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Epistemology, Metaphysics and Ethics trumps Politics: vote Obama

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I've been meaning to weigh on in the upcoming election. Here are my thoughts.

1. The Republicans as led by Romney and Ryan are not appreciably different in any meaningful way from the democrats. They will not touch a single pillar of the welfare state and in fact they will gleefully support them in every single speech and policy. Their opposition to Obama policies are purely rhetorical and disingenuous. An example is Obamacare, which was invented by a "conservative" think tank and implemented by a Republican governor, and was once "spun" in a conservative direction of making deadbeats pay for their own health care / helping hospitals / helping private insurance companies.

2. The entire Republican platform is based on fundamental lies which are not at all subtle. In particular, their platform consists of: a) keeping the welfare state intact; B) maintaining or even beefing up the military; c) lowering taxes; d) lowering the deficit. Any idiot with 3rd grade math skills can see that this doesn't add up. As such, it is necessary for the Republicans to launch a war on reason in order to cover up this top-line fact about their platform. This isn't the sort of subtle lies we're used to seeing from Democrats, and to be sure the latter-day democrats are sounding, well, quite conservative these days as they are now the ones fighting for reasonableness and reality (viz. "if you want X then you have to pay for X"). All of the anti-Obama messages from the Republican side are based on actions that Republicans themselves have performed before and will perform again if they are elected.

3. Insofar as "the house is on fire" in terms of the justification of dropping one's long-range goals in an attempt to solve an immediate problem, there's nothing we're going to do about the currently raging fire. The fuel from this fire must be cleared and that is a long-range process that happens in schools and universities. Trying to change politics on the retail level today is futile.

4. The Democrats are honestly for the welfare state--which of course reflects the sentiment of the overwhelming majority of citizens today. As such, their platform while politically incompatible with Objectivism is more closely Epistemologically compatible.

5. Paul Ryan's "flip-flopping" on Ayn Rand ("and they I suddenly noticed that she was an atheist! I had never noticed that before!") and Romney on OC and abortion and his hiding of his tax returns (not the contents, mind you, but the fact that he hides them), etc. etc. The Republican message here is one of unreason and legitimized lying.

Folks, our time is analogous to the 17th century, not the 18th century. There's no chance in Hell we're going to sign another Bill of Rights anytime in our lifetimes. The proper course of action is to work toward a culture of reason and proper ethics. Without this foundation any sort of political change is impossible. Compromising that foundation--however nascent and thin it might be at the present time--is simply pushing us farther from our goals. Wishing them within our grasp will not make it so. They aren't. Let us then fight the battles we can win.

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I do agree the GOP won't touch the pillars of the welfare state. A great example is the way in which Romney and Ryan are attacking Obama for cutting Medicare! They're positioning themselves as the guys who will save the pillars.

Folks, our time is analogous to the 17th century, not the 18th century. There's no chance in Hell we're going to sign another Bill of Rights anytime in our lifetimes. The proper course of action is to work toward a culture of reason and proper ethics. Without this foundation any sort of political change is impossible. Compromising that foundation--however nascent and thin it might be at the present time--is simply pushing us farther from our goals. Wishing them within our grasp will not make it so. They aren't. Let us then fight the battles we can win.
You seem to be suggesting that the best we can hope for in our lifetimes is to advance basic philosophy to some degree, not to advance politics? Then, presumably, our kids or grand-kids may be able to use this foundation to advance politics. Is that what you're saying?

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I do agree the GOP won't touch the pillars of the welfare state. A great example is the way in which Romney and Ryan are attacking Obama for cutting Medicare! They're positioning themselves as the guys who will save the pillars.

You seem to be suggesting that the best we can hope for in our lifetimes is to advance basic philosophy to some degree, not to advance politics? Then, presumably, our kids or grand-kids may be able to use this foundation to advance politics. Is that what you're saying?

I wouldn't want to put an exact time frame around it--probably too depressing to think about--but the sequence is pretty easy to figure out. Step one, a firm academic foundation around reason and the correct ethics, is still a work in progress--we might be 5% of the way there?

