Repealing Obamacare is the Least Conservative Option

April 5th, 2010 at 11:26 am | 19 Comments |

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A radical reaction has erupted in response to the health care bill, and its motto is: “Repeal and Replace.” But this isn’t a principle; it is a talking point bordering along utopianism. True conservatives are not radicals; they respect tradition and work for stable reform to fix institutions.

Edmund Burke said, “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” This provides a solid framework for the conservative to approach problems. Societies inherit institutions, traditions, and values from previous generations. Some of them are bad, so it is the job of the conservative to identify institutions that are worth conserving while working to reform those that are not.

Institutions can be flawed, but they provide the foundation for society and maintain social cohesion. In America, the great institutions that unite all Americans would include the Constitution, the military, social security, and Medicare. One can debate the merits and failures of welfare state programs, but the reality is that social security and Medicare are firmly interwoven into American society. Dismissing them as mere socialist/progressive tampering in need of repeal puts ideology before principle and country. The true conservative maintains that these institutions are important to the cohesion of American society, and if needed should be reformed.

If the health care bill should become an unsustainable liability for America conservatives must do what they do best: conserve what is good and work to prudently change what is not. The extremist platform of “Repeal and Replace” ought to be repealed and replaced with a more pragmatic and principled “Remember and Reform.” While this may preserve institutions that do not completely conform to various brands of conservative political ideology, it will embrace a fundamental virtue of conservatism–moderation. This is something lacking in American political discourse today. Moderation is the basis of compromise and the foundation for order. If anything distinguishes a conservative from a radical, it is their devotion to tradition and order. These principles are eternal and they are the ones worth conserving.

Recent Posts by Oliver R. Garland



19 Comments so far ↓

  • LarryAndro

    I used to vote for Republicans, before they went radical. If the philosophy of a few more Reps mirrored that described in this blog post, they might get me back. Until then…

  • Carney

    It’s beyond ludicrous to hold up Social Security and Medicare as equivalent to the Constitution and the military.

  • LFC

    It’s beyond ludicrous to hold up Social Security and Medicare as equivalent to the Constitution and the military.

    Not at all, at least not in the context that Oliver has brought them up. They all match his criteria, and they have the support of an overwhelming majority of the citizens of this country. If you don’t believe that, look back on what happened when George W. and the GOP tried to privatize Social Security, and the Tea Partier signs that say “keep the government out of Medicare.”

    Can you find people that want to do away with Social Security and Medicare? Sure, but I can find people who don’t believe in the Constitution (or at least chunks of it) and other people that would disband or at least minimize the military. The fact is, none of these positions are remotely close to being mainstream.

  • franco 2

    People are not conservative for conservatism’s sake. If that’s how the author chooses to operate, fine, but that isn’t what the rest of us are doing. We are trying to “conserve” freedom and liberty, we are not saying, now or ever, that whatever was in the past, good or bad, needs to be _conserved_as the author seems to want.

    Now that Social Security is codified along with Medicare and now this new plan, conservatives are supposed to “honor tradition”? This is NOT what conservatism is, this is just silly word-play. If we want to take literal dictionary definitions, then Progressives should wish to CHANGE Social Security for the better, right? They admit it doesn’t work and is bankrupt, why are the “progressives” being so conservative? They are not honoring their principles here. Does this sound silly and shallow to you? It should.

    The Soviet Union has a long tradition of Leninism and Stalinism, wealth redistribution and State coercion of it’s citizens. I suppose in Mr Garland’s view, a true Soviet Conservative wanted to honor conservatism and keep the Gulags running. So I guess by his rubric there are conservative leftists too. Looks like he’s one of them BTW (not Soviet style but American style)

    Conservatism, POLITICAL conservatism as it is commonly used in political speech, means primarily that a conservative does not want rapid changes, wanys to honor the Constitution, also a conservative wants smaller government, that is, the government is CHANGING because it keeps getting BIGGER. We want it to go back to its former size. So conservatives, being true to their principles WANT change and repeal of laws that go too far against their views.

    Stop running to the dictionary getting some cursory definition, quoting some conservative out of context, and then lecturing those of us who have better educations. Thanks!

  • jennifer wilcox

    I think Mr. Garland brought up some excellent talking points, and at least gives us all something to think about. It’s a shame Franco 2 has to resort to petty comments. He doesn’t even have the guts to use his real name. What’s up with that???????

  • franco 2

    You may notice most other commenters, even the few on this thread aren’t using their “real names”. So why does “jennifer” single ME out????? Because she doesn’t agree with me, that’s why, but she ( I suppose it’s a she with a name like Jennifer but you never know) hasn’t the ability to refute my points. How does anyone know if “jennifer wilcox” is this persons real name, and if it is, there are no doubt thousands of them. Your “real name” or “real sounding” name is meaningless – it’s the same as anonymity.

    Is this what passes for debate at Frum Forum?

  • franco 2

    “I think Mr. Garland brought up some excellent talking points, and at least gives us all something to think about.”

    Too funny….

