Colorado Springs Gazette, 7-25-09
I’ve returned to the U.S. and resubscribed to my
political e-mail lists, I’ve been getting all sorts of messages warning me
about the advancing Democratic agenda. Tax-and-spend liberals are running amok,
and we’ve got to fight back. We’ve got to cut spending and cut taxes. We’ve got
to articulate a principled vision of limited government, fiscal responsibility,
and individual choice. These e-mails are all from Republican and conservative
couldn’t agree more with my conservative colleagues. I just have one question:
What were you all doing during the six years when Republicans held the
presidency and both houses of Congress? Where was your principled vision then,
while government was growing at rates not seen since the Johnson
administration? Once you were in power, you paid no attention to the voices for
limited government within your own party. We were shuffled off to the side,
while you taxed and spent like drunken sailors on leave. Now that you’ve lost
the election, you want limited government again. Forgive me if I’m somewhat
pretty clear that some conservatives, and maybe even most, like limiting
government power only when they don’t have any. There’s a name for people like
that. We call them RINOs, Republicans In Name Only.
exactly did Republicans lose their way? I’d like to suggest that the balance
shifted too far in favor of social conservatives. Social conservatism, while
not in principle requiring larger government, in practice far too often does.
It is oh so easy to go from “This is wrong” to “This should be illegal.” It is
tempting to combine political power with a divine mandate, forgetting that the
two realms ought to be separate. The GOP of today and its enthusiastic embrace
of the fundamentalist right is very different from the party of Ronald Reagan
and Barry Goldwater. Sadly so, in my view.
the Republican Party is ever going to become something other than Democrat Lite, it has to stand for something other than opposition
to abortion, homosexuality and illegal immigration. These are all issues that
resonate with at least some voters, but they are not going to fix America.
Instead, the Republican Party needs to become the party of ideas. This
shouldn’t be too hard, given that Democrats don’t have any. But in order to find
the right ideas, you’ll have to listen to other voices in your party. The
ones who truly want to restore America’s original vision of freedom and
responsibility. You need to listen to libertarians.
all, we’re the ones who came up with vouchers as an alternative to the public
school monopoly. Sure, social conservatives took up the banner, but it was
Milton Friedman who first put them on the table, and
libertarians who worked for decades to make them a reality. Today, we are the
ones who offer the only constructive approaches to defusing the ticking time
bomb called Social Security.
have blueprints for cutting taxes and cutting spending (still a revolutionary
notion to the current power brokers in the Republican Party). We have real
alternatives to the nationalization of health care the Democrats are trying to
shove down our throats, alternatives that will make health care better and
cheaper. We can help Republicans reach the youth of America, who traditionally
vote Democratic. We can even show you how to take free enterprise seriously by
cutting billions in corporate welfare. Provided, of course, you agree with us
that taking money from some and giving it to others is not what government is
for. Even if the beneficiaries tend to vote Republican.
in order to do this, we’ve got to have a place at the table, and we’ve got to
be convinced the Republican Party wants to be something more than Democrat Lite when it comes to taxing and spending. We will probably
never agree on every issue, including some pretty important ones. But consider
the lesson of history. The six years of the modern Republican Party dominated
by social conservatives led to unprecedented government expansion, economic
meltdown and an election that put Republicans out of power for at least a
Reagan and Goldwater were on to something after all.