I "hope" that step is completed relatively quickly. What you'd need to do to envision political change occurring before that step is accomplished is not "hope" but rather "prayer".

The objectives for "step one" involve reason and rationality and honesty. Right now that vote goes to the Democrats...

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... ... the sequence is pretty easy to figure out.
Isn't it possible for the political situation can get improved even though the philosophical premises remain unchanged? There are quite a few examples where societies have stepped back some amount of statism, without ever stepping back the fundamental premise that statism is good and necessary.

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I agree with your characterization of Republicans, couldn't disagree more with that of Democrats. The only words that fit, in characterizing Obama and the Democratic leadership in general, are evil and stupid.

If Barack Obama and the Democratic Party had the run of the United States for eight full years, it would be left a smoldering ruin. The only reason I won't vote for whoever has the best chance of preventing that disaster from happening (even Romney) is because I already know that they have no chance of being fully in charge for enough time to actually carry out their evil, destructive, stupid plans.

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Isn't it possible for the political situation can get improved even though the philosophical premises remain unchanged? There are quite a few examples where societies have stepped back some amount of statism, without ever stepping back the fundamental premise that statism is good and necessary.

Sure. Take the USA under Obama and Clinton for instance. :-) Recall that the budget got balanced under Clinton...

To be clear, I'm just not seeing the overwhelming amount of new statism coming from the Democrats right now. Even OC is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic which is our already socialized medicine here. If anything, OC is less socialist since at least a few more deadbeats have to pay for their free health insurance now. Both before and after OC we've had free health care available to anybody who wants it, so there's no essential change there.

Besides OC, there's not much new "statism" coming purely from Obama that wouldn't have come from Romney....

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I agree with your characterization of Republicans, couldn't disagree more with that of Democrats. The only words that fit, in characterizing Obama and the Democratic leadership in general, are evil and stupid.

If Barack Obama and the Democratic Party had the run of the United States for eight full years, it would be left a smoldering ruin. The only reason I won't vote for whoever has the best chance of preventing that disaster from happening (even Romney) is because I already know that they have no chance of being fully in charge for enough time to actually carry out their evil, destructive, stupid plans.

If you want to give me an example of a diabolical that plan Obama started in his first time and will be completed in his second term, I'm all ears.

Short of that, this is unsupported nonsense. It's the sort of hyperbole that gives the entire realm of ideas a bad name.

Let me guess: you said the same thing about Obama four years ago, right? That we are absolutely positively going to fall into the ocean unless McCain gets elected?

Well, here we are, four years later, and my living room is dry as a bone.

Objectivism is the "philosophy for living on Earth", not Jupiter or Neptune. What we can expect from four more years of Obama is what we got in the last four years: middle of the road muddling and congressional gridlock--and a slow ooze toward a "day of reckoning" (which won't be a actual day but will be dragged out over a decade or two) based on demographics and entitlements being on a collision course with basic math. The president, recall, exerts most of his influence over foreign policy, not lawmaking...

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I don't want to see QE4 let alone the endless, unsurviable QE that Obama will bring down upon us in the face of the next economic disaster. Therefore, I support for Romney.

Edited by oso

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I don't want to see QE4 let alone the endless, unsurviable QE that Obama will bring down upon us in the face of the next economic disaster. Therefore, I support for Romney.

Your premises being:

1. That we will absolutely positively have a QE4 if Obama is reelected.

2. That Romney will absolutely positively prevent QE4 from happening if he is elected (you understand Benanke was appointed by a certain Republican named George Bush, right?).

3. That a "QE4" will absolutely positively plunge the country into an immediate death spiral (actual description of said spiral TBD) even though QE1, 2 and 3 did not.

I think my point is made by this posting: speaking with a lack of evidence followed by a non sequitur is the opposite of reason. If this is what the Republicans stand for these days, they are taking us farther from freedom not closer.

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This isn't the sort of subtle lies we're used to seeing from Democrats,

I laughed out loud at this line. You had me going along for a short while but this must be a troll post.

