electorate that has gone soft or corrupt, something understood by the Founding Fathers but not something that they could fully address.

    Muslims need to watched and deported. That doesn't mean that all Americans should be watched all the time without any profiling just so that some odd patterns are picked out by 20something analysts or Chicago politicians and their flunkies for whatever purposes they can dream of. Profiling works, and political correctness doesn't. Obama in charge of any tool with a capability to limit freedom WILL limit freedom. Let's not treat Obama as some sort of a "sometimes good, sometimes bad" complicated sort of guy. He is the most dangerous enemy America has ever faced because he took over and is totally Teflon to the core so nothing can be easily pinned on him. Let's not have any excuses for anything he does. He can do nothing right, everything he does is wrong. His goal is to destroy the United States, and just because he sometimes does something seemingly reasonable to create an illusion that he is not malicious, that's no reason to acknowledge his actions as useful. Snowden did something good because he made it a little bit harder for Obama to destroy America.

  3. The weapons of war are currently in the hands of the US. If we follow the logic to its conclusion otherwise we would have to call for dismantling the US military for fear Obama will use it against us.

    Obama is not a unique entity. He's another leftist activist. There are more of them out there. And the big picture is we're fighting the left, not just Obama.

  4. Naresh Krishnamoorti12/6/13

    When did it become a conservative principle to run roughshod over the Fourth Amendment?

    Are there any civil rights or rights under the Constitution you're not willing to violate if it would mean a marginal increase in our ability to protect ourselves from terror?

    Should we endure SWAT teams randomly entering our homes?

  5. IgorR:

    The US Constitution lasted for a while, but it's clear that it has failed, and failed catastrophically.

    ("not" was a typo.)

    Right now, the Constitution is the biggest obstacle to any improvement in the situation in the U.S. because it provides a cover for the criminals in charge. Obama acts as dictator, but wraps himself in the Constitutional mantle of the Presidency. Americans have a 200+ year emotional attachment to the current system of government, and at this point it has become irrational.

    This does not mean that we have to or even can junk the Constitution; it only means that the current challenge is extremely difficult, and requires some very creative thinking.

    All of us sane ("conservative") people have become a bit obsessed with Obama, probably because the whole story is so unreal. He should have been eliminated in the first week of the Dem primary race in 2007, he certainly shouldn't have made it past the Jeremiah Wright revelations and his bizarre speech on the subject, the American electorate should have vetted him minimally before the 2008 election and given McCain a landslide just for not being a gangster, Obama's first year with things like the Henry Gates story, his apathetic response to the uprising in Iran, his apology tour, the huge pork 'stimulus', the Nobel prize, etc., etc., should have put his approval rating at <20% ......

    We all know I could go on and on and on and on, and that is why so many of us feel like we are living in a nightmare and just want to wake up to the regular bad reality of fighting ordinary leftist stupidity. Anti-Obama obsession is probably hurting us, but it is far from easy to shake.

  6. Naresh Krishnamoorti,

    talking about the 4th amendment is a conservative case. Throwing in with Glenn Greenwald and embracing the left's anti-war narrative is not.

    FSY, Constitutionally it's arguable whether the POTUS was really meant to have this much power. The creep of the imperial presidency is arguably unconstitutional.

    re, Obama. His rise has been bizarre and surreal and in some ways hard to explain. I've written a good deal about that and I loathe him like few do, that said, I think it's important not to lose sight of the fact that he's only one of the left's players and that Hillary will be up next.

    Obama will soon be yesterday's news. We need to be preparing for the next battle.


  7. FSY, Constitutionally it's arguable whether the POTUS was really meant to have this much power. The creep of the imperial presidency is arguably unconstitutional.

    Of course. My point was that people are hypnotized by the office which has some legitimacy, despite abuses by earlier tenants (and I greatly doubt that Nixon was the worst), and so they are reluctant to question Obama's authority.

  8. Obama just has to be watched. The kinds of weapons he has the capability to direct in full secrecy against any American citizens are in a different category than say ICBMs.

    Today Obama is in charge of NSA, the overall left is not. He can easily (relatively) direct it to do things that he can't get a bunch of Marines to do within the continental US, so I don't think we can apply the same rules across the board.

  9. fsy, the Constitution is still the best example of its kind out there. The idea of checks and balances, which is in fact an incorporation of negative feedback into the machinery if government is centuries ahead of its time, but even machines that utilize feedback fail sooner or later. What follows are some of the challenges that the Constitution seems incapable of dealing with as it currently exists.

