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.

 

Party Crashers

By: George Coyoy

Picture yourself throwing a party. You want to throw a great party because bad parties always end up looking like an episode of ‘King of the Hill’ – a bunch of guys standing around drinking beer, spitting and talking about carburetors. Having been around the block once or twice before you’re also experienced enough to know that you don’t want to throw a complete barn burner, so an open house party is off the table. Open house parties are the prog rock of parties – they’re an incoherent mess. They only lead to broken property, sketchy weirdos, and inexplicable stains everywhere. Better to let the high school kids deal with all that, so the plan is to invite your inner circle and allow them to bring guests. The only caveat is that permission for each guest must be granted before the invitation is extended. You’re pretty liberal about whose invitation you approve, as this policy is more about keeping out certain periphery troublemakers you know will ruin the party. You know the type – the trashy guys who start fights, those who are rude, or those who are just plain weird and won’t fit in well. You know who they are and you don’t want them to ruin your party, so you implement this vetting strategy. Your guests all comply with your wishes – though with some mild protest – and run potential guests by you before extending any invitations. You approve of almost all of the requests made and continue planning.

The night of the party comes and all seems to be going well. You’re on fire as a host – people are laughing at your jokes, everyone seems to be thoroughly entertained, and the general energy of the party is positive. At some point, however, party crashers come and change the entire dynamic of the night. Those trashy guys you didn’t want showing up come in and inject themselves into the party as if they were invited guests. Even worse, some didn’t bring any beer or liquor. By the time you’ve noticed them it looks like they have been there for a while and have settled into the party. To be sure, some of these party crashers are fine, in fact, a majority of them are. One even brought two 18-packs of Modelo. You know all of these people and, generally, you would have no problem inviting some of them as one-offs to the party. The problem with inviting them to the party was always that they would bring with them a small crowd that is capable of doing big damage, a small crowd that is now a big part of your party. As you ponder your next move you realize that you will either have to confront them now and ask them to leave or allow them to stay, risking that they behave poorly, as you expect they will, or that other crashers now have an excuse to come to your party.

The politics of asking the party crashers to leave quickly dawns on you. Some of your guests actually like them and mildly protested your decision not to invite them from the beginning. Asking the crashers to leave would single them out and punish the entire group, despite the fact that some of the people in that group are decent and would have been invited had they not been so close with the more volatile crashers. Other guests are clearly annoyed by them and could decide to leave the party early should this continue, leaving you with a bunch of people you don’t like at your own party. It is obvious that your decision will prove divisive no matter what you do, meaning this situation now requires more analysis than you hoped it would – after all, you just want to party! As host, however, decisions must be made meaning consequences must be weighed.

In Hippie Utopia this would be an open house party and all would come in peace, having the night of their lives while indulging their deepest inhibitions without consequence. Unfortunately, Hippie Utopia doesn’t exist and thus whatever you decide will have consequences. Asking the crashers to leave could escalate into confrontation or worse, and would certainly upset some of your guests. Ignoring the problem tacitly declares the party to be an open house party, giving any and all who want to invite other people a legitimate argument moving forward. “They weren’t invited but they came anyway,” the argument would go. “So why can’t we invite who we want to invite?” After all, all of the guests were told that anyone they invited had to be pre-approved. Allowing the crashers to stay is signaling to all in attendance that this is no longer an invite-only event. Once that word gets out it’s likely a cascade of uninvited guests will show up and this party will descend into the chaotic mess you wanted to avoid. It is easy to see how different partygoers will take different sides, only further complicating the matter and making the decision all the more difficult over time. Despite this fact you realize that the rhetoric is rapidly escalating, meaning it is better to make a decision now than allow the decision to become more controversial later. For whatever reason, however, you go against your better judgment and do nothing.

Let us now assume that the small group of party crashers you knew were potentially problematic actually become problematic. They’re being rude and overly aggressive as you thought they would. They’re instigating stupid arguments and threatening fights. They’re disrespecting all of the rules of the house, such as going into rooms that are off limits and raiding the refrigerator. One guy is smoking cigarettes inside. Allowing them to break the initial rule of coming in uninvited emboldened them to do whatever they want and you now have to deal with it. You finally make your decision. You make what is, in your mind, a reasonable bargain and say that the group of troublemakers must leave, but the uninvited guests who are being respectable and pleasant can stay. Especially the guy who brought the Modelos. You’ve made your decision and with a show of strength you successfully kick the jerks out.

