September 05, 2008
Okay, of late I’ve been a really lousy political commentator. Not much of a citizen, either. I would have cheered on our guys and gals in the Olympics, had I known they were going on. (I’m a big fan, in theory, of beach volleyball and synchronized swimming.) But the games just plain slipped my mind, so all I caught was a documentary with athletes staring goggle-eyed at deep-fried beetles and puppy hearts on shish-kebobs sold from Beijing food carts. And I wasn’t left hungry for more.
I also forgot to watch either party’s national convention. Just plain missed ‘em. Perhaps I have been in denial, avoiding the fact that our nation’s choices boil down to a Chicago “community activist” (i.e., ghetto shakedown artist who mau-maus Whitey for handouts) and a crackbrained Deer Hunter nostalgist whose vision of America is one vast and well-policed Navy base… where we all march in formation, pick up cigarette butts when ordered, and ask our commanders for “liberty”—which they’ll grant us one weekend per month.
Yes, the outcome of the primaries left me feeling… disenfranchised. To the point where I’ve found myself checking on my passport, to make sure I’m still an American—and wondering if I won’t someday end up on a reservation for white, blue-collar Catholics. Where, of course, we will offer bingo.
You know those guns for toys trade-ins they sometimes hold in crime-ridden cities? I’ve been searching in U.S. government Web sites to see if the Feds will let me trade in my voter registration card for a lifetime pass that reads “Get Out of Jury Duty, Free!”
Ever since I read Hans Herman Hoppe’s Democracy: The God that Failed, I’ve been cynical on this topic. Like Hoppe, I’d rather be the subject of some inbred Wittelsbach, taxed 10% of my income and left to live in peace, than a “free” citizen of a monster State that gobbles up 40 or more percent of my wealth—in return for…well, nothing—but grants me a whole 200 millionth of a say in how it is spent. The next time you wonder whether to vote, remember these rules of the game. And think about whether the odds of your changing the outcome exceed the likelihood that on the way to the polls you’ll be abducted by almond-eyed aliens—and wake up buck-naked in a cornfield, in sore need of Anusol.
Speaking of Hoppe, I met him in Zurich in 1999, at the café that used to host James Joyce and V.I. Lenin, sometimes on the very same day. (I picture them tussling peevishly over the same house copy of the Neue Zuricher Zeitung.) I was researching my first book, on Wilhelm Röpke, and wanted Hoppe’s insights. “You ahhr writing about a Cherman thinker, but you do not read any Cherman?” Hoppe inquired.
“Well, most of his writings are also in English,” I said with a nervous smile. “And everyone I’ve interviewed over here speaks it too.”
“Ja, ja. Dat is chust great—everybody speaks the English, even in Europe. Dat’s vonderful,” he answered, filling my face with a cloud of cheap cigarette smoke.
“Well be fair, Dr. Hoppe,” I gasped, respectfully. “If ya’ll had won the War, we’d all be speaking Cherman.”
The good professor squirmed as if I’d microwaved a bag of Jiffy-Pop in his trousers, and ranted for some 10 minutes about key differences between the ideas of Murray Rothbard and the contents of Mein Kampf. All very enlightening.
Still, Hoppe’s book is good. And it taught me the real distinction between a citizen and a subject: Subjects don’t get soaked on April 15th, and no one would think of drafting them into the army. For the State to gain the chutzpah to claim so much of your life and your stuff, it wraps itself in the tricolor bunting of “democracy.” In the red, white, and blue—you know, Napoleon’s colors.
I wasn’t always so cynical. As recently as late 2007, I was helping Ron Paul to plant his “money bombs.” Back when the good congressman was making headlines, and his ideas forcing a few Republican brain cells to rub together, I briefly hoped the friction might yield a spark—and set off a prairie fire that spread from ear to ear, until the dried out conservative movement lit up like Michael Jackson’s hair. I too had a Dream.
