Archive for conservatism
Today, Ron Paul gave his farewell address to the U.S. House of Representatives. Here is the text of his speech. Or, watch the entire address at C-Span Video.
Farewell to Congress
This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor. At the end of the year I’ll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36 year period. My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.
It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.
To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.
The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start.
Tags: conservatism, economics, ethics, financial crisis, free market, liberty, politicians, politics, Ron Paul, war, war on drugs, war on terror
I had an interesting conversation with a hard-core “conservative” Christian a few days ago on Facebook, and I thought I ought to share it with you. I’m not going to give any names other than my own, so I am going to call the participants A, B, C, and etc. Furthermore, I will group the conservative interlocutors as the same person, and I will just call them “Mr. Christian Conservative.” I’ll put the participants quotes in boxes, my responses will be in italics. The reason I want to share this is that the logic these conservatives use is so typical and the rebuts so simple, that you can easily use this as an example for dismantling the arguments of Christian conservatives all the time.
The conversation started when a good friend of mine, I’ll call her “S.”, expressed her discontent with her “options” on the November ballot. She was a Ron Paul supporter during the primary season. She begins:
You guys, I’m still not sure on the elections! I want peace about this, but it hasn’t come yet.
I’ve been praying hard, I can tell you…
I worked so hard this year in trying to get a candidate who did exactly what these young people were asking for. I went, was a delegate, to all three caucuses. The first was good, the second neutral , and the third? The State convention? Pure cheating. I went away realizing that the powers that be will do what they have to, to make what they want pass.
I haven’t been impressed with Romney, I don’t know Johnson, and of course I won’t vote for Obama.
Still praying, still pleading. Is it time to let it go?
My response: Meh, picking between tweedledee and tweedledum for president matters very little in the grand scheme of things. You can have a much greater effect by staying attuned to local issues and fighting for liberty for all at home. Change the culture around you, and you are ultimately changing politics in the long term. Statist ideas are dead ends.
[So what do I plan to do?] I will vote for Gary Johnson. He’s not Ron Paul, but he doesn’t support wholesale slaughter of other nations like Romney or Obama. Gary also supports the gold standard and opposes the welfare state.
At this point, Mr. Christian Conservative barges in:
To Norman: What would have happened had Christ held your view? And may I add, I think your tone is disrespectful. Could you withstand the process of election, let alone be up to holding elected office?
My old friend J. rises to my defense:
In my mind, it is easier (or at least as easy) to argue that Jesus DID hold that view as opposed to otherwise. I have a pretty hard time imagining the Jesus as described in the Bible putting much support behind somebody as vacillating and unprincipled (In Politics, not necessarily in his personal life) as Romney appears to be.
Jesus seemed to hold a distinctly and emphatically "Politics isn’t your salvation" approach to politics, and yet we Christian-Conservatives tend to have a pretty screwed up notion that voting for the really awful bad lesser of two evils is appropriate. There is, in my estimation, a notion that to achieve our end, we must have political victory, so we get really riled up by people, like Norman, who vote third party. We are furious that he is doing nothing but supporting Obama to usher in what many people fear to be utter disaster for the nation.
Far from fighting for political victory (who doubts that Jesus COULD have ridden on a fiery white horse with a glittering invincible sword at the head of a fanatical angelic and Jewish army to the utter destruction of the Roman empire?), Jesus died a criminals death at the hands of the hated Romans.
"Change the culture around you, and you are ultimately changing politics in the long term. Statist ideas are dead ends." I don’t see much in the Bible that contradicts this.
Mr. Christian Conservative:
Let’s not forget who is really in control of everything, nothing is outside His control. He may allow for a good king or a bad one depending on will of the people. I only see a choice of two people and one of them seems a lot better to head our government then what we have now, may God help us to wakeup and see the destruction we are headed for if we don’t repent.
I then add:
Jesus was [in the grand scheme of the world] a monarchist where he was the king. He holds the other powers that be in contempt (c.f., Revelation). And, even if I were being disrespectful (that was pretty mild for me, you should read my other stuff), I’m not sure that being disrespectful to tyrants and dictators like Bush, Obama, Chavez, Blair, Churchill, or Mao is that big a deal.
If God is in control, then your only task is to hold to what is right without compromise. Surely you don’t believe that Romney is the good guy and Obama the bad. So, you don’t have to hold your nose and choose between the "lesser of two evils." Tell the powers that be that their days are numbered and that they don’t deserve your vote, your consent, your respect, or your time. The State is just a gang of thieves writ large, so show them for what they are.
Mr. Christian Conservative rebuts:
Seems like you make this more difficult than it has to be. We all wake up everyday and make choices… some big, some not so much. Put your mind and heart together and move forward in faith. Do something or do nothing at all. Christ reigns supreme either way.
At this point, I was not absolutely certain whom C. was addressing, but I took the opportunity to answer anyway because I have received “rebukes” like this before: My guess is that you’re referring to my previous post… and to that I have to respond with… Really? I’m making things difficult? I figured I was making it simpler — you don’t have to play power politics anymore with the philosophy I’m proposing. Instead, speak truth to power, call out the thieves for what they are, and don’t look to politics as the vehicle of progress. I’d argue that standard politically-conservative Christians make politics much more complicated than it needs to be, because they seek to control for themselves an institution based in rebellion against God.
Then Mr. Christian Conservative adds:
If you lived in Washington or Texas I’d say your undecided vote for President would have little impact regardless of your choice or "non-choice". BUT, you are NOT living in either of those states. You are living in a swing state where EVERY vote matters. When you vote for a third party you are voting twice – your first vote goes to the third party candidate while your unintended second vote defaults to the eventual winner of the election by having deprived his or her opponent of your vote. Therefore, a protest (negative) vote FOR a third party is indeed a (positive) vote for the party you would normally be opposing.
