The Republican Party establishment has proven itself to be all too willing to compromise the fiscal conservative values that Americans have long maintained. Just as in 2006 and 2008, voters voted against Republicans because of wars and out of control spending; likewise, in 2010 voters voted against Democrats for health care and out of control spending. In this, perhaps both parties have failed to win the confidence of the American people because both parties have largely ignored the real center of American politics: Those who believe that government ought to mind its own business.
First, one should be mindful that the narrative of the debate in Washington won’t change with a Republican “win” in 2012, if it is so fortunate. The narrative of the debate will only change, when the people outside of Washington demand it. If conservatives want to affect that change, it will require the conservative movement to appeal to the ignored center; and to do so, they will need to confront some inconsistencies that have plagued the movement in the past.
To start, those who call themselves conservatives must not only embrace the idea of limited government at home, but also abroad. Just as conservatives oppose federal mandates over health care in their home states, they should also oppose mandates in Afghanistan, Iraq, and all other nations across the globe. Traditionally, conservatism has embraced a non-interventionist foreign policy. It was conservatism that has opposed “nation building” and the doctrine of Wilsonian style “liberal internationalism.” That opposition has faded in recent years and this interventionist foreign policy stands in contrast to the values of limited government promoted by conservatives at home. It’s a contradiction and conservatives must reconcile that contradiction.
They must also embrace the idea of limited government in respect to social issues. Government has no business telling two people they shouldn’t get married or a person he shouldn’t put a particular substance into his own body. That isn’t to say one agrees or disagrees with whatever social issue is being debated. It is simply an acknowledgment that some things just shouldn’t be dictated to 320 million people from one city by a handful of well-connected rulers.
That also doesn’t mean folks have to abandon moral principles or give up on what they think is right at the expense of what others do that they think is wrong. There is still a place in society to debate moral questions — but government is not that place. Perhaps acting through the power of persuasion, one can reason with his neighbor that “this” is right and “that” is wrong. Churches, think tanks, civic institutions, charities and the like are the proper venues for such debates. But the halls of Congress are not. Corrupt politicians deciding questions of morality is a faulty system and it’s time we move past that.
The Republican Party can unite the country behind a philosophy of limited government if it resolves these contradictions. The idea of limited government is a uniting principle that can bring people of vastly different beliefs and values together around the principle that people don’t have to force everyone else to live just like them, and that the individual can make choices for himself. And when people come together around that principle, and stop trying to force their views through the power of government on everyone else, perhaps they will be more receptive to the persuasive arguments of others. In civil society, outside of politics, the debate over moral issues can become more meaningful and really address the root issues. It would be a more civil discussion among neighbors rather than relying on brute force to impose a form of cultural socialism.
And this was the recipe for success for the GOP two years ago — even if it was accidental. The Republicans won in 2010 being notably quiet about social issues while embracing the idea of limited government in fiscal matters — an idea it had abandoned several years before. Republicans stumbled on a winning formula of being fiscally conservative and socially libertarian. I’m just not sure they realized it.
What is not an accident is that Americans by instinct embrace those ideas because at heart. Americans still believe, by and large, in the idea of liberty and limited government even if they can’t quite put their finger on it. But that instinct extends to believing in limited government and individual liberty when it comes to social issues. In that respect, I think Republicans may have stumbled on the real center of American politics — a soft, libertarian-leaning center in the same tradition as our nation’s founders. They may not know the nuances of the policies or the principles of economics that free-market libertarians advocate, but in their hearts people believe that they can make choices for themselves better than several hundred men and women in a far distant capital can — and that’s a great start.
One of the arguments I hear quite often against the possibility of change and reform in the Republican Party is that the party is essentially owned by a corporatist elite class, controlled by what Teddy Roosevelt called the “malefactors of great wealth.” While the argument may have some validity in that corporate interests have invested heavily in the Republican Party, there is a fundamental illogic in assuming that this means that the liberty activist wing of the party can’t make great inroads and even initiate revolutionary change in the party.
The proponents of this argument use as their examples the efforts of the party to pursue policies beneficial to certain business interest groups, usually the oil industry. They point out that Republican support for the Keystone Pipeline and for expanded oil and natural gas exploration are motivated by the influence of powerful corporations or super-rich families like the Koch and Bush clans. Similarly, opposition to trade controls, union busting, lax immigration laws, deregulation of industries, opposing environmental regulation and favorable treatment of Wall Street – all Republican policy mainstays – all benefit corporate interests and the wealthy groups behind those corporations.
All true, and all entirely irrelevant to whether those powerful interests would allow a libertarian wing of the party to gain more influence, elect people to office and change the ideological emphasis of the party. The key thing to consider here is that these plutocratic interests are not motivated by ideology – money has no morality. They are motivated by the desire to make money and to be left alone by government in order to do so. They want the Republican Party to clear the path for them to achieve their goals. Traditionally they have done this by corrupting politicians, spending money on campaigns and on buying influence to get what they want. Therefore, what reason is there for them to oppose a political movement within the party which produces leaders and policies which are inherently more compatible with their interests?
Spending a bunch of money to buy off the corrupt quasi-socialist political hacks and religious ideologues who currently dominate the Republican Party is far more expensive than nurturing the rising generation of more libertarian political activists whose interests seem to dovetail rather nicely with those of the corporate class. One of the truths of libertarianism is that the same policies which benefit all people by expanding personal and economic liberty naturally also help business and the monied class by reducing the burdens and interference of government.
Pipelines? Free trade? A more open labor market? Access to natural resources? Less regulation? Elimination of corporate taxes? Liberty Republicans don’t need to be bribed to support these ideas, because they are fundamental principles of their ideological cannon.
Some wealthy interests clearly already realize this. The Koch family in particular seems to get it. They have been spending money for decades on educational programs for young libertarians, finding them jobs in politics, supporting political activist groups with a pro-liberty agenda, and even backing the campaigns of liberatarian-leaning Republicans. As for the evil and corrupting Bushes, if it gets them a pipeline don’t be surprised to see Jeb Bush hugging Ron Paul and starting to talk just like him in Tampa this fall.
