A New Group Puts “Principles First.”

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67 Responses

  1. Frank Benlin says:

    Completely missing the point, it’s annoying when the two women on the right feel the need to pose like that. It’s not as bad as duck lips, but close.Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    “Social issues are not the top priority, but most of the members are pro-life.” (emphasis added)

    aaaaaaand this one’s not going anywhere.Report

  3. JoeSal says:

    Principles were the second casualty of this war.Report

  4. I’m very much for more groups and political involvement. I’ll just confess upfront I’m cynical and wary of all new groups, since so many of them turn into something else once they get on down the road a bit. I wish Heath & co success, but I’m going to have to see it, over time, consistently, to put much thought or thinking into this groups potential.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    This sounds like a sort of get the politics out of politics thing. Getting the politics out of politics is de facto impossible by definition. For instance, one of the biggest arguments in American history is what does the Constitution say. Liberals believe that the welfare and regulatory state are perfectly constitutional while the Right by and large did not and does not.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Indeed. This from the linked-to site:

      There are plenty of things that government could do, but only certain things that government can do. The Framers specifically enumerated the powers of Congress in Article I, Section 8 – everything else was left to the states and to the people. Whichever challenges the government chooses to tackle, it must tackle them within the boundaries laid down by the Constitution.

      In the wild, such statements are almost always followed by a declaration that most of the significant federal legislation of the 20th century is unconstitutional.Report

    • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

      “Hey, we want to ban abortion, but we don’t want to be political about it!”

      Blah. Empty platitudes don’t get you very far.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d says:

        Exactly. Humans are socio-political animals, so everything humans decide to do or not do in mass is by definition a political issue or at least has the potential to be one.Report

        • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

          The very meaning of “political” is political, which I understand why that is annoying sometimes, but it’s the real world.

          There is a joke about video game culture. It goes like this:

          There are two genders, male and “political.” There are two sexualities, straight and “political.” There are two races, white and “political.”


          It’s a joke. It’s “true-ish” more than literally true. But still, it’s pretty darn true-ish.

          That very joke is political. As is this statement about that joke. As is the ensuing conversation we’re about to have.

          How do we escape politics!!!

          How do I escape? After all, trans folks don’t get to exist in the world without politics. Meanwhile, childish nerdlings (in adult bodies) have freakouts if a video game has a trans character or a gay subplot, which they describe as “shoving it down their throat.”

          It’s wearisome.Report

          • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

            Has anyone described your preference as a sacred totem? hahaReport

            • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:


              Are you saying that? If so, why? What is your point?Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                It’s a bit of a loaded question, something the authoritarian left has been swinging on site.

                How would you feel if they threatened to take your property?Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                Who is “they”? What property?

                You can draw things out into weird abstractions, or you can just explain what you mean.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                ‘They’ is someone who thinks you should comply.

                ‘Property’, what was discussed was housing.

                Yes I am drawing a one-off weird abstraction, it’s somewhat a carnival mirror I hold up to social truths.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                Yes I am drawing a one-off weird abstraction, it’s somewhat a carnival mirror I hold up to social truths.

                I’m sure that means something to you. And who brought up compliance and housing? Are you on the right thread? I thought I was talking about the nature of “politicization” and why people who say “I don’t like politics” are full of shit.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                I thought you made a pretty salient point, and it kind of works across the board. There is no living in a world devoid of politics.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

      For instance, one of the biggest arguments in American history is what does the Constitution say. Liberals believe that the welfare and regulatory state are perfectly constitutional while the Right by and large did not and does not.

      To be clear, nobody is saying that the welfare and regulatory state are unconstitutional, but rather than the Constitution relegates welfare spending and regulation of instrastate activities to the state governments. Is there really a serious argument that it does not? From where I’m sitting, it looks an awful lot like one side is citing a bunch of a contemporary sources showing that the Constitution was clearly ratified under the understanding that the federalist interpretation was correct, and the other side is just shouting “NUH UH!”

