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Choice dies when they won’t listen

It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #1)

Well, then,” he said, “either prove stronger than these men or stay here.”

Isn’t there still one other possibility…” I said, “our persuading you that you must let us go?”

“Could you really persuade,” he said, “if we don’t listen?”

“There’s no way,” said Glaucon.

“Well, then, think it over, bearing in mind we won’t listen.” (The Republic, Book I, 327c, Allan Bloom’s translation)

This weekend I attended the state convention of the Utah Republican party. Chuck Williams, one of the candidates for the GOP nomination for Congress in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, is a long-time friend and has worked tirelessly in the effort to uphold the founding principles of the republic. I had already endorsed his bid for the nomination, and he thought that my making the effort to travel to Utah to personally back up the endorsement would be of help to his campaign.

Given Mitt Romney’s widespread support among the delegates who would be at the convention, I confess that I had some misgivings. I haven’t exactly been reticent in stating the reasons I look upon Romney as the archetype of what I call the crypto-socialist Republicans (i.e., those who wear the Republican label and deploy rhetoric intended to exploit its conservative cachet, but whose decisions and actions have consistently moved in the socialist direction.)

Despite my misgivings, I was warmly received by everyone I encountered. But, as expected, Romney supporters predominated. This led to some interesting discussions, including one that led me to juxtapose the two quotes with which this article begins. A gentleman overheard me expressing the view that the only sense in which Mitt Romney is a conservative is that he would by and large conserve the radical leftist measures Obama is imposing upon the American people. When I cited Romney’s record as governor in support of this statement, this gentleman took exception. He said that he had looked at the facts, and what I had said wasn’t true.

I stood my ground, citing as my first example Governor Romney’s statement last December that he would not seek to roll back Obama’s requirement that America’s military forces must accept openly practicing homosexuals in their ranks, upsetting a discipline that goes all the way back to the nation’s founding. I noted that Romney’s stand in this regard was consistent with the promises he had kept to the gay lobby in Massachusetts, including his willingness to compel justices of the peace in Massachusetts to perform gay marriages.  My pro-Romney interlocutor stood his ground, denying that Romney had done any such thing.

He said he had reviewed the facts, so I asked if he had read the ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in the case of Goodridge v. Massachusetts, dealing with homosexual marriage. He said he hadn’t. I pointed out that, in the discussion that accompanied the ruling, the Court’s majority admitted that, under the Massachusetts Constitution, their decision could have no effect on the marriages performed in the state until and unless the Massachusetts legislature changed the state’s law to reflect their ruling. This is because the Massachusetts Constitution (Part the First, Article X) explicitly states that “…the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.”

Not content to respect the opinion of the Court (which made it clear that the Massachusetts Constitution precluded the performance of homosexual marriages until and unless the legislature took action) or the words of the Massachusetts Constitution itself, Governor Romney notified the state’s Justices of the Peace that they would have to perform homosexual marriages, or he would, on his own authority, remove them from office. Romney’s action was an unwarranted surrender to the forces seeking to destroy the substance of the marriage institution. But I pointed out to my interlocutor in Utah (as I had to the general public back in 2008) that Romney’s action was also a “failure…to ‘say no’ to corrupt activist judges in a critical controversy over ‘separation of powers’…” that made clear “the kind of executive he would be if elected president,….”

Faced with this combination of facts and reasoning, the gentleman I was speaking to smiled uneasily but said nothing. Taking this as permission to cite another example of Romney’s leftist actions I started to outline the socialist substance and pro-abortion provisions of the so-called health care reform in Massachusetts generally known as “Romneycare”. Before I could do so, however, my interlocutor said he wasn’t interested in hearing any more, and walked away.

It seems to me that his action accurately represents the fact that the GOP’s crypto-socialist leadership has adopted the leftist political culture of the Democrats they claim to oppose. I don’t know how many times I’ve been involved in, or witnessed, episodes where Democrat proponents of some left-wing policy or candidate made it clear by word or deed that they wouldn’t listen. They walk away, they orchestrate disruptions at their opponent’s speeches; they cut off answers in media interviews to prevent people from presenting facts and reasoning that might persuade others that the leftist position doesn’t make sense.

This is not just about discourtesy or incivility. It is, as Hamilton said, about whether to base government on reflection and choice, or accident and force. When raw power is used to cut off discussion, this rejects the possibility of persuasion. It makes reasonable deliberation impossible, allowing the force of irrational passion and ignorance to determine the outcome. Of course. this makes a mockery of choice. Other events at the Utah Convention also brought this to my mind, events that eventually led to a moment in which my friend Chuck Williams’ microphone was cut off as he made an effort to put facts before the delegates that some powers-that-be didn’t want them to hear. But that’s a story for someone else to share.

Sadly, I experienced nothing at the Utah GOP’s state convention that contradicted my conclusion that the GOP’s powers-that-be now embrace an understanding of politics very like that of the Democrats they profess to oppose. All that matters is winning. The end justifies the means. Accident (i.e., the force of events, whatever ends up happening, otherwise known to the leftists as “history”) and force, rather than reflection and choice are the basis for rule, with no God endowed rule of justice applied to limit it.

As I said in my WND column on Friday, this represents the rejection of the ideas of America’s founders. It  transforms the natural foundation of politics from the “laws of nature and nature’s God” to the simple challenge Socrates receives from Polemarchus: either prove yourself the stronger, or surrender to the dictates of those who are. The peaceful art of persuasion is no longer relevant. They won’t listen. In this regard it’s timely to remember that the Greek name Polemarchus may be translated into English as “Warlord.”

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Guess who Mitt Romney Represents?Abandoning the Republic- a threat to civil peace?

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  • DanielAgee April 27, 2012, 1:25 pm

    Your excellent argument points out a significant election process degradation.  In your WND article, you also imply an electorate’s disengagement is equally as wrong as selecting between these two candidates.  This post has a small (relatively local) example of electing a more principled individual as the back-drop to your greater action.  Your engagement!  Elections spawn electorate engagement opportunities early and often.  The greater the engagement, the greater the potential out-come.  The draw-back (that you have not explained yet but you show a perfect example) is attracting and engaging reasonable listeners.  What is the solution?  Though you explained one problem with Romney well, does that seed grow if no-one waters it?
    On the other-hand, does lack of water, justify me not planting any seeds?  God can bring rain, if I don’t plant then why would He still send rain?  Who failed Him or me?

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