Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Are We Really “Conservatives?”

 
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Is this really us?

Ricochet is home to a lot of debates; typically among those of us on who identify with the Political Right. As a matter of convenience, we call ourselves “conservatives” and our opponents “liberals.” Much has been written about the derivation of these terms and how they came to be in common usage today. I don’t want to re-hash that history lesson. I’m more interested in figuring out if we here are actually conservatives or if we are … something else.

My Random House Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “conservative” as: “Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., and to restore traditional ones, and to limit change — or — cautiously moderate.” Certainly, there are plenty of people at Ricochet who want to restore traditional institutions. There’s nothing wrong with that per se; there have been some great and admirable times in the nation’s past. There have also been terrible times which are best remembered with a shudder and fear. As to the rest of the definition? I’m not buying it.

To take this definition and apply it to the events of, say, yesterday — when the Congress voted to repeal Obamacare — one could conclude that those actions were not “conservative,” unless you place focus on the “restoring traditional institutions” portion of the definition. We “conservatives” should cheer this action in the sense that Congress is seeking to “restore” the status quo ante that existed before progressive nannyists jammed this camel down the throats of the public. I like it. I approve. I want it to happen. But in my mind, it wouldn’t go far enough even if it had been successful. We ought to appreciate the adherence to process here that the president disdains, but don’t think that goes far enough to explain what we long for.

“Conservatism” of restorationist flavor boils down to a matter of dates. If you limit your view of what is right and good to some specific point in the halcyon past when things were “great” — you know, when we’re staring into the void — you’re nothing more than a “reactionary.” By this definition, one could just as easily claim that someone who wants to restore Woodrow Wilson’s fascist police state, arguing that it was the height of American civilization, is a conservative. In a certain sense, too, he’d be right.

We have to consider: What, precisely, are we attempting to restore? Are we attempting to return the nation to how it was in 2000, before the horrors of 9/11 and the opening of the American mind to the idea that we are involved in an existential struggle with people who are even more “conservative” than we are? No, thank you. Perhaps it’s 2007, before the scourge of Obama-ism? Fat chance. How about the 1950s (as I recall one person suggesting) when our civilizational confidence seemed to be at an all-time high, the economy was growing steadily, and life seemed to have a predictable, peaceful rhythm, with the caveat of the threat of global thermonuclear war? I’ll pass.

I’m asserting that there was no time in the past that holds up to scrutiny so well that we should seek to “restore” it such that it becomes our ideal of the future. In my estimation, the only way out is moving forward — not longing for the past — and I think have some decidedly un-Conservative ideas about how we need to do that (in the sense that “restoration” of traditional institutions is insufficient).

For starters, I’m in favor of the complete voucherization and privatization of the education system while maintaining public funding. This acknowledges that we aren’t going to return to a time when there isn’t publicly funded education, but makes it more efficient and to stop punishing people who choose to send their children to private schools by what boils down to double taxation. Competing studies quibble about the effectiveness of private/charter schools — the secret sauce for academic success seems to be family cohesion) vs. their public school brethren — but most of them miss the fundamental point: even though charter/private schools tend not to produce remarkably better results, they produce similar (or better) results at lower cost. We should do it for that reason alone if nothing else.

This is a radical, borderline revolutionary, position; there’s nothing “conservative” about it.

I’m also skeptical about our capacity (in the long run) to eliminate the welfare state. In some form or another, Section 8 housing, AFDC, WIC, SNAP, SCHIP, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are all here to stay; there are simply too many people who are too deeply invested in them and capable of voting to prevent eliminating them entirely. What I do think we could accomplish is transforming them into something different.

Borrowing from my earlier point, why don’t we voucherize Medicaid? We could also incentivize people to save unspent voucher monies in health savings accounts, rather than what we do now, which encourages them to view the program as a bottomless well of money from which they can pull up a bucket or two as needed. Something similar could be done with most of the rest of the programs. Again, this is not necessarily a “conservative” position, but reflects the reality of where we are today and how we might better incentive our existing structures.