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Your premises being:

1. That we will absolutely positively have a QE4 if Obama is reelected.

2. That Romney will absolutely positively prevent QE4 from happening if he is elected (you understand Benanke was appointed by a certain Republican named George Bush, right?).

3. That a "QE4" will absolutely positively plunge the country into an immediate death spiral (actual description of said spiral TBD) even though QE1, 2 and 3 did not.

I think my point is made by this posting: speaking with a lack of evidence followed by a non sequitur is the opposite of reason. If this is what the Republicans stand for these days, they are taking us farther from freedom not closer.

I am nearly certain that we will not only have QE4, but, as I said, endless QE if Obama is reelected.

I'm not positive that Romney will prevent QE4 but everything I know points towards it being less likely than Obama. Romney has even come openly against more stimulus. I'll take what I can get.

QE3 has not happened yet, but it is incoming and has been inevitable ever since QE2 which was inevitable ever since QE1. It has been inevitable because QE causes a temporary economic high and then wears off leaving the economy sicker than before. If you believe that QE is the proper response to recession, get the affirmation that you are right from a temporary high, and have plunged youreself into a cycle where more recessions are inevitable endless QE is your only solution, everytime beliving that it will be the last one. We will survive QE3 but at some point, unless we accept a hard recession and stop the cycle, hyper-inflation is the only possible outcome. Obama will not accept a hard recession without the belief that he needs to take drastic action. He will see a depression coming down on America and he will remember FDR.

Edited by oso

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To be clear, I'm just not seeing the overwhelming amount of new statism coming from the Democrats right now.
Okay, let's grant that. However, when it comes to economics, it is possible that one party will be at least marginally better than the other (either party: GOP or Dems). For instance, they might act differently if something like the Boeing plant or the oil-pipeline come up during the next term). It is possible that one party does slightly less stimulus than the other, and so on.

I'm not trying to make the case that the GOP would be the one that is marginally better. I'm asking why one must look for "overwhelming amount of new statism". If Objectivism is truly a philosophy for living on earth, would not the following reaction make sense...

I'll take what I can get.
Of course, this would not mean voting for someone who might be marginally better for four years but cause more problems looking or 10 or 20 years. I take it to mean: vote for the party that is marginally better, looking at the consequences over the long-term -- at least my own life-time. Edited by softwareNerd

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I agree with Nicky. Your analysis of Republicans is getting in the way of applying the same thing to the Democrats. I normally vote Libertarian but this year I’m on target to hit the Republican ticket. I'll give you a short list of my thoughts:

First, Obama needs to be fired on principle. Politicians need to know that they will not have careers if they keep violating basic rights. If for no other reason this needs to be done. Romney can go in 4 years too when he earns it.

Next, Obamacare. You can say Romney would have done it, and frankly I believe McCain would have given us watered down McCare. This doesn’t change the fact that, as far as I can tell, for the first time in American history the Feds are forcing someone to buy something against their will. Again, anyone touching this monstrosity of basic rights needs to be fired.

“You didn’t build that”. Egalitarianism, when compared to religion, to paraphrase Peikoff lives “on a lower rung of hell”. That needs to be squashed with extreme prejudice.

Obama will get a chance to nominate a Supreme Court justice again. His last choice was Elena Kagan, a women so appallingly devoid of principled thinking she once argued for the Clinton Whitehouse (before the Supreme Court) that certain movies should be banned because (not an exact quote) free speech should be weighed against its social harm. Yes, that was her argument. Thanks to Obama she now is in a position to execute that stupidity. Obviously Romney will nominate someone questionable but at this point I’ll take fundamental moderate to a collectivist kook that doesn’t get the child-like basic principles of the First Amendment.

Obama has requested and received more money than every other President… combined. Yes, Republicans deficit spend but I’ll take a poor spender that at least gets that I should keep my money versus a parasite that spends money with a leaf blower and admits he loves to “spread the wealth around”.

As for foreign policy, Obama has rubber stamped and expanded pretty much all of Bush’s policies, including the fact he flat out lied on campaign promises on a number of them, outside of abandoning Israel in the ethical support department. Obama’s continuing hatred of Western principles is uncontested. Yea, no contest there.