So when dealing with the powers who are backing the party establishment, don’t assume that their allegiance can’t change. They don’t operate on personal loyalty or ideology. They just want results. All we have to do is convince them that we’re more naturally inclined to do the things they want done and that their aims and ours really aren’t in conflict. That could be all it takes to swing some of that money and support to our causes and candidates. Don’t think of the malefactors of great wealth as the enemy. Success breeds success. Think of their support as the prize the Liberty Movement wins if we show we can gain some ground in the Republican Party.
I, for one, was delighted at the surge of new, mostly younger people who registered to vote for the first time in order to support Ron Paul in this year’s presidential primaries and caucuses. I explained to non-Paul supporters that the GOP should embrace them because the Republican Party is aging and needs new blood.
However, I saw a study of new, mostly younger people who registered to vote for the first time in 2008 for Barack Obama which makes me wonder about the long-term impact of Paul people.
A study conducted by two political scientists at my alma mater The University of San Francisco discovered that of the 2.1-million first time voters in California who showed up for Obama in 2008, most left other offices blank and didn’t vote on major issue referenda questions involving gay marriage and parental notification of a minor’s abortion request either.
The authors speculate that in 2008 this was evidence that many of the Obama voters were just that — voters more dedicated to the candidate than his liberal causes.
And they tested their hypothesis further by comparing 2010 election data and discovered that most of these new voters did not even show up at the polls two years after voting for Obama. Voting patterns in 2010 were not much different from the voting patterns before this new bloc of voters registered.
As I watch the enthusiasm of the Paul people and meet many younger people who registered to vote for the first time because they believed themselves disenfranchised by the parties, I wonder whether the same results as the Obama voter study would ensue or whether they will stay active in the mundane lower ballot campaigns and become a force within the Republican Party.
My hope is that Paul people will follow the template set by we Youth for Goldwater of the 1960s and suffer through the mundane in order to build a movement within the party. Instead of disappearing after his trouncing by LBJ, we kept the Goldwater movement alive at the grassroots level. Within 20 years, most of us from Youth for Goldwater were either working in media, working as policy advisors in the White House and Congress or actually elected to office and Ronald Reagan, who gave pep talk speeches at Youth for Goldwater rallies, was POTUS.
President Obama has stirred up a lot of controversy recently, after deciding to give “amnesty” to young illegal immigrants. So I’m going to give some food for thought. This issue has been one which pits the various factions within the Republican Party against each other. You have the liberty wing of the GOP–like myself–who want the market to be the primary force deciding immigration. You have the protectionist wing–old former Democrats who came to the party during the Reagan years but didn’t leave all of their big-government policies (and occasional bigotry) behind, and you have the establishment-types who are probably just trying to find the political winds and go with what’s popular. Also to consider, the large number of Hispanic Republicans at the convention, who are sick and tired of the games by those who seemingly want to choke Latin American immigration off completely.
At the Republican Party of Texas’ state convention in Ft. Worth a couple weeks ago, this ideological battle was clear and present. I was attending as an alternate for Brazos County and RLC Chair Dave Nalle was a delegate for Travis County. I won’t be going to Tampa but I’m proud to say that going to the convention allowed me to do two things I really wanted to do. Send some authentic small-government Republicans (including some Ron Paul supporters) to Tampa, and get some really dumb things removed from the state party platform during the drafting process. The end result was shocking to me at first but also gave me hope that the Republican Party is moving in the right direction. The liberty wing and the establishment united on one of the biggest hot-button issues: immigration.
During a minority report, delegates had the chance to voice opinions on the party platform before the final draft was taken to the floor–where delegates from all over the state would vote on it. Dave and I attended this session. It was small, as most of the people had left for dinner or their hotel rooms. It was around 8 PM. What I saw in the platform was an immigration plank that was very market friendly, attempting to make it easier for immigrants with the skills we need to get work visas. Work visas that may eventually lead to those immigrants becoming proud Americans. Well, the protectionists were having none of it, and they tried to get it struck down, using some of the most bogus arguments.
I testified in favor of it. Gave a brief bio of myself as the son of an immigrant and congratulated them on taking a market based approach. Immediately I was followed by some angry man who came off as a lunatic, claiming we’d become an overpopulated, poverty-stricken place like Mexico City. I wanted terribly to rebut him and put his “arguments” to shame, but we only got to speak once. Fortunately, a fellow Aggie was there to do a much better job than I did. His name was Jerry Patterson, and he will be running for Lt. Governor of Texas in 2014. Since I see no candidate emerging with better positions than him, he’s definitely getting my vote. The committee decided to keep the plank. Later, when the plank was being brought up before the at-large caucus, the protectionists lined up to testify against it, again calling the work visas “amnesty”. The establishment and the liberty wing loudly shouted “ay” as Chairman Munisteri issued a motion to move on to the next issue. The plank passed.
Now, had I been given the opportunity to speak again on the issue, and in more detail, I would have said something along the following lines. I would have made the case for a market-based immigration policy. I would have explained to the clearly uninformed voter that our current immigration system of quotas and a ridiculously unnecessary level of federal bureaucracy is a remnant of the so-called progressive era. Progressivism is the very thing we Constitutionalists are [supposedly] trying to combat within the Republican Party.
So here’s some food for thought on why the current system is unacceptable, and why the market can solve this issue better than a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington. I’ll follow it up with my plan for an immigration overhaul: a simple, fair, merit-based system that would save the taxpayer billions of dollars and grow this economy exponentially.
First, lets talk illegals. There’s this notion that all of the 12 million illegals in American were merely border-hopping people with no respect for our laws. This is far from the truth.
A lot of the “illegals” are only so because of useless bureaucracy that originated not with the founding fathers but with progressives like Woodrow Wilson–a notorious bigot. To understand how things were prior to the progressive era, think prior to the 20th century. And just before the turn of the century there was a Supreme Court ruling on birthright citizenship that gives you a general idea about immigration policy before the federal government became the center of our lives it is today.
If you revisit the rationale behind the 1898 Supreme Court case US v. Wong Kim Ark, you find a realistic solution to the “anchor baby” problem, and you also put a bunch of the ridiculous birther propaganda about Senator Marco Rubio in the trash heap of conspiracy nonsense where it belongs.