These are revolutionary concepts that would drive progressives — and, I’m sure, plenty of libertarians — crazy. There are a lot of ideas like this on the Right and yet, we call ourselves “conservatives.” I think we do ourselves a disservice by downplaying just how different our thoughts about government and public policy are from from those of the Left. In doing so, we allow ourselves to be tarred with the brush of “regressive” when, in reality, we might have a far better claim on being “progressive,” in the sense that we seek to improve human flourishing. It’s the Left, in this sense, who look downright reactionary in their defense of moribund and failed institutions.

There are 101 comments.

  1. Austin Murrey Inactive

    A lot of people on the right are “conservatives” in the sense you speak of: they are typically referred to by more radical members of the right as moderates or the establishment.

    In politics because they’re conservative they also tend to congregate in the GOP leadership: they (generally) don’t desire to dramatically change anything so love to compromise which allows them to seem reasonable to a wide array of folks and to build political favors.

    The people on the right who are generally understood as conservatives, true conservatives, libertarian leaning or “whack-o birds” aren’t conservative in the world sense (except on social matters in general if not on every particular) but a group that has adopted the word-as-epithet: they loathe the massive size of the federal government and want to return us to a time when, for example, some bureaucrat couldn’t march you off to jail for five years for land management under an anti-terrorism law.

    Personally I think of myself as a deconstructional minarchist (which I made up): I want to demolish the edifices and institutions of the federal government except in key, easily defined areas such as national defense affecting multiple states or interstate funding.

    This doesn’t make me particularly conservative since I’m willing to deal with short-term disruption to remove long-term rot.

    • #1
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:06 AM PST
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  2. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    Really good piece. I think you hit on some really important themes.

    For me, what I am attempting to restore–and why I would consider myself a Conservative–is the ideal of what it means to be American. What I mean by that is that our system was predicated on the premise that government that is best is the one that is closest to the people, local, and not some ubiquitous overseer constituted of far away men and women dictating how any particular society, either on a state or local level, should work.

    Let’s explore that for just a second. The twenties were horrible in the regard of racial equality, this is true. However, you still saw a strong, robust (in terms of family structure and earning power in adjusted dollars) black community. How was this? Because many blacks in the South, where the equality issues were predominant, moved to the industrial North and Mid-West where, yes they made less than whites in the same positions, but made substantially more than they could earn in the South. They had freedom of movement and went where they could flourish DESPITE what was happening around them. They overcame obstacles and marched forward.

    This is the constant narrative in the whole of US history, groups of people overcoming some form of obstacle set before them by the times they live. I think we are losing that ability because the ethos of self reliance has been transformed to mean selfishness.

    • #2
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:06 AM PST
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  3. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    • #3
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:06 AM PST
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  4. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    One last thing. I don’t wish to conserve anything related to the status quo of the past 50 years in terms of the power of the federal government. Whether you are talking about bureaucracies, federal policies, or the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, I want to destroy each of these all the way down to the foundations. The power belongs to the individual states, and thus to the people in their immediate sphere, NOT the federal government.

    • #4
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:10 AM PST
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  5. BrentB67 Inactive

    The majority of Ricochet fits the random house definition nicely. That is contemporary conservatism in a nutshell.

    Democrats overreach and build it: New Deal welfare programs, federal reserve, great society welfare programs, Dept. of Education, Obamacare, etc.

    Republicans fund what the Democrats build.

    Conservative Republicans swoop in to conserver/preserve those institutions that have been built by Democrats and funded by Republicans.

    • #5
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:10 AM PST
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  6. BrentB67 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett:I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    Do you think there is an inverse relationship between the size of government as defined by the nominal dollars it consumes, borrow, and distributes and individual liberty?

    • #6
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:12 AM PST
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  7. BrentB67 Inactive

    Agree with others. Very good piece Majestyk, I hope it is considered for promotion.

    • #7
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:12 AM PST
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  8. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    Do you think there is an inverse relationship between the size of government as defined by the nominal dollars it consumes, borrow, and distributes and individual liberty?

    Real dollars is a better measure, but otherwise yes.

