Sunday, August 23, 2015

Conservatives: Taking Credit Where None Is Deserved

In my previous post,  I discussed the conservative tendency to avoid solving actual problems, because doing so would rob them of issues to exploit for the sake of expanding their power.  A related point, of course, is the fact that doing so would require collaboration with their opponents that would effectively reveal not only weaknesses in their own point of view, but also strengths in their opponents' views.  But life can be funny.  Sometimes, no matter how hard one side try to suppress the solution for the sake of its self-interest, the other side sticks to its guns, its principles, and everything else it has (i.e,, the truth), and the solution emerges whether any one opposes it or not.  Just as life finds a way in "Jurassic Park," truth finds a way in a free society, even a badly compromised one such as ours.

So, when it does, what is a good conservative to do?  Why, take credit, of course.

Remember the end of the Cold War?  It was painfully clear to liberals in the 1980s, even during the eight-year reign of the Great Dissembler, that the Soviet bloc, and the pathetic economic system that supported it, was dying, accelerated in part by the decision to invade Afghanistan (sound familiar)? It was not so clear to American conservatives, who demanded sacrifices (except for their supporters) to stare down the "unstoppable" Kremlin and its geopolitical pawns.  Even after the Berlin Wall came down, American conservatives were deeply suspicious of what was happening.  It contradicted everything that they had convinced themselves was true about the Red Menace.  It was something to be viewed not with joy, and certainly not as an inevitability, but rather as a sinister new twist in the Communist plot.

And then, when that position was clearly no longer sustainable, what did they then do?  Why, give their hero Ronald Reagan all of the credit.  Named an airport after him.  Claimed that it was due to all of the debt Ronnie piled up letting out defense contracts for his friends at General Electric ("We bring good things to life--and other things to death"), and other corporate cronies.  Demanded credit, and unlimited political power, for "ending" history.

But history marched on, and liberals--environmentalists in particular--discovered a Carbon Menace in the form of global warming.  Claimed (correctly) that it threatened the existence of our planet. Demanded that all of our resources and talent be devoted to solving the problem.  And were immediately mocked by the same conservatives who were so wrong about the Soviet bloc.  Became the victims of endless ad hominem arguments that they were simply trying to bring a about a socialist system of "rationing" economic success.  Were routinely told that what they were asking the rest of us to do was impossible.

As Rick Perry, might say, oops.  Or, as Kyle Smith argues in the New York Post, it was never really a problem, because American ingenuity would always rise to face down the problem.

Really, Kyle?  The problem that doesn't exist, according to your employer?  The problem that, if it existed, was too complicated and expensive to solve, according to your fellow-travellers in the VRWC?  The problem that was never more than a cloak for the evil Commie plan to nationalize the world's resources?

You don't devote your time, energy and other resources to raising an alarm if you don't believe in the possibility of a solution.  The people Mr. Smith so smugly castigates have been arguing for the solution--renewable energy--for literally decades, long before you were in a position to discover its "inevitability."  The fact of the matter is that environmental activists have been at the forefront of not only identifying the problem but also the solution.  It's precisely because of that truth that they've been able to convince entrepreneurs to make the solution work.  And it's precisely because of that truth that those entrepreneurs have pushed forward to the point at which the solution is working.

And, like many innovations in American history, government has had a major role to play in backing that innovation, which is why history will praise Barack Obama far more than the Saudi-loving GOP. Mr. Smith and his employer aren't big on big government, so this truth is-how shall we say--inconvenient for them (with apologies to Al Gore, who deserves many apologies from the Kyle Smiths of the world).  His market-forces argument on behalf of the growth of renewables is as honest as his evaluation of the percentage of renewables in world power consumption (in other words, not very).

Mr. Smith is oh so very desperate to want you to believe that his side are the "doers" and the other side are the "doubters."  He would very much like you to ignore the hand-wringing his side does about Middle Eastern terrorism, in particular weapons of mass destruction in a certain country we invaded.

I'm betting that, as long as there are people like me in the world, who recognize the problems and the solutions, most folks will see Mr. Smith for what he really is:  a professional hand-wringer serving an agenda that doesn't serve the rest of us.  There have been Kyle Smiths before this one, and their will be Kyle Smiths after this one.  History marches on, invariably toward the truth, leaving behind the Kyle Smiths who try to rewrite it.

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