Archive | November 2014

Some Thoughts on America’s True Political Parties and Persuasions


This analysis is from 1992. It argues that the biggest political groupings in this country are Classical Liberals and Populists, who drive policy debates between elite supply-side politics and middle class entitlement politics. Classical Liberals would make up the majority of the urban coastal elites, whereas Populists would make up the general middle class on the interior and to a lesser extent on the coasts.

Less numerous are the Progressives, social democrats with vested interests in the old blue model. They’d be generally headquartered in the urban cores and very supportive of the welfare state; they are your archetype ‘big government’ types.

Then there would be the Greens, primarily environmentalists, feminists, and other postmodern urban dwellers who would make up a vocal minority in the coastal urban enclaves.

Ultraconservatives would be found throughout various country areas and would probably represent the socially conservative, economically libertarian groupings that wave Gadsden flags.

There might also be Libertarians, less numerous and more fundamentalist versions of Classical Liberals, scattered about.

Lastly, there might be a Multiculturalist coalition composed of ethnic lobbies with separatist tendencies. The impact of this groups would be negligible, though.

I find two striking things about this- first, I, of the Hamiltonian Nationalist-Whig persuasion, fit most comfortably into the POPULISTS, a term I never thought I’d use to describe myself in my life. I may have some Classical Liberal leanings but I’m a definite Populist, as is everyone else in the Hamiltonian tradition. Lind’s depiction of Populists is classically Hamiltonian- “Slightly right of center on social issues and foreign policy, slightly left of center on middle-class benefits, such a party could be expected to draw substantial support from Northeastern ethnics, middle-and lower-middle-class whites and Hispanics in the South and West, and perhaps socially conservative blacks. It would be heavily Catholic.” The depiction of Classical Liberals is also somewhat Hamiltonian: “The Republicans might compensate for their loss by becoming a more consistently classical-liberal party–pro-business, pro-choice–and attracting fiscally conservative social liberals…”

So in short, my Hamiltonian views- social progressive, cultural conservative, moral traditionalist, grand strategic imperialist, national capitalist, welfare moderate, and subsidiary nationalist- align in a coalition that is presently split between the moderate wings of the Democratic and Republican Parties, but nonetheless makes up the majority views in American politics. Perhaps those majority views are decadent and require rehashing for the 21st Century, but they certainly represent the views of the bipartisan majority. Interesting that what is fundamentally an ELITIST view of politics has a very POPULIST realization. There is indeed tension between the two wings, and has especially increased with class warfare since 1992. But fundamentally, the Bushes and the Clintons are right on in American politics, and just need rehashing and modernizing (and could use a populizing flair.) There is a basic harmony between the very rich and the middle class, and so long as the plutocratic rich are reigned in and the artificial divides between them and the middle class are broken down, common sense might reign in American politics.

Second, the moderate Hamiltonian majority views in American politics, of which I am roughly representative (though in unconventional style) largely have their interests accounted for and protected, but also are largely expelled from the general public policy debate. Popular debate is primarily driven by the Progressives and Greens in the Democratic Party, and the Ultraconservatives and Libertarians in the Republican Party. The Classical Liberal and Populist views are not excluded, but are quite outdated and are never as sexy as these more radical views which take control of the debate. They are more talking points than coherent policy statements. They need a revitalization and reinvigoration if they are to succeed.

So roughly, here’s a sketch of what the political landscape looks like- you have three coalitions on the Far Left, the Progressives and Greens and Multiculturalists. You have the Populists in the Left, though they are decadent. You have the Classical Liberals on the Right, though they are decadent. You have the Ultraconservatives and Libertarians on the Far Right. Basically, it’s left radicals-left decadents-right decadents-right radicals.

The center needs revitalized and unified, something which I think can be accomplished through a Hamiltonian program and a Hamiltonian pragmatist-moderate agenda in favor of the harmony of interests between rich and middle class which must be pursued through the constraining of plutocracy. The radical wings only then will be consigned to their proper place.