    • #8
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:14 AM PST
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  9. BrentB67 Inactive

    The tension on the right is caused by the fact that conservatives as defined in your article (good definition) are a minority. Limited government, Tea Party types (card carrying member) are a slightly smaller minority.

    Neither of the aforementioned groups as of this writing can effect national change without the other. Unfortunately, their world views of what is conservative are binary and incompatible at the federal level.

    • #9
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:16 AM PST
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  10. BrentB67 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    Do you think there is an inverse relationship between the size of government as defined by the nominal dollars it consumes, borrow, and distributes and individual liberty?

    Real dollars is a better measure, but otherwise yes.

    What is the factor you apply to convert nominal to real dollars?

    • #10
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:17 AM PST
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  11. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    Do you think there is an inverse relationship between the size of government as defined by the nominal dollars it consumes, borrow, and distributes and individual liberty?

    Real dollars is a better measure, but otherwise yes.

    What is the factor you apply to convert nominal to real dollars?

    I guess that depends on what year you think the federal government was the “right size”. I’m not smart enough to make that call. I do think Coolidge had it about right.

    • #11
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:20 AM PST
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  12. BrentB67 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    Do you think there is an inverse relationship between the size of government as defined by the nominal dollars it consumes, borrow, and distributes and individual liberty?

    Real dollars is a better measure, but otherwise yes.

    What is the factor you apply to convert nominal to real dollars?

    I guess that depends on what year you think the federal government was the “right size”. I’m not smart enough to make that call. I do think Coolidge had it about right.

    Ok, but to convert nominal to real dollars we need a conversion factor measuring inflation. What factor would you apply to make the conversion from the Coolidge era to now?

    • #12
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:23 AM PST
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  13. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    First off, thank you all for your responses.

    I cut my post short because it was growing too long for MF promotion as it was, but what I didn’t get to and wanted to add was the notion of “political reality/necessity” and how that ties into political conservatism.

    A lot of the complaints about “conservative Republicans” being unwilling to “take bold action” or somesuch represent a barrier, but I think we’re misplacing our anger when we blame the politicians involved. They’re reacting to incentives as well, and the incentives tie in to point 2: we’ve bribed ourselves a bit too well and now that we’ve grown these additional appendages that have become “institutions” that have constituencies that like to defend them the best that we can hope for in the short run is incremental change.

    That doesn’t even mean necessarily incremental change in our preferred direction as much as restraining the growth of those institutions. I don’t like that – but I think it is a reality, and a reality that politicians (particularly those in swing districts) are constrained by.

    Following the process is our friend. I think Speaker Ryan is going to make good on his promise to restore Regular Order, and as a result of that we will see much better adherence to the principles we’d prefer.

    What we have to realize though is that Obama is in a variety of ways unprecedented in American History. He is governing against the will of the people to an extent previously unknown and not operating in a fashion that we’ve seen other Presidents act when given the level of opposition he faces. It may be that it is an insoluble problem until he is no longer entrenched in the White House.

    • #13
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:34 AM PST
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  14. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:I always preferred orienting my political philosophy around liberty. If you can answer the question “Does it make us more free?” with a yes – then we should be doing it.

    Do you think there is an inverse relationship between the size of government as defined by the nominal dollars it consumes, borrow, and distributes and individual liberty?

    Real dollars is a better measure, but otherwise yes.

    What is the factor you apply to convert nominal to real dollars?

    I guess that depends on what year you think the federal government was the “right size”. I’m not smart enough to make that call. I do think Coolidge had it about right.

    Ok, but to convert nominal to real dollars we need a conversion factor measuring inflation. What factor would you apply to make the conversion from the Coolidge era to now?

    Lacking a better one I would use the official inflation statistics the BLS publishes.

    • #14
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:34 AM PST
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  15. Liz Member
    Liz

    Conservatives, in my understanding, seek to “conserve” maximum liberty for the individual while recognizing that certain limitations will exist in civil society. The state’s paramount work is the protection of life and liberty. Any state action beyond that should be viewed critically to prevent unnecessary intrusion.

    The family is a bulwark against the state. Government’s attempt to force families to send their children to government schools threatens the family and consequently personal liberty. For this reason, school choice (and the right to homeschool) is, indeed, a conservative issue.