      I don’t know. Maybe enumerated powers denialists have some super secret club house where they present legitimate arguments for their position, but they don’t seem to be sharing them with the rest of us.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        To be clear, nobody is saying that the welfare and regulatory state are unconstitutional, but rather than the Constitution relegates welfare spending and regulation of instrastate activities to the state governments. Is there really a serious argument that it does not?

        Actually, lots of people say precisely what you say nobody says. And the “serious argument” that the current welfare and regulatory state is constitutional is over a century of Supreme Court decisions, which I recommend for light reading.Report

        • JoeSal in reply to CJColucci says:

          Probably should invoke Sturgeon’s law to the last century of Supreme Court decisions.
          (actually it is probably over 90% crap)Report

          • CJColucci in reply to JoeSal says:

            You could certainly take that position. Many do, and some of those many even understand what they’re talking about and have reasons they can articulate for their views. There’s an entire industry devoted to criticizing Supreme Court decisions, but the thing is that unlike the participants in that industry, the Supreme Court speaks with authority, and, therefore, sets the terms of discussion within the industry. When the Supreme Court says something, that is, by definition, a “serious argument” for its position.Report

  6. greginak says:

    This seems like a fine idea. What i would hope is that “principles” doesn’t end up equaling “polices/ideas i like.” That is generally how it is used which is not useful and just leads to cynicism about the entire concept of principles.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I think LeeEsq and Andrew get it right. This is a lot like the “problem solvers caucus” or the “no labels” caucus and is largely doomed to failure.Report

  8. Chip Daniels says:

    I would welcome a conservatism that can engage peacefully with liberalism.

    But I also recall that every great advance in America was the result of a bitter political fight every bit as ugly as now.
    The era of peace and bIpartisanship is usually the period following the war and defeat of one side.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    I prefer when my opponents have principles.Report

  10. Pinky says:

    I understand the caution expressed by some of the commenters, but this isn’t happening in a vacuum. This isn’t a generic reaching-out-on-principles movement. It’s conservative. You can make a strong argument that historical conservative principles have been failed by politicians and parties. I think even the more left-leaners on this site would agree with that. Even if they don’t, wouldn’t they applaud any articulation of conservatism without racial biases?Report

    • greginak in reply to Pinky says:

      I would agree. The R’s have failed on many conservative principles. If they can reinvigorate a conservatism w/o the ugly racial cluelessness of the current R’s and lived up to the best ideals of conservative ideas that would be great. This country could use that.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

        I love manifestoi (manifestoes?) and this one is closer to bland than not. It strikes me as Reformocon-ish, but then the Reformocons were too little too late… so I’m not 100% sure there’s enough of a manifesto to generate a critical mass. I’m happy to watch and hope it does.

        There’s a decided bend towards Subsidiarity (vs. simple Small Government) that is nice to see… I understand thinking that a principled constitutionalism might be a good place to rally; however I don’t think their approach will resonate (for multifaceted reasons not fit for a combox). But the economic platform of free trade and equal oppty (vs. outcome) is dated and won’t do any heavy lifting. That’s the biggest clunker.

        At any rate, bon voyage… but not a project sufficiently interesting for my particular/peculiar tastes.Report

  11. Mr.Joe says:

    Humbug. How about a Facts and Reality First organization? Much of our current political troubles involve putting principals over the best facts and understandings of how the world operates. Good decisions at the Federal level are not going to be made by putting principals first. Facts first will show you where principals come into friction with each other and themselves. Then by using principals as a lens to determine the values of gives/gets, you can make good decisions.

    We do not need more adherence to principals. We need more adherence to facts.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Mr.Joe says:


    • Pinky in reply to Mr.Joe says:

      This is the question of positive (how things are) versus normative (how things should be). To create good policy we need both. Good data with bad code is just as useless as bad data with good code. We need to decide * what the problem is, and that requires us to address both. You and I probably agree on this, but your phrasing threw me off.

