Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Spaces in Between
I'm not going to address the shameful behavior that mainstream media has exhibited re: Gov. Palin. Let them wallow in that sewer. Instead, the pick of Gov. Palin has set a large part of the Right positively on fire, myself included. I may be only speaking for myself but an element of Palin's popularity rests on the symbolism her nomination representgs for the future direction of Republicanism and/or conservatism.

From my personal vantage point, the western brand of Palin's politics is an attractive counterpoint to other directions within the Right. Generally speaking, the western brand of conservatism trends libertarian, guided by an intrinsic understanding that there are spaces within life that are not ultimately guided by politics nor political considerations. Western conservatism is roundly optimistic and entrepreneurial in outlook. The vastness of the geography of the west is infused within the spirit of this outlook. The geographic spaces also work on the political subconscious. The westerner is their own free-agent in this physical space. So too does this translate in the social sphere - one should be free within and from politics.

The 18th century British Tory parliamentarian Edmund Burke (whose thought helped shaped the underpinnings of modern conservative philosophy) argued for a limited politics. Indeed, he understood that life operated within differing institutions that were not motivated by political passions: Family life, leisure life, religious life, patriotic life (patriotic in the sense that the traditions and culture of the nation were separate from the daily passions that were ever-changing). The Burkean view held that politics held its place within life but it was not all-encompassing. This inalienable right to a life of the non-political necessarily argued for a politics limited in reach and influence. Burke understood that man can sometimes be driven by the totalitarian impulse to coerce other men. The totalitarian drive would invariably intrude upon the non-political spheres of life and degrade the life of the individual as they became increasingly subservient to the all-encompassing whims of the driving political will.

The denial of the totalitarian passion is something conservatives struggle with and the Left does not. The Left believes everything is political and therefore subject to political engineering without any kind of brake to avoid domineering hubris or overreach. An example to illustrate this can be summed up by an understanding of the judicial philosophy of Originalism. The originalist view of judicial review is guided by the approach that the original intent of the words written in the US Constitution or its accompanying Amendments, at the time the words were written, is the boundary by which any modern law must abide by. Overstep the boundary of the intent, and the law is invalid. If new intent is to be written into the Constitution, the amendment process is the vehicle to do so - not to be done instead through judicial pronouncement as others would argue. The opposition to Originalism is argued most decidedly by Living Constiutionalists who view that Constitution as a document made malleable through ever changing judicial interpretation - whose intent and meaning can change depending on the political whims of those in a position to decide. The takeaway in this overview is that within the political approach to Originalism, the approach is bounded by the original intent as inferred within the words as originally written. The expansive view of the Living Constitutionalists don't subscribe to such views. Instead they opt for the ever-expansive application of the politically desirable without limitation. One can see the minimalist and maximalist approaches of Originalism and Living Constitutionalism, Originalist reach held in check by its own rules and limits versus the totalitarian free-for-all of the Living Constitutionalist approach.

Republican politics in recent years has been disregarding it's Burkean tradition of working within its self-applied limits. Big Government Republicanism has been seduced by the totalitarian passionate impulse - producing a government of ever-increasing reach, scope, and application. Some Republicans betrayed Burke and disregarded their disdain for government, instead embracing a more transformative and coercive politics more akin to the totalitarian drive of the Left. How Gov. Palin inspires is what she may represent for the party - a return to the Burkean tradition of limited government and keeping the non-political spheres of life (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) ever outside of politics. A politician who pursues a varied trove of hobbies with one foot planted within both the urban and the rural suggests a person deeply in touch with a variety of non-political spheres of American life and one with an antipathy for political maximalism. Such a politician is refreshing and suggests the possibility of a new champion for the wisdom of Burke and keeping, for a few years longer, the totalitarian impulse from sweeping America irretrievably away.


At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Palin inspires is what she may represent for the party - a return to the Burkean tradition of limited government and keeping the non-political spheres of life (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) ever outside of politics...


Please ... with any amount of digging, you can see she's just politics as usual.


At 7:49 PM, Blogger Granite said...

Actually, no politics as usual. There's a different western-vibe thing going on. Very refreshing.