Those who believe that there is no difference between the two current parties need to wake up. There is a stark contrast. One is bankrupting the country without remorse or intention to change. The other is willing to make unpopular choices to bring fiscal sanity back. Given your background, you have a social reason to vote for those who have the greatest chance to ensure that abortions and gay marriage are not made or continue to be common place. Being an intelligent woman, you will want to ensure the election of the party that will or is most likely to clean up the fiscal mess we are in and which has grown worse (by the trillions!) over the past 4 years. Speaking for myself and my background as a Canadian, I am in favor of FIRST bringing the country back to fiscal solvency to benefit the rich and poor, the homo and heterosexual, the black and white, – to benefit everyone – and then second, working to bring those social changes one supports which the fiscal conservatives might not currently champion…
Lets face it, we only have two parties in this race and vote outside of them will only re-elect what we have now, can we take 4 more years of it. Our nation is in a serious trouble.
Another liberty-loving person joins the discussion:
Republicans have done NOTHING to stop the illicit spending of money we don’t have… they’ve continually voted to INCREASE spending. (Remember, the Federal BAIL OUTS were first enacted by BUSH. That is not economic conservatism in any sense of the term.) They’ve done nothing to stop the "Federal" Reserve that has, unchecked and unfettered, DESTROYED our economy, "creating" money that doesn’t exist.
Mr. Christian Conservative doesn’t like this, even though the statement was dead on target:
Both parties were participants in the wasting of our economy. And yes, even though Bush was bad for overspending and starting the bail-out nonsense (no argument from me) Obama not only continued the bail outs, he still wants more of them. Secondly, why are you talking about Bush and his sorry policies when you have two entirely different Republicans seeking office and determined to turn things around, and for which the Dems vilify them at every turn! Obama and the senators who’ve refused to present and pass a budget for 4 years are the ones we should be concerned about and kicking them out of office.
Mr. Christian Conservative continues:
I am voting for romney. Not voting for him is, in a way, voting for Obama. I do not agree with Romney on everything, and I have a difficult time with his Mormonism, but what choice do I have? I will vote FOR the issues that are important to me and not against them. (and set aside the man and his false god) Then I will pray for whoever is elected, because that is what I am called to do…
I’m also called to stand for the vulnerable and for purity/marriage. Romney represents a party, and he himself, that stands for these things. I vote for the issues and pray for the man.
If we do not vote republican, if Christians hide behind, well, whatever they’re hiding behind, we are allowing Obama, and his party’s policies, win another four years.
You can see how the argument has progressed so far. First, question the libertarian’s motivations and claim Jesus is on the side of the system. Then, make sure to say how different the two candidates are. Ignore any economic arguments or reasons why you can’t trust the GOP. After they are shown to be the same, keep appealing back to social issues (you will see this later as well).
So I continue to press the issues:
Bush and Romney are not "two entirely different Republicans," in fact Bush arguably had better policy ideas going into the 2001 race and he had a better record as governor of Texas.
With Romney, you have a clearly (formerly) pro-choice, pro-interventionism, and pro-government health care candidate via his record. Bush even said he wanted a "humble foreign policy"! Of course, look what that got us — the greatest increase in the national debt over eight years than we had EVER seen, even adjusted for inflation, two interventionist conflicts lasting longer than World War 2, the loss of civil liberties akin to the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the greatest increase of government power in health care since the FDA came into being.
So, I don’t really have a compelling reason to believe anything Romney says to any substantial extent. Moreover, even his standard rhetoric shows him not to be a free market loving conservative but a centrally planned collectivist.
S. now comes back to the conversation:
Here’s a question… Do we really think Romney would do anything to STOP abortions? Did Bush?
This question may muddy the issue a bit, but I can respond nonetheless:
You should consider that Republicans have ZERO incentive to make any substantial progress toward stopping abortion, because if they did they would lose their single issue voter bloc that means so much to the continuing of their positions of power. Look at how many people (my guess, even in this thread) are going to vote for Romney rather than Obama solely on the basis of the abortion issue. Do you really think they want to give that up?
Case in point: The Bush Years from 2001-2007. For six years, Republicans had total control of the House, Senate, Presidency, and even the appointing of SC justices. And what did you get for it? A partial birth abortion ban (that’s nice) and some reduced funding to abortion providers. And yet you are continually promised repeal of Roe v. Wade and etc. Don’t kid yourself, they don’t care about doing anything other than the bare minimum to keep you happy that "at least the Dems aren’t in control!"
The GOP is not a party of principle, but rather a party of socialists, jingoists, economic illiterates, warmongers, and power mongers.
Mr. Christian Conservative REALLY doesn’t like my response, though.
But the democrats PUSH abortion rights, PUSH gay rights etc. etc…I’m sorry, I’d rather have a party that pulls on the reigns, even if only a little, than a party that pushes ahead even more. Since Obama’s election we are funding abortions in other countries, and we are calling it progress!!! C’mon people! Now we, as a ‘Christian’ country not only fill the earth with filth from Hollywood and the porn industry, but now we are filling it with funded abortions?!?!?!
Now I clearly own this conversation. Mr. Christian Conservative has now admitted what her real problem is – she cannot admit that the GOP does not have the same social goals that she has and that she has bought into the “GOP is my Christian social issue salvation” narrative.
I call her on her own admission, and even try to provide a little encouragement:
So, you are admitting that my basic assessment is correct, but then assert the strategy for dealing with it is just doing the same thing over and over again?
And by the way, YOU are not pushing porn or abortions on anyone. You aren’t guilty here, so you don’t need to feel guilty. I get your motives, I just question your means. You’ll do much better for yourself and the world if you let go of political shams and instead focus your efforts on affecting the culture through educating and persuading the people around you.