The case ruled that a child born on American soil to immigrant parents who were “engaged in the procurement of non-diplomatic business” (i.e. worked in the private sector) and had established a domicile (homestead law, which varies from state to state) was a natural born citizen. Back then it was pretty much “work hard and obey the laws and you can stay”.
This is the approach we need to take as Republicans. It destroys the liberal media’s ability to smear us as racists. It exposes the Democrats for the hypocrites they are on the issue. But most important of all, it would create something that President Obama hasn’t. Tens of millions of new jobs!
Due to the bureaucracy it takes too damn long to become a citizen. My father immigrated to this country from Lebanon in the mid 1970s. He did not become a citizen until 1999. Some of this delay was due to the fact he was always working but in today’s America 20 years is probably the average length it takes from immigration to citizenship. That, to me, is just plain stupid! The bureaucracy also makes it too hard to get a green card. Take the case of a German man named Gunter. He is a restaurant owner in New Braunfels, TX. I met him last year at a Students for Liberty regional conference. He still has to leave the restaurant and return to Germany every few years and reapply for a visa because they have made it too difficult for him to get a green card. This man is a small-business owner, who obviously wishes to do business in a freer country than his own, and is being given the runaround by a bunch of gubment employees who I’m willing to bet have never created a real job in their lifetimes.
Gunter is just one example of many. We have all these high skill international students in our colleges. They outperform their American peers in science and engineering programs subsidized with our tax dollars, and what do we do? We make naturalization so difficult that they go back to their home countries and use the skills we taught them against us in the global market? How is that intelligent? They should be playing for team America. We are a country where the best in the world left their homelands to escape poverty and tyranny, and to embrace the free-enterprise system that has created more wealth and human advancement in a couple centuries than any other in the entire history of the world before in.
So I propose a new immigration system for the United States. A capitalist system.
Step 1: We reopen Ellis Island and centers like it all across the country.
That way we can actually account for the people that come into the country for national security purposes. We must still be stringent on immigrants from countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or from Gaza/West Bank, to make sure they are legitimate people seeking freedom from theocrats and not theocrats themselves coming to this country to commit terrorism. And trust me, virtually everyone would choose going through one of those processing centers to using a coyote. At least every honest person would. So at the same time it makes it easier to figure out who the good guys are. These centers should be able to provide immigrants with some advice on where to live, work, and possibly offer English speaking courses for those who need it.
Step 2: Create a new system of regulating immigration status that is based in merit and behavior.
Everyone who comes into the United States gets a five-year trial period. They would get a work visa. At the end of this 5 years if they will be examined. If they work in the private sector, and do not commit any violent or financial crimes–and I emphasize this because nobody should be deported for something like a traffic violation–and demonstrate reasonable English speaking skills, they will be awarded permanent residency in the United States. If they are convicted of a serious violent or financial crime they should be immediately deported. If the English speaking does not meet the standard they will not receive a green card, but can reapply for a temporary work visa. No need to kick them out over that. This will probably not be an issue as most immigrants will be encouraged to learn the language because they want to stay in this great country.
As for welfare use. We need to crack down on sanctuary cities. Government welfare should be denied to anyone who is not a permanent US resident or US citizen. Personally I would like to see the federal welfare state abolished, but I’m a realist and understand that this is at least 20 years away from happening. Private charity, religious or secular, should not be a factor in whether or not one is granted permanent residency. If a church or private organization wants to help an individual, that is purely at their discretion. Its their money!
Step 3: Reform the naturalization process in a manner that expedites it.
After receiving their green card, they enter another five year trial period. If during this trial period they continue to meet the criteria set for them in the first, work hard and obey the law, then at the end of that 5 year period they will be moved to the front of the line and naturalized as citizens of the United States.
Step 4: What to do about the illegals already here? Well obviously it would be financially impossible to deport them all. So here’s where President Obama actually had a point for once. Focus on the criminals. As for the others, the proper solution is that they must take the new route established. They must go to the back of the line in the new processing centers, and begin the first five-year trial period. For those that were brought here as children by parents, they’re really victims of human trafficking if you think about it. Provided they have no criminal records and work hard I see no reason why they should be deported. But they should still go through the new system.
5 years to permanent residency and 10 years to citizenship, its not a bad deal. But nobody is just going to be handed it. That would be amnesty. And amnesty is not the solution.
Now, I’m gonna get some responses to this. So, I’m going to preempt some of the typical ones I get.
The left will call it ‘fascist’ for the English-language requirement. Anyone who is familiar with my views knows I’m as far from fascist as Kim Kardashian is from the Blessed Virgin Mary. English should have been made the official language a long time ago I don’t understand why it isn’t. Multikulti has failed miserably in Europe. I recommend reading Bruce Bawer’s books While Europe Slept and Surrender. I have no intention of chasing away foreign culture. I took two years of Spanish in high school and one year of Japanese in college and am currently teaching myself the latter and plan on doing the same with the former once I have the time. My father speaks Arabic and French. That’s what makes America great. Immigrants like my father bring the best of what the old country has to offer (usually in the form of cuisine or music), but unlike the lawless Islamic enclaves in European cities Bawer documents, they don’t bring the authoritarian ideologies with them, that’s why they left!
It makes it easier on immigrants when they are able to communicate with natural born citizens rather than having to search for people from their own country. The language barrier tends to break down over generations as their children learn English but it seems more efficient to me if it is expedited. There will always be Korea Towns and Little Italys. But segregation was repealed and tossed into the ash heap of history half a century ago, yet America today still has a defacto segregation. We don’t need to be living in white neighborhoods or black neighborhoods or Hispanic neighborhoods we need to be living in American neighborhoods.
Encouraging English speaking skills (notice I didn’t even say reading/writing, as most Americans struggle with grammar) as a manner to expedite the path to ones citizenship merely tests their mettle as to how badly they want to be a part of America as a whole and not just as a “minority”. It opens more doors to them in terms of career advancement, which of course leads to more money. And its not going to be an arduous task, as many of them will likely be learning it already as ESL students or employees working alongside Americans if they didn’t know some coming in.
