Friday, June 12, 2020

Take A Second Look At Conservative Organizations

     "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket." – Eric Hoffer

     The critical importance of “supporting conservative organizations” is touted widely and conservative organizations. Yet, as Ned Ryun points out in this piercing piece, “conservative organizations” such as the Heritage Foundation have a stunning record for consuming millions in donations while producing nothing but froth and gas:

     Today some people, myself included, are rightly asking: if Heritage can’t support the most basic tenets of America’s founding and affirm its rise to exceptionalism, what is the point of Heritage at all? They claim to be conservatives, but what have they conserved? Where are their victories?

     Their own list of alleged accomplishments is amusing, to say the least. Heritage claims credit for the list of President Donald Trump’s judges—which is funny, as it is common knowledge among conservatives that the list was compiled, analyzed, and vetted by the Federalist Society at the direction of Leonard Leo and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. Heritage takes credit for being active in some policy issues during the Trump Administration, too. But for an institution that once prided itself on being the “think tank” of the Reagan Revolution, that’s not saying much.

     Donald Trump did not come our way out of any “conservative organization.” Indeed, most of them fought him savagely – and not on the basis of his positions, but because of his “style.” Concerning what Heritage has actually been doing with the donations of its supporters, Ryun cuts like a new scalpel:

     What is more interesting—and telling—is what Heritage considers one of its greatest achievements in the past 20 years. Going back to 2003 this former bastion for the limited size of government brags about doubling in size, building an eight-story office edifice with a 230-person seat auditorium. More troubling than expanding its own footprint is its efforts to vastly expand the size and reach of the federal government by promoting and pushing ideas that are antithetical to conservative principles.

     Look only at the famous—or infamous, depending on who you talk to—example of Heritage being one of the primary advocates of Romneycare, the godfather of Obamacare. Ed Feulner, former president of Heritage, vociferously denies it, but facts are pernicious things.

     Not terribly conservative, eh what?

     One of the most insidious diseases of the institutional mindset is the tendency to conflate inputs with outputs – i.e., when asked “what is being accomplished?” (especially if a truthful answer is “approximately nothing”) to redirect attention to what’s being spent. This sprouts directly from the institutional dynamic, the highest priority of which is to survive and to grow regardless of whether the institution’s nominal purpose is still being served. (Cf. the Eric Hoffer quote at the beginning of this screed.) Governments do it, too, which is one of the Right’s greatest frustrations with our federal government.

     It’s worse, of course, when a “conservative organization” starts to turn traitor, and lobbies for “compromise” with the Left on matters of principle. Heritage and others have been found advocating soft versions of Leftist nostrums. Often their policy wonks will back a weakened Leftist proposal – the sort of thing that’s guaranteed to deteriorate over time into outright socialism or communism, such as RomneyCare – with the plea that “we have to do something” and “it could be worse:” hardly a conservative’s favorite argument.

     (“Smile,” the man said. “Things could be worse.” So I smiled...and they got worse.)

     There’s no need to thrash this into pulp. Before you pull out your checkbook, or fish out your credit card, or click the PayPal donation button, or whatever donating to XYZ Society involves, try to determine what that organization has actually achieved. Insist on real, individual-rights-respecting achievements in public policy, not fancy new office buildings or “white papers” that have had no demonstrable effect on American governance. Be critical of claims that XYZ is responsible for some Right-leaning policy, if those claims are presented without hard evidence. Be furious about XYZ’s participation in advocating or enacting policies that undermine individual freedom or the Constitutional limits on government.

     It’s your money. Spend it wisely.

     “Now that you know the truth about your world, stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction. Withdraw your support. Do not try to live on your enemies’ terms or to win at a game where they’re setting the rules.” – Ayn Rand


Georgiaboy61 said...

Eric Hoffer's brilliant observation certainly describes the Heritage Foundation to the tee, but even more so the National Rifle Association.
Recently, it came to light that Executive V.P. Wayne LaPierre has for years been using the organization's financial assets - chiefly member dues - as his own private piggy bank, spending that money on everything from posh vacations to remodeling expenses to five-figure clothes shopping sprees to rich bonuses he awarded himself and other senior members of the organization.

When members of the NRA Board, including former Congressman Colonel Allen West (USA, ret.), protested and demanded an audit of the non-profit and of his lavish spending habits, LaPierre and his allies forced them out.

Within a remarkably short time, things were back to "normal" at the NRA. Meaning that LaPierre was again spending member dues like there was no tomorrow, while pleading that the organization was in danger of going under without additional support from the members.

It is germane to note that the NRA has been intimately involved in the writing of every significant piece of anti-gun and gun control legislation written in this country dating back to NFA 1934 and GCA 1968, going forward.

Well,at least now the members know what it takes to rouse the NRA "leadership" from its slumber: Not threats to the right of Americans to keep/bear arms, but threats to their well-established "rice bowl," that gravy-train they've been riding all these years.

Col. B. Bunny said...

It's strange to me how I used to hang on every word of the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. I took to referring to the Journal as the Open Borders Gazette before non-subscribers were banished from the comment sections. Heritage became the institutional version of Paul Ryan from which even light beams could not escape. Recent discussion of "Conservatism, Inc." have been right on the money and have highlighted the utter uselessness of the so-called "right." In any dustup with the left the right has, without fail, played the role of the cowardly GI in "Saving Private Ryan" who had a loaded M-1 in his hands and could have climbed five stairs to blast the German soldier who was in the process of killing his comrade.

Tom Fitton, James O'Keefe, Dan Bongino, Sidney Powell, Tucker, Andrew Breitbart, John Solomon, and some others serve(d) it up with the bark on but for the most part the fire went out in a lot of "right-wing" hearts. Just the simple proposition that "health care" isn't a federal responsibility or that Fedzilla is a constitutional monstrosity is beyond the ken of "conservatives."

GeorgiaBoy's take on this captures the dynamic of the drift to careerism and ricebowlism. Eventually, the truth of the descriptor "too clever by half" will shine like a searchlight. Keep it up, nitwits.