Next step in Mr. Christian Conservative’s rhetoric: When you can’t win the argument, appeal to Romans 13, GOP Christianity, and last but not least ISRAEL!
There are no leaders that are not put in place by God. (new testament) I understand that the republican party is full of corrupted people and ideas, but I also understand that democrats are much worse. I have to do what my conscience tells me, and you have to follow yours.
Voting republican gives us a good chance of having Christians in leadership roles,not voting gives democrats a greater chance. So, I vote.
Also….we need pro-Israel people in [office]… I know republicans want to have some measure of control over Israel etc… but at least they would stand with her if she was attacked. So, again, I vote [for Republicans].
They are making it too easy for me…
"There are no leaders that are not put in place by God." I’m sure that’s exactly what Russian and Chinese Christians said when Stalin and Mao were annihilating them.
It’s a bad interpretation to go from the "powers that be" being within God’s plan (which is all that Romans 13 means) to "I ought to support one set of powers that be over another." It’s like Paul asking, "Which do I prefer, Nero or Claudius?" God responds with, "Read the book of Revelation, silly goose." Because that’s what Revelation is about: Rome and God’s judgment over it.
Mr. Christian Conservative knows he cannot provide any reason for his position, so he now defaults to “don’t judge me!!!” It’s actually kind of sad.
We are not going to convince other people on Facebook as to whether or not they should vote. If you feel that God has asked you not to vote, then don’t do it. Do what you think is right, but do not judge another brother or sister for doing what they think is right.
I conclude with a small encouraging word toward those motivations:
I’m not judging you for doing what you think is right. I’m trying to convince you that your rationale for the means you think will attain what is right is illogical.
I doubt I convinced Mr. Christian Conservative, but convincing him right now is not really my goal. If anything, arguments like this help to tear down the idols of government your arguer and observers have had rooted in their minds for years, if not decades. I am hopeful that those who were listening into this Facebook wall conversation will take even a little of this discussion and mull over it for some time, and ultimately come to that critical understanding that the State is not Kingdom of God.
Tags: Christianity, conservatism, elections, liberalism, Obama, presidency, Romney
At a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor held just before the Republican National Convention began, House Speaker John Boehner, when asked about the new Republican Party Platform, said: "If it were up to me I would have the platform on one sheet of paper. Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform? I’ve not met ever anybody."
This must have been disheartening to the Republican activists from around the country who worked for months just to earn the right to attend the convention in order to have a chance of contributing to the party platform. Each state delegation assigns two of its members to a special committee that works on the platform and then presents it to the full convention for approval.
Well, I do read party platforms, and I have read the new 2012 Republican Party Platform – the preamble and every word on its 54 pages. The authors of the platform obviously think it is an important document. The preamble opens and closes with these statements:
The 2012 Republican Platform is a statement of who we are and what we believe as a Party and our vision for a stronger and freer America.
We respectfully submit this platform to the American people. It is both a vision of where we are headed and an invitation to join us in that journey.
Writing in the Washington Times, conservative Phyllis Schlafly says the new Republican Party platform "may be the best one ever adopted." It is "an excellent document written by grass-roots conservatives. It is a true reflection of American values."
But since when do American values consist of recycled clichés, pious platitudes, manifest hypocrisy, vain assurances, empty promises, and blatant lies?
After the preamble, the Republican Party platform contains six chapters:
- Restoring the American Dream: Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs
- We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government
- America’s Natural Resources: Energy, Agriculture and the Environment
- Reforming Government to Serve the People
- Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods
- American Exceptionalism
But before looking at each of these chapters, we need to review a little Republican Party history first.
The Republicans controlled the House and Senate for the last six years of Clinton’s presidency (January 1995–January 2001). This was the first time the Republicans had controlled the entire Congress since the 83rd Congress under President Eisenhower (January 1953–January 1955). The Republicans controlled both the Congress and the presidency from the inauguration of George Bush on January 20, 2001, until May 24, 2001, when Republican senator Jim Jeffords switched from Republican to Independent. In the 2002 midterm election, the Republicans regained control of the Senate, but then lost both Houses to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm election. This means that for over four years the Republican Party was in complete control of the government like the Democratic Party was during Clinton’s first two years as president. The Republicans regained control of the House in the 2010 midterm election.
The importance of this history lesson will be evident as we go through the Republican platform section by section.
1. Restoring the American Dream: Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs
The Republicans begin their first section with two of the biggest lies that have ever been told:
We are the party of maximum economic freedom.
Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all.
Does this mean that Americans are free to buy or sell any good or service they choose, from or to any person or business they choose, for any price that is voluntarily agreed upon? Of course not. Want to buy a Cuban cigar? Want to sell guns without a federal firearms license? Want to pay less than the minimum wage to a willing worker? Want to not pay overtime to a willing worker? Want to only rent your apartment to certain individuals? Want to charge the highest price you think you can get for gas? Sorry, you will pay a fine and/or go to jail.
The next two lies are so laughable I marvel at the audacity of Republicans for putting them in their platform:
Backed by a Republican Senate and House, our next President will propose immediate reductions in federal spending, as a down payment on the much larger task of long-range fiscal control.
Government spending and regulation must be reined in.
That’s funny. I have looked in detail at Paul Ryan’s budget plan that was passed by the Republican-controlled House earlier this year. He has spending increasing every year, the national debt increasing every year, and a budget that will not be balanced for twenty-three years. And the last time we had a Republican Senate, a Republican House, and a Republican president, the Republicans doubled the national debt, drastically increased spending, started two wars that will ultimately cost over $2 trillion dollars, didn’t cut any major regulations, increased the number of regulations, and gave us the first trillion-dollar deficit. I can’t wait to see what the Republicans will do this time.
