Primary season is for bombastic distinctions, it does not demand that we sacrifice the euphoria of advocacy for the expediency of compromise and it doesn’t ask us to make apologies. This is why I support Marco Rubio, he offers me a chance to advocate something bold, a candidacy that might be remembered as the moment the West and its values rose to the challenge of tyrants. Mr. Rubio asks to be no less than the champion of Western civilization, is this hyperbole? Perhaps so, but I’m inclined to let him give it a try because the threat is real and the price of apathy is much too high.
Is Marco Rubio a compromise candidate? Hardly. Of all the candidates only Rubio combines optimism and realism in a dose that will not kill the patient. Only Rubio has not turned to some form of cynicism when only an embrace of our political values will do. Senator Rubio believes the ideas that America was founded on to be our society’s most valuable possession, and further that they are universal in their utility. All humanity thirsts for liberty, and all humanity will find revolt the antidote to a tyrant, now or later, forever and always. When Rubio talks about a “clash of civilizations” it is a disagreement about the validity of this statement that he is pointing to. Far from asking us to submerge our principals Marco Rubio asks us to stand up for them and to fight if necessary to defend them.
Read through the staid pages of the The Economist for a month and you will find that democracy and liberty are both polite fictions for the majority of humanity. So long as men with prominent facial hair and a talent for machetes must play at being “President” democracy is god. However just as soon as they suspend this pantomime Democracy Lord of the Universe will go the way of Zeus or Quetzalcoatl, despised and forgotten. The pitiful wreckage of the UN, an organization dedicated to upholding these notions of international law and political legitimacy, tells us just how precarious the hegemony of democracy really is. You can argue that the UN has been inept, that it has only insisted on the forms and not the spirit of its Charter, and that argument is certainly persuasive. However the UN was at least involved enough to have failed before, it always provided a solution even if only a poor one. But now Russia is invading sovereign countries and blocking a response to its own aggression while ensconced atop the Security Council. Even at the height of absolutism the Sun King never held such a veto over his opponents. The UN has become an instrument of those who wish to destroy it, so much so that dictators are killing their citizens with chlorine barrel bombs and the UN cannot even muster a strongly worded resolution. We should recognize reality; the UN has been in attendance at its own wake for many years. The question before us is what form will the next hegemony take.
There is little debate among Conservatives over whether to defend the West of course, the disagreement is over whose beach to do it on. Some say Syria, others say Boca Raton. Your preference is largely influenced by what you think of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Did the founding fathers say “all men are created equal” when they really meant “we men are created equal”? Possibly it just rolled off the tongue better in the present formulation, but there is pretty strong evidence that they felt they were expressing something universal about the human condition.
If this idea, the natural or presumed liberty of the human race, is universal it imposes certain unavoidable consequences on us. If we are meant to be free but are kept in bondage, if man naturally sets about bettering whatever condition he finds himself in and will apply even violence if necessary, then apathy over the bondage of millions is a form of prolonged suicide. If the Declaration is not prescriptive then we have nothing to worry over, however if it does at least approximate the reality of human nature our failure to treat its wisdom as a universal truth begins to look both self defeating and hypocritical.
So goes the theoretical argument, but the more practical counter argument has some appeal as well. If we decline to define fundamental political rights universally we can tolerate all manner of governing strongmen and outright lunatics. Perhaps it is in the self interest of the people of the United States to abet various mustachioed clowns and therefore this course is the only one justifiable as by the people for the people. The question has to be asked however; just how much evidence do you need to suggest that the buffoon in sunglasses era of dictators has given way to the calculating imperial variety and our self interests are directly threatened? I have encountered the idea that human liberty cannot be universal because it is essentially impossible to achieve due to the *ahem* disability of some cultures. Goatherds are not born Jeffersonian liberals true enough, but they are not born goatherds either. This line of argument confuses a symptom for a cause. For example, in Syria misery and fanaticism are not a social predisposition they are the result of tyranny strangling all hope for decades. Mississippi would look at least as bad if we turned it over to the Assad family’s whim for a comparable time (look at Detroit). No, if the cradle of civilization has become barbaric it did so in response to factors that were not always present and can be removed.
Even so the problems of Syria do not directly impact us, Paris should lookout perhaps, but just gander at those mighty oceans of ours! Billions of gallons of salt water separate us from all that anarchy. Confidant in our unbreakable walls perhaps only the citizens of this country have any claim we must recognize on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or perhaps the Left is correct and the only people who can really be trusted with their liberty are technocrats well insulated from the bigoted common man. The Ayatollah fiddles in his apocalyptic kitchen but what is he making but his own supreme liberty? Over here is Vladimir Putin, he merely wants the freedoms his forefathers enjoyed in Ukraine and central Asia reinstated. I could go on but it is pretty clear that liberty is a universal and has almost certainly existed in every society since the woolly mammoth keeled over. The question is, who posses it? God-Kings enjoyed plenty of personal freedom one would imagine, the ancient Greeks spread the love to a city, the Romans to a geographic area anchored on THE city, the Middle Ages confined it to certain genealogies and God, early modern man saw it return to a whole nation and be removed from God’s account. This spread of liberty, much like the earlier mass adoption of the rule of law brings exponential benefits. The more people enjoy their own freedom to say what they will, believe what they wish, and order their lives according to their own desires the more likely they are to respect your own right to do the same.
If this kind of optimistic belief in the founding principles of our republic cannot find a home within the Conservative movement where can it go? We “Neocons” are optimistic because we see all men as created equal and so equally capable of self government but we should not allow this to obscure the fact that most worthwhile endeavors are also difficult. Difficult, and due to human nature probably unending, for we will never finally burn Darth upon that pyre. It is profoundly shallow to look at a challenge to our founding principles as a fight that will bring victory without sacrifice. Perhaps we should apologize for abandoning our allies in Iraq, or for having tolerated their bondage for so long. Maybe an apology is in order for our overly optimistic view of the collapse of the Soviet Empire, for neglecting to rebuild that nation as we did for Nazi Germany and Imperial Fascist Japan. Perhaps, but I see no need to apologize for my support of Marco Rubio. I hope he wins, or if he doesn’t I hope I’m wrong about our need to redeem the Declaration of Independence.