    Any voucher system that promotes individual responsibility and independence from the state should rightly be understood as conservative, as well.

    • #15
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:36 AM PST
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  16. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Majestyk: That doesn’t even mean necessarily incremental change in our preferred direction as much as restraining the growth of those institutions. I don’t like that – but I think it is a reality, and a reality that politicians (particularly those in swing districts) are constrained by.

    This is an extremely important point and one I’ve tried again and again to make around these parts. We’re all driving towards the same place (at least I think most of us here at Ricochet are) – we just have different ideas as to what the speed the vehicle we’re in is capable of.

    • #16
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:36 AM PST
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  17. BrentB67 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:

    Real dollars is a better measure, but otherwise yes.

    What is the factor you apply to convert nominal to real dollars?

    I guess that depends on what year you think the federal government was the “right size”. I’m not smart enough to make that call. I do think Coolidge had it about right.

    Ok, but to convert nominal to real dollars we need a conversion factor measuring inflation. What factor would you apply to make the conversion from the Coolidge era to now?

    Lacking a better one I would use the official inflation statistics the BLS publishes.

    Which one is that? I can think of 8 off the top of my head and the total number they publish is something in the 60’s if memory serves. Here are just the PPI measures.

    I am not trying to be provocative. I think you are informed above average on these matters as are many on Ricochet that like to use Real Dollars rather than Nominal. The theoretical motivation for doing so is sound, but the practical application is another matter.

    You are bright and articulate on this matter and if you can’t figure it out I think it proves a valuable point.

    Side Note: The FOMC doesn’t use any of the BLS measures.

    • #17
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:40 AM PST
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  18. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    I think it depends on what we’re trying to measure yes? Given that the government is essentially a consumer in our economy, it produces nothing of real value, a combination of the GDP-deflator and ECI would seem appropriate.

    • #18
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:45 AM PST
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  19. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    Jamie Lockett:I guess that depends on what year you think the federal government was the “right size”. I’m not smart enough to make that call. I do think Coolidge had it about right.

    Of course I am a fan of Coolidge – his positions would be politically unpalatable today however. We have to operate within the realm of political possibility when we discuss our principles as well.

    As it is, Government at all levels accounts for something like 40% of GDP. I regard that with horror, but I think at the same time: if we were to wave a magic wand and reduce that percentage to (arbitrarily) 10%, what would the nation look like?

    What gets the axe (as far as spending and taxation goes) first? Medicare? Social Security? Those two programs represent something like half of Federal Spending and thus, a significant portion of GDP. We aren’t going to be able to make significant changes to those programs without severe dislocations of people’s expectations. We also have to be honest: the people who are currently and will benefit from those programs have paid into those programs for years. It’s just that they’re benefiting to an extent far in excess of what their contributions would justify.

    The bottom line is: I don’t think we are going to get government spending as a percentage of GDP back down to Gilded Era levels… likely ever. We have to manage better the position that we’re in or this juggernaut will roll over us.

    • #19
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:46 AM PST
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  20. Jamie Lockett Inactive

    Majestyk:

    Jamie Lockett:I guess that depends on what year you think the federal government was the “right size”. I’m not smart enough to make that call. I do think Coolidge had it about right.

    Of course I am a fan of Coolidge – his positions would be politically unpalatable today however. We have to operate within the realm of political possibility when we discuss our principles as well.

    As it is, Government at all levels accounts for something like 40% of GDP. I regard that with horror, but I think at the same time: if we were to wave a magic wand and reduce that percentage to (arbitrarily) 10%, what would the nation look like?

    What gets the axe (as far as spending and taxation goes) first? Medicare? Social Security? Those two programs represent something like half of Federal Spending and thus, a significant portion of GDP. We aren’t going to be able to make significant changes to those programs without severe dislocations of people’s expectations. We also have to be honest: the people who are currently and will benefit from those programs have paid into those programs for years. It’s just that they’re benefiting to an extent far in excess of what their contributions would justify.

