14 Sep OC Register writer doesn’t know who his enemies are
I have become pretty accustomed to reading rather bizarre stuff from Steve Greenhut. His tiresome attacks on the U.S. military, his cartoonish suggestions that the founding fathers share his vision for America, and the joy he gets in seeing people like Barack Obama elected President – it is all a tired act, and it is something regular readers of the Op-ed page of the OC Register (like me) are used to. I share Steve’s Libertarian leanings, but unlike Steve, I am interested in making progress in the political process, and I prefer to avoid those who have bastardized the Libertarian movement. Steve is proud of the lack of impact his people have, and instead glows in the seemingly depressing role (well, it seems like it would be depressing to me anyways) of perpetual bomb-thrower.
When Steve is throwing bombs at those who deserve to be assaulted, I at least can tolerate reading his column. I share his disgust for those who enabled Mike Carona to lead such a disgrace of the sheriff’s department. I share his view that the employee unions in California are enemy number one in ruining California’s fiscal health. Most significantly, I agree with Steve that RINO Republicans need to be opposed, even as I vehemently disagree with his tactics (ironically, he supported Bob Barr for President in 2008, who voted for the Iraq war and the Patriot Act, the two things Steve says he finds most despicable in the entire Bush administration). Having a few shared enemies is about the total extent of what Steve and I have in common. His preferred choice in engaging politics is to mostly endorse crackpots like Ron Paul, to vilify heroic institutions like the U.S armed forces, and also to consistently create straw men out of his opponent’s arguments. And that brings me to his column in the Register today.
I have no idea how Steve decided to use the bizarre case of Mike Duvall as an opportunity to bash the so-called “Christian Right”. There isn’t much he had to say about that story which I find troubling. He rightly calls Duvall to task for his embarrassing behavior, and he rightly commends Duvall for immediately resigning. But as is typical of Steve’s writing, he couldn’t be content to make his point and be done. He decides to launch an irrational attack on “values voters”, commends Chris Norby for not messing with that “silly religious-right posturing”, and implores “the state to get out of what passes for family issues these days”. My favorite line is that the “Christian Right still dominates GOP politics, as it uses religious faith in service to its real agenda of political and cultural change”. As a political columnist, one would hope Steve was a little more informed than to actually claim that the Christian Right still dominates GOP politics, but I digress. I do not know who the Christian Right is. I have never met them. I think it serves as a very effective bogeyman for the far left, or for those who advocate a secularized and humanistic kind of Libertarianism (the kind that made our founding fathers shudder). To use this article and this subject matter to go after this issue is peculiar, to say the least, and gives discerning readers a pretty good idea as to what Steve’s own agenda might be.
To me, the fundamental issues of conservatism today are embedded in issues of economic liberty. I imagine Steve agrees. I believe the relationship between the state and its citizens is the defining issue of this era. But to suggest that things like fighting an abusive and activist Supreme Court in defending the basic legal definition of marriage is out of bounds for conservatives is just asinine. Both sides have legitimate arguments in this issue, but Steve is being disingenuous to pretend that those concerned about the indoctrination of their children are “silly religious posturers”. Steve is naïve to believe that this is a basic libertarian issue, with no greater agenda on the other side. The two issues often assigned to the Christian Right as their “pet peeves” (I should say “silly” pet peeves, right Steve?) are the belief that the state should protect the right to life of the unborn, and the belief that the state should defend the basic definition of marriage that has existed throughout all of western civilization. The abortion issue is not a complex one. Steve can believe that an unborn baby is not a human life, if he wants to. And Steve can believe that even if it is a human life, its mother has the right to kill it. (I have no idea what Steve believes on this issue). But he can not honestly say that those who actually believe that unborn baby is a human life, and further believe that the killing of that life is wrong, are themselves “silly” to fight in the political process for an end to the legalization of this process. It is as legitimate as any act of civil expression. But this condescending treatment of those who feel strongly on these issues is uncalled for, unprofessional, and immensely dishonest.
If there are religious fanatics out there who want to use the political process to impose upon others their own religious beliefs, I will join Steve in calling them out (though unlike Steve, I will use actual arguments, and name real opponents, instead of hiding behind rhetorical and outdated terms like the “religious right”). And to the extent that Steve desires to see a more Constitutional form of government exercised, and a restoration of the principles of limited government and fiscal restraint, I also stand willing to align myself with him. But if he can’t even handle a basic task like calling out a hypocritical and disgraced small-time state assemblyman without bashing men and women of faith and political principle – then I have to wonder why the Register can not do better. His anti-military tantrums have already cost him most of his audience. Is it a good idea to lose the rest of your audience by dismissing other people who are aligned with you on the important issues of the day, just because they happen to have a perfectly legitimate view of marriage and life? To do so seems like a big strategic blunder, if you ask me.
You know – the kind of strategic blunder that those who have participated in the bastardization of the Libertarian movement seem proud of.