A True Transatlantic Conservative Alliance?
From the desk of Alberto Acereda on Fri, 2009-04-03 07:47
Just a few days ago, not many Americans knew about Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European Parliament. However, after a three minute speech on March 24 in which he confronted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Hannan has become an international sensation. His YouTube video “The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government” is already an internet success. It has become the most viewed political speech faster than any other in internet history, with almost two million views in its first week, and it has been the number one viewed video for several straight days. As a principled politician, Hannan has been widely praised by conservatives in the United States and was recently featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report and various important conservative radio talk shows, including the Rush Limbaugh Show.
Hannan has been writing in Britain's best-selling quality newspapers for 14 years. When first elected to the European Parliament in 1999, Hannan was its youngest member. Then in April 2008, he was pushed to the top of the Conservative candidate list for the 2009 European elections, making it almost certain that he will be re-elected to the European Parliament next June.
American interest in Hannan´s short video and speech rests on a simple premise: what Hannan said in the video to Gordon Brown could have easily been said to Barack Obama by any of the true conservative members of the Republican Party in the U.S. Congress. After all, our new American president is pursuing the same or even larger massive spending policies which will lead the United States down the path to unprecedented debt and financial ruin. In his video, Hannan tells Brown: “I have long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you’re carrying on, willfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left.” American Conservatives feel exactly the same way about Obama, and Hannan is a reminder of that. Daniel Hannan’s brilliant oration –reminiscent of William F. Buckley´s accent– has produced a new European conservative star. Conservatives should take note of the need to develop a true transatlantic alliance with their European conservative brethren.
Conservative principles are as true today as they were at the founding of our country in 1776; they were laid out by political philosophers and thinkers throughout the nation´s history such as Edmund Burke, Lord Acton, Russell Kirk and upheld by notable politicians such as Barry Goldwater, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Just as Mark Levin outlined in his recent conservative manifesto, conservatism is rooted in the ideas of the framers of our founding documents. Both in the United States and in Europe, all that is really needed is a group of politicians willing to articulate those principles. Hannan is an example of how it is indeed possible to do so. He represents a clear example of how bridges between American and European conservatives can be built. It could also create a platform for rising conservative political figures such as Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford, Eric Cantor and others.
Before Hannan´s video shocked the viewers in the United States, he had already made some waves within European politics. Armed with his knowledge of the French and Spanish languages, he has closely followed the political atmosphere in Europe and, particularly, in Spain, a country where several hundreds of thousands of British citizens live and also vote. Hannan specifically asked those British living in Spain to get out and vote conservative in the next European elections this coming June. Hannan´s point was that as Brits in Spain are one of the least represented communities in Western Europe (most of whom are conservative), the importance of voting is particularly relevant. The interesting aspect in Hannan´s position -- as well as in the position taken by the Tories in the Conservative Party in England -- is the clear attempt to form a new conservative bloc of parties within the European Parliament. David Cameron has already given formal notice of his intention to leave the “European People´s Party” grouping to set up a conservative bloc: the “European Conservatives,” a political group in the European Parliament that will attract members from the Czech governing party -- Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek’s Civic Democrats (ODS). Topolanek, who commands particular influence because his country holds the EU presidency, recently asserted that extra spending was “the way to hell”. Others likely to join Cameron´s organization include the Polish Law and Justice party (PiS), Spain´s Alternativa Española (AES), led by Rafael López Diéguez, and several other political parties from Romania, Bulgaria, and other Baltic states that have become uncomfortable with their existing affiliations.
Undoubtedly, this is good news for American conservatives. Further, it is a blow to several European leaders who are part of the “European People´s Party” but who, unfortunately, seem to be more interested in keeping their place in politics rather than implementing true conservative values: Angela Merkel in Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy in France, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy or Mariano Rajoy in Spain. Those who want to stop the creation of the new Conservative bloc in the European Parliament are already carrying out a dishonest campaign of propaganda against these European parties, calling it a “far-right” or a “fascist” coalition of parties: the same old insults that we see in the United States against conservatives.
Cameron, Hannan and most of the British Tories disagree with the European People´s Party views, which include advocating for closer integration in Europe in matters of economy, immigration, defense, big government and foreign policies. As it stands now, the European Parliament lacks official opposition. Cameron will lead this much needed conservative crusade for real reform in Europe. It is within this context that Hannan´s recommendations for British expatriates living in Spain should be considered. His suggestion as a conservative was not to vote for the usual Spanish “Partido Popular” (PP) or the “Partido Socialista Obrero Español” (PSOE), but rather to vote for a new, vibrant and pro-life Spanish conservative party, “Alternativa Española” (AES), which openly defends its Western Christian roots. Hannan defines this Spanish party as a Euro-sceptic anti-corruption party that has broken away finally from both the socialist PSOE and the centrist PP (which has lost the credibility, principles and stature it once had under José María Aznar´s leadership). Hannan argues that without dodgy mayors to defend, AES is keen to address the concerns that Spanish as well as expatriate British residents have about land security and other important issues for conservatives.
