Conservatism (Heritage Foundation) vs Libertarianism (Cato Institute) 2018 Debate

By Daniel Hong

Annual Debate held by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute where the political philosophies of Conservatism and Libertarianism are debated by young men and women who will one day maybe hold important positions of power either publicly in government or within their respective communities in a more private capacity.

 

Edmund Burke vs Thomas Paine on July 4th

By Daniel Hong

Happy 4th to all my fellow Americans, and happy 242nd birthday America!! In 1776 the birth of a Nation has brought about blessings, prosperity and happiness to a great many people not just Americans. For that in the year 2018, I find much to celebrate. However, even though there are still many things to be thankful for I cannot help but honestly admit that there are parts of me that wallows in what America is becoming. There are many issues to discuss but one thing that has been a focus has been the polarization of this country. Recent events reflect that as Sarah Huckabee Sanders can tell you. Antifa vs the Alt Right and even the President himself who many blame to be the cause (wrongly), reflect the harsh divisions and differences that this One Nation under God should be better than. Now let me be clear this is nothing new, after all we had a civil war, 1968 is a year many baby boomers would like to forget and these are only a few examples. I take personal responsibility for not being as graceful towards my fellow citizens as I should be. I encourage every American to do the same and reflect on our bitter divisions and see how we the people can form a better union as the U.S. Constitution still states after all these years.

With that said I believe going back in our history and reading through documents like our beloved U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is very important, as these documents are vital parts of our Nation’s birth and continuance. However, instead of me explaining the Revolutionary War and how things came to be, watch this speech from the political analyst and the founding editor of the National Affairs, Yuval Levin. His presentation is based off of his book The Great Debate, one of the most unique books that I have ever read. He speaks of the Declaration of Independence being itself a polarizing document, with the main paradox being the radical idea of overthrowing the government to the conserving of the English tradition. What Mr. Levin helped me with was the idea that the other side (the progressives) despite our disagreements and disputes are as much of an American as myself. It is the perfect debate for today’s age and I highly recommend on this beautiful day to take an hour of your day to watch this (and read the book whenever you get a chance).

The Great Debate Burke vs Paine

 

Memorial Day Tribute

by Daniel Hong

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As I take this day to reflect on the sacrifices made by our troops, a particular song comes to mind. And a portion of it really captures the heart of what this day should be, and here it is from the chorus:

I’m proud to be an American

For at least I know I’m free

I won’t forget the men who died

Who gave that right to me.

If you have been living in this country for any significant amount of time you would recognize this song as “God bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. A song that is still sung today at presidential inaugurations. The popularity and iconic stature of this song is rightfully credited as it properly states the fundamental idea of what it means to be an American. It also explicitly (or implicitly) proclaims the proper meaning of Memorial Day as a day of remembrance of those who made the sacrifices to protect and defend our constitutional republic. The principles of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence have withstood the test of time because of them. Thus, it is crucial to understand the proper meaning of Memorial Day.

The Heritage Foundation’s media wing the Daily Signal had an interesting article that highlights the history of this national holiday as well as some facts most people don’t want to hear about. One of them is the embarrassing statement that most Americans are not aware of what Memorial Day stands for and often conflate it with Veterans Day.

The article states:

Regrettably, a Gallup poll in 2000 revealed that only 28 percent of Americans knew the true meaning of Memorial Day, and 40 percent confused it with Veterans Day.

Now I do believe many good hearted people make this mistake by accident and out of that show great respect to our current troops as a result. Now, I do believe our troops should receive respect in general other than just Veterans Day but if that’s what American’s will understand Memorial Day to be then you might as well have two Veterans Days.

The Daily Signal explains the simple but forgotten distinction:

Memorial Day is the day to remember those men and women who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces, whereas Veterans Day is a day to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans.

It might be that the ignorance comes from the fact that this holiday used to fall on the 30th of May and was moved to the last weekend of the month which resulted in a commercialization of this holiday for concerts, baseball games, beaches, BBQs and etc. These things by all means are good and Americans should use this day for celebration, but they should be used in conjunction and to commemorate this glorious day.

For me as a Bible believing Christian there is a deeper meaning to this celebratory day, as the symbol of a soldier’s brave sacrifice for our freedoms represents the brave sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in which my freedom as well as the freedom for anyone around the world who places their faith in Jesus Christ was won. Sin no longer has a death grip so there is reason to celebrate for me in worship. Also, God who is the primary protector of nations does it through secondary means which is the Armed Forces. The Bible actually refers to them as ministers of justice, an avenger (No not the superheroes) of God. Therefore, taking a moment to remember this also helps me look forward and grow in a deeper reverence for the Lord, in the same manner remembering the troops who made the sacrifice all those years ago helps me to have deeper respect for those who currently serve overseas in combat operations most notably against Islamic terrorists. So the point is however you celebrate this day go and do it, I myself might watch a baseball game there is nothing wrong with that, in fact I sincerely hope you enjoy it. I just humbly and respectfully plead that as you do you will keep in remembrance, the reason why you can.

