November 11, 2008

Subsidiarity and the Republican Party

During the election a certain divide in America was highlighted, however briefly, by the nomination for Vice President of Sarah Palin. Whether this divide was partially exagerated or not may be debated, but it almost certainly exists. It is the divide between do-it-ourselves "hockey moms" throughout the nation and "bring in the certified government experts to help" elitists.

A particular complaint of the do-it-ourselves-ers has long been that this idea of having to spend years and years becoming "qualified" before one can do basic help through en masse programs both puts unnecessary restraint on the American dream and furthermore makes it more difficult to achieve help from anything less than the government, which in turn leads us closer to socialism.

A further complaint to back this one up has been that it is simply absurd to believe that someone who has spent his or her days debating the theories about a thing is without a doubt better qualified to deal with everything related to that thing than someone who spent his or her days learning it from experience. Why let people who studied macro-economics control the people who made small businesses all on their own? Shouldn't the people who actually worked out their own rise be advising those theorists, instead of the theorists forcibly affecting those fellows through government or union regulations?

Government, theorists and experts are needed, of course, but we shouldn't make them our only source of help. Indeed, in many cases we shouldn't even make them our first source of help. It follows from a principle of Catholic social teaching called subsidiarity.

Subsidiarity means that those closest to a problem deal with it first, the next level up are called in only when it is seen that they are needed, and the same for each further level up.

While the Federal government has its place, many of these hockey mom types have a good point about not letting our world be controlled by the people who don't do the down-to-earth running of its base.

A peculiar thing occured, however, when these subsidiarity-loving fellows allied with the modern Republican party. It turned out, over time, that either they did not truly understand their own principle or else the party on the whole did not truly agree with them. Not only did it become common to smear anyone who didn't favor the likes of Sarah Palin as elitist, but many (though not all) of these would-be Conservatives fell into some un-subsidiarity-like elitism of their own.

It began at first with a justifiable claim that we needed to defend ourselves from a self-identified enemy who showed signs of attempting to aquire weaponry that would be a threat to us. A case was made that this was clear enough to fall under just war theory in self-defense. Ultimately, however, prudence and subsidiarity were overlooked in our fight against this enemy, and they continue to be overlooked.

For you see, these enemies, first Saddam Hussein and then various extreme Islamic factions, are within a culture totally foreign to us, in a place far away and utterly unlike almost anywhere we have ever seen, and among people whom, due to their distance from the West and the development of its thought, you or I or anyone in this nation would have a great deal of difficulty persuading of anything through reason.

Thus, in short, we somehow thought that our more enlightened American sense of things would be able to deal with the Iraqi people and help them be set on a path to better civilization once we got rid of the tyrant who ruled them. However bad the tyrant was, this was utter rubbish. It is rubbish whether we speak of it as a forgotten consideration going into the war or rather as a necessary consideration to the "we're already there whether we should have been or not and we can't leave them in shambles" argument. For this argument never addresses its unspoken assumption that we are capable of leaving them better off. If we are not, then there is no reason to stay "till we finish the job" that we cannot finish. Subsidiarity suggests that it is highly unlikely that we can finish it.

Yet while Republicans across the nation turned around and were insulted by "elitist Liberal" smears against their hockey mom from Alaska, many Republicans also saw this continuing war as necessary despite the fact that it essentially was the same sort of "I know better so I'll help you whether you like it or not" garbage that they abhorred being on the receiving end of from Liberals or, as they preferred to call them, Socialists.

I also could go into how the one man in the Republican Party who appeared to most strongly believe in subsidiarity was smeared out of the race in part because he was extreme and in part because he believed this very things about the war being a mistake not only in being there in the first place but in continuing to be there as if we could somehow set it right, but I'm sure most of you don't want to hear complaints from a bitter Ron Paul admirer who never got over the fact that the least bad of the three top media Republican picks was given the nomination instead.

I do fear that those who believe in subsidiarity are going to be forever smeared with the guilt-by-association nonsense that their party believed it could solve the problems of wild Muslim Arabs. I strongly suspect that if we who believe in subsidiarity are to make an impact in society, we will have to throw off the hypocritical stigma of the Republican Party. What we will do instead remains to be seen, but I will (after making a few other points) end this post with a call to discussion of alternatives.

In fact, while the matter of guilt by association is up, we might bring up the fact that the Republican Party has unfortunately become known as the big business party, the party that would rather let society fall under social tyranny than do anything other than culture wars and anti-terrorism wars. We may as well, if we want to be known for subsidiarity, abandon it on the grounds that it isn't enough about subsidiarity as far as the part about doing things at higher levels when necessary goes, whatever good it may be about.

After all, we don't have to worry about losing our only ally, for our current ally already lost. We have four years to see to the building of a subsidiarity movement in America without fear of losing our force against extreme and subsidiarity-ignoring Liberalism, thanks to the unfortunate fact that said Liberalism has already won this time around.

What we need is a movement to ensure the rights of people to deal with their problems within their local community and still have the larger government levels there if needed. What we need is a movement to make the larger government levels capable of helping, but nonetheless put limits on their always "helping". We need some way to make it so that we the people will decide when a particular help is no longer needed and can be thrown out. Mayhap even to have limits of time set on any act of the government and require, whether directly or indirectly and if indirectly then with securities against our being manipulated, that we the people must approve of them and of any extension or repetition of them.

Of course, that's what representative government was supposed to be about, but it doesn't seem to be working to that end anymore... or not well at all.

At any rate, as already stated we don't have any reason to worry that we'll be taking away support from our only defense against rampant Liberalism, as that battle was already lost this time around, so let's start discussing. Reshape the Republican Party enough to remove its previous stigmas? Go to a third party? Form a totally new party? Secede? Use some manner of making most Federal law irrelevant to our business and life down here where it matters? Mobilize a grassroots protest campaign to make the current leaders hear our point? Toss around, till we can actually implement it, some other idea?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Immortal Philosopher said...

But by all means do something. This was, for a time, the greatest country in the world, and I'm not exactly ready to let it go yet.

November 14, 2008 4:29 PM  

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