More on the program and agenda Hamiltonians like me must support shall follow. In the meantime, I have copied the party-related parts of Michael Lind’s analysis below.


It is anyone’s guess what the parties in a House elected by PR would be. (The Senate would continue to be elected the way it is now, and such effect as there would be on it would be indirect.) Although voters might continue to identify with the two major parties for a time, dissidents would soon learn that third-party votes were not wasted.

The largest party in the House might well be the Republicans. As it is, their party, with its homogeneous and stable group of core voters and centralized, disciplined organization, is far more like a European party than the Democratic Party is. If PR were adopted, the Republicans might lose their right wing to a new conservative party or parties, but the number of right-wing Republican voters is fairly small (as the Patrick Buchanan campaign unintentionally demonstrated, by adding only single-digit figures to large protest votes). The Republicans might compensate for their loss by becoming a more consistently classical-liberal party–pro-business, pro-choice–and attracting fiscally conservative social liberals who now identify with a Democrat like Paul Tsongas. Such a neoliberal Republican Party might hold steady at 35 to 40 percent of the House.

The Democratic Party, an incoherent coalition of smaller proto-parties, lobbies, interest groups, and machines, which are brought together only by the winner-take-all logic of our electoral system, would, however, probably disintegrate. The breakup of the Democratic Party as the result of PR would not mean that the power of today’s Democratic voters would decline. On the contrary, the kind of moderate Democrats represented by the Democratic Leadership Council, freed from the electoral necessity of appeasing ethnic and liberal lobbies, might well prosper. Together with “Reagan Democrats” wooed back from the Republican presidential coalition, moderate Democrats in Congress might form a Populist Party equivalent to Christian Democratic parties in Europe. Slightly right of center on social issues and foreign policy, slightly left of center on middle-class benefits, such a party could be expected to draw substantial support from Northeastern ethnics, middle-and lower-middle-class whites and Hispanics in the South and West, and perhaps socially conservative blacks. It would be heavily Catholic. A Populist Party might be the nearest rival to the Republicans for the status of largest party in the House.

The United States, unlike Europe, probably would not have a strong Social Democratic Party, given the low level of unionization and the lack of a mainstream socialist intellectual tradition here. There might nevertheless be something that called itself the Social Democratic Party, representing unions, farmers, public-sector employees. Heavily black and Hispanic, such a party would favor protectionism and government subsidies to industry.

A small American Green Party would almost certainly arise from the decomposition of the Democrats. Appealing to New Age environmentalists, pacifists, feminists, and gay-rights activists, such a party might have trouble winning five percent of the vote in successive elections. So might other fringe parties that are easy to imagine: the Conservatives, a far right-fundamentalist alliance; the Multicultural Coalition, a coalition of ethnic-separatist parties; and anti-tax Libertarians.

Carrying this speculative exercise one step further, we might assign percentages of House membership to these hypothetical parties. Based on European experience and American political subcultures, the pattern might be as follows: Republicans (40 percent), Populists (30 percent), Social Democrats (15 percent), Greens (5 percent), Conservatives (5 percent), Multiculturalists and Libertarians (5 percent between them).”

Defending Islam from the Crusaders at Intercollegiate Review


A while back I got into a comment war on the Intercollegiate Review with a bunch of trolls bent on defaming Islam as a whole. Here are the two essays I composed in response, the first to the article itself, the second to a comment response to my first comment.

Comment 1-

You are making conservatism look bad by writing an essay depicting the crusaders as a pack of white knights only doing justice and fighting evil. You sound a lot like liberal, progressive social justice activists, telling tall tales of poor, oppressed peoples enduring centuries of oppression and, one day, rising up and fighting the man in a true crusade for justice. Go out on the street with those Occupy Wall Street thugs- you tell the same narrative.