Furthermore, as Hannan points out, AES was the only party to campaign for a real “No” vote on the European Constitution and an active party that encouraged Ireland to stand up to the Euro-bullies. Hannan´s pick of AES makes sense if one considers that for Spain it takes only 300,000 votes to return a Member of the European Parliament.
Some conservatives in the United States are already paying close attention to the activities within the conservative movement in Europe and alerting the Republican Party to the need to consider the suggestions made by Hannan and look at parties in Europe with which alliances and partnerships can be created. Hannan arrives into the political scenario at a time when the Republican Party can lay no legitimate claim to being for limited government after eight years of being just the opposite, ending with bailouts of banks and car companies. This is precisely why the Republican Party should take a close look at the vibrant Spanish conservative party “Alternativa Española” as a first step to creating a true Transatlantic Alliance of Conservatives. While the other two major parties in Spain were and continue to be mesmerized by Obama and openly supported his campaign, “Alternativa Española” stands on principles and defends conservative values: individual freedom, limited government, free markets, individual responsibility, an unequivocal pro-life stance, lower taxes and the implementation of a practical flat tax, school vouchers and, very importantly, the defense of the Judeo-Christian roots of the Western civilization.
Cameron and the European conservatives seem to be decided on firm principles (with the exception of some mistakes on Cameron´s part regarding his positions about the dangers of the so-called man-made “global warming”). In the final analysis, the alliance could be a stepping stone to subsequent conservative realignments and alliances at the transatlantic level. British Conservatives have been in opposition to the ruling party since 1997 but, according to opinion polls, they are very well placed to defeat Brown´s Labour Party at the next election in mid-2010. In the middle of the outrageous financial interventions by the governments of Spain, England and the United States, European voters who believe in limited government will have a say. If we consider that in November of 2010 the United States has its midterm elections, we may be witnessing a reemergence of conservatism in Europe and the United States. Cameron and Hannan's strategy may work in Europe and it is even possible that, contrary to what many believe, we may also be making history as part of a new conservative revolution on both sides of the Atlantic.
Alberto Acereda is a Professor at Arizona State University and a Member of the “North American Academy of the Spanish Language.” He is also a columnist for several newspapers in Europe and the United States.
RE: A True Transatlantic Conservative Alliance?
Submitted by Kapitein Andre on Sat, 2009-04-11 05:24.
Brilliant speech: articulate, plain, succinct. Deficit spending is beneficial in certain instances. This is not one of them. Great Britain is not capable of leveraging itself into a commanding position in the global economy, whether in manufacturing or finance. Prior to the subprime crisis which precipitated the collapse of global finance and general recessions, international finance was beginning to flee New York for London; Wall Street had never engendered the sense of trustworthiness associated with the City, and capital began to fear that the boom times were ending. Yet the City was no less avaricious.
Raw Nerves, And A Bit Of Salt...
Submitted by Steve Atkinson on Sun, 2009-04-05 05:39.
In the words of this Conservative, I say this:
George Bush was most certainly not a Conservative. Period! He was a self-proclaimed "compassionate" Conservative, whatever the hell that means. True Conservatives are by nature, compassionate, and this is known by, or should be known by all. Bush invoked the distinction premised on the belief that non-Conservatives would love him the more, just by accepting that definition alone.
True Conservatives do not so much need, or require a leader to tell them what to think, simply a leader who will represent what they already understand.
Even right to life issues(problems), are a fundamental part of the Conservative's pincipled core makeup, and therefore, Roe v. Wade was not only antithetical to Conservatism itself, but it was exrtremely very bad law as well.
Certainly, Daniel Hannan's speech electrified the Conservative movement world-wide, and it served as a long needed wake-up call to the politicians who garb themselves in the clothes of a determined Conservative.
Clearly, the Founders were guided by Him who held power over their thoughts. None better than they were it, who understood that a government guided not with a recognition of God, was a government absent of moral authority over those whom they would govern. In this regard, we, today, are paying a severe price for Divine omission from the halls of our respective governments. For this too, shall we lay blame before our own feet.
