Sunday, August 18, 2013
What Has Mark Levin Wrought?
August 18, 2013
By James V Capua
In The Liberty Amendments Mark Levin has delivered more than advertised. He promises a credible agenda for reinvigorating constitutional government based on an approach to the amendment process which avoids the liabilities of better known options. What he delivers, though, is a vast, potentially game-changing political arsenal that can be drawn upon by everyone from had-it-up-to-here Tea Partiers to Republican candidates at least sentient enough to know they need something more than budget and deficit talk. Want to tell Karl Rove that he and his white board have had their day? Want alternative arguments for attempting to convince wooden-headed Republican campaign contributors that they need to improve their selection standards? Want to find a framework to create a working political alliance between Conservatives and Libertarians for 2014 and 2016? Want a positive agenda to undergird a primary purge of inert Republican officeholders? Hell, want a platform for a broad-based third party of the Right, or just a useful new PAC to divert yet more conservative dollars from the lame RNC?
Now this is not to say that Mr. Levin embraced all, or even most, of these objectives in writing this book, nor need he. Levin has no difficulty saying what he means. To a dispirited and increasingly hopeless people he urges, essentially, "Put not your trust in Reinces," and shows us, chapter and verse, how our salvation lies in our own hands. While his proposals are intended to spur a discussion of limited constitutional government that goes beyond the usual Republican/conservative "I'm for it," followed up by focused political action, he would probably, with varying degrees of intensity, separate himself from some of the potential applications for The Liberty Amendments that I cite -- most notably serving as the basis of a third party movement or even facilitating aggressive reaching out to Libertarians. But President Obama remains busy deconstructing the separation of powers, the social order, the national interest, and the rule of law.The Congress has settled upon the Power of Whining over the Power of the Purse as the preferred means to control a lawless President and a defiant bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the only response from the Republican cucumber sandwich crowd this summer has been to chow down on greasy Jersey Shore fare and to select, of all places, Romney's home state as a venue for their own version of The Biggest Loser. If ever there was a time when it was necessary to put away the "dogmas of a quiet past," this is surely it. Levin's amendments proposal, as powerful ideas often do, opens up a variety of avenues to think anew, act anew, and ultimately to disenthrall ourselves.
One of the most malignant consequences of Republican betrayal of Tea Party exertions in 2010 has been its effect on conservative citizens' morale. Nothing is more dispiriting than being played for a sucker. How then to rouse conservatives for the next battle? What about a principled yet tangible agenda that transcends the candidate and facilitates building a winning coalition? "Trust me; I'm a constitutional conservative," or "I'm a businessman and know how to create jobs," are not enough to cut it anymore. Dead-end distinctions -- he's a Libertarian; he doesn't like the Flat Tax; she changed her mind on abortion; he's great on individual freedom but wobbly on national defense, etc., will never produce a governing majority, and are perfect tools for the Legacy Media to lever apart the opposition. The Liberty Amendments offer a vehicle for creating a diverse constitutional restoration coalition, outside of the parties, but without actually attempting to replace one, with a common allegiance over and above policy notions and politicians' beloved "plans" to help single-parent families with children between the ages of seven and thirteen. Imagine the result -- candidates for all levels of office, from local to national, endorsing, to coin a phrase, fundamental transformation, a transformation, moreover, for which the medium -- primarily state and local action -- is also the message. Of course, with success, subsequent governing will require specific policy debates, but these now would have to proceed within the framework of common principle --- an interesting prospect indeed -- policy horse trading among freedom advocates. Liberty Amendments Coalition debates would also have a salutary effect upon political language, for example "Citizen" would have to be restored to its primacy of place ahead of the socio-economic, ethnic, and interest group categories that now dominate political discourse. In all, a vast improvement over the internal Republican "debate "on "comprehensive immigration reform" with its creation of a new form of performing art -- the kabuki circus.
Academics can quibble, consultants can deprecate, performing TV monkeys can misunderstand or distort, but Mark Levin has released a powerful idea into the wilds of American politics and it will be fascinating to see how it develops. For our sakes, let's hope it prospers.