Now you can make the case that Romney could do these too, and you would be right to a point. But he won’t, at least as bad, and yes I know that. Why? The political support he desperately needs to keep his job. Think of it this way; let’s say Obama and Romney do come up with the exact same ideas as President. Obama’s political support structure will pull him left towards collectivist/progressive welfare land. Romney will have the fundamentalists for sure but also the revolting Tea Partier types and other financial conservatives (that he needs to keep his job) pulling him towards them. It is simple as that. Romney knows this too otherwise he would not have chosen Ryan whose only purpose is to use the Senators image to invigorate the Republican base into thinking this administration is more than Massachusetts all over again.

Shitty choice but in the end I’m firing the yahoo that admits he hates individual rights and achievement on principle, and certainly I am not going to give him a second term to push that hatred onto people when he no longer has to worry about the political consequences.

As far as I’m concerned, the door does need to hit Obama in the ass on the way out.

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To be clear, I'm just not seeing the overwhelming amount of new statism coming from the Democrats right now.

Simply sitting back and letting entitlement spending balloon is damage enough. From where I'm standing, the Romney/Ryan ticket is more likely to slow that growth, particularly if Republicans (and Tea Party Republicans particularly) retake the Senate as well.

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If you want to give me an example of a diabolical that plan Obama started in his first time and will be completed in his second term, I'm all ears.

Like I said, none of his plans will be completed, because the country won't stand for it. In his first year in office, he set a series of destructive plans in motion. He instituted Obamacare, the Stimulus, he tried to establish a fascist rule over Wall Street and BP, he tried to pass a cap system on carbon dioxide and methane, he supports and would pass a Fairness Doctrine, he tried to institute "net neutrality", he supports sweeping gun bans, he wants much greater wealth redistribution etc. The only thing that stopped him was the immediate push back of the Tea Party, and the convincing Republican House takeover in 2010.

Your claim that the Democrats are concerned with reducing debt is wrong. You got it backwards. They want to raise taxes on the rich. That is their primary motivation, not realism. Realism is the excuse to get that done. The Republicans, on the other hand, aim to prevent that from happening. That is their motivation. Neither care about the debt, both think it's sustainable. If anything, some Republicans care a little more, and draw the line on what is and what isn't sustainable a little closer to reality.

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Okay, let's grant that. However, when it comes to economics, it is possible that one party will be at least marginally better than the other (either party: GOP or Dems). For instance, they might act differently if something like the Boeing plant or the oil-pipeline come up during the next term). It is possible that one party does slightly less stimulus than the other, and so on.

I'm not trying to make the case that the GOP would be the one that is marginally better. I'm asking why one must look for "overwhelming amount of new statism". If Objectivism is truly a philosophy for living on earth, would not the following reaction make sense...

Of course, this would not mean voting for someone who might be marginally better for four years but cause more problems looking or 10 or 20 years. I take it to mean: vote for the party that is marginally better, looking at the consequences over the long-term -- at least my own life-time.

The point is, "marginally better" (and of course that's debatable but we're both just guessing at the future).

My overall point is that even if there might--might--be some soft of marginally better political outcome associated with the Rs this year, we absolutely do know that the Republican war on reason is in full swing, and we know that is more destructive than any imaginable marginal political gain.

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[...]

Obama will not accept a hard recession without the belief that he needs to take drastic action. He will see a depression coming down on America and he will remember FDR.

You can substitute "Romney" in the above paragraph and it works just fine. Keep in mind that unfunded tax cuts are just as Keynesian as unfunded fiscal expansion... Also keep in mind that demographics and the economy have been by far the biggest drivers of spending increases in the last ten years, not some sort of latter-day New Deal. No, Obama didn't move to dismantle the social safety net and social security in order to offset the expansion. No, Romney wouldn't either...

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[...]