Then of course the protectionists claim things like “overpopulation” and “they’re gonna take the jobs Americans need”. No, they won’t. In fact, we actually have people leaving the US because there aren’t jobs for them. There is NOT an overpopulation problem in the country. For those of you who think there is I have merely one thing to say to you: Have you ever been to Nebraska?
Okay, maybe I have more than one thing to say. There is no overpopulation problem, only a population density problem. In fact, if the entire population of the world, which is approaching 7 billion people was spread out into one area with the population density of New York City it would fill an area about the size of Texas. If it was as dense as Houston, it wouldn’t even fill the continental United States.
Overpopulation only becomes a problem with the presence of a welfare state. And it is the welfare state that needs to be reigned in. By requiring immigrants to work (or use private charity) and cutting them off from welfare programs, they are not a drag on the taxpayer; they become taxpayers. The welfare behemoth is going to take years to reign in and if we don’t start now we will suffer a Greece-like debt crisis before decade’s end. But as it relates to immigrants its not nearly as difficult an issue as it is relating to citizens.
Hard working people sustain themselves and should not be barred from becoming citizens provided they obey the laws. They should be welcomed with open arms. They will create jobs, create tax revenue, grow the economy and shrink the budget deficit. Its the criminals and the moochers that are the problem and they should be sent home. We have too many Americans that fall into those categories.
If these immigrants “take your job” its because you didn’t work hard enough to defeat them. Sorry bro, but that’s how capitalism works, the best win.
So lets recap.
5 years to a green card, 10 years to citizenship. And all I’m asking is that they work hard and stay out of trouble? This is the immigration policy that will allow the GOP to seize control of the issue from the Democrats permanently. It gives us two things: the reduction of federal bureaucracy conservatives want, and the opportunity to join the free-enterprise system that immigrants want.
Hey Mitt, think about it!
Aaron Alghawi obtained a B.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 2012. He is a national board member and Director of Student Outreach for the Republican Liberty Caucus.
As with most things, simply following the Constitution would solve the gay-marriage dilemma. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage.On the national level, this in fact should be the end of the debate. Unfortunately, many Republicans keep this issue in the news, because they campaign on the promise of amending the Constitution to define a marriage as between one man and one woman. This in turn gives Democrats a perfect opportunity to pick up voters they may not otherwise have earned. The single most important thing about Democrats is that they believe the government should run the economy. This is antithetical to America and the success that this country has seen in its short history. Therefore, if this was the only thing Democrats ran on then they would lose miserably in every election. So instead, their strategy is to divide and conquer. They divide voters into blocks and classes, by race, sex, religion, income level, industry type, and sexual practices. This is also antithetical to America and the spirit of our founding, but unfortunately it has been a very successful strategy. The people in the various demographic groups that the Democrats have targeted have been swayed by their arguments, despite their party’s history, and despite the fact that they want to control your life from the toilet you use to the car you drive to the things you can see on the internet. So how do we combat this as Republicans and win elections by large margins? Well, it is not by giving them more ammunition and more ways to divide Americans. In trying to use the federal government to define marriage, Republicans are trying to solve a societal problem by using a big government solution. This is exactly what the Democrats do. Furthermore, we are alienating an entire “demographic” that contains many members (such as Log Cabin Republicans) who might otherwise be ardent supporters of our cause. On a federal level, the same-sex marriage debate is not only a distraction, but it is also destructive to Republican campaign efforts. But what about the state level? Should we make this a big Republican issue in South Carolina? Jack Hunter makes a great point here as well:
The institution of marriage was under assault long before gay activists got involved. Divorce alone has been far more damaging to the institution of marriage than gay marriage. If I had my druthers, I’d get the state out of the matrimony business altogether and let churches and other social institutions decide what constitutes marriage.Yet again, mister Hunter is right on. Around the mid-1950s in the U.S. several court rulings and state laws clearly recognized the many instances of no-fault reasons to end marriages. The immediate result was a spike in divorce rates during the 1960s. This same thing happened again with “no fault” divorces in the 70s, followed by another huge spike in divorces. So if the object here is to protect marriage, then we are fighting the wrong battle. Finally, there is a more fundamental, principled aspect to this debate that isn’t often talked about. Why does the government have the authority to control marriage in the first place? It didn’t always have that authority, marriage licenses issued by the government are a relatively new thing in Christian history. With divorce rates up around 50% after thousands of years in the single digits, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea? It is something to think about.
Given that the third and final day of ObamaCare Supreme Court oral arguments are now complete, I’d like to focus more on the political implications of what has occurred thus far rather than spending time analyzing the details of the case, which several others have done with far more of expertise than I could ever provide. I particularly recommend the Wall Street Journal live blogs (day one summary, day two, and day three), and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s comprehensive coverage at PPACAction.com.
While we won’t know until June whether ObamaCare will be struck down, either in part or as a whole, it’s certainly safe to say there’s a chance that the individual mandate will be declared unconstitutional, thus creating chaos that will need to be addressed one way or the other. Justice Kennedy and others made note of potential impending disaster in that regard today, as reported by Brett Kendall at the Wall Street Journal:
“Several justices express concern about doing harm to insurance companies if the mandate falls but the rest of the law is left in place. Justice Kennedy worries about imposing a ‘risk’ on insurance companies ‘that Congress never intended.’”
The Justices who made note of the trouble with striking down the individual mandate while keeping the law’s other provisions have a very good point. The entire aim of the mandate, in theory, was to avoid an adverse selection situation where only those who actively need insurance would seek it out while the healthy would then determine that remaining uninsured until they got sick was economically viable.
Given the chaos that could ensue if the law is partially upheld, which could certainly happen, means that Republicans need to be prepared to address either strike-down scenario – and in my humble opinion, a ruling that declares only the individual mandate unconstitutional (which the liberal Justices seemed to be pushing for today) would actually be worse, and absolutely destroy private insurance companies. Nevertheless, as I touched upon in my Day two analysis of the SCOTUS hearings over at my personal blog CorieWhalen.com, conservatives need to be very cautious in regards to declaring imminent victory in the event that the court does in fact declare ObamaCare unconstitutional; even as a whole. Winning a battle, important as it might be, certainly does not imply victory in an overall, extremely extensive war.
