February 11, 2013
First, let me be clear what I mean by an ER (Establishment Republican). Naturally, it includes professional politicians who love the idea of having a position of power in government and the more the government spends, the greater their power. They love the attention, the sycophants and the privileges. They are the party elite. So far, none of these attributes distinguish them from their Democrat rivals. The distinction the ER makes is that they can run big government better because they have better business and organizational skills. The power they crave is a magnet for consultants, journalist, commentators and others who want to be close to the seat of power and influence how that power is used.
The idea of a party platform that disavows the pursuit of power with a systematic plan to reinstate Constitutional limits on government is limited only to the highest visibility issues, such as we see now with gun control and Second Amendment rights. Even then, ERs make a poor case because they really don't believe in liberty. This is why ERs lose elections. Cases in point, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.
While George Bush did not personally lose an election, he set the stage for the Republican rout in 2006 and 2008. His compassionate conservatism was nothing more than liberalism on a budget, but he even failed at that. With both the presidency and congress in Republican hands, government grew and not a single issue of concern to Constitutional conservatives was addressed. Nothing was done to correct the abuses and impending collapse rooted in the Community Reinvestment Act. Nothing was done to effectively control illegal immigration, including tighter restrictions that would have kept Arab flight students out of American flight schools. Nothing was done to reform an increasingly complex and burdensome tax code. But plenty was done to make the federal government more intrusive in education and travel. The failings of the Clinton presidency were turned into a call for reorganization, producing the TSA and Homeland Security. The Democrats may indeed desire a police state but they should leave the organization to Republicans like Bush if they want it to work.
Mitt Romney, with full ER support relentlessly attacked and smeared conservative Republican primary opponents. The ER leadership undermined conservative Republicans in congressional races. The most important hot button issue of 2010 and the Republican recapture of the House, Obamacare, couldn't even be debated because Romney had no credibility on the issue. Some ERs even took the position that Obamacare could be fixed, if only they were put in office. Romney spoke in generalities while remaining perfectly non-committal to doing anything but use the government to further intrude into the private sector with his "fixes". Nibbling at the tax rates is not fixing the tax code. Speaking in generalities about the virtues of the free market is not a plan to allow the free market to work and correct the distortions caused by government. Romney's 59-point economic plan was just more indigestible elitist babble trying to pass for genius. What Romney and the ERs did was to alienate more than motivate.
Now we have the spectacle of another ER, Eric Cantor, trying to out-anecdote the party of anecdotes.
What was the point of Cantor's "Making Life Work" speech on 2/5? First, the federal bureaucracy can be good and we ERs support the good things the bureaucracy does and here are a few beneficiaries of that goodness. Second, the federal bureaucracy can be overbearing and we can fix that with a few a changes here and there, and here again are some victims of the bureaucracy. Of course, the title of Cantor's speech says it all. Mr. Cantor, I don't need you or the government to make my life work. I need you and the government to get the hell out of the way so I can help myself, my family, my friends and my neighbors make life work. Your remarks smack of yet another elitist philosopher king telling us common folk how your reign will make our lives work. If I accept Cantor's premise that government has a big role in making my life work, maybe the Democrats can make my life work better.
The big problem with the ERs is they will not give up power. They will not consider repealing intrusive and unconstitutional legislation because they want to wield the power it gives them. They had the opportunity to repeal CRA, but didn't. They had the opportunity to dramatically reform the tax code, but didn't. They could have restored sanity to our immigration policy, but didn't. They could have curbed the power of federal agencies to unconstitutionally make law, but didn't. They could have begun a sensible and practical plan to restrain the perpetual inflation caused by the Federal Reserve, but didn't. They could have passed a balanced budget, but didn't. They could have taken a stand against crony capitalism and bailouts, but didn't. They could have quashed the executive orders of the Clinton administration that crippled national security, but didn't. They could have phased out the Departments of Education and Energy, but didn't. They could have reduced the federal bureaucracy, but didn't.
Instead, they gave us more spending, No Child Left Behind, Homeland Security, TSA, corporate bailouts and two wars with touch-feely-fuzzy objectives (and are still going on under even worse leadership).
For all they could have done, they chose only to make things worse, spending more, expanding more and increasing their power, not reducing it. Now we are to trust Eric Cantor and the ERs to make life work?
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