The voice of Daniel Hannan rose above the winds of discord, giving to us a way out of the darkness, and into the light of a new day. His speech, eloquent as it was, could have been spoken by many a true Conservative. As it was, it being his turn, merely satisfied the desires of so many of us kept waiting since the 1980s.
alliance # 2
Submitted by marcfrans on Sun, 2009-04-05 00:38.
@ Maple Syrup
I share some of your frustrations with the former "Bush regime", as do many other conservatives. But, politics is not about the ideal but about the possible. It is about choices between concrete alternatives.
You can not seriously think that it is only "conservative" politicians that fail to actually do what they seemed to promise? That 'gap' is pretty much a near-universal one, and is indicative of the difficulty we all face in judging other people. Some of us are better than others in predicting that 'gap' w.r.t. specific people.
I do not agree that "mainstrean conservatism" is about "globalisation", although there is an important 'wing' that is focused on free trade and the like. Mainstream conservatism is about 'limited government' and 'traditional values' (in a legal and constitutional sense).
Your comments about "working people" and against "globalisation" suggest that you are probably a social conservative (of the Pat Buchanan kind), who feels conservative in terms of 'social values' (in Europe they would likely be called ethical conservatives). That is certainly an important part of the conservative coalition. In any case, whatever kind of conservative you may be, you surely want 'limited government', both in terms of your taxes and safeguarding your individual freedoms, and you do not want unelected judges abusing the courts to make the ethical rules. Conservatives have to work together, and that should include libertarians (like Anglicus), freetraders (that you don't seem to like) and social/ethical conservatives like yourself. If they do not work together, they will end up being ruled by 'liberals/socialists', and they will end up losing their freedom and democracy to 'statism'.
Submitted by Maple syrup on Sat, 2009-04-04 15:41.
I have a worrisome habit of judging people by their records. Mainstream conservatives are fond of talking about 'family values', 'social fabric', 'Judeo-Christian roots' etc. In practice, these are just words that they use to mobilize their voting base.
A good example is the Bush regime in the U.S. The Republicans had control of the presidency, the Congress, and the Senate. And what did they do with all of this political capital? They squandered it on a war in Iraq. On every other issue, they did nothing or simply pursued the agenda of the previous administration.
There is a real difference between the agenda that mainstream conservatives present to their electorates and the one they actually believe in. Traditional values? They couldn't care less. Look at their personal lives if you wish to know the values they hold.
What is mainstream conservatism really about? It comes down to one word: globalization. On the one hand, they want to relocate employment to low-wage countries in the Third World. On the other, they want to import low-wage labour from the Third World to fill jobs that cannot be relocated (e.g., the service sector, construction, agri-business, etc.). This is why median wages failed to rise during the last economic boom. In the coming years of stagflation, we will see a relentless 'Third-Worldization' of working and living conditions throughout the European world.
This process is evidently not in the interest of our working people. Unfortunately, it is in the interest of our political and economic elites. These elites are not 'conservative' in any meaningful sense and we would be fools to think otherwise.
Ron Paul # 3
Submitted by marcfrans on Fri, 2009-04-03 23:53.
OK, so you are a 'libertarian' Ron Paul fan. I still don't see the relevance of the oneliner. But thanks, anyway, for putting some 'meat on the bone'.
1) I am glad Hannan gained some notoriety in conservative circles, but I am afraid that the overwhelming majority of Europeans and Americans do not know who Hannan is. And the naive-left mass media will keep it that way.
3) Surely there are many other "truly conservative members of the Republican Party", besides Ron Paul, who have spoken in Hannan-like fashion to the 'powers-in-place'. And some of them appear to know the rest of the world better than isolationist Paul.
4) Europeans may - or may not - like the Lisbon Treaty, but so far they surely keep on re-electing politicians who seem to want it, or at least go along with it.
5) I wish it were true that US state Governors have more power than government leaders in Europe. I can assure you that it is not true. Frau Merkel, Nic the Sarkozy, and Brown-the-tonguetied have more power than Arnold in California and Blogo-in Illinois (before his recent removal). Put it another way, Merkel+Sarkozy+....have less to fear from the European Commission and the European Parliament than Arnold and Blogo have to fear Obama+Pelosi+Reid. The essential reason is that Merkel+Sarkozy+...collect the quasi-totality of income taxes in Europe, whereas Arnold+Blogo+... collect 'residuals'.
Pavlov's dogs syndrome
Submitted by Monarchist on Sat, 2009-04-04 20:57.
OK, so you are a 'libertarian' Ron Paul fan.
This is typical reaction of neocon jerks.
Ron Paul # 2
Submitted by marcfrans on Fri, 2009-04-03 23:09.
What on earth are you trying to say with your oneliner? Any five different people could come up with five different interpretations of its meaning.
