My first vote was for Jimmy Carter – when he lost to Reagan. I remember the feeling at the time. Carter had been a “new hope” after the Nixon/ Watergate corruption. He had that big grin and Southern drawl and he was the smartest president we ever elected (a nuclear engineer!) before Bill Clinton. Oh sure, he didn’t do hostage rescues very well and the economy was in an abysmal state and conservation wasn’t just a buzz-word – it was a way of life (my dad really did set the thermostat to 55 degrees at night). America was experiencing unrelenting Carter malaise, but he was such a nice guy – and his opponent was that “saber rattling, idiot actor Reagan” – ugh!
And then there was the Reagan term, which reinforced the idea of Carter as a really nice guy. After all, Reagan fired the air traffic controllers right off the bat. Then he set about invading various helpless little nations to the south like Grenada. He called the Soviet Union an evil empire and caused all sorts of international chaos with his “Star Wars” initiative and bombastic rhetoric. Meanwhile, Carter was starting up Habitat for Humanity. What a nice guy.
I’m ok friends. I haven’t lost my mind. I’m just giving you the back story so you’ll understand the degree of disappointment and contempt with which I now hold Jimmy Carter. I’m getting much of the inspiration for this article from Jay Nordlinger’s “Impromptus” on National Review Online. Here's a quote from Jay’s remarks on Carter’s op-ed in the L.A. Times:
For example, he writes that George W. Bush has implemented "a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican." Among these principles is "the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights."
Where to begin! Here’s what us neoconservatives believe Carter means by these principles:
Peace = pacifism with dialog no matter how feckless or how dangerous the outcome.
Economic and social justice = minimum wage (living wage) increases no matter how many low wage jobs are lost, single payer (that’s taxpayer) cradle to grave health insurance no matter how poor the medical services become, affirmative action (preferential treatment based on skin color and gender) no matter how damaging to race relations or insulting to the meritorious, protection from torture (not having your A/C turned off) if you’re an “enemy combatant” held in Cuba.
Civil liberties = abortion on demand, the right to say and perform acts of treason in the U.S. Congress or as a former president without consequence.
Our environment = no exploration for oil resources anywhere and massive taxpayer investment in alternate energy sources, certainly no more nuclear power no matter how clean it is, expansion of species protection no matter how many people suffer/die as a result, agreement to Kyoto and follow-on even if it means destroying the American/global economy.
Human rights = the fundamental right to abortion, to health insurance, to not ever be offended, to state sponsored secular humanist education (gosh, if only the founding father’s had heard the poetry of these ideas – Jefferson would have amended the Declaration!).
You would think that anyone with half a brain who had run the most unsuccessful administration in the country’s history could learn something from failure (I know, that’s probably oxymoronic). But, no – not liberals - and particularly not Jimmy Carter. These people are delusional! As a service to them, I’ll address Carter’s principles from this neoconservative’s point of view.
Peace is a brief interval that occurs between major human conflict, assuming you don’t count “minor” flare-ups, civil wars and intra-national genocidal acts by tyrants like Saddam Hussein. Peace is only possible for us good guys to enjoy after defeating evil. And we are by far and away the good guys as the only people in all of human history to willingly sacrifice our blood and treasure for the liberty of others – whatever their race or religion. Now, that is a commitment to fundamental human rights. If you disagree – prove me wrong! I only ask that you do it using history and facts.
Economic justice is achieved through free-market capitalism with minimal regulations to ensure the honesty of bookkeeping and profit reporting. This system is amoral and all participants should understand that.
1) If someone wants to sell you dog droppings and you’re willing to pay money for it – that’s a free-market capitalist transaction. It is not the government’s business to keep you from buying dog droppings or to set the price. The government’s only concern with the transaction should be that the dog droppings seller honestly represents his product and his profits to his shareholders.
2) There is no such thing as an obscene profit. The profit incentive is what drives the whole system and creates greater efficiencies. Huge profits are followed by a market adjustment that usually benefits the consumer by lowering the price of the product. This occurs because the profits are so great that more people/companies want in on the action, therefore increasing the supply and – you got it – lowering the price.
3) By free-market we also mean that the government should stop subsidizing businesses such as farmers. This tampers with the price of products on the world market and unfairly affects poor farmers in the third world. Sugar is a case study.
But, what about the principle of “from those who are able to those in need”? That, my friends is socialism and it is immoral. It is immoral both because it encourages the unrealistic expectation that the government can meet your needs and fix your problems (not to mention the political corruption resulting from a party cultivating a dependent class), but also because it is stealing resources and virtue from the able. Those who are able to support the poor have a disincentive to work hard to get ahead (the government just takes it for someone else) and are less likely to feel generous toward the poor as a result. Helping the poor is a Judeo-Christian value (synonymous with neoconservative values), but it is to be performed by the individual, not by the government. If you want to help the poor, work at a soup kitchen or, better yet, become an entrepreneur and provide jobs! Paying your taxes doesn’t count.
Social justice is what happens when we adhere to our Judeo-Christian values and expect the same treatment of all Americans under the law. This means that we’re advocating a color-blind meritocracy. We want liberals to stop Balkanizing this country by promoting multiculturalism! We don’t care if you descended from African slaves or Italian princes. Your ancestors’ sins and/or suffering do not attest to your character or ability! Have you studied hard and tested well? Then you deserve to move up. Have you shown talent and initiative in your efforts, but have limited opportunities because of your family’s limited means? We want you to have a scholarship. We’re for equal opportunity – not equal outcomes. Liberty means the chance to succeed and to fail.
