The standoff at the Bundy Ranch between Cliven Bundy and the US government over unpaid grazing fees has turned into a political disaster for the right. As I pointed out in my last post, Cliven Bundy has no case and he should not have been the recipient of conservative and libertarian support in the first place. However, many conservatives and libertarians decide to champion the man’s cause as somehow a glorious struggle against big government and the Muslim Kenyan Communist dictatorship of Barack Obama, although Bundy did not own the land in question in the first place. Many of these people cheered when an armed militia was able to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from carrying out their lawful duty to enforce a court judgement against Bundy.
The farcical nature of the Bundy Ranch standoff came to a head when the New York Times published a story on Wednesday where Bundy made some racist remarks about blacks and compared public housing to slavery:
But if the federal government has moved on, Mr. Bundy — a father of 14 and a registered Republican — has not.
He said he would continue holding a daily news conference; on Saturday, it drew one reporter and one photographer, so Mr. Bundy used the time to officiate at what was in effect a town meeting with supporters, discussing, in a long, loping discourse, the prevalence of abortion, the abuses of welfare and his views on race.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
Conservatives and libertarians should have seen this coming a mile away when they championed this cause which deserved no champion. The reason why we on the right continue to have to have people like Cliven Bundy, Todd Akin, and others continually embarrass us is because we have become an intellectually and morally bankrupt movement. As a movement, we care more about outrage seeking; throwing out cheap and meaningless slogans such as “we the people”, “cut spending”, “restore the Constitution”; and sprinkle in some Reagan quotes and quotes from the Founding Fathers and this is what has posed for modern conservatism in the age of Obama. Instead of doing the hard work required of a loyal opposition such as developing a credible alternative to the left, the right seeks out and turns into celebrities people such as Cliven Bundy, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, Allen West, and many others and turns them into sound bite machines and fundraising products who continually spew goofy and kooky things for the benefit of the far-right base of the Republican Party. The best description for this kind of “conservatism” is Bundy Ranch conservatism because that ranch is where the American people got the full serving of this insanity. The worst part of Bundy Ranch conservatism is that its adherents, whether they call themselves conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Partiers, sincerely believe that they are a majority of the American people. Having these people in the driver’s seat will result in the ruin of the liberty movement.
The lesson to be learned here is just because someone says “we the people” a lot and talks about “restoring the constitution” does not mean that their cause or candidacy is one that should be embraced by the liberty movement. Case in point is Greg Brannon and his candidacy for the United States Senate in North Carolina. Greg Brannon has emerged as the “true conservative” challenger to the establishment candidacy of North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. In fact, FreedomWorks is holding a “grassroots rally” for him this weekend. To be blunt, Greg Brannon’s views on many issues are going to come off as utterly insane to most average Americans. Buzzfeed has highlighted 13 of the nuttiest things Brannon has said including comparing property taxes to the Holocaust and the Soviet Union, ran an organization that frequently posted blog posts advocating conspiracy theories, says democratic debate of issues is “socialism”, accuses President Obama of “instituting a socialist dictatorship”, has compared abortion to slavery and the Holocaust, has also called President Obama a fascist, thinks the American political system is comparable to Nazism, and believes the Second Amendment allows private ownership of nuclear weapons. In addition, Brannon has plagiarized Senator Rand Paul’s website (who has endorsed Brannon), claims Obamacare is part of a “global conspiracy to control life”, and Brannon was found guilty by a civil jury of misleading investors for a company he was a board member of (his co-defendant was acquitted of all counts). Clearly Greg Brannon is not someone we should associate ourselves with, no matter how good he may seem on the issues. It’s as if someone decided it was a good idea for the most nutty member of the local Tea Party or the Infowars Fan Club to run for office.
The reason why people embrace Brannon, despite the fact that he cannot be considered a credible candidate, no matter where or what he is running for, is because there are many media personalities, “grassroots activists”, and political organizations who are invested in failure. The worst thing that can happen for some “in the movement” is for the left to be defeated and for the size and scope of government to actually be rolled back. Once that happens, the outrage seeking will have to go away because there will be no more excuses and people will demand results. Then perhaps the hard work of developing a credible alternative to the left’s statism and making the ideas of liberty relevant to the real world would have to begin. It’s time to start moving away from Bundy Ranch Conservatism and start building a real world libertarian conservationism that can win elections and have mass appeal among the American people.