However, let’s assume for a moment that ObamaCare is declared unconstitutional in its entirety. The obligatory period of celebration will inevitably occur, but where will we really be as conservatives? Right back where we were when the left, during the Bush years and 2008 election, framed the narrative in a manner that convinced voters that Republicans had no solutions regarding this important matter. And honestly, is that premise even entirely inaccurate when Republican ideas regarding health care have in recent history been either virtually non-existent or only marginally less evil than the absurdities served up by Democrats? Republicans in the latter half of the 20th century, and particularly post-Reagan, have been incredible at screaming about Democratic proposals while inevitably compromising in the direction of further government growth – perhaps slowing the car headed toward the cliff down a few miles per hour, but in no way changing the vehicle’s direction.
Take, for example, the direction of the GOP after the defeat of HillaryCare. The ultimately ill-fated piece of legislation was killed just before the Republican Revolution of 1994 – but what did Republicans end up doing when they swept through the halls of Congress on the heels of their Contract with America? Regarding health care, at least, nothing of merit. The GOP at the time grew complacent and seemed to assume that staving off HillaryCare was a victory in itself rather than taking the opportunity to make pursuing decentralization and free market focused health care reforms a priority in their Contract with America.
This decision to not immediately play offense in a free market oriented manner regarding health care post HillaryCare eventually posed a massive political problem, because it led to the inference that Republicans were satisfied with the status quo, and ultimately aided in laying the groundwork for the onset of ObamaCare. And even worse than allowing Democrats to claim that Republicans were “doing nothing” on the issue of health care, the GOP fell into a left-defined parameter of “doing something” implying a federal, government-centric solution. This is where the Heritage Foundation’s flirtation with the individual health care mandate and Medicare Part D debacles come in.
As James Taranto wrote at the Wall Street Journal in October of last year in his piece, “ObamaCare’s Heritage:”
“Heritage did put forward the idea of an individual mandate, though it predated HillaryCare by several years. We know this because we were there: In 1988-90, we were employed at Heritage as a public relations associate (a junior writer and editor), and we wrote at least one press release for a publication touting Heritage’s plan for comprehensive legislation to provide universal ‘quality, affordable health care.’
As a junior publicist, we weren’t being paid for our personal opinions. But we are now, so you will be the first to know that when we worked at Heritage, we hated the Heritage plan, especially the individual mandate. ‘Universal health care’ was neither already established nor inevitable, and we thought the foundation had made a serious philosophical and strategic error in accepting rather than disputing the left-liberal notion that the provision of ‘quality, affordable health care’ to everyone was a proper role of government. As to the mandate, we remember reading about it and thinking: ‘I thought we were supposed to be for freedom.’”
And as for Medicare Part D, the legislation was introduced by then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in 2003 (when Republicans held the House, Senate and Presidency, mind you). Officially named the “Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act,” it was supposedly created to address the issue of prescription drug costs that were hurting seniors on Medicare. While it’s great that Republicans wanted to address a critical issue, they went about it in all of the wrong ways when they had the numbers to exert control over the process. Instead of pursuing free market reforms, the MMA provided a subsidy for large employers aimed at discouraging them from eliminating private prescription coverage to retired workers. (In this instance, the Republicans kowtowed directly to the AARP).
The legislation was rife with new bureaucracy, and ultimately ended up costing far more than projected, as is typical of big government schemes. Initially estimated to cost $400 billion over ten years, only a month after the bill passed, it was calculated that the overall cost of program between 2006 (the first year the program started paying benefits) and 2015 would be $534 billion. And of course, to top things off, per a report by the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds in 2009, the projected net cost of the program over the 2006 to 2015 period was actually adjusted $549.2 billion. How fiscally conservative!
At the end of the day, Republicans rammed through a wishy-washy piece of legislation that attempted to address a problem, mainly with government solutions, but was too timid to go all the way, resulting in the perfect opportunity for Democrats to demagogue, claiming Republicans didn’t go far enough and more government was needed, creating the perfect narrative for the onset of ObamaCare. And how could Republicans really respond when they had already conceded that federal solutions are what should be pursued?
However, despite the miserable failings of past Republicans, I certainly don’t believe all is lost. In fact, I think now more than ever, due largely in part to grassroots pressure from tea party activists and other limited government advocates, that conservatives have an opportunity to reshape the debate by getting out in front post-ObamaCare and making a solid case for free market health care reforms. Over at the Cato Institute, there’s a lot of fantastic work laying out viable, liberty oriented reforms, and there’s plenty that can be done to get the federal government out of the business of distorting prices and continually tying basic care to insurance and insurance to employment.
Not only could many common sense reforms pushed by Cato be pursued, but conservatives on all levels of government should also embrace the Health Care Compact, which would allow states to enact their own health care legislation independent of federal intervention by banding together in an interstate compact. Ultimately, decentralization and free market reforms will be the key to fixing health care as our federal debt to GDP ratio continues to skyrocket past the 100% mark. Republicans need to do all they can to work toward the goal of reducing bureaucracy so individuals can actually determine what the fair market value for the health services they seek are and can contract freely with their doctors.
Despite prior insanity, the potential failure of ObamaCare before the Supreme Court is ultimately a golden opportunity for Republicans. The GOP will be in a position to finally prove that it has learned its lesson about compromising in the direction of continuous government growth by providing a sensible alternatives to Democratic measures that actually shrinks government involvement in the health care industry.
As I noted above, it’s not as if there’s a dearth of policy work in this area; there’s plenty for the GOP to choose from – the party leaders just need to truly decide they’re actually for limited government and get their heads in the game instead of accepting as fact that government should continue to control our health care choices. Ultimately, what we as activists have to remember is that by expending energy fighting ObamaCare without a strong alternative free market plan to immediately implement legislatively means that as conservatives, we’ve given ground to the Democrats.
Make no mistake about it; the grassroots left is plotting their support of, in their wildest dreams, a single payer system, and at the very least, revisiting the public option idea as well as general Medicaid expansion. They will stop at nothing to define the parameters of the health care debate as inherently demanding a government-centric solution. This time, the Republican party cannot fall into the trap of being confined by that narrative. We can and will do better – and certainly, the more liberty Republicans you help us elect, the more up to this important task the party will be.