    The bottom line is: I don’t think we are going to get government spending as a percentage of GDP back down to Gilded Era levels… likely ever. We have to manage better the position that we’re in or this juggernaut will roll over us.

    Maj, identifying Coolidge as the ideal does not mean I want to get there tomorrow. I agree with you, of course, that to do so would be extremely disruptive. I’ve always been an advocate of slow and gradual change towards our goal. We need our eye fixed firmly on the horizon where our shining city is – but that should not blind us to the years of hard incremental work it will take to get there.

    • #20
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:49 AM PST
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  21. Mendel Member

    The term “conservative” has become so over-played in contemporary American politics that it’s probably outlived its utility. Most people on the right love to loudly proclaim “I’m a true conservative”, after which they proceed to define conservative as whatever they are. Nice circular logic.

    And even the notion of conservatives trying to “preserve” something is fairly useless, as the post and conversation demonstrate well. Are we trying to re-preserve something which previously existed and became lost along the way, or are we preserving the current status quo against further intrusions? Simple labels don’t help there.

    • #21
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:56 AM PST
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  22. Mendel Member

    It’s much more interesting to know what people actually stand for than how they label themselves. But even then, we are constantly crossing circuits on Ricochet between philosophy, policy, and tactics.

    I find it useful to break down people’s views into three categories:

    1) What would your ideal society look like?

    2) How far could we realistically change America toward that goal in 20 years given where we are now?

    3) What is the most change we can hope for today given political/electoral realities?

    For instance, I think eliminating the income tax in favor of a consumption tax would be ideal. But I don’t see that ever happening in the US, so I would be content if, in 20 years’ time, we simply had much lower marginal income/corporate tax rates with less progressivity between brackets.

    Does that make me conservative? Libertarian? Moderate? Progressive? Squishy? I don’t really care either way.

    • #22
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:56 AM PST
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  23. Liz Member
    Liz

    Mendel: For instance, I think eliminating the income tax in favor of a consumption tax would be ideal.

    Yes.

    • #23
    • January 7, 2016, at 8:59 AM PST
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  24. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    This is where we differ, but only just so. Yes, there is a need to recognize the incremental aspects of our goal. I don’t think anyone on Ricochet would argue this. But where I differ is the notion that can be inferred from your “swing district” comment that all things are static and the only dynamic change goes to the Left. If you are in a swing district and do NOTHING to educate your constituency as to why you would like to move policy to the Right, then yes the slow march to Europeanism will be the only direction we go and any attempt to reign that in will be a loser. However, if you resist the temptation to throw your hands in the air and say that the media will cream you every time you try to shift policy and maintain a constant connection with your constituency and convince them slowly that what you are doing is actually going to help everyone–rich, poor, middle–then I think the fruits of that labor will be sweeter than ever.

    What we have now are people in leadership positions who do not want to do the heavy lifting of educating their constituents and instead want to get some form of accolades in the media. They want a pat on the back from me for not doing as much damage as the Left even though damage is still being done. There is incremental, and there is absolute stagnation.

    • #24
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:08 AM PST
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  25. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor
    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Post author

    Robert McReynolds:

    What we have now are people in leadership positions who do not want to do the heavy lifting of educating their constituents and instead want to get some form of accolades in the media. They want a pat on the back from me for not doing as much damage as the Left even though damage is still being done. There is incremental, and there is absolute stagnation.

    Allow me to say that I think the message that the leadership is getting from the nation is muddled. In fairness to them, I also don’t think they view their job in the same way that a Harry Reid (or the Democrat coalition) does.

    The observation has been made that the Democrats are a coalition of loosely bound but disparate interest groups. I think for the most part that is correct. When in power, they are shameless in their attempts to service the various members of their coalition.

    The Republicans seem to have a different view. This vision is not that they were sent to Washington to “Service the coalition” as much as it is to “govern.”

    The confusion that they see in terms of the message is this: how can a nation be so schizophrenic as to elect the most Conservative Congress in a hundred years but just two years earlier the most Liberal President? It’s confounding, and I think that the Leadership is correspondingly hesitant to take the sort of bold action that we might prefer because the punishment of an ignorant and reactionary electorate is viewed as being both swift and capricious.