What would a Republican platform be without talk of simplifying and reforming the tax code?
The tax system must be simplified.
We will reform the tax code to allow businesses to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs for our families, friends and neighbors all across America.
Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen’s freedom. Their proper role in a free society should be to fund services that are essential and authorized by the Constitution, such as national security, and the care of those who cannot care for themselves. We reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs, or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations.
We oppose tax policies that divide Americans or promote class warfare.
Our goal is a tax system that is simple, transparent, flatter, and fair. In contrast, the current IRS code is like a patchwork quilt, stitched together over time from mismatched pieces, and is beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. A reformed code should promote simplicity and coherence, savings and innovation, increase American competitiveness, and recognize the burdens on families with children. To that end, we propose to:
- Extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief packages – commonly known as the Bush tax cuts – pending reform of the tax code, to keep tax rates from rising on income, interest, dividends, and capital gains;
- Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a revenue-neutral manner;
- Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers;
- End the Death Tax; and
- Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Hey Republicans, when you passed the Bush tax cuts in the first place, why didn’t you make them permanent? Why didn’t you simplify and reform the tax code when you controlled the Congress for over four years with a Republican president? Why didn’t you eliminate the estate tax permanently when you had the chance? Why didn’t you eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether when you had complete control of the government? And why only for lower and middle-income taxpayers? I thought you opposed tax policies that divided Americans or promoted class warfare? And even with your Bush tax cuts, a progressive income tax by its very nature divides Americans and promotes class warfare, and especially one like we have now where half of Americans pay no income tax whatsoever. So why didn’t you reform the tax code so it wasn’t a progressive tax code as favored by Karl Marx? It is indeed strange that Republicans should say they reject the use of taxation to redistribute income and fund unnecessary programs. What do they think that 90 percent of the federal budget is spent on?
Republicans also bemoan the fact that "American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rate." They call for "a reduction of the corporate rate to keep U.S. corporations competitive internationally, with a permanent research and development tax credit, and a repeal of the corporate alternative minimum tax." But the corporate tax rate didn’t go up under Obama. It has been the same for the past twenty years. Why didn’t Republicans lower the corporate tax rate when they controlled both Houses of Congress for six years under Clinton and for over four years under Bush? The only ones to blame for the high corporate tax rates are the Republicans. They are the ones who talk about cutting taxes and when given the opportunity, they blew it.
In this section, the Republicans also talk about "a federal-State-private partnership" that "must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems," enforcing housing non-discrimination laws, and "assisting low income families and the elderly with safe and adequate shelter, especially through the use of housing vouchers." Too bad there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to do any of these things.
Amtrak comes under criticism in this first section of the GOP platform. "The public has to subsidize every ticket nearly $50," say the Republicans. I agree with their solution: "It is long past time for the federal government to get out of way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service to the northeast corridor. The same holds true with regard to high-speed and intercity rail across the country." So what are you Republicans waiting for? Where are the bills in the House to completely privatize Amtrak? But they wouldn’t pass a Democratic-controlled Senate or be signed into law by a Democratic president, say the Republicans. That never stopped House Republicans from passing bills to repeal Obamacare thirty-three times. And why wasn’t Amtrak sold off when the Republicans had an absolute majority under Bush?
Federal job training programs also come under condemnation in the Republican platform: "Nine federal agencies currently run 47 retraining programs at a total cost of $18 billion annually with dismal results. Both the trainees in those programs and the taxpayers who fund them deserve better." And what is the Republican solution? Is it to completely abolish the unconstitutional programs? Of course not. They must be "overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century." Republicans "propose consolidation of those programs into State block grants so that training can be coordinated with local schools and employers."
The Republicans also complain about the Davis-Bacon law that "continues to drive up infrastructure construction and maintenance costs for the benefit of that party’s union stalwarts" and "costs the taxpayers billions of dollars annually in artificially high wages on government projects." They call for the law’s repeal in their platform. Fine, but instead of promising to do something about Davis-Bacon, why didn’t you actually do something about Davis-Bacon when you had the power to for over four years when Bush was the president?
2. We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government
The first words of section 2 are: "We are the party of the Constitution." This makes me want to either scream or throw up – or perhaps a couple hours of each. Although the Republicans claim that the Constitution is "the greatest political document ever written" and that "that sacred document shows us the path forward," anyone who looked at the Republican record – and especially when they had absolute control of the government under Bush – for more than three seconds would see instantly that they violate the Constitution every minute of every day.
Republicans have a warped view of what it means to follow the Constitution:
In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral. We will strongly enforce anti-discrimination statutes and ask all to join us in rejecting the forces of hatred and bigotry and in denouncing all who practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, or religious intolerance.
Since when are anti-discrimination statutes authorized by the Constitution? Discrimination is essential in a free society, as I have written here.
Republicans also have a warped view of what should be in the Constitution. They propose a human life amendment and "by whatever legislative method is most feasible," legal protection against flag desecration.
Now, anyone who knows me or has read any of my articles on abortion knows that I am unabashedly opposed to abortion. But the answer is not federalizing the issue, as Ron Paul has explained so many times. But if the Republicans are so opposed to abortion and to "using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it," then why do they vote to fund Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States?
Here is something in section 2 concerning the Constitution that I actually agree with the Republicans on:
Scores of entrenched federal programs violate the constitutional mandates of federalism by taking money from the States, laundering it through various federal agencies, only to return to the States shrunken grants with mandates attached.
But who is responsible for "scores of entrenched federal programs"? Who is responsible for not eliminating "scores of entrenched federal programs"? Why, it is the Republicans. To give one major example, see my "Republican Welfare State."