Alexander Hamilton delivered the most conservative one-liner ever spoken: “Tis the portion of Man assigned to him by the eternal allotment of Providence, that every good which he enjoys shall be alloyed with ills, that every source of his bliss shall be a source of his affliction- save VIRTUE alone, the only unmixed good permitted to his temporal condition.” In modern Facebook English, for those uneducated out there: Anything human is both good and evil- humans are neither demons nor angels, but a poor mix of both. The closest things to demons are men who call themselves angels.

I despise anti-Western multiculturalism as much as any of you guys do, but here’s the difference- I love and appreciate Western culture without being a jingo. There’s value in every culture’s ways, as well as folly. Our culture is no exception; neither are our brothers in Islam. And in truth, there are a good many publications Muslims have churned out over the years that pay great homage to true conservative values- humility before God, valuing of individual excellence, the tragic nature of human life wrought by geopolitics and human fallibility. It’s true- read The Hundred Names of Allah, The Thousand and One Nights, and The Muqqadimah. Multiculturalism is flawed in saying that there is no objective value and therefore all cultures are equal. The truth is, there IS objective value, and all cultures tap into it in different ways which the wise man ought to value and learn from.

It is a shame that, in defense of Christianity and in opposition to Islam, the author should feel compelled to resort to 15th Century depictions of Christians as good and Muslims as evil. Such characterizations are as invalid and immature as 20th Century depictions of Muslims as all-righteous and civilized and Christians as barbaric and dogmatic. You have sunk to the level of those you despise in publishing this. Be reasonable. Be conservative.

There is truth in both narratives, and there is falsehood in both narratives. Such is true of all narratives. Life is tragic and our vision is distorted. Read your Homer, o ye who would claim the mantle of literature as your shield and sword.

The world really is more interesting than it seems.

Comment 2-

Mr. Dolphin,
Thank you for joining me, my fellow pontificator.
I do not disagree with anything you say on the nature of war or indeed on the nature of Islam (so long as you soberly acknowledge that essentially everything you have said about that very human religion can be said with equal validity about its cousin Christianity.) You detail with vigor the crimes Islam committed. Did not Christianity commit its own crimes? And not even always against its neighbors, but even against its own? Do ‘The Warrior Popes’ or ‘The Sack of Constantinople’ mean anything to you? Beyond the differences of culture and religion, men are men, and they have a tendency to be vicious when not constrained by Leviathan or prudence. I don’t give Islam a pass, nor do I give Christianity one; nor do I praise Islam for attaining the greatest civilization possible, anymore than I do so for Christianity.

As for the specifics, perhaps it is true that Christianity is indeed the more loving and merciful of the two. As a Christian myself I’d like to believe that. But with the record of history spread before us, none of us should be casting immediate judgments in black and white.

It should easily have been expected that the Christians would retaliate against the siezure of their lands, as much as any other people or culture has done in our own time. Does that make the conquest just and the war proper? Does that elevate our preferred faction on a pedestal above all others? I don’t see their cause as ‘just’ any more than the Muslim conquest previous to it could be called ‘just.’ War is war.

In short, Mr. Dolphin, my problem with this article is its self-serving appeals to victimization and its equation of that victimization with our righteousness, a tool of the weak and normally the revolutionary. We proud supporters of the Western tradition need not demonize our neighbors and say that all we have been taught is a lie, just to feel secure and justified in our pride. A Stoic acceptance of the evil on our side and the good on theirs is necessary to accept the good on our side and the evil on theirs.

I think it’s important that the Christian side of the story be shared, especially in light of the visceral attacks on Christianity the last two and half centuries have been host to. But just as the necessity of a return to Founding Virtue does not at all condone or justify the contemporary Right’s humiliating bastardization of the Founders’ beautiful, sublime political philosophy into populist garbage, so a true appreciation of our Christian heritage in the Crusades cannot be based upon an assertion of our self-righteousness and innocent Christian virtue.

America’s False and True Conservatives- A Response to Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh, an incredibly talented blogger with impeccable credentials for social conservatism (though perhaps not temperamental conservatism) recently posted an article on his Facebook feed with a comment urging someone to denounce President Obama as a tyrant.

