The Objective Eye

"Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation's troubles and use as a justification of its own demand for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen."
- Ayn Rand, "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business" (1961)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thompson's Lesson to Giuliani

Now Playing: Brush With The Blues (the Master at work,) originally recorded on Who Else?, 1999

Johnny-come-lately GOP Presidential contender Fred Thompson officially bowed out of the race today, bringing to a close a near-perfect exposition of the GOP "leadership's" philosophical vacuity.

Recall that less than a year ago we heard breathless talk of Thompson being "the keeper of the Reagan flame," a candidate who " Ronald Reagan, is a man of tremendous substance" sure to champion the same brand of (relatively) principled Republicanism and sweep his way to the GOP nomination.

Our first clue that something was seriously amiss with this appraisal came in the form of a purely strategic error that can only be defined as "boneheaded." Thompson stayed out of the early stages of the GOP primary season, even to the point of missing several of the early debates - a move that saw him transformed in both street buzz and media from "eagerly-awaited" to "indecisive and lazy." In short, he entered at least two months later than he ought to have.

The second clue came right at the end of Thompson's candidacy announcement speech of September 6, 2007: "We are steeped in the tradition of honor and sacrifice for the greater good. ...That's the belief that this campaign is based upon." As you can see and hear, there isn't a word in that speech related to individual rights as a foundation for changes to government policy. "Sacrifice for the greater good" was elevated to the status of core principle, while man's right to live for his own benefit - America's political First Principle - was not worthy even of passing allusion.

John Locke wrote these magnificent words in his Second Treatise:

"Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself."

Thompson, evidently, has never read them.

Our third clue arrived at Thompson's first debate showing on Oct. 9, 2007. The burst of proudly-professed Reaganism eagerly awaited by the GOP rank & file was...a no-show. What we heard was lukewarm, visionless pragmatism, a stark contrast to Reagan's emphatic and urgent assertions of the need to control and shrink, drastically, an out-of-control government. Thompson's campaign moved into a more or less continuous downward spiral thereafter.

So...why, after all the buildup, did Thompson's campaign fizzle, sputter and die like a post-Nanny-State firecracker?

Simple: There was a gaping void where, at the very least, an aggressive commitment to individual rights and to strictly-limited government should have been.

The reason for that void? Unquestioning acceptance of altruism as a foundational principle. As I wrote to the Thompson campaign's website on September 25, 2007: "How do you propose to effect any significant Reaganesque downsizing of that bloated, slobbering, oppressive pig that is our government, if your ethical credo is precisely the same as that used to bring it to that condition in the first place?... 'Sacrifice for the greater good' is the flipside of 'It Takes a Village.'"

It's no wonder Thompson had such a hard time mobilizing enthusiasm for his message, even within himself - it was anchored to a large dinosaur carcass.

Note to Mayor Giuliani: If you want to win this thing, familiarize yourself with the proper principles, and fight for them as though they matter. Your reading list could start with Capitalism, economist George Reisman's 1996 treatise. Or maybe just a certain 1957 novel.


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