The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

1976, 1980, ... or 1964?

Rick Santorum has a pretty weird view of history. He looks back at the 1976 election, in which the GOP nominated Gerald R. Ford over the more extreme conservative Ronald Reagan, and seems to think that the reason the Republicans lost that year was Ford's moderation. He said recently:

“Let’s not make the mistake of 1976 again. Let’s bypass that era, and move straight to 1980, and let’s defeat a Democratic incumbent.”


In fact, after Richard M. Nixon was forced to resign and Ford pardoned him, the public disaffection for Nixon, more than anything else, was responsible for Ford's loss. And in any case, this is not 1976, and Santorum, in any case, is certainly no Ronald Reagan. Reagan was certainly a far more open man to the moderate wing of his party than Santorum has demonstrated himself to be. In 1976, Reagan had indicated that, if nominated, his vice-presidential candidate would be Richard Schweiker, about whom Santorum must have heard — he was a Senator from Pennsylvania, a post that Santorum himself has held. But Schweiker, unlike Santorum, was a moderate — and one well known as such. Reagan, in putting forth Schweiker's name, signaled that he wanted to include the moderate wing of the party in his vision of a Republican government. And in 1980, he did the same. Moderates in the party had favored George H. W. Bush, and Reagan named him as the vice-presidential candidate.

For that matter, Barack Obama is hardly a Jimmy Carter. Carter was, in 1976, a fairly obscure Governor of Georgia, whose record if anything was relatively conservative as Democrats go. Obama, by contrast, has pushed a hard left agenda for four years in the White House, with a clear record.

Ronald Reagan also embraced the ideas of libertarianism, which Santorum disdains. (Santorum was quoted as saying “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.” You can't get more hostile to libertarianism than that! Reagan, on the other hand, said “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism” in 1975.)

The biggest analogy to a 2012 in which the GOP might nominate Santorum is 1964, in which Barry Goldwater read the moderates out of the party in his acceptance speech: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” (Though, in fact, unlike Santorum, Goldwater's conservatism was very close to libertarianism.)

And we know what happened in 1964.

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