    Islam. What is a religion? Can any totalitarian philosophy be called a religion and be protected? How do you deal with a whole segment of the population plotting and/or actively supporting the destruction of the country?

    The courts. How do you prevent the courts inventing laws and not enforcing the Constitution?

    Concentration of power. Once the executive branch contains the power to use the machinery of government to achieve any purpose it wants, what is there to prevent electoral cheating and suppression from letting this state of affairs go on indefinitely?

    Transfer payments. What is there to prevent the majority from confiscating as much as it wants (possibly, but not necessarily, aided and abetted by a corrupt government) from a minority?

    Debt and money printing. Seems obvious.

    I'm sure there is more, and no system can deal with a majority that has gone nuts, but currently it's not clear that what is being accomplished is with or against what Rousseau called "general will" flawed as that concept was.

  10. fsy, the first republic failed because of a lack of strong executive authority.

    The second may be suffering from too much of it.

    Igor, domestic law enforcement at the Fed level is under executive control and it's the ultimate weapon. The question is what's the alternative.

    Alien and Sedition Act was one early solution.


  11. Transfer payments. What is there to prevent the majority from confiscating as much as it wants (possibly, but not necessarily, aided and abetted by a corrupt government) from a minority?

    The money running out?

  12. Daniel, I'm leaning towards completely stripping the federal government from any domestic law enforcement and in fact taxation. I'm also for allowing the states to quickly dismiss the President by a vote of the governors. In my opinion, the states have to become almost independent countries. This way the experiments of democracy can work. It is true that some states can destroy themselves and thus weaken "the country", but that is happening even today PLUS there is a federal government that is destroying the country.

  13. Thanks for this article. The conservative movement has lost all sanity and reason. It seems the only purpose it now has is just to oppose Obama for the sake of opposing him. They are willing to compromise national security for political expediency.

  14. And now Snowden is a hero on the right. He is also a hero in Moscow and Bejing and to jihadists and the international left. Is this who the tea party wants to align themselves with?

  15. Anonymous12/6/13

    Neither party has principles. Both are ruled by unprincipled politicians whose political careers and the power and benefits of that career are the only concern they have.

    Our ruling class is totally outside of the reality of the world. The principles of the Constitution, the rule of law, and of liberty mean absolutely nothing to them. The lives of the masses are simply tools manipulated by them to increase their power, wealth and status. We truly have become a one party nation ruled by corruption, criminality and created chaos by the politicians who aren't interested in solving problems but in creating them.


  16. You assume that being outraged by the scope of the NSA datamining is the same thing as opposing ALL NSA activities in this regard. That's flawed logic.

    I can support the NSA being used as it was under Bush (to target known Islamists, particularly phone calls, etc. to known terrorist hotbeds, and I can--at the same time!--damn what Obama's NSA is doing because it is NOT aimed at terrorists but at law-abiding Americans with zero ties to any terrorist organization, people who would never in a million years have someone to phone in Islamic Africa or the Middle East. The stories that are coming out is the targeting of conservative troops, conservative and Christian and Jewish groups and individuals, and the use of what is found against them as Obama's political enemies.

    The NSA is not supposed to be the mafia, yet Obama treats it like his goon arm in his partisan battles (real and imaginary). There is no "this is about terrorism" for Obama; it's not. He's declared the war on terror over and has started (back in 2010) his "real" war against any and all political opposition. I proudly oppose that. And I can do so without "outlefting" anyone and without being a leftist. It's really not "either/or" "black vs. white" here, and I'm surprised that you appear to see it as such.

    Using NSA wiretaps for legitimate purposes in the war against Islamofascism = good.

    Using NSA wiretaps, etc. for illegitimate purposes to more Forward! the fundamental transformation of America = bad.

    Blindly rubber-stamping any and all government use of power in the name of the war on terror is dangerous; not all presidents are created equal, and this president, in particular, has proven time and again that he sympathizes with (even partners with!) Islamofascists. His NSA knows which vets are posting anti-Obama sentiments, which patriots are tweeting against his initiatives, but they don't know--with the input of both the UK and Russia, that there are two (or more) terrorists about to blow up a marathon in Boston? This isn't about the war on terror anymore, Daniel. Really, it's not.

  17. Anonymous12/6/13

    @fsy: "...the American electorate should have vetted him minimally before the 2008 election and given McCain a landslide just for not being a gangster."
    If McCain had selected Lieberman instead of Palin, he'd have won. The politicos talked him out of it.

