Friday, April 30, 2010

The Rise of the Independents?

Charlie Crist, as everyone will know, has gone independent in Florida. The political climate can change so quickly, who knows if the current conditions will continue for long. But I for one greet a world where we see more and more independents running and winning--whatever you might say of Crist's motives.

It feels like you have to be extreme in either party to win a primary these days. Bring on the sane independents, as far as I'm concerned!


JRS said...


Be careful that you do not misinterpret the situation in Florida.

Crist was losing badly to the candidate that stands for constitutionally limited government and traditional values.

If that’s extremist . . .

Ken Schenck said...

I have serious questions about the use being put to the phrase "constitutionally limited government." I am a Lincoln Republican and this phrase seems only to serve a pre-Civil War States rights agenda. It is a fascinating thing to me that the Republicans have become the primary champions of state's rights!

I do favor limited government, but in a global age, that's going to mean something the framer's of the Constitution could not have imagined. Indeed, the economy of the last ten years has never existed in the history of the world and cannot be addressed using economic theories learned even in the 90s.

What this means is that we'll have to do the hard work of thinking through challenges the world has never encountered before. We have to figure out what the best "limited government" should look like in the 21st century.

"Traditional values" once included slavery and not letting women vote. Show me the details, not the catchphrases!

You're right that "extremist" is not the right word. "Off center" or "idiosyncratic," maybe?

JRS said...

I’m no constitutional scholar but as I understand it the plain meaning of constitutionally limited government is to do at least two basic things: secure the God given unalienable rights of the people and contain the power of the federal government to constitutionally granted powers.

Further, the phrase seems more originalist to me than being confined to the pre-Civil War era.

As far as applying Constitutional principles to our day, yes times change, but do foundational principles? I am continually amazed at the brilliance of the founders. One of their guiding principles surely applies today. They were convinced that people (including office holders) left to themselves would sin. So government of necessity placed limits on the behavior of the people and the constitution placed limits on government. Since the proclivities of human behavior have not changed, we continue to need constitutionally limited government.

Allowing for the possibility that times do change and the constitution may need revision, there is an amendment process for making changes. Unless and until such amendments are adopted, let’s follow the constitution!

And by the way, it strikes me as quite odd that you would mix mention of economic theories in a discussion of constitutional principles.

Finally, you worry me with your apparent disdain for traditional values. You would dismiss traditional values because you view the expression as a catch phrase? If you continue to press such a deconstructionist view of language, can we ever have meaningful discussions? Current usage of the phrase “traditional values” does not commonly include praise for slavery or prohibition of voting rights for women. To suggest that it does is a poor attempt at manipulating the discussion and if I may borrow your word . . . extremist. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

As for the issue of slavery, the founders’ handling of the issue when writing the constitution actually moved the nation toward the abolition of slavery. They in no way sanctioned it or attempted to preserve slavery. Remember at the time of the revolution, slavery was well established; an inherited problem. The new nation dealt with reality and took beginning steps to eliminate it.

Finally, I’m puzzled that you want to label and denigrate advocates of constitutionally limited government as “off center” or “idiosyncratic.” It’s truly troubling when people committed to preserving, protecting and defending the constitution are considered outside the main stream of American thought and life. I certainly hope that is not what you intended to communicate. Perhaps I misunderstand.

Ken Schenck said...

I apologize for my initial knee jerk reaction, and I'm glad you followed up.

I do consider the current center of the Republican party off center, just as I consider the current center of the Democratic party off center. That's why I like independents :-)

In the end, I don't think this sort of "meta-talk" is very productive. We need to be talking specific issues not generalistic theories. "Limited government" is a good value, I agree. What does it look like with regard to a specific issue? That's the question.

Traditions often stand in the way of genuine progress. What exactly are we talking about? A valuing of all life? A good principle. But it plays itself out in both the Republican concern for the unborn and the more Democratic concern for the welfare of the illegal immigrant and those who have self-enslaved themselves economically (at least for those thinking Christianly).

Freedom of religion is a traditional American value. Or by traditional values do we mean a privileging of Christianity within America?

Is it traditional values to keep women out of the military? It seems a very nebulous phrase to me indeed. What are the specifics? I'm interested in the truth, not traditions.

Generalizations are necessary because of our finite intellect... and they almost always involve skew. And the more generalizations, the more skew. The Devil is in the details...