This proves to be controversial amongst some of your guests. “Don’t you know that they have nowhere to go?” they claim. “It wasn’t their fault they were acting that way, it’s yours for upsetting them in the first place by not inviting them!” When you point out that only the troublemakers were kicked out and not those who crashed but did not cause any trouble, the Party Crasher Activists double down. “You’re separating them from their friends and dividing people! That’s so messed up!” The idea that these party crashers wouldn’t have been separated had they 1) not come in the first place and 2) not behaved like total jerks once here doesn’t click with these few guests, for whatever reason. Most guests agree with your decision to throw out the party crasher jerks and would probably agree with kicking out those who crashed but are being decent. They, however, stay silent as they would rather not be berated by the obnoxious, sanctimonious Party Crasher Activists. The few who take issue with your decision are being dramatic, staining the party with their incessant screeching and whining. You do your best to ignore it and, eventually, you and your other sane guests are able to separate from the drama and enjoy yourselves again. Even better, you’re able to do so drinking Modelo.

Shortly thereafter the jerks come back. They re-enter the party, now with loud defenders applauding their decision to boldly enter the party from which they were just expelled. “They have a right to be here!” claim the Party Crasher Activists. “Excluding people like this is wrong! Why should you have the right to decide who gets to party and who doesn’t?” Sovereignty over who can and cannot enter your own property is apparently a foreign concept to the Party Crasher Activists. As such, the situation has escalated to the point where your party is ruined. It is pure madness. “WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?!” one guy screams. Bless his stupid little heart. This sentiment is, of course, pure pablum but it doesn’t matter. Empty vessels love pablum and, as such, he is rewarded with applauds and praise. The Party Crasher Activists don’t understand why we can’t all just get along, never realizing that everyone was getting along just fine before the party crashers crashed your party. The guests who agree with you look at you and you just shrug. There is nothing left to do but end the party. The inmates are now running the asylum.

So your party failed. Miserably. The only positive is that you have some Modelos left. The party was still a failure though. You had a plan as to who you would let in and who you would keep out but, like flies and mosquitos, those you wanted to keep out found a way in. Not only did they crash your party but the volatile few ruined everything for everyone, just as you thought they would. Moreover, despite the majority of party crashers being decent party guests, the decent majority was ultimately irrelevant. The effect of the volatile few proved to be too much to overcome; they had driven too much of a wedge between the entire party to keep a decent party sustainable. They ignored the invite-only status of your party, they ignored the rules of the house after ignoring your party’s invite-only status, and then they came in and ruined everyone’s experience. The crashers were all-around disrespectful from the beginning and, thanks to your inaction and the inexplicable support they garnered from some of your guests, continued to disrespect you, your house, and your guests. So, again, the decent majority was completely irrelevant. All things considered my question to you is this: how would you have handled this situation?

If this is my party? I don’t hesitate in telling them to leave. Not asking. Not hinting. Telling. As soon as I see them they’re all gone. Except Modelo guy, of course. If the situation escalates, it escalates. If my guests are upset, then they’re upset. If they’re truly upset then they’re also are free to leave. A line must be drawn, however, and if one is to draw a line it should be the line that communicates that one will not be disrespected and that breaking one’s rules has consequences. Every single party crasher disrespected me by crashing my party. Every single crasher was essentially flipping the invite-only status of my party the bird by entering my party. The presence of each and every single party crasher was a massive, aggressively flipped bird pointed directly at me for every second they spent at my party. I don’t know about you, but I don’t take disrespect well.

Perhaps what I can ultimately take away from the experience is that I can afford to be a little more lax in my party invitation policies moving forward. Perhaps they were a bit too rigid and unfairly kept people who were good party guests out of the party. Especially Modelo guy. All of this is debatable. But my rules are my rules and this was my damn party. Those who knowingly broke my rules disrespected me, my guests, and the very concept of rules in itself, so why should I feel bad about kicking a guest who was never invited to my party out of my invite-only party? I shouldn’t.

And that’s how I view illegal immigration.

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.