  18. Anonymous12/6/13

    @ Klansman Igor!I think you are thinking of George Bush, or are you mirrowing yourself?

    No doubt about it, you are a racist! And a bigot, and a black-hating extremists! In fact! ALL Obama haters are the biggest racists in American History. All it took was a black man to become President to open up your obvious racism against Obama!

    he has not been destroying America but he is trying to save for his nation

    No. Conservatives anti-liberal indoctrination causes them to lie pathologically about Democrats, though, including how often Obama lies.

    The extremely hypocritical part of this trend by conservatives is they still refuse to admit Bush lied to convince us to invade Iraq. They'll say, "Bush didn't like; he just didn't know any better," without affording the same consideration to Obama.

    He certainly is not a terrorist and not an evil man and he wishes the best for America. He is NOT a muslim although I don't see why it matters seeing Muslims are find people, it's only a terrorist group that claims they're muslim that does the acts (he even has his birth certificate printed on a cup you can buy it) No, he's not a dictator like Hitler, yes he can be impeached but won't, and no he of course isn't a monster

    NO; Obama wants to "fundamentally transform" America. I am inclined to think he doesn't hate all aspects of America but distorts and picks VERY selectively from the principles he appreciates in our country.

    America is being destroyed by violent weather.
    And no, I see no sign whatsoever that he is an enemy of the country that he is President of.

    7. NO; Obama has publically anounced he is a Christian and attends an Episcopal Church in DC. That is his outward religiousity- what he believes in his heart is between him and God.

    NO; it is dumb-ass comments like Hitler comparisions that de-legitimize real libertarian/conservative arguments against progressivism

  19. The choice presented is loss of all privacy with a terrifying all powerful government. Or total lack of safety.

    Its a false choice. A better one is this:

    Shut down the borders
    Legalize drugs so there is no more market for smugglers or crime bosses

  20. Igor, I think the FBI probably should be weakened a good deal. It overreached early on and has gotten worse since. That said, when fighting a foreign enemy that blends with a domestic civilian population, I'm not sure a patchwork of individual states can cover it.

    It was simpler before Communism or Islam

    LEL, some people aren't thinking clearly and the Paulists are exploiting that.

    Fuzzy, I agree. So is there evidence the NSA was used to push a domestic Forwardism agenda the way that the IRS was?

    Jerome, I doubt it. Lieberman was already a Dem foe. And two old senators would hardly have been all that inspiring against hope and change.

  21. Anonymous, I've seen messages like yours a thousand times and my experience tells me there is no point in replying to them substantively. I would just recommend that you come up with some novel material so that we can all be entertained rather than bored.

  22. Daniel, if Israel can deal with Muslims, Texas can too. Of course it's better if there is a powerful united US fighting Muslims globally. But then you get Obama, or for that matter Bush, and if the recent report I read about the level of penetration that Muslims have into the US government is true, and it seemed well researched, multiple power centers would be better.

    The problem with the centralized government is that once the head rots, the body has to rot as well. There has to be some place for people to go without moving to Singapore or Hong Kong to escape overwhelming taxation and federal tyranny. There is no perfect nation state organization for all time. In our current situation, moving to a weaker confederation of very strong states would improve the situation. I would even impose a requirement that those who move to a new state cannot vote for 8 years to prevent what Californians did to Colorado and what the rest of New England did to New Hampshire, etc.

    You can talk about a weaker FBI, but there is not way a powerful central government would voluntarily weaken it. Of course it wouldn't voluntarily agree to a weak confederation of states either.

  23. "Fuzzy, I agree. So is there evidence the NSA was used to push a domestic Forwardism agenda the way that the IRS was?"

    And the way the NLRB was (Boeing)? And the EPA? And the DOJ (Gibson Guitar, NBPP, Arizona, AP, Rosen)? And the DHS, TSA, and even the Army identifying Christians and conservatives as "potential terrorists"; warning that people who buy guns and have anti-Obama bumper stickers should be turned in immediately? And the ATF, the FBI, and even OSHA? No, nothing on NSA as of now.

    But I'm not at all willing to accept the current lack of evidence of targeting, corruption, and/or abuse of power as a clean bill of health. Obama has his enemies list, now all he needs is a way to find what every single person and group on it has done wrong or that can be used to make their life miserable (ala all of the above agencies). I would guess that the NSA has a role to play in that.