I leave you with this speech from former President Ronald Reagan in 1986 from Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to this Day:

 

The Big Lie, pt. 1

By George Coyoy

For as long as I can remember I was force fed the notion that Republicans are racists-sexists-bigots-homophobic-Islamophobic-right-wing Christian fundamentalists who hate the poor and believe the earth is flat. I was told Republicans are science denying, unsophisticated mouth breathers who think that rock ’n’ roll and the hippity-hop are the devil’s music and that women who use birth control are harlots. They also believe those harlots shouldn’t even be out of the kitchen to begin with, so if you’re a woman reading this get back in there! To be a Republican or, even worse, a conservative Republican, was the social kiss of death. It was unimaginable that any reasonably intelligent and moral person would fit such a description. Or, at least, that’s what the culture surrounding me claimed. You can imagine my surprise when I finally did my own research into politics and found that all of this was pure, raw, uncut nonsense.

I’m a millennial who grew up a half hour outside of New York City, liberal HQ. As such I was highly influenced by MTV, Comedy Central, and other bastions of left-wing intellectual thought. Though I was never particularly interested in politics, looking back I was a default liberal like most others who grew up the way I did. This is to say that what I gathered from school, entertainment, and media in general was that the liberals were the good guys and the conservatives were the bad guys. Republicans were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom. Conservatives were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom while smacking me in the face with a bible. In short, I found myself viewing the political landscape through a Manichaean lens despite not knowing a single thing about politics.

Eventually I made the decision that I was going to get informed. Politics had infused everything surrounding me and I had the sense that there were lies being thrown at me from every direction. The outright lies surrounding the tragic Trayvon Martin case, among others over the preceding years, had sent me into a fury and made me determined that I would learn about politics. I decided that I would learn “both sides” as best I could, that I would hear them out without cynicism and with an open mind, eager to learn so that I could come as close to knowing the truth as humanly possible.

I began, I learned, and I was shocked to find out that all of my previously held assumptions were based on lies. No, Republicans weren’t racists who hate the poor and don’t believe in global warming. Not even close. The positions held by the conservatives I listened to were extremely nuanced and, surprisingly, strongly supported by history, evidence, and reason. But why would so many people lie about these arguments? Did they simply not understand the nuance in the arguments or were they purposely misrepresenting them in order to gain a political edge? I didn’t understand why this was the case, or why it should be the case and so many people seemed to simply not care. For whatever reason, I thought others would be genuinely interested in fair, honest debate about complex issues in a civil manner. In short, I didn’t understand politics.

As this grand narrative began to unravel, so did many other little ones. No, the world isn’t going to be overcome by a flood in five years if we don’t all start driving electric cars by yesterday. No, the war on drugs isn’t a racist conspiracy cooked up by white politicians for the purpose of oppressing young black men. No, the gender pay gap isn’t due to some evil white heterosexual Christian men seeking to dominate women. My first exposure to the conservative counter-arguments left me in a state of shock. Why had I never heard these positions before? Why have these arguments always been misrepresented? And how in the world is Thomas Sowell not a household name? This was all very confusing to me, but onward I marched.

The more I understood, the more cynical I became about politics. I’m not a cynical person in general, and I generally can’t stand those who are, but there are few areas as full of willfully obtuse or ignorant people as the world of politics. Given the unique ability of politics to enflame the soul, it only follows that opportunists ready to fan those flames rise to the top. Perhaps they’re carried there by all the smoke they’ve created.

Hence the forthcoming “Big Lie” series. Given my experience in seeing these big lies dismantled, I look forward to dismantling them for all of you. This will not be a series where I act as a special pleader for the Republican party or conservatives. This will be a space where I debunk some of the popular myths told about right-leaning people in general, be they Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, etc., for the purpose of bringing more clarity to your mind and the public conversation. To be sure, the pathetic inability of most Republicans and conservatives to effectively communicate their positions is partly to blame for The Big Lie. I won’t pull my punches here – the “right” generally sucks at this, whether it be writing, story telling, or speaking with anything resembling charisma. This is largely due to both cowardice and a glaring lack of talent, but that’s a conversation for another day. This is simply an attempt to communicate these ideas in a more effective manner, hopefully persuading many in the process and having clear disagreements with those who still buy into The Big Lie.