Corie Whalen is a political consultant based in Houston Texas. She currently serves as the national Secretary of the Republican Liberty Caucus.
In a powerful example of the internet grassroots in action, a viral campaign through Reddit played a large role in stopping the passage of s SOPA and PIPA and that effort has now expanded into an movement to produce alternative legislation which would address copyright concerns but also protect the rights of internet users and providers.
This collaboratively produced legislation is called the Free Internet Act. It has as its stated goal:
“To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by preventing the restriction of liberty and preventing the means of censorship. FIA will allow internet users to browse freely without any means of censorship, users have the right to free speech and to free knowledge; we govern the content of the internet, governments don’t. However enforcements/laws must also be put into place to protect copyrighted content.”
The effort is ambitious, and goes beyond just proposing a law for the United States and includes the idea of an international treaty to address not just SOPA but also the European Union’s equally troublesome and unpopular ACTA legislation, effectively as a new international treaty on online copyright and free speech.
The proposed bill would make it more difficult for copyright holders to remove suspect content and limit the amount they could sue for, while still giving reasonable protections against piracy. It provides guidelines for fair remedies to get content removed and gives site owners and uploaders a 30 day grace period to deal with problems and defend their content, addressing the concern that SOPA provided no remedies or due process for the accused. It provides for enforcement through the court system and suggests unspecified penalties for abuse of the process or efforts to intimidate content providers. It even provides the rough elements of a sort of internet bill of rights.
Right now the FIA is in rough form, produced through a collaborative process which is not efficient and not well suited to refining and focusing the language, but it’s an excellent starting point which includes sensible alternative proposals which address the legitimate concerns behind SOPA while also protecting civil liberties and the rights of internet users and businesses.
An online community like Reddit is great for getting the ball rolling on an effort like this but is not well equipped to take the subsequent steps necessary to produce a working piece of legislation and get it introduced in Congress. The next step in the process is for the FIA to be taken up as a cause by advocacy groups which have been involved in this fight, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Republican Liberty Caucus, and from there pass it on to sympathetic lawmakers to be introduced in Congress, with a strong push from the internet grassroots. In the process the language of the bill will need to be clarified and refined and brought in line with legislative standards.
Senators like Rand Paul (R-KY) and Congressmen like Justin Amash (R-TX) and Ron Paul (R-TX) who were outspoken in opposition to SOPA should have a natural interest in sponsoring such legislation. A promise to introduce a version of the FIA migh talso be a powerful campaign issue for Richard Mack who is challenging SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) in the Texas GOP primary. Producing a resolution for inclusion in state Republican Party platforms endosing the FIA might also be a useful tactic.
The internet remains one of the strongest and most productive sectors of our economy with huge potential for future growth, but we cannot allow that potential to be stifled by unwise legistlation. The benefits to individuals and to the nation of preserving a free and open internet environment are obvious to everyone except for big media and their lobbyists. The internet grassroots have started a wave of change on Reddit and they’ve come up with a good start on a real solution. It’s time to take the next step and make it into a real law.
(This article appeared previously in a slightly different form in Blogcritics Magazine)
As you may have heard, last week actor Sean Penn visited his buddy Hugo Chavez in Venezuela once again. Associated Press reported his comments on the 2012 presidential election as
“It’s never predictable what can happen in an American election, but we certainly believe at this point that it’s becoming increasingly clear to the American people that the policies of the far right are the policies of the rich, and that they are to the exclusion of the middle class and the poor, and that no society has a future on that basis.”
This is far from the most outrageous comments attributed to Sean Penn during visits to the socialist police state that is Venezuela. Furthermore, these are exactly the kind of statements conservatives and libertarians should expect to hear from Hollywood liberals during President Obama’s reelection campaign. Being unable to run on a record of great success, the president will have no choice but to turn to this divisive rhetoric to get reelected. Unless his opponent is Rick Santorum, whose rigid social conservatism will hurt him greatly in swing states like Ohio and Florida, and whose record on big spending is most outstanding when compared to his three competitors–an ex-Governor who balanced budgets, a former house speaker who oversaw a government shutdown shortly followed by nearly-balanced budgets (national debt went up during the Clinton “surpluses”), and a Texas Congressman who has never voted for an unbalanced budget or a tax increase–the President will have to actually debate the merits of his economic policy. And it is a debate he will likely lose.
Organizing for America, the Democratic National Committee under the offensive demagogue of a new chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and various mainstream media personalities have been attempting to capitalize on the greed and anger of the Occutards and have been running on a “Republicans are the party of the rich!” message–in spite of President Obama’s backing of and expansion of the bailout and stimulus policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.
No doubt at the front of Mr. Obama’s campaign will be the entertainment industry that helped him get elected in the 2008 primary and general election against seemingly impossible odds. This will include Sean Penn.
It baffles me how Sean Penn and his ilk have any credibility with the American people. I’ll admit that I even find a personal degree of disappointment in myself when I share articles on Facebook about celebrities endorsing my choice for 2012–Ron Paul. I do it because sadly enough, Americans care more about what these people think than say, what the veterans and members of the military think, or what the people out of work think, or what the successful small-to-medium sized business owners think. I don’t like the idea about taking advice from celebrities on anything. Most of them have zero understanding of individual liberty, economics or how the business sector operates, a minimal understanding of international affairs, and a hypocritical view on the fair share the 1% which they are a part of is allegedly not paying. Sean Penn is one such actor.
What I am also baffled by is that those of us on the other side of the political spectrum rarely fight back against these celebutards. We often take a “who cares what Hollywood thinks mentality”, failing to understand the power they have over influencing everything the average American says and does. Middle America doesn’t understand the lack of credibility these people have and we fail miserably to expose them for their hypocrisy. Reason is on our side, and we need to prove it, and we can do show by exposing the words of these people for their inaccuracies and logical inconsistencies. Will everyone listen? Of course not. But we don’t need every American to listen to us, we just need to get a few people at a time to wake up. Eventually, enough will do so that Hollyweird loses is significance in election cycles.