You know what happened next. A pants-wetting catamite at Marty Peretz’s The Neverland Ranch (TNR) fished out some yellowing Ron Paul newsletters on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, conclusively proving… what, exactly? That pointy-headed libertarian ghost-writers in the 80s pretending to be Ron Paul were willing to play at being racist, in the hopes of luring skinheads into reading all 987 pages of Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State. Which for some reason didn’t work. They really must stop teaching all that Machiavelli in Special Ed.
So the “Reloveution” fizzled. It was squelched in part by the ugly publicity those tinny tracts stirred up, but mostly by the bone-deep dumb-nitude of Republican primary voters who opposed immigration amnesty and the conduct of the Iraq war—and showed their outrage by voting for…John McCain. Not since Larry David’s and Gerry Seinfeld’s parents checked the box for Pat Buchanan in Florida has democracy worked this well.
When Ron Paul faded from view, so did I. I pleaded with Takimag’s editor to let me abandon the autopsy transcript of this year’s elections, and concentrate on what I believe is really important: Rambling, self-deprecating anecdotes of colonoscopies, botched job interviews, failed romances, and Nicorette. Eventually, I’ll cobble these columns together into a book I’ll be too embarrassed to autograph, which readers will lean on in moments of sadness or personal failure. They will look on the bright side of things, and think: “At least I don’t have to be Zmirak….”
The emergence of Sarah Palin did give me a fillip of hope. Her brief embrace of Pat Buchanan, the fact that as a pro-lifer she put her motherhood where her mouth is and refused to abort her retarded baby (unlike some 80% of American mothers who hear such news), her solid, small-town values…. It’s enough to rouse in a cankered old soul like mine an interest in this election. For several days, I’ve wondered whether it might be worth turning out in November. I thought with some seriousness of sending Gov. Palin my vote—and President McCain a weekly shipment of Krispy Kremes and cigarettes. And I still might do it—might raise my mighty 200 millionth of a voice, shouting directions to the driver of the stampeding pachyderm we’re tied to. What could it hurt?
I really should have watched Gov. Palin’s speech. My beloved viewed the whole thing last night, and was thrilled by Palin’s charisma. “She is darling,” my Southern belle gushed. “She’s feisty, she’s fierce—and ohmigod is she beautiful. After five children—did you see that figure?”
These are not virtues we should take lightly—in a world where the alternative is four years of staring down Joe Biden’s hairplugs. No less an authority than Aristotle allowed that ethos and delivery were central elements in rhetoric. So I’ve learned in recent weeks preparing for the writing class I taught for the first time today.
But I didn’t watch the speech. I made the mistake of reading it—in the hope of analyzing it with my students. And what I read was little more than a dreary series of applause lines, bloody chunks of red meat for the Red States hacked out by a prominent vegetarian. Not that their provenance bothers me. The fact that Ron Paul may have tasked his marvelous book to my old friend Thomas Woods just shows the congressman’s good taste. Barry Goldwater hired the great Brent Bozell to provide him with The Conscience of a Conservative—and Bozell’s conscience was surely a whole lot keener than Barry’s.
While Palin’s talk took some delightful shots at the inflatable Superman balloon that is Obama, her positive program boiled down to little more than the following:
I wasn’t entirely swayed by this analysis. Still, given the farcical choices we face, I’m strongly tempted to go ahead and vote. America really doesn’t deserve the five or six more memoirs Obama is sure to exude when he’s not out multiplying loaves and fishes. I don’t think First Lady is a job we should fill through affirmative action, nor would I relish the face of Michelle Obama—that puckered elephant orifice—on my TV when I’m trying to eat. In fact, I think I’ll abandon all philosophical pretexts, and revert to the base, Darwinian standard by which I judge any other man: By the beauty of his partner. On that basis, during the primaries, I revered at once Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich. And it clarifies our choices in the election. McCain won for his (running) mate the luminous Sarah Palin. The prettiest date Obama could score is Joseph Biden. I think most Americans know how to spot the Loser.