    We have none to blame but our countrymen in that regard. It is up to us to educate them – not the politicians.

    The politicians are a reflection of us – perhaps even in a mirror, darkly, but they’re still our creation.

    • #25
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:21 AM PST
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  26. BrentB67 Inactive

    Jamie Lockett:I think it depends on what we’re trying to measure yes? Given that the government is essentially a consumer in our economy, it produces nothing of real value, a combination of the GDP-deflator and ECI would seem appropriate.

    Interesting, because neither of those are BLS statistics.

    We agree that liberty is inversely proportional to the size of government. We differ in our willingness to hide its size and liberty crushing overreach in real vs. nominal dollars.

    • #26
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:27 AM PST
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  27. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    I don’t think the argument has to be presented in terms of “what gets the axe”. I think we can address Medicare and Social Security in terms of offering dynamic options to the people and educating them on how each option can work for them, something akin to what was tried by Bush in 2005. The other option is to do what the Democrats do. They run campaigns that basically play up the ill will toward the GOP for whatever reason you want to have. They take power and then jam their policies down the throats of Americans and election results be damned. They bide their time, wait for the next opportunity to take power, and then bam, they do another massive policy initiative that further entrenches Leftism in America.

    We should start doing the same. Pick a department that isn’t too prominent, or even an agency if you want. You produce a bill that outright ends that entity. If they filibuster it, use budget reconciliation to pass it or change the filibuster rule. Sign it, shut down the agency/department and then bide your time to regain power and do it again. We, as a party, worry too much about winning and holding the power, instead of wielding the power once we have it. We squander opportunities in the pursuit of perpetual praise and you must be realistic enough to realize that perpetual praise is a fool’s errand.

    • #27
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:28 AM PST
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  28. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    Majestyk:The observation has been made that the Democrats are a coalition of loosely bound but disparate interest groups. I think for the most part that is correct. When in power, they are shameless in their attempts to service the various members of their coalition.

    The Republicans seem to have a different view. This vision is not that they were sent to Washington to “Service the coalition” as much as it is to “govern.”

    The confusion that they see in terms of the message is this: how can a nation be so schizophrenic as to elect the most Conservative Congress in a hundred years but just two years earlier the most Liberal President?

    I think you are reading each of these wrong. Yes, the Left is made up of different groups but they are not disparate. They all have the same goal: increase the power of the Federal government and wield that power within their own realms.

    Second, the difference between electing “the most Conservative Congress ever” and the “most Leftist president ever” boils down to how each position is elected. It’s not a sign of, necessarily, a mixed message. People in Republican districts ran on certain issues and ways to address them. They should do everything possible to implement their ideas about those issues.

    • #28
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:33 AM PST
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  29. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    BrentB67:

    Jamie Lockett:I think it depends on what we’re trying to measure yes? Given that the government is essentially a consumer in our economy, it produces nothing of real value, a combination of the GDP-deflator and ECI would seem appropriate.

    Interesting, because neither of those are BLS statistics.

    We agree that liberty is inversely proportional to the size of government. We differ in our willingness to hide its size and liberty crushing overreach in real vs. nominal dollars.

    I think you are both going about it the wrong way. You cannot monetize the loss of freedom. We either have or we have not lost freedoms since the wicked curse of progressivism infected our Republic.

    • #29
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:35 AM PST
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  30. Mendel Member

    Robert McReynolds:What we have now are people in leadership positions who do not want to do the heavy lifting of educating their constituents…

    To piggyback on Majestyk, I view this exactly the other way around.

    For most of us, our political views arise from our perception of how the world works. For me, the most powerful insights have come from libertarian thinkers such as Friedman regarding the nature of choice and incentives.

    History has proven time and again that politicians’ strongest incentive is make potential voters feel good about themselves, not tell them they’re wrong. This is exactly how Donald Trump has become popular.

    Politicians tell us everything we believe is correct because that’s what we reward them to do. The only way to change the politicians is to change what the voters believe is correct.

    • #30
    • January 7, 2016, at 9:35 AM PST
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