    This entire administration is corrupt to its very core. Sure, maybe the NSA is the one and only agency that hasn't engaged in pushing Obama's destructive agenda and/or "punishing his enemies," but I somehow doubt it. Besides, they don't actually have to do anything with the data, just turn it over to leftist and regressive groups, to the other agencies that have proven corrupt.

  24. Sibyl S13/6/13

    Rumor has it, Obama wants to be UN Secretary General and one can only imagine the powers he will grasp for that organization.

  25. Igor, what happens when a liberal state tolerates Muslim terrorists that move across the border into a conservative state?

    Fuzzy, the NLRB is an ideological entity. So is the EPA. Is the NSA? Has the NSA done anything to target conservatives?

    Sibyl, who knows

  26. Daniel, the whole point is that the conservative state can institute measures as draconian as it wants to, even when the liberal state is failing.

  27. Daniel, as I stated, there is not much evidence of that. Yet. But we're learning today that the NSA is not allowed to target American mosques at all (nor is the FBI, fyi). That's the ONLY restriction on NSA's blanket surveillance that you believe is designed only to keep us safe from radical Islam.

    Well, guess where those radical Islamists like to hang out, recruit for jihad, and generally cause trouble. . . . but yeah, that's not at all ideological. Except here's the thing, *everything* under Obama is ideological.

    Until his presidency, I would not have thought the FBI, ATF, TSA, IRS, DOJ, or OSHA were ideological, either, yet each has been used by this administration to go after perceived "enemies." Do you really think that doesn't include the NSA?

    Our own military is forcing military chaplains to perform gay marriages, telling Christian soldiers they can't mention God or the Bible (I'm sure Allah and the Koran are A-ok, however--in fact, we know they are because we saw that with the Fort Hood terrorist), even restricting what materials they can read (silently, to themselves) on buses. Are you suggesting that this is all just spontaneous and has nothing at all to do with the Ideologue in Chief?

    I think we've reached another impasse here. But it's all good. Everyone can and should think for himself (and herself). :D

  28. Anonymous14/6/13

    "LEL, some people aren't thinking clearly and the Paulists are exploiting that." That would be Senator Paul-ist to you, Daniel. But at least Rand is giving ya'll a club to beat him over the head with on amnesty.

    The trouble for you is the neocon we're fighting a war on terror against Islamists position is completely undermined by arming Islamists in Syria. You recognize this fact but McCain and Graham pretend like there's no fundamental contradiction there at all -- yet another reason, along with their war lust and domestic issues hypocrisy why they are increasingly HATED by the Republican base and return that hatred. And I don't doubt for a second that the NSA has compiled dossiers on some of your associates, with the excuse that they've called people who may have unwittingly called people in Israel who work for Mossad or Shin Bet. Two degrees of separation is enough for the NSA.

    Your notion that we need an NSA to listen (legitimately, with real as opposed to fraudulent/blank check FISA warrants) to Islamist extremists is well taken. The problem is Obama is showing every indication that he wants to import more Islamists who will surely be among these Syria refugees just as the Tsarnaev brothers claimed refugee status while one uncle was part of the CIA's fight Russia to the last Islamist schemes that didn't end in 1989 as they should have and another relative who actually worked for Kadyrov, which along with Uncle Ruslan probably explains the CIA's long relationship with Tamerlane and why they allowed him to engage in transparent immigration fraud by going back to the Kadyrov dominated Chechnya his parents allegedly fled as refugees.

    I agree with you too that these programs and the potential of drones were bad under Bush if they're bad under Obama. What has changed is the full justified sense that the Administration is aggressively going after its domestic political enemies as well as stockpiling armaments and ammo and indoctrinating federal officers into viewing the tea party as enemy combatants. Hence your complaint about the 'Paulists' exploiting this fact. Sorry, but many even ex-neocons or ex-neocon fellow travellers like myself who initially supported the Iraq invasion and worked around neocons in D.C. now realize we've been had and the war machine constructed in the name of fighting Islamism is actually for us.

  29. So far the only "war machine" being aimed at us is the domestic war machine of the IRS and the rest of the regulatory state.

    Claiming otherwise requires showing evidence that the NSA is actually targeting conservatives the way the IRS was.

  30. Anonymous17/6/13

    Mr, Greenfield, you stated that "Communism was finally defeated by adopting its program."

    Could you be a little more specific on this matter? What points/programs of communism were adopted? How did adopting these points/programs defeat communism?

    If the answer is too long for comments, please email to chizbro@comcast.net


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