Here are two more true statements in the platform that Republicans don’t even begin to follow:
The only just government is one that truly governs with the consent of the governed.
In a free society, the primary role of government is to protect the God-given, inalienable, inherent rights of its citizens, including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
When Republicans say they believe in a limited government, they only mean that they want a government limited to a government controlled by Republicans.
The Republican claim in their platform to "support the review and examination of all federal agencies to eliminate wasteful spending, operational inefficiencies, or abuse of power" is such a lie that I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream, or throw up.
What the Republicans say about the Second, Fourth, and Tenth Amendments in section 2 of their platform is insidious. The myriad of federal gun laws on the books shows that they don’t believe in the Second Amendment at all. They talk about how whether legislation being a state or a federal matter "must be determined in accordance with the Tenth Amendment, in conjunction with Article I, Section 8." Okay, so Republicans must believe that the legal status of marijuana should be left up to the states? Wrong again. Republicans are ardent drug warriors who don’t believe in federalism for a minute when it comes to the war on drugs. And here are the Republican creators and sustainers of the TSA on the Fourth Amendment: "All security measures and police actions should be viewed through the lens of the Fourth Amendment; for if we trade liberty for security, we shall have neither." Try reading that while TSA agents are feeling you up at the airport.
But wait a minute, the Republicans say in their platform that the procedures and much of the personnel of the TSA need to be “changed” because the agency is “now a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers.” They even “call for the private sector to take over airport screening wherever feasible and look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.” Republicans have never apologized for creating the agency in the first place, just like they have never done anything about “the personal violation of frisking.” And they expect us to believe that now, just before the election, they are concerned about Americans’ civil liberties? Do Republicans think we are that stupid?
3. America’s Natural Resources: Energy, Agriculture and the Environment
"We are the party of sustainable jobs and economic growth," begin the Republicans, but then they add "through American energy, agriculture, and environmental policy." But since when does the government have the authority to make energy, agriculture, and environmental policy in the first place? Certainly not in the Constitution the Republicans consider their "owner’s manual." (See my "Whither U.S. Energy Policy?")
Although the Republicans don’t mention Solyndra by name, they make a veiled reference to it: "Unlike the current Administration, we will not pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Instead, we will let the free market and the public’s preferences determine the industry outcomes." Solyndra was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a provision to encourage "green energy" in Obama’s stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But this was not the beginning of the government’s effort to encourage "green energy." For this we must go back to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law by George W. Bush on August 8 of that year. (See my "The Real Problem with Solyndra.")
Republicans want to expand nuclear energy. They lament that "no new nuclear generating plants have been licensed and constructed for thirty years." Have they forgotten that they had an absolute majority in the Congress for six years under Clinton and complete control of the government for over four year under Bush? The Republicans’ lamentation is of their own making.
Republicans try to blame Obama for high gas prices: "Since the current President took office in 2009, consumers pay approximately twice as much for gas at the pump." But if you look at gas prices for the last 30 years, it is evident that they began to drastically increase after Bush invaded Iraq in 2003. After reaching over $4 a gallon, gas prices made a sudden drop before the 2008 election (but not enough to help the Republicans win the presidency). At least Republicans in their platform did not say that gas prices would fall to a certain amount if they were put in charge of the government as did Republican buffoons Michele Bachmann ($2.00) and Newt Gingrich ($2.50).
On agriculture, the Republicans believe that "the proper federal role in agriculture" includes farm programs, crop insurance, agricultural research, food safety, food stamps, other domestic nutrition programs, and foreign food aid. They also say that the U. S. Forest Service – which controls about 193 million acres of land and employs 30,000 workers – "should be charged to use these resources to the best economic potential for the nation." According to the Constitution, there is no proper role of the federal government in agriculture. So, since the Republicans maintain that "when the Constitution is evaded, transgressed, or ignored, so are the freedoms it guarantees," they must want to abolish the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service, right? Sorry, wrong again. (See my "Uncle Sam Is a Sugar Daddy.")
This section of the platform has a lot of criticism of the EPA:
We will end the EPA’s war on coal and encourage the increased safe development in all regions of the nation’s coal resources
We stand with growers and producers in defense of their water rights against attempts by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand jurisdiction over water, including water that is clearly not navigable.
We demand an end to the EPA’s participation in "sue and settle" lawsuits, sweetheart litigation brought by environmental groups to expand the Agency’s regulatory activities against the wishes of Congress and the public.
We oppose the EPA’s unwarranted revocation of existing permits. We also call on Congress to take quick action to prohibit the EPA from moving forward with new greenhouse gas regulations that will harm the nation’s economy and threaten millions of jobs over the next quarter century.
It almost sounds like the Republicans want to abolish the EPA. Especially since they also say:
Experience has shown that, in caring for the land and water, private ownership has been our best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under government control.
The most powerful environmental policy is liberty, the central organizing principle of the American Republic and its people. Liberty alone fosters scientific inquiry, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and information exchange. Liberty must remain the core energy behind America’s environmental improvement.
Never fear, the Republicans have no plans to get rid of the EPA. They merely say: "Federal agencies charged with enforcing environmental laws must stop regulating beyond their authority." Republicans say they don’t want "activist regulators." In short, Republicans just want Republican regulations instead of Democratic regulations.
This is why we still have fuel-economy regulations (CAFE standards), which were first introduced for passenger cars in 1978. They continued under Reagan and a Republican-controlled Senate. They continued under a Republican majority in the Congress under Clinton. They continued under absolute Republican control of the government under Bush. And then in December of 2007, President Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R.6), which requires that automakers boost the gas mileage of their fleets to 35 mpg by the year 2020. This law was agreed to by an overwhelming majority of Republicans in the Senate and by half of the House Republicans.