    From Wikipedia

    “A talking point is a neologism for an idea which may or may not be factual, usually compiled in a short list with summaries of a speaker’s agenda for public or private engagements. Public relations professionals, for example, sometimes prepare “talking points memos” for their clients to help them more effectively conform public presentations with this advice.[citation needed]

    A political think tank will strategize the most effective informational attack on a target topic and launch talking points from media personalities to saturate discourse in order to frame a debate in their favor, standardizing the responses of sympathizers to their unique cause while simultaneously co-opting the language used by those discussing the specific subject. When used politically in this way, the typical purpose of a talking point is to propagandize, specifically using the technique of argumentum ad nauseam, i.e. continuous repetition within media outlets until accepted as fact.

    Is that what you mean by “talking points” ?

  • kevin47

    The notion that Social Security is a bedrock foundation on par with the constitution is a very, very liberal position.

    Setting that aside, being conservative requires us to simply wait for decades while massive entitlements become “interwoven” into our societal framework. The conservative argument is that Obamacare WILL become interwoven AND become an unsustainable liability, and should be repealed therefore.

    The liberal will argue that we need to put a system in place, which we can tweak down the road. It is this faith in the virtue of government that divides liberals and conservatives.

  • jennifer wilcox

    Hmmm…. who said “Stop running to the dictionary getting some cursory definition” Oops, Mr. “Franco” did. I guess running to Wikipedia is different. lol. All I said was the info provided by Mr. G gave us all something to think about.. and talk about too. In fact, all comments have been interesting. Thank you for the opportunity to share!

  • Carney

    Isn’t it great how radical policies cannot be undone on grounds of “conservatism”, no matter how radical those changes are? What this means, basically, is that all leftists victories are permanent and all conservative victories are temporary, that leftists can advance their goals but conservatives can only hold their ground, for now. The EU does this trick, where vote after vote after vote on yet another centralist power grab is imposed until the “right” vote happens, after which it is swiftly proclaimed that no more votes on that issue are going to occur, ever. It’s one element of what Margaret Thatcher called the “ratchet” effect.

    Ever more cute is the usual argument is that leftist changes have become too deeply entrenched for reversal. But even when a leftist change is extremely recent and has not had time to take root, it is also sacrosanct.

  • sinz54

    Carney:

    ObamaCare is not philosophically sacrosanct, not at all.
    But it is practically sacrosanct, as long as Obama holds the veto pen.

    Even the most optimistic forecasts don’t give the GOP a chance of achieving a veto-proof majority in both houses of Congress this November. So you can’t repeal ObamaCare, because Obama would veto such a move, and you can’t pass it over his veto.

    So for that reason alone, “Repeal and Replace” is going to sound phony to anyone who’s not in the GOP base. Obama won’t allow ObamaCare to be repealed. Period.

    Why are the Republicans trying to win Congressional seats anyway? Just to make Obama’s life miserable with public hearings on Reverend Wright or sending Obama an endless stream of bills they know he’ll veto? Or do they really want to govern the country responsibly?

    The GOP should have learned this lesson with Clinton in 1995: The voters aren’t interested in joining a vendetta against the incumbent President. They want good governance.

    And a fantasy of repealing ObamaCare over President Obama’s veto pen is not good governance.

  • kevin47

    “Just to make Obama’s life miserable with public hearings on Reverend Wright or sending Obama an endless stream of bills they know he’ll veto?”

    Eventually, he’ll have to stop vetoing, or lose the White House. Clinton had to do the same, and the legislation he passed was not this unpopular, AND he had a surging economy, AND he was a political genius.

    Nobody is going to support a party that is content to simply tweak the margins of a very far left agenda simply because it is afraid it will run into opposition.

    At any rate, the original post is arguing that ObamaCare is philosophically sacrosanct, which is an inherently leftist argument.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Kevin47 wrote: “Nobody is going to support a party that is content to simply tweak the margins of a very far left agenda simply because it is afraid it will run into opposition. ”

    Then how do you explain the support the GOP and conservative politicians continue to receive notwithstanding their historical opposition to Social Security and Medicare, both of which were characterized as socialist and far left?

    The fact of the matter is ObamaCare, like SS and Medicare, will become entrenched because it will become popular. It will become popular because it does a lot of good things and it doesn’t do most of the bad things the GOP has predicted. Once it becomes popular, the GOP and conservatives will support it just as they now support SS and Medicare.

    We’ve seen this movie a thousand times and conservatives still can’t predict the ending.

  • sinz54

    kevin47: Eventually, he’ll have to stop vetoing, or lose the White House.
    Gingrich tried that with Clinton. Instead, Clinton won a second term–and Gingrich was ousted as House Speaker. One reason is that in the resulting confrontation which shut down much of the government, polls showed that the public sided with Clinton over Gingrich.

    You answered my question. You want to elect Republicans to Congress to try to break the President as a political force, not to govern the country. And just like Gingrich, you will fail.

    Sorry, I’m not interested in that.
    And neither are most voters.

  • sinz54

    kevin47: The notion that Social Security is a bedrock foundation on par with the constitution is a very, very liberal position.
    Then try it this way:

    The Libertarians want to roll back virtually the entire safety net, including Social Security, protections for renters, everything. They wish we could restore the much freer economy of the 19th century.

    Now: What distinguishes a conservative like you from a libertarian like that? Are you in fact a libertarian on economic issues?

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