From libertarian Reason


Take the observer's comments as you will. Palin cuts a different way and 80% approval means a lot of Alaskans like her - even ones she pisses off. That spells good things for the prospects of McCain led change.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Leigh said...

Having Palin be, literally, a heartbeat away from the presidency is unnerving. Very frightening indeed.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Pam said...

So, this post was written 11 days ago. Are you still on fire about the symbolism Gov. Palin holds for the future direction of the Republican party?
How do you explain her desire to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw a woman's right to chose, stated in her televised interview with Charles Gibson, as an example of this Burkean ideal of government and politics staying out of the lives of people?

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so inspirational to see people defend someone for vice president that only two weeks ago they had no idea who she was (sarcasm).
Wow, the PR machine of the GOP really knows how to push the buttons and not let reason, logic, experience or good old fashioned common sense cloud the march for victory.
Barack had a similar effect when he came on the scene over a year ago.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Granite said...

In response to Anonymous; myself being a C-Span junkie I've seen Palin interviewed as part of their coverage of the yearly national Governors conference. I was impressed then when I heard her interviewed. Also, don't think everyone lives in a limited news universe. The totality of news about any particular person or issue is not always to be found on Kos or Good Morning America. The Palin pick, although a longshot, was not a surprise to some who follow political up and comers. Remember, Barack Obama spoke at the 2004 Democrat National Convention even before he joined the US Senate! Obama had an even thinner resume then and was chosen to provide the keynote address. People like political up and comers. You got to start your national career somewhere. For Obama, the Dems decided at that time it was right to boost him to national stage. For Palin, the Reps decided now is the time.

In Response to Leigh: I don't understand this fear of someone who may end up being "a heartbeat away from the presidency" when there is an inexperienced candidate running to be the HEARTBEAT itself. If you're afraid of inexperience becoming Commander in Chief, you should not at all then be considering Obama as your choice for Prez.

In response to Pam: A few things about this Right to Choose. An overturn of Roe v Wade doesn't overturn a right to choose. An overturn of Roe means the decision to impart a right to choose gets reverted back to the individual states and their legislatures to decide whether this right exists and should be enjoyed by the state's citizenry. Would you trust Governor Lynch and the NH legislature to impart you this right? I think Burke would be OK with this devolution of power down to the individual states to decide in democratic fashion whether a right to choose exists for themselves in the states that they reside in. However, if you do not trust this aspect of democracy, what I suggest you and other pro-abortion supporters do is get going on the hard work of rallying support nationally around an explicit amendment to the US Constitution codifying the right to abortion. The problem with Roe v Wade is that it is bad constitutional law and it is on shaky ground. If you're afraid of Roe's survival, then you've got to get working on getting this right explicitly written into the Constitution (and not just simply inferred that is exists in the Constitution which is one of the problems with Roe). Once that Amendment is written into the Constitution, it will be much much harder for any judge of any persuasion to infringe on a right to abort. That's a much stronger approach to ensuring that this right exists nationally. I know that for your camp its much easier to influence 5 judges on the Supreme Court to put this right into existence, rather than do the harder work of convincing a majority of 300 million of your fellow citizens, but going down the harder path will ensure that this right is strengthened, and its also the better Constitutional path to go down. Its harder work, but if you're confident that this majority exists, and national polling suggests that more people than not believe in the right to an abortion, then such an effort may prove successful for you. Why not go down this path to strengthen the rights conferred by Roe?

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Pam said...

Honestly, I'm more concerned with the protection of civil rights already written into the Constitution that have been eroded by the current administration.
For myself, experience or lack thereof is not the main factor in this election. Knowledge, intelligence, integrity, a steady temperament and new ideas are what matter to me. I was still somewhat undecided about my choice until McCain got all gimmicky with his VP choice and then continued to keep on repeating lies in his campaigning well after they had been disproven.
As far as Palin goes, she's just another ambitious politician taking advantage of a lucky break. I can't believe the McCain campaign is still running their "celebrity" ad against Obama. Their VP pick seems to be the one turning out to be all hat and no cattle.


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