4. Reforming Government to Serve the People
"We are the party of government reform," say the Republicans. They characterize the government, which they helped create and sustain, as "bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers." They propose to "restructure" the government, to better manage it to "provide better services," as if the government was a business with customers that voluntarily patronized it. They also talk about "reversing the undermining of federalism and the centralizing of power in Washington," which, again, they are just as responsible for as the Democrats.
The Republicans have a grave philosophical deficiency, as seen by this statement in section 4 of their platform:
We look to government – local, State, and federal – for the things government must do, but we believe those duties can be carried out more efficiently and at less cost. For all other activities, we look to the private sector.
Judging from the legislation the Republicans have supported over the past thirty years, the list of things that Republicans think the government "must do" must be incredibly long. And where is it written in stone that the government "must do" anything? Wasn’t it Republican icon Ronald Reagan who said government was the problem and not the solution?
Republicans are not ashamed to acknowledge that they are firmly committed to welfare; that is, Social Security and socialized medicine:
Younger Americans have lost all faith in the Social Security system, which is understandable when they read the nonpartisan actuary’s reports about its future funding status. . . . To restore public trust in the system, Republicans are committed to setting it on a sound fiscal basis that will give workers control over, and a sound return on, their investments.
The Republican Party is committed to saving Medicare and Medicaid.
We will save Medicare by modernizing it, by empowering its participants, and by putting it on a secure financial footing.
Our goal for both Medicare and Medicaid must be to assure that every participant receives the amount of care they need at the time they need it, whether for an expectant mother and her baby or for someone in the last moments of life.
Republicans also mention allowing "younger workers the option of creating their own investment accounts as supplements to the system." But since younger workers can already create their own private investment accounts, what is the point of the government being involved?
In the Republicans’ discussion of government regulations in this section, there are four things that should be noted.
First, Republicans just assume that the government should be making rules and regulations in the first place:
The proper purpose of regulation is to set forth clear rules of the road for the citizens, so that business owners and workers can understand in advance what they need to do, or not do, to augment the possibilities for success within the confines of the law.
I thought Republicans believed in the free market?
Second, Republicans are biased against Democratic regulations.
No peril justifies the regulatory impact of Obamacare on the practice of medicine, the Dodd-Frank Act on financial services, or the EPA’s and OSHA’s overreaching regulation agenda. A Republican Congress and President will repeal the first and second, and rein in the third.
Notice that Republicans want to repeal regulations established by Democrats but only "rein in" regulations established by agencies created under a Republican president they have grown to accept.
Third, Republicans believe that if only Republicans had control of the government, then regulations would all be sound and cost-effective.
We call for a moratorium on the development of any new major and costly regulations until a Republican Administration reviews existing rules to ensure that they have a sound basis in science and will be cost-effective.
Like I said earlier, Republicans only want a government limited to a government controlled by Republicans.
And fourth, the promises Republicans make about reducing "overregulation" and reconsidering "out-of-date regulations" are just more Republican hot air. When they controlled the government under a Republican president they not only did nothing about "overregulation" or "out-of-date regulations," they made even more regulations.
Near the end of section 4, the Republicans have the audacity to say: "We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach." I guess that is why an agency the Republicans love, the NSA, is building the country’s biggest spy center in Utah.
5. Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families, Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods
On welfare, although the Republicans admit that the government "dispenses nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer funds across a maze of approximately 80 programs that are neither coordinated nor effective in solving poverty and lifting up families," their solution is not to eliminate welfare – or even call for a gradual end to welfare – because it fosters dependency, is unconstitutional, and redistributes wealth, but to reform the system "to ensure that it promotes work."
In spite of all their talk about freedom and responsibility, Republicans reveal themselves to be puritanical busybodies that are comfortable with a Republican nanny state:
We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting.
Current laws on all forms of pornography and obscenity need to be vigorously enforced.
And you thought that when the Republicans said they insisted "that there should be no regulation of political speech on the Internet" and that they opposed "governmental censorship of speech through the so-called Fairness Doctrine or by government enforcement of speech codes" that they were in favor of a free society based on individual liberty and responsibility? (See my "The Gambling Question.")
Before the Republicans pledged to repeal Obamacare in section 5 of their platform, perhaps they should have talked to their presidential nominee first. Although Republicans say that they are "committed to its repeal" and that "a Republican President, on the first day in office, will use his legitimate waiver authority under that law to halt its progress and then will sign its repeal," Romney recently said that he wants to keep parts of Obamacare. He wants to replace it with his own plan "while keeping some popular provisions including coverage for people with pre-existing conditions."
And although the Republicans talk about "a free market in healthcare" and say they believe that "taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility," such talk is meaningless since Republicans believe in using the power of the state to compel Americans to pay for other Americans’ health care (Medicare, SCHIP, Medicaid) just like the Democrats.
On education, Republicans state: "Parents are responsible for the education of their children." They acknowledge that "since 1965 the federal government has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with no substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates." So why don’t they call for the elimination of the Department of Education? Ronald Reagan proposed abolishing of the Department of Education while campaigning for president in 1980. The Republican Party platforms of 1980 and 1996 likewise called for the department’s elimination.
I think the answer is that during Bill Clinton’s last six years in office, when the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate, the education budget ballooned to $42.1 billion by fiscal year 2001 (Clinton’s last budget). Or perhaps the answer is that under George W. Bush, when the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate for more than four years, the education budget increased all the way up to $100 billion in fiscal year 2006 before leveling off in the $60 billion range. And as I pointed out in "Too Little, Too Late":
Republicans participated in the expansion of the Department of Education with a Republican president and one house of Congress controlled by the Republicans, with a Republican president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Democrats, with a Democratic president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Republicans, and with a Republican president and both houses of Congress controlled by the Republicans.
