Against Infiltration: Fool me once, shame on you. I won't get fooled again.

Whether they are conservative or liberal, those who forward an infiltrationist strategy of "taking back" the Republican or Democratic Party commonly fall prey to any number of the contradictions engendered by this strategy. Chief among these is the fact that they recognize the problem represented by the Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government, but consciously refuse to address it. At When Falls the Colliseum, Tyler Andrews admits that the GOP is as much a part of the problem in Washington D.C. as the Democrats are:
A new and fired up brand of conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and tea partiers want something new . . . They want a legitimate third way. They want a banner to rally behind that sheds off the constraints of today’s GOP — a party left in philosophical tatters after eight years of “compassionate” government growth, adventurous militarism, moral hypocrisy, and skyrocketing deficits — all endorsed by Bush (and now gleefully exploded into the stratosphere by Obama). It’s hard to argue with this sentiment. Whether Donkey or Elephant, today’s brain trust in Washington has pushed for too much intrusion, too many bailouts, too much nannyism, statism, protectionism, corporatism…too much “ism.”
The solution Andrews offers, however, is not principled and practical opposition to Democratic-Republican two-party statism and the duopolized political order that maintains the thoroughly corrupted ruling power structure, but rather "taking back" the GOP:
instead of learning its lessons, the party establishment talks about further “moderation” and “big tents,” while the true believers end up more and more alienated from the party itself. We can change this. We can take back the original republican message and bring it to the country as a whole.
The focus on messaging and branding ("the GOP brand may be tarnished . . . but") underscores an unwillingness to confront the depth of the problem represented by the monopolization and centralization of political power in the hands of the Democratic-Republican Party and their corporate sponsors. A similar contradiction can be found in a commentary by Jeffrey Kuhner in The Washington Times. Kuhner writes:
is the Republican Party the most effective vehicle to spearhead the conservative counterrevolution? Many on the right believe that electing Republicans will stem the growth of statism. They are wrong . . . conservatives would be wise to follow the old adage: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Actions speak louder than words. And it should take more than a mea culpa from Mr. Steele to buy conservatives' allegiance. Instead, the "tea party" movement should demand that the Republican Party outline a detailed platform for the 2010 elections.
Ironically, Kuhner states outright that the Republican Party is "part of the problem," that it stands for nothing more than the triumph of "big government," that conservatives have been fooled by clever Republican Party messaging before, but then he immediately suggests that grassroots conservatives fall for it again! Though he is today reviled by many on the right, conservatives and libertarians would be wise to heed the words of George W. Bush: "You fool me once, shame on you . . . I won't get fooled again."


Samuel Wilson said...

The difficulty faced by tea-partiers, radio conservatives and the like is that the GOP is designed to be a governing party. A sort of institutional responsibility is built into it that will serve as an inertial counterweight to any radical effort to dismantle a supposedly excessive governmental apparatus. The sort of radical agenda these people want to enact requires representatives who are accountable to no establishment but to their constituents alone. Infiltrators imagine that they will simply become the new and better establishment if they win enough primaries and elections, but history should warn them of the riskiness of that proposition.

Ross Levin said...

The reasons these parties are powerful are corporate sponsorship and incumbents entrenching themselves. The reason these parties are corrupt are corporate sponsorship and incumbents entrenching themselves. Those things don't go away if you just elect new people.

d.eris said...

Exactly. The goal of the infiltrationist strategy cannot be attained by means of it. And so the infiltrators become the infiltrated.