In 2010 I was working on a satirical book, entitled Mass Media Mindnumb, on what I had perceived to be the denigration of American pop culture. I have since lost interest in the subject and focused on more important things in my professional and personal life, but I kept the unfinished manuscript and sometimes reference it if I need some ammunition to fight back against Hollywood hypocrisy. My generation has proven to be the strongest victim of the cult of celebrity. I fear greatly what subsequent generations will look like as they come of age. America today faces a dichotomy. We will go down one of two roads. A road of European style socialism all the way to bankruptcy, or a restoration of the long forgotten free-market principles that made America great in the first place. There will be a generational shift that will soon show up in the political spectrum. My generation will either choose this European socialism, or adopt a libertarian-leaning conservatism. The dominionist [religious] right stands in the way of them adopting the latter, while the entertainment industry beckons them to the former.
I’ve spent enough time recently demagoguing the dominionists, so I’m gonna go after Hollywood, and I’ll start with Sean Penn.
In Mass Media Mindnumb I had written a scathing rant about Sean Penn’s hypocrisy. I’m going to release the contents of that rant in this article, while making some minor editorial revisions to reflect current events. Here is what I had written:
I Am Sean
Sean Penn is one of several celebrities who has made enough an ass of himself that he gets his own subsection in this chapter. You probably think he’s a good actor. Really I can’t remember him outside of any movies other than Fast Times at Ridgemont High—where he played a disruptive stoner and I Am Sam—where he played the mentally challenged title character. Both decent movies; the actor is a different story.
Deceitful, left-wing, but most importantly the ultimate hypocrite—Sean Penn routinely criticized George W. Bush for taking away civil liberties during the beginning of the war on terror, but recently came out suggesting that people lose their right to free speech!
Let me break it down for you.
In 2002, he placed a $56,000 ad in The Washington Post out of concern for the upcoming war in Iraq and the PATRIOT Act. This letter was surprisingly eloquent, making some interesting analogies. He particularly wanted Bush to reconsider invading Iraq and the expansion of his federal power, to not “[diminish U.S. citizens] through loss of civil liberties [or] dangerously heightened presidential autonomy through acts of Congress.” His criticism of Bush would soon turn into anger, going so far as to call for Bush’s impeachment.
The criticisms—well, the early ones at least–were not entirely unfair, but what completely destroys Penn’s credibility as a political voice (pay attention here) is his ultimate hypocrisy. Some time in spring 2010, Sean Penn appeared on Bill Maher’s show Real Time. On the show, Penn made comments that completely destroyed his credibility for all his criticisms of George W. Bush’s infringements on our civil liberties.
I mentioned briefly the socialist leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, a man who has partially usurped control of the media in his country, all but guaranteeing political insuperability. Well, Penn is chummy with this guy and doesn’t exactly like people who bash him. The mainstream media, according to Penn, constantly lies about Hugo Chavez.
In reality, the mainstream media tells a lot of lies and skews many of their stories. But portrayal of Hugo Chavez as a socialist dictator isn’t one of their misleading notions—its cold hard fact. Penn’s allegations of this as a lie aren’t what make him a hypocrite. What makes him a hypocrite is the fact that he suggested a law which would outright violate the First Amendment—both violating freedom of the press and of speech.
“Every day, this elected leader [Chavez] is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it. And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies.” — Sean Penn in 2010 on Real Time with Bill Maher
Excuse me? You want a bar that would send people to prison for speaking their mind? Even if they were lying about Chavez’s oppression and socialist policies, and they certainly are not, the media has a constitutionally protected freedom to say whatever they want and it is the responsibility of ‘we the people’ to do our homework and find out the truth. As a matter of fact, two of the earliest media outlets in this country were created for campaigning purposes when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson battled each other for the presidency. They each had their own outlet to demagogue each other, and it was up to the citizens to separate fact from fallacy.
If anyone is going to be locked up for false allegations by this bar that Penn wants to create, consider this scenario where the law becomes international and then subsequently be used to lock up Chavez.
According to a Feb 2006 piece from Reuters, Chavez was quoted as saying the following of then-President Bush:
“The imperialist, genocidal, fascist attitude of the U.S. president has no limits. I think Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W. Bush.”
Hugo Chavez compared a man who removed an oppressive dictator and kept his country safe, despite wasting lots of money and using questionable policing tactics in the process, to a man who systematically murdered 6 million Jews and invaded multiple countries not with the goal of liberating them but with the goal of ethnically cleansing and then occupying them. Under Penn’s proposed law, Chavez would be behind bars.
See what I did there, Seanny? Apparently free speech is okay for Sean Penn only if you agree with him. When George W. Bush tapped phone and email communications in an attempt to secure our country—albeit with potential to violate our 4th amendment rights—it’s oppressive and fascist; but a man who controls his country’s media to consolidate his own power is a democratically elected and transparent leader, and anyone who disagrees with that should be locked up!?
Pot-calling-the-kettle-black much? You can’t yell about someone infringing on the First Amendment, then subsequently suggest people lose their First Amendment rights because they disagree with you, and expect to have any credibility left can you? I would hope not. And I would hope you the reader make note of this and don’t take political advice from this guy. Ironic enough that his own proposed law of course would probably ensure his buddies Chavez and Ahmedinejad be locked up for their lies—Ahmedinejad especially for calling the Holocaust a myth. But what’s even more ironic is that Sean Penn wants to make laws that oppress people who disagree with him politically, when his own father suffered the same oppression.
Sean must have forgotten that his father, the late actor Leo Penn, was an actor during the Red Scare. He was a communist sympathizer, a supporter of Hollywood trade unions and refused to accuse his communist friends to the House Un-American Activities Committee and as a result was blacklisted—i.e. nobody would hire him because of his political leanings! But in Sean Penn’s hypocrisy, he suggests people should be jailed for their opinions (or FACTS) that Hugo Chavez is a power hungry socialist tyrant.
Sean Penn is a true celebutard; a politically inept hypocrite who should just stick to acting and stay out of politics! But as much as I detest him, I would never suggest he be locked up for his lies. I would most likely never suggest he be blacklisted. But I will suggest a boycott of him. I don’t think I’ll be watching his upcoming films.