I’m glad the Republicans pledge to get rid of "family planning" programs for teens, but I’m still trying to find in the Constitution where it authorizes that these programs be replaced with "abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior."
There is one last thing Republicans say about education which shows that they don’t have a clue what the proper role of government is: "The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans; however, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students." This, of course, means that the taxpayers would have to bail out banks that made risky loans to students that could not be repaid.
There is one last thing in this section that should make your blood boil if you are aware of how much the police state has intensified since Bush took office. I am printing the whole paragraph because it makes such incredible reading:
The resources of the federal government’s law enforcement and judicial systems have been strained by two unfortunate expansions: the overcriminalization of behavior and the over-federalization of offenses. The number of criminal offenses in the U.S. Code increased from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Federal criminal law should focus on acts by federal employees or acts committed on federal property – and leave the rest to the States. Then Congress should withdraw from federal departments and agencies the power to criminalize behavior, a practice which, according to the Congressional Research Service, has created "tens of thousands" of criminal offenses. No one other than an elected representative should have the authority to define a criminal act and set criminal penalties. In the same way, Congress should reconsider the extent to which it has federalized offenses traditionally handled on the State or local level.
Hey Republicans, why is it that it is only in 2012 that you suddenly realized these things? And judging from your horrendous track record on civil liberties, I don’t see how anyone could possibly take you seriously anyway. Does anyone really think that if the Republicans regain full control of the government that the number of federal criminal offenses will be significantly reduced and real federalism restored? And I wonder if the "overcriminalization of behavior" includes the criminalization of drugs? Don’t count on it. As I remarked earlier: Republicans are ardent drug warriors who don’t believe in federalism for a minute when it comes to the war on drugs.
6. American Exceptionalism
This last section is the longest in the platform, but will be the shortest in my critique. Let me summarize it for you. The military budget must be raised. Support the troops. Iran is a threat to Israel, the United States, and the world and therefore must be prevented from building a nuclear weapon. The troops defend our freedoms. The military and its reserves must be expanded. The troops are our heroes. The United States must defend Taiwan. Support the troops. The U.S. nuclear stockpile must be modernized. The troops defend our freedoms. Missile defense bases in Europe must be established and the budget for missile defense must be raised. The troops are our heroes. Foreign aid must be continued. Support the troops. The Cuban embargo must be continued. The troops defend our freedoms. The war on drugs must continue. The troops are our heroes. Venezuela represents an increasing threat to U.S. security. Support the troops. The surge troops should remain in Afghanistan. The troops defend our freedoms. All options must remain on the table. The troops are our heroes.
I want to close with some brief comments on a statement Republicans make in section 6. In response to the various threats the United States faces from "transnational terrorism, continued belligerence by a nuclear-armed North Korea, an Iran in pursuit of nuclear weapons, rising Chinese hegemony in the Asia Pacific region, Russian activism, and threats from cyber espionage and terrorism," Republicans state that
President Obama has reduced the defense budget by over $487 billion over the next decade and fought Republican efforts to avoid another $500 billion in automatic budget cuts through a sequestration in early 2013 that will take a meat ax to all major defense programs.
Now, I am no fan of Barack Hussein Obama, and loathe him as much as I loathe George W. Bush, but that doesn’t mean that I need to make things up in order to make him look bad. My question is this: How is it possible for Obama to have "reduced the defense budget by over $487 billion over the next decade"? Two observations. 1. Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act each year to set forth the budget of the Defense Department. The last time it was signed into law was on December 31, 2011. Since the Republicans control the House of Representatives, the bill Obama signed authorizing the current defense budget had to be one that Republicans supported or it would have never passed the House. 2. It is impossible to reduce the defense budget for any year except the next fiscal year. The Republicans are obviously referencing one of Obama’s proposed budgets – which means absolutely nothing since it is Congress that ultimately determines the amount spent on defense every year.
And if sequestration is so bad, then why did Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, vote to pass the Budget Control Act that raised the debt ceiling and set sequestration in motion? Why did Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan vote for it?
It was Mark Twain who popularized the dictum about there being three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics. But even these pale in comparison with the lies found in the Republican Party platform.
Why should we believe anything the Republicans promise to do when they had the power to do it everyday for over four years when Bush was the president and did absolutely nothing? "The American people work too hard and too long to support a bloated government," say the Republicans. Then why didn’t they apologize for their part in giving Americans a bloated government? And why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?
And what good are the Republicans’ promises anyway? Republicans always say they are going to reform, examine, study, simplify, improve, rethink, restructure, and reconsider instead of abolish, cut, eliminate, slash, get rid of, end, do away with, and eradicate.
When the Republicans in their platform say anything bad about Obama, just remember that he is probably continuing one of Bush’s policies. When they say anything good about lower taxes, less spending, fewer regulations, or limited government, don’t believe a word of it. It is all a ruse to get votes.
And never mind the nineteen times that abortion is mentioned in the Republican platform. The promise of ending abortion is the carrot held just out of reach of gullible conservatives to get them to continue to vote Republican in every election hoping that the Republicans will actually do something.
It works the same way regarding economics, as explained by Lew Rockwell about the Republicans:
Economic liberty is the utopia that they keep promising to bring us, pending the higher priority of blowing up foreign peoples, jailing political dissidents, crushing the left wing on campus, and routing the Democrats. Once all of this is done, they say, then they will get to the instituting of a free-market economic system. Of course, that day never arrives, and it is not supposed to. Capitalism serves the Republicans the way Communism served Stalin: a symbolic distraction to keep you hoping, voting, and coughing up money.
The Republican platform says that the elections of 2012 will be "a referendum on the future of liberty in America." If that is truly the case, then the last thing anyone should do is vote Republican.