Somewhat entertained, I commented this response.


“Impeach him? As a tyrant? 

He’s going about the basic tasks of governance as outlined by precedent and the constitutional authority of the president, loosely defined (as it has been for the entirety of our nation’s history since George Washington, and yes, including under Jefferson and Jackson, those two great strict constructionists. One of them smelt a rat at the constitutional convention, the other one was raised and influenced by people who fought the constitution tooth and nail and were happy with the Articles of Confederation.)

Here’s my beef with you Tea Party types and other modern iterations of the populist libertarian strain endemic to our culture- you guys are what the historian Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style in American politics.” You’re always convinced that liberty is days away from destruction by a corrupt and pernicious elite. You can’t entertain any serious governance by corrupt human beings, being under the sway of the fallacy that the government is capable of doing no good, and you are blind to the mass amalgamations of positive good the United States government HAS accomplished in the last 23 decades. You don’t realize that the market is maintained by government, that society is protected by government, and that the institution of the state was the second human institution- the family being the first. If the blessings of government went away, you’d like to entertain the notion that civil society would fill the void- but watch any Western and see what true libertarianism bears.

I don’t by any means think the progressivism of the contemporary ruling class is beneficial or excusable. The excesses that the New Deal and Great Society reached were a disgrace to human nature, and we still inhabit the world of their making. The idea that you can fix all the problems of society through a paternalistic technocracy based upon social science and entitlement is almost antithetical to the republican (lower-case r) tradition. But they were not bad because they were extensive overreaches of the federal government- they were bad because they were premised on a flawed conception of human perfectibility. Ironically enough, the same conviction of man’s inherent goodness animated the Democrats not only of the 20th Century, but of the 19th Century- including Jackson, Madison, Jefferson, and, had he stayed on rather than went over to France, Thomas Paine.

So who were the conservatives, the ones who took human nature as it is and strove to build the best society possible while acknowledging man’s inherent corruption? 

The advocates of big, non-progressive government over the course of American history, who have in every case possessed a calmer, more reasonable temperament than most of the individuals also commenting on this article. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt, Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush. These men- impeccable conservatives all- believed in vivacious government for the common good, had no respect for ideals of human perfectability, and saw the Constitution as the list of guidelines for governance that it was, rather than eternal laws from on high. FDR might have made this list had he not joined the progressive excesses of Woodrow Wilson. Note that these are the men who have built and transformed the Republic from the Founding to the present day. Others have maintained it; few have rejuvenated it.

In case it’s not clear, I’m accusing all of you of ‘not really being conservative.’ Y’all are radicals as much as any Occupy Wall Streeters out there, simply radicals of a different sort. You who would tear down the institutions of the state, who would value liberty over order, who would burn true traditions in favor of false nostalgias, and who would demonize great men as traitors and tyrants- you are doing nothing to perpetuate the great traditions of the Republic, and you are doing a disservice to the Constitution and its principles.

Matt, I like your social conservative instincts. You have a real penchant for the natural law and all its manifestations. But I think you are in the wrong American political tradition. Always remember, it was Thomas Jefferson, the champion of the common man (or so he said,) the hawk of small government, the worshipper of liberty, who cheered on the seas of blood of kings and priests spilled during the French Revolution. It was Jefferson who believed in the perfectibility of Man, going so far as to edit the Bible to suit his own personal moral preferences. It was Jefferson who saw rights as more fundamental than responsibilities, and thereby birthed the entitlement culture we struggle against every day.

It was Alexander Hamilton, the champion of energetic and efficacious government, who knew the evil in men’s souls and designed the institutions of our republic to limit their worst excesses. It was Hamilton who piously took communion hours before his death. It was Hamilton who saw the revolution in France for what it was, and condemned it as the most unholy catastrophe ever conducted in the name of liberty. It is Hamilton to whom all American conservatives owe the greatness and moderation of this country.”