Your claim that the Democrats are concerned with reducing debt is wrong. You got it backwards. They want to raise taxes on the rich. That is their primary motivation, not realism. Realism is the excuse to get that done. The Republicans, on the other hand, aim to prevent that from happening. That is their motivation. Neither care about the debt, both think it's sustainable. If anything, some Republicans care a little more, and draw the line on what is and what isn't sustainable a little closer to reality.

I don't recall claiming that. I am claiming that Democrats are saying openly what Republicans are simply lying about. Democrats are saying we need to tax the rich. Republicans are saying we don't have to tax anybody and can actually cut taxes because we have magic.

Now, if you think that once the Repubs get elected they will suddenly turn 180 and actually move to dismantle the welfare state, more power to you. History has shown that once they get in power, they tend to want to stay there. Touching social security--even with a 10' pole--will kill your political career dead as Dillinger.

Or to put it another way, my (albeit cynical) view of politicians is that they exist to get elected. Saying, "the Republicans, on the other hand, aim to prevent that from happening" is mighty naive to me. They've never aimed for that before.

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... ... we absolutely do know that the Republican war on reason is in full swing, and we know that is more destructive than any imaginable marginal political gain.
The GOP push the agenda of their religious wing. I assume this is the "war on reason" you mean?

This war has resulted in growing restrictions on abortion, on creationism in some curriculum, and so on. All these are concrete political consequences that ought to be weighed against other concrete political consequences -- on health-care, deficits, etc.

Using his pulpit, I think a president can have some impact on the way a culture's ethical viewpoint at the place it meets politics. He can focus on everyone moving toward the shining city on the hill, or he can ask for shared sacrifice, or he can raise class-consciousness. In this area, I think Obama is a disaster. of all the things he actually gets away with, his rhetoric is probably the worst.

Using his pulpit, I don't think a president can have any impact on reason and epistemology of the culture. I agree that these are fundamental, but to change these, one has to change intellectuals rather than political parties. One probably has to change the views of journalists before one can change the views of voters. If one can change the views of people in think tanks and professors it can have an impact on journalists. Mostly, politicians reflect these intellectuals when it comes to fundamental areas of philosophy like epistemology.

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The GOP push the agenda of their religious wing. I assume this is the "war on reason" you mean?

Sadly, no, not that war on reason... We should be so lucky to have Republicans who are merely religious yet on the whole honest about it basic precepts.

I'm talking about what is becoming an "secret handshake" of unlogic being required of Republicans. That you have to believe that Obama's Obamacare is socialism yet Romney's Obamacare was not. Or that the Republicans will somehow cut the deficit, cut taxes and retain all major programs. That tax cuts for the rich will help poor people (not "long term" mind you, right now). Or that Sarah Palin would make a great VP. Etc. Etc. They are basically asking the American voters to suspend disbelief on simple, surface-level math and logic. The Republicans are pursing a mindless, populist strategy today just as the Demos did in the 70s. The tables have been turned and now it's the Democrats who are the smart, "elitist", logical ones. (And yes, I'm generalizing, and there are examples on the Demo side of mindless populism too but I have yet to find a counter-example on the R side).

[...]

Using his pulpit, I don't think a president can have any impact on reason and epistemology of the culture. I agree that these are fundamental, but to change these, one has to change intellectuals rather than political parties. One probably has to change the views of journalists before one can change the views of voters. If one can change the views of people in think tanks and professors it can have an impact on journalists. Mostly, politicians reflect these intellectuals when it comes to fundamental areas of philosophy like epistemology.

To be sure, I'd say that the "Fox News Axis" if you will--its media, "intellectuals" (if you can call any of them that: compare any of them to, say, WF Buckley just to remind yourself how far down they've slid) is perhaps a single location where the "culture" of today's Republican party resides. Fox News has a simple motto: "the Republicans must win at all costs, no matter what". It's not about an ideal, or even a religious cause anymore--it's just their side winning power for power's sake.

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The tables have been turned and now it's the Democrats who are the smart, "elitist", logical ones. (And yes, I'm generalizing, and there are examples on the Demo side of mindless populism too but I have yet to find a counter-example on the R side).

You're yet to post a counter-example on the D side as well. Who's a smart and logical Democrat?

Edited by Nicky

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