And what on earth is its relevance in this context of an article on the need for - or of signs of - a possible emerging alliance between conservatives from Europe and America?
Submitted by anglicus on Fri, 2009-04-03 23:28.
I am saying Ron Paul had some sensible ideas, and that's how most people would interpret my comment.
Perhaps you should read the article again.
1. Hannan has become an international sensation
2. Almost two million views in its first week
3. American interest in Hannan´s short video and speech rests on a simple premise: what Hannan said in the video to Gordon Brown could have easily been said to Barack Obama by any of the true conservative members of the Republican Party in the U.S. Congress; Ron Paul is a Republican, isn't he?
I don't subscribe to a European union and I think if people in all the countries involved had the benefit of a referendum the Lisbon Treaty would be dead in the water.
State Governors seem to have more say in the running of their states than prime ministers have in Europe, in the running of their countries, I could be wrong of course.
Submitted by anglicus on Fri, 2009-04-03 22:58.
Shame the Americans didn't as much notice of their own politician Ron Paul.
Submitted by marcfrans on Fri, 2009-04-03 22:46.
@ Maple Syrup
Perhaps you are being a bit too harsh to the author? With the naive-left in power on both sides of the Atlantic (I know there is a minority conservative government hanging by a thread in Canada today!), there is a lot to be said for strengthening ties between conservatives in Europe and North America. As the author suggests in his last paragraph, such 'alliance' can best be centered around "conservatism" in the sense of "voters who believe in limited government". Other subjects, like [A] "pro-life" (which the author mentions once in the context of a particular conservative Spanish party) or [B] your "immigration from the third world", can only be divisive in terms of forging a conservative alliance. That does not mean that such subjects should be ignored or avoided, but it requires that they should NOT be treated in a dogmatic or fundamentalistic way. There should be room for a range of respectable opinions on such matters.
It is worrisome, to say the least, that you can even ask the rethorical question "does the phrase 'defense of the judeo-christian roots of Western civilisation' actually mean anything?" Yes, it means something. Numerous books have been written on that subject, and numerous articles have appeared on this website, covering one aspect or another of that "defense". And the author of this article should not be faulted for not expounding on that particular subject. One could just as easily pick out any term from this article and demand a lengthy explanation.
If you want or need a very 'condensed' explanation of "judeo-Christian roots", I would say that it comes down to the metaphysical source or 'grounding' of individual 'human rights' and, derived therefrom, the equality of all individuals (in rights AND duties). As a minimum that requires that you respect everybody's EQUAL RIGHT to express opinions, i.e unfetterd freedom of political speech. Given what has been happening in Canada on that score (ask Mark Steyn, for instance), it would seem that you have a lot of work ahead of you. And, if you made the effort to think it through, a serious and effective defense of freedom of political speech could go a long way in removing the objectionable parts of "immigration from the third world" because it could bring back 'common sense' in immigration policies.
Its simple. We have truths
Submitted by Brazentide on Fri, 2009-04-03 22:13.
Its simple. We have truths that have been proven time and time again throughout the governments around the world. All that is needed is for conservatives to espouse them.
1) The prosperity of a nation is proportionate to the economic freedom of the nation. All economic law must rise from this.
2) The happiness and peace of a nation is proportionate to the Judeo-Christian morality of the people. All social law must promote this.
3) The sustainability of a nation is proportionate to the cultural integrity of a nation. All immigration law must support this.
4) The security and independence of a nation is proportionate to the quality of it's military. Defense strategy must follow this
5) The freedom of a nation is inversely proportionate to the domestic power of its government. The principal of subservience must be vigilantly guarded.
6) Above all, education must teach these truths to children and must be safeguarded against any attempts to corrupt them with the false promises of socialism, bureaucracy and immorality.
Quern deus vult perdere, prim dementat.
The mountain has given birth to a mouse
Submitted by Maple syrup on Fri, 2009-04-03 18:17.
Frankly, this article is underwhelming. There is not a word about one leading issue that worries voters, particularly those who identify themselves as 'conservatives'. By this, I mean the demographic transformation of European societies through immigration from the Third World. Oh yeah, there's the phrase: "the defense of the Judeo-Christian roots of the Western civilization." What does that mean exactly? Does it actually mean anything? Or is it just a platitude?
Please forgive my skepticism, but I've heard this kind of talk before from mainstream conservatives. The demographic crisis that now confronts us is the result of a bipartisan consensus. I might sit up and listen if 'conservative' parties accepted their share of the blame and spelled out, in clear terms, what they proposed to do.
But this is not what I hear. What I hear is just rhetoric -- an energetic 10-minute workout that leaves intact the political flab we've carried for too long.