      * “Decide” is different from “agree”. The latter requires 100% agreement; the former requires holding the relevant positions of power. Ideally in a democracy we’d have broad agreement before we make decisions.Report

      • Mr.Joe in reply to Pinky says:

        I agree that principles are required to give values and meaning to facts or courses of action.

        Putting principles first is usually a disaster. In a large muliti-cultural society, if we set out to agree on principles first, we are either going to fail to get any significant agreement or end up with principles that are so vague as to be useless. Also, principles first often leads to oversimplifications and absolutism. It is possible and common to arrive at broadly agreeable solutions via different base principles and weightings.Report

        • JoeSal in reply to Mr.Joe says:

          I think if you even find it at all that social objectivity is a fickle and mostly absent mistress.Report

          • Mr.Joe in reply to JoeSal says:

            Certainly, anything that involves human+social tends to be fickle.

            However, if we stop moving we die. So we gotta find the best ways to get stuff done. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. (Insert other relevant platitudes here)Report

            • JoeSal in reply to Mr.Joe says:

              Wouldn’t a better option be to recognize that people have diverging views of social objectivity? Maybe start with that premise?Report

              • JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                Did any of the popular kids think about how a muliti-cultural society may not lead to anything that looks like consensus on social objectivity? That social objectivity that is needed for a functional democracy.Report

              • George Turner in reply to JoeSal says:

                You doubt that we could have a stable mix of Turks and Armenians, Islamists and Zionists, San Franciscans and Amish, Nazis and Bolsheviks, Achaeans and Trojans, Stalinists and Trotskyites, Kurds and Bathists, Saudis and Iranians, Israelites and Philistines, or Romans and Carthaginians?

                Why that’s just defeatist crazy talk.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Mr.Joe says:

          You’re assuming that I want us to agree on principles before we act. I want us defining our principles, coming to the table and talking about our priorities and the actual facts of the situation, then acting. What we’re currently doing is coming to the table, sitting down on our ostensible allies’ side, and failing to act.

          I’m not saying that it’s easy to find agreement at the table. But the agreement we come to would be a lot more meaningful if it were only supported or opposed based on its credibility, rather than on alliances.Report

          • Mr.Joe in reply to Pinky says:

            I think we are broadly in agreement that principles are a key part of finding workable solutions. However, so many discussions are based solely on principles and never get down to even solid facts we are sure of, let alone things we are only kinda sure about. I don’t see progress in stronger adherence to principles. Quite the opposite. We need stronger engagement with facts, as best they can be determined. It is harder because facts always come with uncertainty and may even change over time. We crave certainty. Operating from principles can provide that, but that is not how the best solutions have been found.Report

  12. Saul Degraw says:

    Today in stupid:

    Yesterday there was a news story about a bedbug infestation at the NY Times building. A GW professor made a joke on twitter about how the bedbug was NY Times op-ed writer Brett Stephens. This tweet got a grand total of nine retweets. Brett Stephens sees it, announces he is leaving twitter, e-mails the provost of GWU, Streisand’s the whole thing, goes on TV to complain, and then gets invited to GW by the provost to talk about “civility in the digital age.”

    How the hell did the rich and powerful get so thin-skinned and yet they get away with it?Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Well, you’ve got a point there; I mean, it’s not like he saw a picture of some guy standing still with a vague smile on his face.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      At the time that Stephens wrote to GWU trying to get the guy fired, the tweet had half a dozen likes and zero retweets. It of course now has ~4,700 retweets.

      Apparently Brett Stephens is one of these “the right to offend is the most sacred aspect of free speech” / “the biggest threat facing our society today is the stifling of speech on college campuses” / “you snowflakes and your safe spaces” guys. So of course he tries to get a college professor fired for speech because principles are for other people.