My views on Sean Penn’s hypocrisy remain the same to this day. I hope the readers of this article take these facts to heart and share them with others, particularly the ones regarding Leo Penn. The Hollywood left is losing its credibility but I can only hope it will lose it in time stop my generation from accepting this entitlement mentality present among Occupy Wall Street. The last thing I want is to wake up in 10 years to a repeat of the recent London riots: a bunch of spoiled 14 year olds throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at shops because mommy and daddy didn’t buy them that iPad they are “entitled” to. And if you believe for one second this hypothetical will never happen, I’ll refer you to the even more recent riots in malls all across the country over the new Nike Air Jordans. I don’t think you get a more accurate example than that of combining the “entitlement” mentality with the peer-pressure driven cult of celebrity, not to mention the general wussification of the American male when a bunch of guys in their teens and early-to-mid twenties are fighting over shoes as if they were the Sex and the City girls.
Its not too late to stop this from happening. Just as we managed to do with the temporary stoppage of the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act, libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives will have to take up arms against Big Hollyweird once again; this time over their lies, distortions, and political influence. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time attacking their hypocrisy and their logical fallicies and eventually they’ll lose credibility with some of the electorate.
As for Sean Penn, the characters of Spicoli—the dumb stoner, and Sam—the mentally challenged man—may actually be smarter than their portrayer, Sean Penn. Sean PWNED!
Aaron Alghawi is finishing his B.S. in Economics at Texas A&M University; he is a board member and Director of Student Outreach for the Republican Liberty Caucus.
With his surge in the polls I’ve been trying to get a handle on the philosophy of Newt Gingrich, and after finally seeing signs which should have been obvious all along and confirming them with a bit of research, I realized what I should have caught on to long ago, that Newt Gingrich is a Robert Heinlein Republican.
Like many in my generation I grew up reading Robert Heinlein’s Science Fiction novels almost religiously. Heinlein’s dystopian vision of the future and his romantic obsession with man as superman was enormously appealing to a teenager growing up in the space age. The Heinlein man could perfect himself and conquer the universe singlehanded by sheer determination and willpower. Heinlein’s theme was the triumph of the individual over time in Methuselah’s Children, over space in The Man Who Sold the Moon, over conventional morality in Stranger in a Strange Land and over the governments of lesser men in Farnham’s Freehold. Heinlein’s political philosophy of Rational Anarchism is summed up by the Professor Bernardo de la Paz in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress:
“In terms of morals there is no such thing as a ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free, because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything that I do.”
Heinlein’s muscular, militaristic individualism carried with it a deliberate intention from the very first to influence politics. After World War II Heinlein experimented with direct involvement in politics, served in elective party office in California and ultimately campaigned for Goldwater in 1964 and may have ghostwritten ads and speeches for his presidential campaign. In this period Heinlein had a friendship and rivalry with fellow writer L. Ron Hubbard. They supposedly had a long standing bet to see who could start a religion which would change society. Hubbard’s answer to this challenge was the creation of Scientology. Heinlein’s answer came through his writing and the ideas expressed in some of his bestselling novels of the late 1960s and its ultimate product seems to be Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich has admitted to being a Heinlein fan and his own fiction has a clear Heinlein influence. Gingrich is also friends with and has collaborated with Science Fiction author and former Reagan era technology adviser Jerry Pournelle, who sees himself as the heir to Heinlein’s ideas and literary tradition. Pournelle was a protege of influential neolibertarian thinker Russell Kirk, and has written extensively on politics from a neolibertarian perspective. Neolibertarianism is a branch of libertarianism which fits the Heinlein model quite closely. It at least partially deemphasizes the principle of non-coercion and places a strong emphasis on individual liberty, disdaining bureaucratic government and elevating the military to a near iconic status. The world envisioned in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers is very much the world of the neolibertarian movement.
Gingrich has clearly taken the Heinlein ideology to heart on many levels. His serial infidelity and request that his wife engage in an open relationship are pure Heinlein. Heinlein was an avowed libertine who practiced open marriage and advocated total sexual liberation and rejection of conventional morality as a recurrent theme in much of his writing. Gingrich’s obsession with colonizing the moon is also straight out of Heinlein’s work. Some of Heinlein’s most influential writing centers around the colonization and development of the moon in books like The Man Who Sold the Moon and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Gingrich’s hostility towards bureaucracy, flaunting of the conventional political process and love of innovation for its own sake are pure Heinlein. His egotism and obsessive character are also straight out of Heinlein. Gingrich himself has much in common with megalomaniacal developer Delos D. Harriman in <i>The Man Who Sold the Moon</i>, though Gingrich seems not to understand that the self-destructive Harriman was intended more as an anti-hero than a role model.
Many observers of the libertarian end of the political spectrum see Heinlein’s vision and the ideas of the neolibertarians as the “ugly” side of libertarianism. Disconnected from social morality and focused on the responsibility of the individual to himself and not to society, it can lead to views which verge on being an oxymoronic kind of libertarian fascism. Ironically, this aggressive subset of the generally much more innocuous libertarian movement seems to have much greater political marketability.
To a generation of middle-aged voters who grew up on Heinlein and the writers he influenced, the Gingrich message and the Gingrich style have a real resonance. You can see this in how Gingrich has successfully positioned himself as the defiant individualist in his challenging of the media establishment and how easily voters have been convinced to dismiss his unconventional personal life. The fully realized individual is above conventional morality and is not accountable to anyone but himself. The more Gingrich defies those who would judge him the more he proves that he is the kind of individualistic superman which Heinlein’s writing has convinced us that we all ought to be. We identify with Gingrich and live vicariously through him, more like a literary character than a real human being.
In embracing the Heinleinian model of an anti-statesman Gingrich seems to have actually struck a thread with a public which is very unhappy with the conventional political establishment. Even though he himself was part of that establishment for many years, he has thrown himself into the role of the outcast returning in triumph to exact vengeance on his detractors, a mythic archetype which is widespread in legend and literature and manifests in Heinlein’s work repeatedly. Gingrich is the hero returned from exile. He is Valentine Michael Smith and Thorby Baslim and Lazarus Long rolled into one unlikely package. The unanswered question is whether Gingrich has the shortcomings of a mortal man or the inevitable victorious destiny of a literary character.
This article appeared in slightly different form on Blogcritics Magazine