Originally posted at LewRockwell.com on September 12, 2012.
Tags: conservatism, elections, libertarianism, liberty, partisan politics, politicians, politics, Republican, republicans
In a recent article for the online journal Public Discourse, conservative Jay Richards asks the question: "Should Libertarians Be Conservatives?: The Tough Cases of Abortion and Marriage."
Richards is Director and Senior Fellow of the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality at the Discovery Institute, a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, and co-author, with James Robison, of the New York Times bestselling book Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late (FaithWords, 2012). Richards and I have many common interests: Christianity, theology, economics, politics. He sounds like my kind of guy – except that he’s not.
Richards is your typical "criticize the welfare state while you support the warfare state conservative." I wasn’t sure at first, but after looking at his new book Indivisible, and especially his remarks in chapter five ("Bearing the Sword") on pacifism, just war, the war on terror, the military, and defense spending, my suspicions were confirmed.
Richards maintains in his Public Discourse article that libertarians "tend to disagree with conservatives on social issues." He views the issues of abortion and marriage as "the two greatest sources of conflict between libertarians and conservatives." He believes that "there is a tacit if inarticulate conservative wisdom that recognizes that the libertarian commitment to free markets and limited government is best preserved within a broader conservative context." He posits that this "conservative wisdom" should appeal to the "‘everyman libertarian’ who values limited governments, individual rights, and free markets, but is not otherwise committed to a deeply libertarian philosophy." Richards concludes: "We conservatives need to strengthen our base without alienating our near allies. One way to do that is to show how the central convictions of ‘everyman libertarians’ can find a peaceful repose in a conservative home."
One does not have to be a conservative to oppose abortion and defend traditional marriage. And one should certainly not be a conservative when it comes to other important issues.
I have argued that because the non-aggression axiom is central to libertarianism, and because force is justified only in self-defense, and because it is wrong to threaten or initiate violence against a person or his property, and because killing is the ultimate form of aggression that, to be consistent, libertarians should be opposed to abortion.
If conservatives are so committed to pro-life principles, then why did they continue to fund Planned Parenthood during the Bush presidency? Why did John McCain and others vote to confirm pro-abortion judges like Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, and David Souter to the Supreme Court? Why did George H. W. Bush even nominate Souter?
I agree with Richards that "just as government may not redefine our rights as individuals, it has no authority to redefine marriage." Marriage has always been and will forever be the union of a man and a woman. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Anything else is just cohabitation, fornication, civil union, voluntary contract, or domestic partnership, whether it is called a marriage or not. Same-sex marriage, which is not even supported by some homosexuals, is like a square circle, solid jello, or liquid steel.
But more importantly, and as I have also argued, the state should get out of the marriage business. Why do governments at every level require a license for people to engage in consensual, peaceful activity? And not only that, in some states there is not only a hefty fee to get a marriage license, but a required waiting period or recommended premarital counseling course. Why do two individuals need the state’s permission to get married? Who knows better if two individuals are fit to be married than the two individuals? If they want advice regarding their union, they can consult their pastor, parents, co-workers, and/or friends. It is none of the state’s business.
Marriage predated the state. It needs no protection, regulation, or monitoring by the state to continue its existence.
The real threat to the institution of marriage is not homosexuals wanting heterosexuals to recognize their same-sex marriages, it is Christians standing in a church and saying "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part" and then getting divorced a few years later. The real assault on marriage is by serial adulterers who preach family values like the thrice-married Newt Gingrich. As Doug Bandow has recently said: "When it comes to sex the Republican Party is divided. A few members actually don’t believe it is the government’s business. However, the GOP is full of leaders with multiple marriages engaging in multiple affairs who lecture everyone else about the importance of sexual morality."
So, should libertarians be conservatives? Did not Ronald Reagan famously say: "The very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism"? The issues of abortion and same-sex marriage are used by conservatives to sucker pro-life, pro-family libertarians into believing that they should abandon libertarianism for conservatism. This would be a terrible mistake, for there is much more to conservatism than its emphasis on social issues.
There are four areas I would like to briefly mention that show the incontrovertible divide that exists between libertarians and conservatives.
First, the state. As concisely summed up by Mises Institute chairman Lew Rockwell:
The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the idea of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks it is better to impose truth rather than risk losing one soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society. It has never seen the state as the enemy of what conservatives purport to favor. It has always looked to presidential power as the saving grace of what is right and true about America.
Second, the welfare state. As recently explained by Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger:
Conservatives are having a heyday calling President Obama a socialist. What they block out of their minds is that by their own measure, they are socialists too. . . . But while conservatives want to protect the assets of the rich from IRS confiscation and welfare-state redistribution, conservatives cannot deny that they themselves also favor the welfare-state concept of taxing people so that the state can redistribute the money to others. The only thing different between conservatives and liberals is the identity of the people they wish to tax and the identity of people they wish to receive the loot.
Third, war. I have said on more than one occasion that the very heart and soul of conservatism is war. Patriotism, Americanism, and being a real conservative are now equated with support for war, torture, and militarism. I firmly stand by this assertion that I first made in 2009, although it was true long before then.
And fourth, the drug war. Out of one side of their mouth conservatives talk about individual liberty, free markets, limited government, less intrusive government, cutting regulations, personal responsibility, and the Constitution, but at the same time they say out of the other side of their mouth that if you buy, sell, or possess a substance the government doesn’t approve of then we will lock you up in a cage. And if you buy, sell, or possess too much, then we will throw away the key.
Should libertarians be conservatives? To be consistent, must pro-life, pro-family libertarians be conservatives? Absolutely not.
Originally published on LewRockwell.com on May 14, 2012.
Tags: conservatism, culture, libertarianism