      As I understand it the invitation to GWU was trolling him – he had invited the professor to his home to “call him a bedbug to his face”. The provost invited him to GWU to discuss what freedom of speech actually means. I don’t think it was an offer of a public speaking engagement, it was an invitation to sit in the uncomfortable chair in the headmaster’s office and receive a lecture.Report

    • Zac Black in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “Get”? They’ve always been this way. Crack open a history book sometime, it’s full of this kind of thing.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      To determine whether this is a totally reasonable and proportionate response to a vile and despicable attack on Stephens’ right to exist or a histrionic overreaction, I need to know his race, gender assigned at birth, and political affiliation.Report

  13. Aaron David says:

    The fundamental aspect of our current politics, and one that this group, not unlike many such groups, left or right, misunderstand, is that we have two divergent views on how this country should be run. And as the level of support for each of these views is roughly equal, there can be no giving ground. Both sides believe (both rightly and wrongly) that they have given up too much in this contest. And that is the real struggle. Until an actual realignment is felt by both sides, and one comes up on top, we will have the issues with politics we are having. It is a no quarters, knock-down fight, and reaching across the aisle by a couple of people, people who have any sort of agenda politically, let alone legislatively, aren’t going to get any traction.

    There is no room for mercy.Report

    • Jesse in reply to Aaron David says:

      For once, I agree with Aaron.Report

    • Mr.Joe in reply to Aaron David says:

      I agree, except there is an alternate ending. The costs of fighting increase to the point where both sides feel they are ready to make sacrifices for peace.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Mr.Joe says:

        Yeah, I read Lord of the Rings also. It’s a great fantasy.Report

        • Mr.Joe in reply to Aaron David says:

          Korea, Iran v. Iraq, India v. Pakistan, any number of civil wars in Africa, Columbia, Afghanistan looks likely (seriously who would have called Trump approving a deal with the Taliban even 6 months ago)

          Many wars in the so-called post-war era have ended without outright victory. We are much less far along than those conflicts. I agree with your thesis that the “war” for the direction of the country is going only going to get hotter from here, but there are more endings than full capitulation on all issues.

          I have reached the point of the ongoing costs look too high to me. Most haven’t and are only really getting invested. It is sad that whatever the endpoint is, it could be had today if we were wise enough. Instead it will go on.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Mr.Joe says:

            One could reference the Good Friday Agreement which ended the Troubles in Northern Ireland.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Mr.Joe says:

            “Korea, Iran v. Iraq, India v. Pakistan, any number of civil wars in Africa, Columbia, Afghanistan looks likely (seriously who would have called Trump approving a deal with the Taliban even 6 months ago)”

            Realy? Korea is still officially at war, and one side has built a virtual wall to keep its population in. Iran and Iraq eventually drug the US fully into their little temper tantrums, of which Iran supplies insurgents to this day in the other country. Indian and Pakistan had actions just the other week that many thought the two nuclear powers were going to finally duke it out. Afganistan is us finally admitting that we are just as much of the problem as Russia was and pulling out. The Taliban would have gladly kept fighting.

            All the civil wars ending in Africa, along with Colombia, were the result of someone winning, someone losing. Chip mentions North Ireland and the Good Friday accords, well, again that was someone losing (a united Eire.)

            There, indeed, are many other options than a full capitulation. But, at 48, I have been around the ring once or twice, seen the changes. No one gives up the fight without losing. I disagree with you about being able to stop it right now, as there are too many with the fight in them yet to be born, that have too many issues that could still arise. And thus it always was.Report

            • Mr.Joe in reply to Aaron David says:

              Now you’ve moved the goalposts. We started out with “someone always comes out on top” and moved “to one loses anything”.

              My point remains that many wars end without a clear victor. Due to this being tied up in personal identity, it is likely to have one side mostly “win”, but it doesn’t have to be that way.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to Mr.Joe says:

                How did I move the goalposts? You said there is another way, and I disagreed and showed that all of you examples have a winner and a loser, or are not a conflict that has ended.Report

  14. DensityDuck says:

    wait, wrong postReport