Civil liberties are alive and well in America as evidenced by the Left’s favorite mouthpieces still enjoying their liberty while committing sedition and treason during a time of war. Ted Kennedy – just a few days before the January 30 vote in Iraq – calling for a pullout of American troops! Who was this intended to benefit? Certainly not the Iraqi people who braved the threat of terrorists killing their children to go to the polls despite a high-profile American calling for us to abandon them to the killers. Certainly not the American military, which would suffer the loss of purpose on top of the loss of heroes by abandoning its mission. Kennedy’s position is so spectacularly repulsive because he is advocating the same fate for Iraq and America that he succeeded in achieving for Southeast Asia and America in abandoning Vietnam. He, personally, has the blood of innocents on his hands.
Have you noticed that anytime the Iraqis get close to an election, the liberals start their hysteria? Now the Democrats are continually quoting a poll indicating that “80% of Iraqis want us out”. These are serious times calling for serious thinkers. Does anyone seriously believe that 80% of Iraqis want the American military to pack up and leave today? I really want to hear what kind of distortion of logic and reality you can use to convince yourself of this. Don’t you find it more likely that the Iraqis answering the poll felt intimidated and gave the safest answer they could about the “occupiers” when they know that they’re more likely to be killed for the “wrong” answer by terrorists than they are by Americans? John Kerry, Howard Dean and Barbara Boxer are just a few liberals using the poll to lend support to our enemies. And yet – they suffer no consequences – not even hard questions from the media. I don’t want to hear any more complaints about loss of civil liberties from liberals! When Iraqis enjoy the civil liberties of American liberals, then it is time for us to leave!
What do neoconservatives think about environmental policy? Hey, if it is going to increase the number of caribou in ANWR by 300% (as it has elsewhere in Alaska) to have an oil pipeline running through there, I’m all for it. I like mammals generally and humans particularly as made in God’s image. Therefore, I’m not too keen on species protection for pests such as insects and rodents. I also don’t believe it is a good idea to reintroduce predator species among human populations once they’ve been eliminated, no matter how repulsive and inhumane the original means of elimination may have been. While limousine liberals are all too happy to have wolves back in the lower 48, I won’t advocate the return of them to Central Park.
As for energy production and global warming, I’m willing to accept that some global warming may be in progress. However, considering that the data seems to align more consistently with solar activity (and the sun is a way big thermonuclear reactor only 90 million miles away), I’m not prepared to buy the human fossil fuel/CO2 cause yet. On the off-chance that CO2 production by humans has some effect, I’m willing to go nuclear to try to reduce our emissions. I also believe that, if nuclear power is good enough for the French as a primary source of power, it is good enough for us.
How about human rights? I’m for them, unless you’re against them for me and others (think Islamists and other totalitarians), in which case I’m against them for you. I guess I should define human rights for me so as to distinguish them from what Carter means. Human rights to me are those so eloquently stated by Jefferson in the Declaration: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, Carter and other liberals have conflated these fundamentals with some rather obtuse un-articulated constitutional rights (like privacy) that we have to clarify somewhat.
The right to life is not the same as the right to a convenient or comfortable life. If you are inconvenienced by an unwanted pregnancy, you do not have the “human right” to deny the right to life to your unborn child. Killing an innocent is never a moral choice (with the exception of war casualties), whatever the underlying reason, and it does not improve you or your society to have this “right”.
Liberty is not license. The right to liberty is the God-given right to exercise your conscience (assuming you have one). You are free to choose your religion or no religion. You are free to associate with whomever you please. You are even free to think and say pretty much anything, as long as it doesn’t fall outside the bounds of your society’s social/ethical codes, which in our case are based on Judeo-Christian values.
You have the right to pursue happiness, but the government is not able to guarantee it to you. In a free society, you may sometimes/often be offended. Get over it! Having health insurance is not going to make you happy if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, but can’t get an appointment with an oncologist for 6 months – just ask the Canadians. Happiness is not guaranteed by God or government and is never provided by government.
What about human rights for terrorists in detention camps? They want to cut off your heads and consign your wives and daughters to the barbarity of Sharia law. They keep screaming it through video recordings sent to al-Jazeera! I think they’ve relinquished their human rights. Neocons aren’t advocating the torture of terrorists, but not because it would deny them their human rights. We don’t want our military men having to perform torture because it denies our men their human dignity. I’m all for the psychological and physical coercion of these animals if it will save innocent lives. Turning off the air conditioning in Cuba for people raised in 120 degree temperatures in the Arab desert is not torture. Neither is a gun shot past the head to get someone to reveal information about an ambush in Iraq. It is an honest way to say “your life is only worth the information you provide me – this is war!”
If what I’ve described as neoconservative ideals is not Jimmy Carter’s America – or yours – it is not because America has left its historic ideals behind. It is because, thank God, most Americans realize that the socialistic secular humanist theories proposed by liberals like Jimmy Carter are failures and against the interests of the United States and, therefore, human liberty around the world. We have to stop providing cover for proponents of leftist ideology as nice guys. They are not nice guys at all when innocents are forced to live with - or die from - the consequences of their ideology. Jimmy Carter is not just another nice guy.