Those who oppose Tea Party Movement would have opposed Reagan Revolution.

September 21, 2010 at 7:38am

They come out of the woodwork.  Honestly.  I don't know Richard Baehr.  And he does not know me, although he seems to think he does.  For example, while there are aspects of Ayn Rand that I like, there are other aspects I do not.  Yet, in a couple of slaps some time ago, he wrote this: 

It is abundantly clear to me that Baehr has not read Liberty and Tyranny, or did not at the time he wrote this piece, unless he's in the business of completely distorting my views and philosophy.  And that may be the case.  


This morning I was sent Baehr's latest post on the American Thinker, where he now suggests I am a Stalinist.  He writes, in part: "I dislike Stalinist mindsets (purge the moderates) whether  on the left or the right.  The GOP will remain a minority party if it expels all its moderates. Radio talk show host Mark Levin is constantly attacking Mark Kirk, and telling conservatives to stay home in this race." 

This comes after Baehr cites "the Buckley rule" and talks about how he liked Mike Castle in the GOP primary in Delaware because he was a sure winner.


I've addressed elsewhere this simplistic ruse by Castle supporters who distort the Buckley rule in defense of a 40-year liberal Republican.  But for my purposes here, let me point to the irony of what Baehr has said.  Baehr demands that we all suspend our ability to think for ourselves, to make independent decisions, to practice the "Reagan rule" of principled politics.  Yes, Reagan spoke of "principled politics" as he took on a sitting Republican president in 1976 and was constantly running against the Republican establishment.  He spoke of a New Republican Party based on conservative principles.  Gerald Ford, like Baehr, accused Reagan of undermining the party and, ultimately, he blamed Reagan for his loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976. 


But in Baehr's mind, my refusal to support -- indeed, my opposition to -- one Republican candidate for election this November -- one out of over 400 -- makes me a Stalinist.  Of course, his demand for absolute 100% party loyalty is the real demand for party purity.  It is a mentality that better fits the Stalinist model.    And Maoist.  And ... 


This is what happens when someone, like Baehr, becomes a mouthpiece for a party or the establishment.  It is they who tolerate no dissent.  And I note he has not characterized Karl Rove's unprincipled attacks on Christine O'Donnell as Stalinist.  I see no defense of O'Donnell, although because he's a party guy he timidly says she should be endorsed like all other Republicans.  I also see no support for any of the Tea Party candidates prior to their victories in Nevada, Kentucky, Alaska, Utah, and elsewhere.  He supports their elections now, but only because he is cheerleading for the party, not for principle of any kind.   Baehr writes as if it's the 1950's, as if we don't have decades of experience of big-government liberalism.  He does not comprehend the seriousness of the times or the mood of the citizenry.  And after the election, when the very hard work of actually containing and gradually reversing the course Obama has set us on must be undertaken, he will be equally vapid and irrelevant, defending party against all comers.  It is I, and millions of others, who want the Republican Party to employ tried and true principles in order to be successful.  Obama and his party were victorious because of the GOP's failure to follow principle.  If the GOP is successful this time, by some adherence to principle, then the country will be as well.   


I oppose Mark Kirk, the only Republican I oppose in the general election, because he was 1 of 8 Republicans in the House who voted for cap-and-trade (Baehr's favorite Mike Castle was another).  It was a hugely imprudent act based solely on political expediency.  This is not some minor pork project or spending bill.  It would significantly "transform" our entire economic system, drive up energy costs, create energy dislocation, and most importantly, empower the federal bureaucracy in incalculable ways.  In other words, it would fundamentally change the nature of this society.  During the Republican primary in Illinois, only when challenged by conservatives, did Kirk suggest perhaps he made a mistake.  But he has lurched leftward again.  And according to Baehr, it is Stalinist to comprehend what a menace Kirk is and oppose him for that could mean the liberal Democrat might win the seat.  Did Baehr make effective efforts to support a better nominee in the Republican primary?  Not that I can tell.  But given his superficiality, I suppose he'd say -- "I don't believe in party purity, why would I?"  Or maybe he'd say -- "Yes, I did."  In which case I'd ask, "Why, do you believe in party purity?"  Or was he always a Kirk supporter, invoking the Buckley rule to support an extremely liberal Republican, the sort of Republican Buckley founded a movement to defeat?


Baehr is largely incoherent.  Perhaps one day he will set forth an intelligent exposition of his notions of governance.  Saying - we all must vote Republican because otherwise a Democrat will win -- is mindless.  It is the surest way to destroy the GOP and advance the argument of a third party, which I oppose. 


If you read only the first few chapters of Liberty and Tyranny, Baehr should be able to comprehend my thinking.  It's spelled out in black and white.  Moreover, I have said repeatedly that there is no such thing as conservative purity.  Conservatives do, in fact, have certain fundamental principles, as did the Founders, but that is not to say there is complete agreement on all matters.  The Founders didn't agree on all matters.  For example, my interpretation of the Fourth Amendment might differ from that of another conservative, but if we are both attempting to actually discern the original intent of the Framers (that is, if we approach interpretation from an originalist perspective) and do so with reason and logic, that's good enough.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas don't always agree on the outcome of cases, yet they approach the Constitution with fidelity of purpose.  Is this conservative purity?  Only if you have few or no principles and are little more than a superficial score-keeper and cheerleader. 


Urging Americans to vote Republican, no matter what, because Republicans are better than Democrats, will ensure that the GOP will be a minority party, and will deserve to be.  It simply is not enough to attract and motivate citizens to a party if the party does not have a cause.  "Mike Castle can win, Mark Kirk can win" is not enough.  And healthy contests in primary races, and even opposition to a particularly offensive Republican in a general election (not based on personal hostility but real and substantive differences that are truly significant in form and kind), is not Stalinist, Mr. Baehr.  It's as American as apple pie.  You may want to bone up on your American and Russian history.


To others who may be reading this, my friend Craig Shirley, who wrote a terrific book -- "Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America" -- points me to pages 21-22 of his book, in which he quotes from a 1977 Reagan speech to CPAC.  Reagan told the young conservatives, in part:


"Our task is not to sell a philosophy, but to make the majority of Americans, who already share that philosophy, see that modern conservatism offers them a political home.  We are not a cult; we are members of a majority.  Let's act and talk like it.  The job is ours and the job must be done  If not by us, who?  If not now, when?  Our party must be the party of the individual.  It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group.  No greater challenge faces our society today than ensuring that each one of us can maintain his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex, centralized society."


"Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, galloping inflation, frustrated minorities, and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise.  They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite."


"Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people.  Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members.  A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause.  The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together.  And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert, and reapply America's spiritual heritage to our national affairs.  Then with God's help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill, with the eyes of all people upon us."


I suppose in Baehr's eyes, Reagan was a Stalinist as well.  But in truth, he was the original Tea Party activist.


Let me say, finally, that Landmark Legal Foundation, the wonderful legal foundation I head, is working overtime to defeat the unconstitutional policies of this administration -- including assisting the states of Arizona and Virginia (at their request) in their immigration and health care litigation, respectively, against the Obama administration.  Moreover, Landmark and I are named plaintiffs in a lawsuit to block the EPA from instituting its cap-and-trade policies.  The first hearing is in a few weeks. 


I don't know what Baehr is doing to battle this administration.  But I've little use for cheerleaders and score-keepers who shoot spitballs at those who are actually trying to defeat these forces.